6 June 65 : Dixie jazz and home news : New Orleans, Louisiana

This continues the letter dated 1 June 1965 which began:

Dear Family,

Sunday 6th June 65

Last night we went out on the town again and visited another three places in Bourbon Street. The atmosphere is terrific in these places, and all the people from the remote countryside went wild, shrieking and shouting when songs from their own state were sung.

In other places there were coloured jazz bands playing the real Dixieland Jazz – it can’t be any more real as this is where it originated – in the heart of Dixie. Dixie is a word which means south, and the neighbouring state of Alabama is known as the ‘Heart of Dixie’.

 

1965 06 06 new orleans
Tony’s 1965 postcard, rather poetically captioned: NEW ORLEANS – CITY OF ENCHANTMENT. Greetings from New Orleans, the Paris of America, where romance and history, frozen in iron lace, literally drip from the eaves of the old Vieux Carre buildings.

 

I don’t know if you are interested, but the name Alabama is an Indian word. Many years ago when the Indians were migrating to the South to the warm weather, for the winter, they accidentally came across this area and the chief said to them all – “Alabama” which in Indian means ‘this shall be our home’ and they stayed. The very few which exist today live on reservations and are supported by the Federal Government.

Colin’s father has just retired and there have been big celebrations at his home. He had a great many gifts from his colleagues – and has been offered a travelling job with the Post Office Insurance Company on a part-time basis, all expenses paid (and including Mrs H) – so he is thinking of taking that.

Mrs H said in a letter to Colin that she has such a long list of jobs for him when he has retired, that he has almost considered delaying his retirement!! They are both very excited about their trip over here, although a lot of problems still remain, especially with regard to their accommodation in New York.

To be on the safe side Colin has made reservations at a very nice motel for them. (They don’t know this yet so don’t mention it to them if you see them). It will ensure that they will have somewhere nice to stay – there was some talk of them being put up at the YMCA and the YWCA – which I think they would find pretty horrible.

I honestly think that tourists from Europe are just wasting their money. To really see the States one has to do what we are doing, take a whole year over it, and really see the small places.

I feel really sorry for these people that dash all over the place in two weeks – and think they’ve seen America!! The trouble is that most of the places they see are just ‘tourist traps’.

Well, I must end once again. Tonight we drive to Laurel, Mississippi, and then on to Shreveport, Louisiana, so we have a lot of travel ahead of us.

Gwladys
Tony’s mother Gwladys. A wonderful lady.

 

Oh, by the way, I hope you had a nice birthday Mum, I think I sent your card a little early but I suppose better early than late!! I haven’t as yet got you a present but I will send something when I have had a chance to have a look around.

Look after yourselves and keep writing.

All my love,

Tone xxxx

Note from Tony: In my letters I use the descriptions coloured and Indians, both of which are no longer used or acceptable today – however these were the terms of the times. In fact, Native Americans were frequently described as ‘Red Indians’ in the Western films at that time.  

Note from Tiffany: According to THIS government website, the history of the name ‘Alabama‘ is not so certain. They write that Alabama ‘was the name of a noted southern Indian tribe whose habitat when first known to Europeans was in what is now central Alabama.’ 

They argue that the tribal name Alabama probably originated in the language of the neighbouring Choctaw tribe, ‘as it is not uncommon for tribes to accept a name given them by a neighboring tribe.’ It could mean thicket clearers, which merges Alba meaning a thick or mass vegetation, and amo meaning to clear, to collect, to gather up.

According to Wikipedia, the term Dixie generally refers to the 11 Southern states which seceeded from the Union during the American Civil war, and which are geographically south of the east-to-west running Mason-Dixon line.  It does now more generally refer to the southern states of America. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the origin of Dixie are still unclear but there are three main theories as to the provenance: 

  • Jeremiah Dixon was surveyor of the Mason–Dixon line, the geographic boundary line which separated the states where black people were enslaved or free. 
  • The ten dollar notes issued by the Citizens State Bank in New Orleans’ French Quarter (and then by other Louisiana banks) had Dix on the reverse, French for “ten”. The notes were called “Dixies” by southerners, and the area around New Orleans and French-speaking Louisiana came to be known as “Dixieland”.
  •  Mr. Johan Dixie (or Dixy) was a Manhattan slave owner who would post his slaves to the south. They would return from working ‘Dixie’s Land’ with chilling tales of their treatment in the southern states.  

 

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