5 June 65 : Music and riverboats : New Orleans, Louisiana

This continues the letter dated 1st June 1965 which began:

Dear Family,

Saturday 5th June

We are now in New Orleans having arrived last night, having driven from Mobile. We had a very pleasant day in Mobile – it was a very small job which we finished quite early.

The owner was an extremely nice fellow (born in England) and he invited us out to lunch and took us to a world famous oyster house. We couldn’t face oysters (as he did) but we did have some seafood. We left for New Orleans and drove around the coast road passing through all the plush resort towns on the way.

One, a place called Biloxi, was exceptionally nice and had some beautiful hotels and motels right on the beach. All along the coast is a strip of very white sand and the sea is very calm.

1965 06 New Orleans Tony on Riverboat President2
Tony on the deck of the Riverboat President, on the Mississippi River
1965 06 New Orleans Tony on Riverboat President 3
Tony on the Mississippi River


1965 06 New Orleans Tony on Riverboat President
Tony on the Riverboat President, on the Mississippi River


We crossed into Louisiana – my 21st state (Colin’s 26th) – and we soon arrived in New Orleans which is a very lively place. It’s very big and has plenty to do. We headed for the best motel in town, which is our usual practice, but had a shock when we heard the price. It was $22 per night (about £8) which even by our standards is high.

We have never paid more than $20, even at the Americana Hotel in New York, so we had to find a cheaper place. We later learnt that place had colour TV in every room – and is really plush. We checked in our second choice and although it was 8.30pm we immediately had a swim. We both felt exhausted by the heat.

We had been working in Mobile all day in a very hot place, and were both dripping. I was writing up some cards and I had to keep mopping up great splashes of perspiration which kept falling off the end of my nose and chin.

Although it was about 92 degrees it is not the temperature that bothers us, it is the humidity, and down here at the coast it’s very high. A high temperature and low humidity is very pleasant, but a high temperature and high humidity is a killer. These people here feel it – but not half as much as us, as they are fairly well acclimatised.


1965 06 New Orleans Colin on Riverboat President2
Colin on the Riverboat President
1965 06 New Orleans Colin on the Riverboat President
Colin on the Riverboat President


After we had recovered we went out to see the famous New Orleans nightlife, and it certainly lived up to its reputation. The centre of it is the French Quarter and in particular Bourbon Street – which consists of nothing but bars with jazz, folk music, country and western music – in fact every kind of music.

Also there are lots of bars-come-strip clubs. This is the only place in the States where strip clubs are allowed – there are none in any other state, not even New York. This side of American life has really surprised us, the life in America seems far more moral than in England.  London, in comparison, seems like a den of vice!!

We sampled a bit of everything down Bourbon Street and decided to call it a day. We also saw Basin Street (Basin Street Blues).



(note: Basin Street Blues was a 1964 hit by jazz saxophonist and singer Louis Armstrong)  


Today (Saturday) we had a bit of a drive around the town and decided that it is a very nice place indeed, and then decided to go for a trip on one of the Mississippi Riverboats.

This is just as we imagined it would be – just as you see them in films. We went on the ‘President’, very large river boat which holds up to 3,000 passengers.

It also goes out at night as a showboat – with a band. One of the four decks is a huge ballroom (about as big as the Victoria Rooms in Bristol). We went on a two and a half hour trip up and down the famous river – a very big river and far bigger than the Thames in London.

New Orleans is the second largest port in the USA and has cargo and passenger boats from all over the world. We saw lots of these in dock, as we passed the dock area.


1965 06 New Orleans Mississippi river postcard
Tony’s postcard, captioned: GREETINGS FROM MISSISSIPPI. Top view: Mississippi River Boat. Bottom view: State Capitol – Jackson, Miss.
1965 06 New Orleans Mississippi Riverboat President
Tony’s postcard, captioned: S.S. PRESIDENT. A spacious five-deck sightseeing steamer on the Mississippi River. This modern river steamer makes a 30-mile sightseeing cruise daily, affording visitors many wonderful views of the Port of New Orleans, second largest port in the U.S.


I expect you have been seeing the space shot on film, as we have here. We watched it live on TV and I believe they showed it live in England too. We spent most of the day watching it, and I thought it was all very exciting. I wish we could still be here when they make the moon shot.

We shall be moving on to a new area next week, and will have a new boss again. We are planning to make some long trips into Texas, and we are even hoping that we may even be able to make it into Mexico.

We have considered the possibility of chartering a small aircraft (three of us) and flying down to Mexico City for the weekend. This sort of thing is very common here and could be quite reasonable between three. It certainly would be a unique trip.


“Astronaut Ed White with Space Gun maneuvering unit” – Nasa photo from the space shot (launched 3rd June 1965)



To be continued… 

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