St. Paddy’s past
I promised I would tell some of my wackier stories from St. Patrick’s Days past. Well, here goes.
In 1994, two months away from graudating from Brother Martin High School, the honors civics classes took a field trip to the Louisiana Supreme Court on Loyola Avenue in downtown New Orleans. We were given a tour of the court building and then treated to a lecture by Chief Justice Pascual Calogero, who graduated from one of Brother Martin’s antecedent schools, St. Aloysius.
Before entering the court building, you had to pass through metal detectors. All of us emptied our pockets, put our keys and coins into a basket, and then retrieve them on the other side.
When I returned to my car, which was parked in the garage at the Holiday Inn on Loyola across from the Supreme Court–the same hotel which was once the Howard Johnson’s, the one where Emporia’s own Mark Essex killed seven people during his reign of terror on January 7, 1973–my key didn’t fit. I was panicked. I was about to have a nervous breakdown. I found our civics teacher, Eileen Depreo, and told her of my dilemma.
Mrs. Depreo was one of my favorite teachers of all time, anywhere, any level. She was very patient with me and really was impressed with my knowledge of government and current affairs. She was also a very gentle lady who rarely had to raise her voice, and she took a real interest in her students.
Fortunately for me, Mrs. Depreo helped me out of a jam that day. It turns out my classmate, Dustin Oubre, also couldn’t get into his car.
Guess what? We had each other’s set of keys. We made the exchange on Duncan Plaza, where officers Phillip Coleman and Paul Persigo were murdered by Essex in 1973. I was on my way a few minutes later.
Six years later, a more hilarious incident ensued on St. Patirck’s Day.
I was beginning a season long internship with the New Orleans Zephyrs minor league baseball team. The Zephyrs were the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros at that time. Today, they are affiliated with the Miami Marlins, and in past years, have been affiliated with the Brewers, Nationals and Mets.
The season was still three weeks off, but that weekend, Zephyr Field hosted a high school basetball tournament. Jesuit and Brother Martin were among the schools in the field.
Some of the staffers in the press box took turns picking out the music to play in between innings, and when it came my turn, I went so far off the board it turned into a running joke.
My choice: one of the anthems of the counterculture, “Up, Up and Away” by The Fifth Dimension. The 1967 mega hit is an easy listening classic, but at a baseball game, it’s doesn’t fit.
I was immediately called on the carpet for the esoteric choice by Jamie Howard, the Zephyr’s community relations director. She chided me, in a gentle manner, for my selection.
A few days later, a new sign was posted in the public address booth, where the music controls were. NO BALLOON, which is a reference to “Up, Up and Away”, which starts with the lyrics “Wouldn’t you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?”
I also spent my fair share of St. Patrick’s Days watching LSU baseball. The rundown:
1996–LSU 23, Georgia 5
1998–LSU 4, New Orleans 1
1999–LSU 12, Nicholls State 4
2002–Vanderbilt 7, LSU 6
I have told many St. Patrick’s Day stories. But I’ve been saving the best for my next post…