Two Englishmen fight it out in 1870 Louisiana

We noticed a neat park on the Mississippi River levee at the town of Kenner, Louisiana. I turned into the parking lot because I saw an interesting statue. It was, in fact, a statue of a couple of men in boxing stances. I had to see what this was all about. Here is a picture and a little history.

Bronze statue portraying the 1870 boxing contest

On May 10, 1870, a trainload of about 1000 people left New Orleans for the little town of Kenner, a few miles from NOLA. The purpose of the trip was to visit an old sugar house near the banks of the Mississippi River. In that house was a makeshift boxing ring. In that ring a fellow from Beeston, Norwich, England named Jed Mace was the victor over another Englishman named Tom Allen from Birmingham. The 10 round bout was a bare knuckle affair. What made it special was that it was the first World Championship Heavyweight Prize Fight in the United States.

The park offered a great view of the river as well as access to a long trail on top of the levee. Kenner is a quaint little burg with quite a history. In addition to the boxing site, when Kenner was a Native American village it was the site of the landing of French explorer Robert Cavelier De La Salle’s landing in 1682. This was when he claimed Louisiana for France in the name of King Louis XIV.

Memorial to La Salle’s landing on the Mississippi River bank in Louisiana

View of downtown Kenner from the top of the levee

The Gumbo Shop restaurant in the NOLA French Quarter

For our first trip to the New Orleans French Quarter I had picked out the Gumbo Shop restaurant as a place for Sher and I to have lunch. We had taken an Uber ride to St. Peter Street from our campground. The Gumbo Shop is located in a building of Spanish colonial style that was built around 1795. The original building on the site was destroyed in the massive fire of 1794 that wiped out New Orleans.

Open air patio seating looking towards St. Peter Street (note the propane heaters that have been required during the past cold weather)

The doors opened at 11 AM, and we were the first patrons seated. We decided to take a table in the back area. You had to walk through an open to the sky patio area. Had it not been raining off and on we would have taken a patio table.

Red beans and rice with smoked sausage

Sher ordered a cup of vegetarian gumbo and I tried the red beans and rice with smoked sausage. Warm bread and butter were brought to the table as soon as we ordered. Our meals came quickly. Sher commented that the vegetarian gumbo was pretty bland. I enjoyed the red beans and rice. My smoked sausage was, like Sher’s gumbo, a bit lacking in taste.

I later learned that red beans and rice is a traditional meal to eat on a Monday in NOLA. It seems that way back in history the women would do the weeks laundry on Mondays. This prevented the preparation of a large evening meal. So the ladies would toss ham bones or any other leftovers from the previous week into a big pot with red beans to cook all day. Served with rice that night, it became a Monday meal tradition that is still served today.

Perhaps we ordered the wrong items, or we just did not like the cuisine. This restaurant has received several awards and accolades. The pricing was reasonable at $4.99 for the cup of gumbo and $10.99 for my red beans, rice and sausage. Here is their website if you want further information.

Our first day in New Orleans

Today was our first day in New Orleans. Even though our KOA campground offers a free shuttle to the French Quarter at 9 AM, we decided to have a relaxing morning and take our time in leaving. We used Uber and went down to the Gumbo Shop restaurant for lunch. (I’ll have a review up later.)

Some talented street musicians played some great jazz

Have to admit I’ve never seen a Voodoo Shop before

After lunch we strolled down around the French Quarter. If was fun stopping in some of the shops along the way. In addition, we saw some street performers. Several musicians were playing some great jazz. A street “mime” was striking a pose and holding it until someone dropped money into his bucket!

The classic iron railings on the balconies of the French Quarter

The residents of this second floor apartment have their balcony decorated for Mardis Gras

We had also made reservations for a “Cemetery and Voodoo” tour. This 2 1/2 hour bus/walking tour was put on by the huge tour company Gray Line. We were fortunate in that only two other couples had tickets, thus there were only 6 of us on the tour. Our tour guide was very good, and with just three couples on board it was almost like having our own private tour. Seeing the famous St. Louis Cemetery with its above ground tombs was spectacular. More to come later  about this tour!

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, now open only to registered tour groups because of vandalism.

The placement of the structures make you feel as if you are in a maze

After our tour was finished we walked to the Cafe Du Monde, famous for coffee and those unique pastries called beignets, pronounced ben-yays. The coffee was super strong and good. The beignets were simple: fried dough smothered in powdered sugar. And they were indeed very, very good. We’ll let you know what else we see and do over the upcoming days.