My wife, Alice, is a graduate of Sophie Newcomb college, adjunct to Tulane University. We had plans to meet with her Newcomb and Tulane friends the Labor Day weekend of 2005 but, unfortunately, by Labor Day there was no Sophie Newcomb to go to, nor was there much else in New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina had blown the city apart, then swamped it. New Orleans is recovering bit by bit but Sophie Newcomb is gone. The trustees decided to transfer all women students to the Tulane registry and close the finest women’s college in the South.
This morning Alice and I met with Bill White, mayor of Houston, who is running for the US Senate to succeed Senator Hutchins. I was reminded that when Katrina wrecked the Gulf Coast, Mayor White put together a rescue plan both for New Orleans and for Houston, and rescued tens of thousands of refugee families. Many of them became permanent Texans and many took the helping hand and returned to help rebuild New Orleans. Out of the ashes of the FEMA shame there now is much to be proud of. Yes, we can.
We have been to New Orleans several times since Katrina, once for a belated reunion for Alice’s classmates. We have seen the Xs on doors, the mud lines at roof tops, and the thousands of trailers in yards and helped in any way we can to make it a little better place.. We are going again next week with Louis and Debbie Charalambous, British friends whom we met as classmates in St. Céré, France. We will eat at K-Pauls and Brigtsons and I will sign copies of French Letters: Virginia’s War, at Maple Street Book Shop at 5:00 on April 1. It would be nice to see you there. If you know someone in the New Orleans area, ask them to stop by and we’ll get acquainted.