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INSIDEPUB.com

BEN BLANCHARD •

TREASURED TRADITION • SELU RUGBY • MEN’S GIFTS

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2019 VOL. 34, NO. 6


November-December 2019

Vol. 34, No. 6

Publisher Lori Murphy –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Editor-in-Chief Anne Honeywell

Senior Editor

Managing Editor

Jan Murphy Leah Draffen

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Señor Art Director

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Brad Growden

Business Manager

Jane Quillin

Check us out online at insidepub.com.

Senior Account Executives

Barbara Bossier

Poki Hampton

Barbara Roscoe

Advertising Coordinator

Jonée Daigle-Ferrand Candice Laizer Amy Taylor Margaret Rivera

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(985) 626-9684

fax (985) 674-7721 email sales@insidepub.com ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Contribute Please send items for Inside Scoop to scoop@insidepub.com. Photos for Inside Peek, with captions, should be sent to peek@insidepub.com. Submit items for editorial consideration to editor@insidepub.com.

On the cover

Contact

mail P.O. Box 9148 Mandeville, LA 70470 phone

(985) 626-9684

fax (985) 674-7721 Cover Artist Marianne Angeli Rodriguez. Find more on page 18.

website insidepub.com Subscriptions 1 Year $18 2 Years $30 email subscriptions@insidepub.com

INSIDE NORTHSIDE is published bi-monthly (January, March, May, July, September, November) by M and L Publishing, LLC, PO Box 9148, Mandeville, LA 70470-9148 as a means of communication and information for St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parishes, Louisiana. Bulk Postage paid at Mandeville, LA. Copy­right ©2019 by M & L Publishing, LLC. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written consent of publisher. Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and artwork. Inside Northside Magazine is created using the Adobe Creative Suite on Apple Macintosh computers.


contents table of

page 30

Features

18 Uplifting Motifs Cover Artist Marianne Angeli Rodriguez

page 50

30 A New Chapter page 76 36 In a Blink Ghost Town Turns 20

page 58

40 “Never Retreat, Never Surrender” The Ben Blanchard Story 46 Rugby Returns A Southeastern Tradition is Back 58 Accessorized Locally Designed Bags and Jewels

63 INside Look 67 IN the Bookcase The Gumbeaux Sistahs, by Jax Frey

72 Artists and Partners World Travelers John Hodge and Francie Rich

68 Poki’s Picks 70 Generous Hearts Give Thanks!

83 Treasured Tradition

Departments 12 Publisher’s Note 14 Editor’s Note 16 Contributors 22 INside Scoop 28 IN Other Words The Reason for the Season 50 Men’s Gifts

page 36 10

Inside Northside

53 Flourishes Extraordinary gifts and home accents

page 83

75 Inside Peek Featuring Northshore Medical Complex Grand Opening THE Gala Horsepower Happy Hour Leadership Breakfast Unleashed Our Enduring Artists Oktoberfest 2019 Polka Dots & Pearls 86 Haute Plates 87 Inside Dining 90 Last Sip The Cypress Bar at the Southern Hotel


Every Vote Counts! by Lori Murphy These days, it can feel like politics is everywhere, exhausting and confusing. Many talk in absolutes, presenting absolutely conflicting messages. Accurate, empirical information is hard to find, and often even harder to decipher. As an LSU journalism school student, I was taught to go straight into the story with blinders on, to stack important information in the opening paragraphs, to look for holes in the research, to find the untold truth. One of the most significant costs of the internet explosion is the effect it has had on the news. What we often get now is much more like info-tainment. We have become accustomed to news outlets selling this opinion or that because it makes good tv, or it gets likes and re-tweets. I have to pause here to say that there are still real reporters, and they are still gathering news—we just need to go out of our way to find them in this new normal. Case in point: Bobby Warren, a lifelong friend and newspaper man in the best sense of the word. We are blessed to have him and the others like him. Changes in the news business have made reporters like him rare. And, as a journalist, that makes me sad.  Enough about the excuses we give ourselves not to bother. Voting is important and our recent election showed that far too many of us didn’t turn up. St. Tammany turned out 45%, just below the state average. It was a VERY busy Saturday, and that happens. By comparison, St. James voted at 61%, St. Helena at 58%, and Washington and Plaquemines at 49%. Great News! We get another chance on November 16. The run-off election will include many important choices, including 11 of the 28 races that were on the October ballot! So vote early if you can. It doesn’t matter when you vote—just that you educate yourself about issues and offices that matter to you and vote.  Looking into the faces of the many proud veterans we are blessed to have living in our community shows how important it is to use the rights they fought to preserve. Those rights and freedoms are threatened every time we allow others to do the work, make our choices and direct our future.  Even if you didn’t vote in the last election, please vote in the upcoming run-off. Make your voice heard.

ps.  You know what they say, if you don’t vote you lose the right to complain about the outcome! 12

Inside Northside


Editor’s Note by Anne Honeywell

Well, here we go! Pumpkin Spice and Jingle Bells—’Tis the Season! The holiday season is here. Let the traditions begin: the family time, the cooking, and the shopping! This year we are traveling for Thanksgiving—just an hour up the road—but still, I am a guest, not a host. My brother enjoys doing the majority of the cooking for our brood, and just as well, because he is one of the best cooks in the family. But no matter who is doing the cooking or where, there is always one constant at our holiday celebrations—bourbon milk punch! It’s a family favorite. One of the things I am most thankful for is that I work with some very talented people. Of all ages. And I value each of them for the strengths and insights they bring to this magazine. A perfect example is our Managing Editor, Leah Draffen, who handles her position with such poise, grace and maturity. She also has a keen eye for art. Leah is on the younger side—well, yes, she is my daughter’s age—but as my much-younger coworker and friend, I love to listen to her point of view. And I usually learn something. As most of the younger generation, she is savvy on all social media outlets. I think Instagram is her favorite, but I digress. This go-round, she introduced me to the Instagram page and the art of Marianne Ariel Rodriguez. In her opinion, she was just what we needed to finish out 2019. Some bright and colorful abstract art on the cover, and a younger, ahem, and up-and-coming local artist with real talent. She was right. I hope you will enjoy learning more about our delightful and gifted cover artist. I know I sure did. In this issue, we are honored to feature Angus Lind’s inspiring story of Ben Blanchard, his family and his courageous journey. And from celebrating 20 years with the Northshore’s own Ghost Town to a revival of rugby at Southeastern and the world travels of artists/partners John Hodge and Francie Rich, you are sure to find interesting reading for those times when you can relax in your favorite chair by a cozy fire. Speaking of the holidays, there’s a lot in this issue to help you make a dent in that shopping list! In addition to Inside Look and Flourishes, Poki’s Picks and articles devoted to accessories and gifts for men will give you an early start. And don’t miss Becky Slatten’s hilarious take on The Reason for the Season! However you celebrate the holidays, I hope they are happy!! Enjoy the issue!

14

Inside Northside


Contributors

photo: SYNDEY BYRD

Our contributors give Inside Northside its voice, its personality and its feel. Here we are proud to highlight a couple of them so that you can put a face with a name and get to know them.

Angus Lind

In 42 years in newspapers, 39 at The States-Item and The Times-Picayune, Tulane graduate Angus Lind covered the biggest stories of the 1970s – the Hale Boggs plane crash in Alaska, the Downtown Howard Johnson sniper incident and the construction of the Superdome. For 32 years as a columnist, he wrote amusing, occasionally irreverent stories about New Orleans characters. He tells Ben Blanchard’s story on page 40.

Leah Draffen

Mimi Greenwood Knight

Leah Draffen has been a part of the Inside Northside team for over five years. While not writing, gathering and planning for the magazine, Leah is learning (or attempting) the art of being a new mom. She enjoys cooking, flower arrangements and spending time outside with her husband, baby boy and two rambunctious rescue pups. In this issue, Leah shares the stories of cover artist Marianne Angeli Rodriguez on page 18, Christian Serpas and Ghost Town on page 36, local designers on page 58, and Last Sip on page 90.

Mimi Greenwood Knight is a mother of four and a freelance writer with over five hundred articles and essays in print in national and regional magazines, devotionals and fifty anthologies, including two dozen Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She lives on a small hobby farm in Folsom with her husband, David, where she enjoys gardening, beekeeping, Bible study, knitting and chicken wrangling. In this issue, Mimi writes about rugby’s return to SELU on page 46.

Other Voices: Susan Bonnett Bourgeois, Candra George, Thomas B. Growden, Poki Hampton, KiKi Randon, Debra Rehage and Becky Slatten. 16

Inside Northside


NESTLED INTO THE BRICK and mortar of downtown Covington’s East Gibson Street, a surprising ray of colorful boldness exudes from Marianne Angeli Rodriguez’s studio gallery. Patterns, shapes and vibrant hues that speak joy and as the artist explains it, “vacation mode,” hang on the walls of the oncedusty storage space of a former office. The studio gallery, and the artist, seem to be destined to fit into the downtown Covington art circuit, but Philippineborn Marianne Angeli Rodriguez’s journey to becoming a painter wasn’t quite a straightforward course. Her path to art started in New York, beginning with a degree from 18

Inside Northside

Hunter College. “I had a degree in media studies and anthropology, thinking that I was going to follow in my parents’ footsteps of doing diplomatic work for the United Nations, but I ended up at a PR agency that did shows for Fashion Week and worked with emerging designers,” says Marianne. “From that experience of being exposed to the fashion industry, I went directly to design school. I was always a creative person, but didn’t know where and how to use my hands.” Marianne’s time in design school at the Fashion Institute of Technology came to an end a couple of years after the recession began, making it >>

photo courtesy: MARIANNE ANGELI RODRIGUEZ

Cover Artist Marianne Angeli Rodriguez

photo: CANDRA GEORGE mycreativereality.com

by Leah Draffen

Uplifting Motifs


Katrina. I was there as a designer; it was great— and I met my husband on the set! He did the soundtrack for it.” Marianne continued selling her designs on the side as well as working as a liaison to local New Orleans designers for a friend’s Westbank factory. For a couple of years, she freelanced illustrations for bridal and beauty magazines and that’s where the larger-than-life art came in. “I was really tired of working small scale. There was all this energy that I needed to expend, so, randomly, one day I went to buy paint and a canvas—a big canvas. And I just started painting.” Life brought Marianne and her new husband to the Northshore, moving from a Mandeville home with room to paint in to a smaller home in Covington. “That’s why I opened the studio. I thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, I better take a leap of faith,’” she says. Two and half years later, Marianne is thriving in her Covington

photos courtesy: MARIANNE ANGELI RODRIGUEZ

impossible for her to find a job in design in New York. So, she went to Kenya, where her father was based at the time. She says, “I got in touch with a nonprofit that put me in contact with a women’s HIV group. For an entire summer, I taught them how to sew, make patterns, draft and illustrate. It was really challenging going into it blindly, but it was the best experience.” The women, along with Marianne, created a capsule collection of clothing and jewelry that she launched in New York. While visiting a former classmate in New Orleans, Marianne’s collection sold well in trunk shows throughout the city. “I moved to Louisiana very loosely,” she laughs. “And oddly, I got chosen to be on a documentary film put out by GNO Inc., Idea Village and the Downtown Development District called NOLAbound. So, I was in this film of 25 entrepreneurs to basically showcase that New Orleans was going through a renaissance after

20

Inside Northside


photos: CANDRA GEORGE mycreativereality.com

studio gallery as a full-time artist. “I would have never expected I would do this, but I feel so very called to do this work.” As a self-taught artist, Marianne paints intuitively without pre-planning, simply referencing and reinterpreting the images and patterns of her childhood spent in the Philippines, England, West Africa and Guatemala to craft acrylic art on canvas, planters and tapestries. “When we lived abroad, my parents were always very much interested in collecting the handicrafts and art of the locals wherever we were. We have a lot of really cool décor and sculptures, odd furniture and a lot of textiles, especially from Africa and Guatemala,” Marianne explains. “I feel like I’ve absorbed all of that, and I have those images and patterns living in my brain. So, when I approach the canvas, it’s a combination of remembering and expressing certain shapes, motifs and really bright colors. I want people to feel always positive and almost on vacation mode when seeing my pieces. I believe the intent of art is to uplift.” And that is exactly what Marianne’s work does. Marianne Angeli Rodriguez Studio Gallery is located at 430 E Gibson St. in Covington. Open by appointment Monday to Saturday, 238-0842. MarianneAngeliRodriguez.com.

November-December 2019 21


INSIDE the definitive guide to northshore events and entertainment

November 2 Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Fontainebleau

Frisbie Calder The Rookery Exhibit.

Abita Springs Trailhead, 11am-7pm.

State Park, 62883 LA1089, Mandeville.

LeMieux Galleries, 332 Julia St, New

abitafallfest.com.

Registration, 8am; ceremony, 9am;

Orleans. lemieuxgalleries.com. 1-28 Shop Early and Save. Purchase

2 St. Paul’s Jazz ’n Roll. Auction, dinner and live music. Briggs Assembly Center,

$125 in gift cards and receive $25 free.

917 S Jahncke Ave, Covington. $70.

The Oasis, 1357 N Causeway Blvd,

892-3200, ext 1970.

Mandeville. 624-6772. theoasisdayspa. net. 1-Jan 5 Louisiana Contemporary. Presented by The Helis Foundation.

2 St. Paul’s Open House. 917 S Jahncke

walk, 9:30am. (504) 641-4557, ext 8317. alz.org. 2 WYES Louisiana Hayride. Dust off your denim and diamonds to join the WYES Louisiana Hayride presented

Ave, Covington. Continuous tours from

by LCI Workers’ Comp. Food by the

1-3pm. 892-3200, ext 1903.

Lakehouse and music by the Charley

2 Survivors, Thrivers and Drivers

Rivers band. The home of Cathy

Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925

Celebration Open Car Show and

and Rick Hood, 2441 Lakeshore Dr,

Camp St, New Orleans. ogdenmuseum.

Cancer Survivor Celebration. St.

Mandeville. Patron party, 4pm; event,

org.

Tammany Cancer Center, 1203 S.

2 Abita Fall Fest. Live music with two

22

activities; food; Abita Beer and more.

Tyler St., Covington. Vehicle arrivals/

5pm. $100-$150. wyes.org. 3 Men Who Cook. Twenty-three celebrity

stages and ten bands, including Marc

registration, 9am; open, 10am; awards,

teams will go head to head in a

Broussard and Flow Tribe; kid-friendly

3pm. 871-5864. lchopin@stph.org.

competitive cook-off to raise money

I n s i d e N o rt h s i d e

photo courtesy: CHF

1-16 Leslie Nichols She Said & Pippin


Dec 8 History and Holly Tour. Covington homes tour, holiday music and more presented by the Covington Heritage Foundation. This year, in addition to touring four homes that are beautifully decorated for the holidays, attendees will also tour two historic downtown churches, one of which will host a free choir concert to kick off the festivities. Begins in downtown Covington. 2-5pm. $20. covingtonheritagefoundation. com.

for Children’s Advocacy Center Hope House. Top of Justice Center Parking Garage, 601 N Jefferson, Covington. 4-7pm. cachopehouse.org. 7 Open House for Prospective Students. SSA Campus, 122 S. Massachusetts St, Covington. 4-6:30 pm. ssacad.org. 8 Northlake Newcomers Club Game Day. Bunco, Mahjong, or Canasta. Beau

Chêne Country Club, 602 N. Beau Chêne Dr, Mandeville. $16 for members and guests. Doors open, 10:00am. northlakenewcomers.com.

8 Pallets with Purpose. Auction, wine pull and food by Gary Bonanno’s Catering. Northshore Food Bank Warehouse, 840 >> November-December 2019 23


N Columbia St, Covington. 6:30pm. northshorefoodbank.

community. Benefitting the LSU Health Sciences Center

org/pallets-with-purpose.

and Tulane Cancer Center. New Orleans Marriott Hotel, 555

9 Atrium Art Gallery Opening Reception: Water Color Society. Christwood Retirement Community, 100

13 Managing Diabetes During the Holidays Free Talk.

Christwood Blvd, Covington. 4:30-6:30pm. christwoodrc.

Learn how to holiday-proof your diabetes management plan

com.

and enjoy the festivities by attending a free group meeting,

9-10 Holiday Shopping Pop Up. Giftware, apparel, Carson

sponsored by North Oaks Diabetes Education Second floor,

and Co. and Julie Voss Trunk Show. Southern Hotel, 428 E

North Oaks Diagnostic Center, 15837 Paul Vega, M.D., Dr,

Boston St, Covington. 9pm. 400-5657.

Hammond. 3-4pm. 230-5723. northoaks.org/diabetes.

9-10 Lilly’s Birthday. Gift with purchase. Palm Village, A Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store, 2735 US 190, Mandeville. 7782547. 9-10 Three Rivers Art Festival. Attracting 50,000+ visitors,

13 Preschool to Seventh Grade Open House. Cedarwood School, 607 Heavens Dr, Mandeville. 9am. 845-7111. cedarwoodschool.com. 14 Kindergarten Open House. Cedarwood School, 607

the award-winning festival brings the best of fine arts crafts

Heavens Dr, Mandeville. 9am. 845-7111. cedarwoodschool.

to downtown Covington. 10am-5pm. threeriversartfestival.

com.

com. 10 Harvest in the Hills. Food, libations, live music, flyovers

17 Empty Bowl Event. Hosted by the Old Mandeville Business Association to benefit The Samaritan Center

and auction. Proceeds benefitting the charities and projects

Food Bank. Music, food, raffles, prize wheel, silent auction

of St. Francisville Area Foundation. The Bluffs Golf & Sports

and more. Pontchartrain Yacht Club, 140 Jackson Ave,

Resort, St. Francisville. 1pm. (225) 978-9502. bontempstix.

Mandeville. 3-6pm. $45. Tickets may be purchased at The

com/events/harvest2019.

Samaritan Center, Das Schulerhaus, K’Gee’s Restaurant or

11 Cancer Crusaders Celebration of Life Luncheon. Honoring cancer survivors who are active in their

24

Canal St, New Orleans. 11am. $85. 495-7036.

I n s i d e N o rt h s i d e

on the night of the event. samcen.org. 17 Third Sunday Concert Series: Loyola Opera


Workshop. Christ Episcopal Church, 120 S New

December

Hampshire St, Covington. 5-6pm. 892-3177. 19 SLU Speaker Bill Robinson, History and Political

1-3 Cyber Funday. Gift with purchase. Palm Village, A Lilly

Science. Christwood Retirement Community, 100

Pulitzer Signature Store, 2735 US 190, Mandeville. 778-

Christwood Blvd, Covington. 2-3pm. christwoodrc.com.

2547.

28 Run for Hope Turkey Trot. “Run For Hope” honoring

1-23 Christmas in the Country. Special shopping events,

Vince Lombardo. All proceeds benefit M.D.Anderson/

strolling musicians, carolers, refreshments and door prizes

Lung Cancer Alliance. Terra Bella, 100 Terra Bella Blvd,

sponsored by the Covington Business Association, Lee

Covington. Registration, 7am; one-mile fun run, 7:30am;

Lane Merchants and the City of Covington. Downtown

5K, 8am. covingtonprintworks.com.

Covington. gocovington.org.

28-30 Colorful Weekend. Gift with purchase. Palm Village, A Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store, 2735 US 190, Mandeville. 778-2547. 29-Dec 23 Christmas in the Country. Special shopping events, strolling musicians, carolers, refreshments and door

1-30 Audubon Zoo Lights. Audubon Zoo Lights presented by Children’s Hospital. auduboninstitute.org. 1-Jan 1 Celebration in the Oaks. New Orleans City Park. neworleanscitypark.com. 1-Jan 5 Louisiana Contemporary. Presented by The Helis

prizes sponsored by the Covington Business Association,

Foundation. Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp

Lee Lane Merchants and the City of Covington. Downtown

St, New Orleans. ogdenmuseum.org.

Covington. gocovington.org. 29-Dec 30 Audubon Zoo Lights. Audubon Zoo Lights

1, 7-8, 14-15, 19-24 Teddy Bear Tea. Holiday food, specialty teas, tasty pastries, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and sparkling

presented by Children’s Hospital. auduboninstitute.org.

wine and mimosas for mom and dad. The Roosevelt New

29-Jan 1 Celebration in the Oaks. New Orleans City Park.

Orleans, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, 130 Roosevelt Way, New

neworleanscitypark.com.

Orleans. (504) 335-3129. therooseveltneworleans.com. 4 Dove Market. Pop-up shopping and entertainment with

>>


over 40 vendors. SSA Campus, 122 S. Massachusetts St, Covington. 4-9pm. ssacad.org. 5 Christmas Bingo. OnSTAGE at the Fuhrmann, 128 W 23rd Ave, Covington. covla.com. 6 Olde Towne Crawl. 2200 Block of Carey St, Slidell. 5-10pm. 285-5613. 6 Sips of the Season. Old Mandeville bars, pubs and

Photos with Santa, Christmas crafts, fire truck and more. Breakfast will include pancakes, sausage, milk, juice and coffee. Bring loose change to fill coin containers to help eliminate Maternal Neonatal Tetanus and save the lives of Moms and their babies. Fontainebleau High School cafeteria, 100 Bulldog Dr, Mandeville. 8-11am. $5.

restaurants. Mugs available at K. Gee’s Restaurants,

Purchase from members or Mandeville Resource, Whitney

The Lemon Tree, Cameo Boutique, Blent Juice Bar, Das

or Fidelity Banks. 778-8298 or (504) 236-3435.

Schulerhaus Gift Gallery & Christmas Boutique. 5-9pm. 624-3147. oldmandevillebiz.com. 6-8 Christmas Extravaganza Arts and Crafts Expo.

7 Running of the Santas. Warehouse District, New Orleans. runningofthesantas.com. 7 Winter on the Water. Santa arrives by boat, marching

St Tammany Parish Fairgrounds, 1304 N Columbia St,

parade from harbor to Gazebo, performances and lighting

Covington. 10am-5pm. Adults, $5; 12 and under, free. 966-

of the lakefront live oaks. Lakeshore Dr, Mandeville. 4-6pm.

7863.

cityofmandeville.com.

6-8 Christmas in the Country. Old-fashioned family fun. St. Francisville. (225) 635-3873. stfrancisvillefestivals.com. 6-15 A Very Merry Christmas Spectacular. 30 by Ninety Theatre, 880 Lafayette St, Mandeville. 30byNinety.com. 7 Merry Madisonville & Lighting of the Oaks. Parade, caroling, kid’s activities, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus and more. Madisonville Town Hall, 403 Saint Francis St. 2-8pm. 845-9824.

26

7 Northshore Mandeville Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast.

I n s i d e N o rt h s i d e

7-9 Resort Ready Glamour Promo. Gift with purchase. Palm Village, A Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store, 2735 US 190, Mandeville. 778-2547. 8 Christmas on the Northshore Concert. St. Timothy on the Northshore UMC, 335 Asbury Dr, Mandeville. 7-8:30pm. sttimothyumc.org. 8 History and Holly Tour. Covington homes tour, holiday music and more presented by the Covington Heritage


Foundation. This year, in addition to touring four homes

Pulitzer Signature Store, 2735 US 190, Mandeville. 778-

that are beautifully decorated for the holidays, attendees

2547.

will also tour two historic downtown churches, one

15 Third Sunday Concert Series: A Christmas Brass

of which will host a free choir concert to kick off the

Spectacular. Produced by Erik Morales featuring the

festivities. Begins in downtown Covington. 2-5pm. $20.

Louisiana Brass. Christ Episcopal Church, 120 S New

covingtonheritagefoundation.com.

Hampshire St, Covington. 5-6pm. 892-3177.

9 Ragtime Jazz in the Garden Room. Christwood

16-18 Scarf Promo. Gift with purchase. Palm Village, A Lilly

Retirement Community, 100 Christwood Blvd, Covington.

Pulitzer Signature Store, 2735 US 190, Mandeville. 778-

7pm. christwoodrc.com.

2547.

10 Christmas Concert and Tree Lighting. SSA Chapel,

18 Celtic Angels Christmas. OnSTAGE at the Fuhrmann,

SSA Campus, 122 S. Massachusetts St, Covington. 7pm. ssacad.org.

128 W 23rd Ave, Covington. covla.com. 20-31 NOLA ChristmasFest. Ice skating rink, ice slides,

13 Candlelight Caroling at Covington Trailhead. 419 N

holiday characters, themed inflatables, arts and crafts,

New Hampshire St, Covington. 7-8:30pm. covla.com.

gingerbread house exhibit, food, drinks and more. New

13 Northlake Newcomers Club Christmas Luncheon.

Orleans Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, Hall H.

The Mande Milkshakers will help usher in the holiday

nolachristmasfest.com.

season! Beau Chêne Country Club, 602N. Beau Chêne

31 Roaring Back to the 20s New Year’s Eve Party. Music,

Drive, Mandeville. $16 for members and guests. Doors

open bar, midnight pinecone drop and more. Southern

open, 10:00am. northlakenewcomers.com.

Hotel, 428 E Boston St, Covington. 9pm. 400-5657.

14 A Christmas Past Festival. Arts and crafts, food and beverage booths, bands and strolling caroling groups.

Send your event information to

Girod St, Mandeville. 9am-3pm. cityofmandeville.com.

scoop@insidepub.com to have it featured

14-15 Pouch Promo. Gift with purchase. Palm Village, A Lilly

in an upcoming issue of Inside Northside.


IN Other Words by Becky Slatten

The Reason for the Season AFTER WHAT FELT LIKE the longest summer in history, I’m so ready for the Holidays. Not Thanksgiving, of course; everyone knows how I feel about “Dirty Dishes Day”—cooking for a week straight, going around the table one by one saying what we’re thankful for (blah blah blah) while I watch my gravy separate, and then cleaning the kitchen for 6 hours. I mean, I’m happy the Indians gave the pilgrims corn and everything; I just don’t know why I have to suffer for it. Though lately, I really can’t complain—my sweet in-laws have taken up that cross, so these days we just show up and stuff ourselves, and they don’t even require “proper attire.” It’s pretty fantastic. And once that’s over, it’s time for the “real” Holiday, which is, of course, glorious Christmas. My niece just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Lucy. She went to the doctor weekly in her last month and gave birth in a clean, comfortable hospital nearly pain-free thanks to the miracle of the epidural. This blessed event caused me to reflect on the plight of poor Mary. Chosen by God Himself to be the ultimate vessel, it had to be very difficult for a young girl in a small town to try to explain to her fiancé, family and friends that she

28 Inside Northside

had a visit from an angel and became pregnant by a Holy Spirit. But that would be nothing compared to riding a donkey for 80 miles on bumpy roads over the course of a week or more—this would obviously require CAMPING—while pregnant, only to arrive in Bethlehem to discover that you’ve got nowhere to stay, much less give birth. I read a commentary that explained that Jewish people in that slice of history would never have stayed in an Inn because the food would probably not be kosher, and they were also not allowed to break bread with gentiles. The Greek word kataluma, most often misinterpreted as “inn,” actually refers to a guest room, most likely in the home of a relative. The commentary went on to state that Joseph’s elder brother probably arrived first and was already settled into the guest accommodations, which is so typical of the oldest sibling, isn’t it? They always get everything. He and his prissy wife probably said, “Hey, let’s leave on our donkey a week early so we don’t get stuck in the barn.” But I digress. We all know how the story ends: Joseph and Mary got stuck in the barn because of Joseph’s selfish brother and sister-in-law, and that’s where Mary had to give birth to Jesus Christ. No


clean sheets, no epidural, just lowing cattle and a bunch of hay, and she probably didn’t even complain. But THEN, a brand new star just suddenly appeared in the sky, and shepherds turned up out of the blue to see the baby, and wise men started showing up with expensive baby presents. If I were Mary, I would be like, “In your FACE, brother and sister-in-law!” And that’s precisely why God would’ve never chosen me. Mary was so humble and pure; I’m sure she was nothing but gracious and sweet, and it goes without saying that Jesus forgave them. True, she went through a lot in her pregnancy and childbirth, but can you imagine having her bragging rights? I can just picture her hanging around the village well with the other moms listening while they talk about how little Enoch and Nebuchadnezzar made the honor roll at Bethlehem Elementary. Mary had the ultimate perfect child, and she probably just quietly and modestly beamed with pride. That would not be me. “So, how’s little Jesus doing? Oh, He’s teaching at the synagogue now, you know, when He’s not turning water into wine or walking on it … oh, and He occasionally heals leprosy, blindness and brings people back from the dead. You know … just saving mankind from sin … same ole.” (In your FACE, moms!) Yes, God truly knew what He was doing when He chose Mary. Merry Christmas, y’all! November-December 2019 29


30

AFTER LIVING IN TCHEFUNCTA CLUB ESTATES for 21 years, Latter and Blum real estate agent Alice McNeely wanted to downsize to a smaller home with a small yard. “An agent brought me a contract on my house in Tchefuncta, which was not on the market, and as luck would have it, this house in TerraBella Village, came on the market on the same day. I’m not one to make a quick decision, but TerraBella, with its

Inside Northside

small town feel, and this house, with plenty of room and low maintenance, are perfect for me,” says Alice. The house is West Indies-style, with white stucco exterior, arches, brick walkways and walled-off outdoor living area, complete with a covered outdoor kitchen, space for alfresco dining and an additional seating area with a fireplace. As you walk into the foyer, you are greeted by

photo: KIKI RANDON

by Poki Hampton


a new chapter an antique Louis Philippe walnut chest, topped with a contemporary solid crystal-and-brass Ambar lamp and a sculpture by Susanne Longo. Above the chest hangs an antique Louis Phillipe mirror. The lantern chandelier is brushed brass. Over the stairs, leading to two bedrooms upstairs, are paintings by Bernard Mattox and Ken Tate. The floors throughout the home are an Old World grey smoked oak that has

been wire brushed and distressed. “I have a mix of old and new here in this new house,” says Alice. “I kept the family pieces and antiques I have had for years.” The addition of contemporary pieces gives a current vibe to the home. “The Greige Interiors team helped me pick out new upholstery and various contemporary furniture pieces.” >> November-December 2019 31


32

Inside Northside

photos: KIKI RANDON

The crisp white, open concept living area is tranquil and spacious enough for entertaining. An expanse of windows overlooks the outdoor area. Two sofas, slipcovered in white linen, flank the painted pecky cypress fireplace. Throw pillows with European appliques by Louisiana designer Rebecca Vizzard add a touch of fall color. Flanking the pecky cypress fireplace are oversized antique olio jars; two portraits hang over the olios. “The portraits are of ancestors, but I don’t know who they were. Family legend has it that at one time during the Civil War, the ancestral home was invaded and the painting on the right was slashed by a sword-wielding Yankee.” The cocktail table is in weathered grey with a white marble top. On the table sits another sculpture by Susanne Longo and a large white barnacle vase, along with a stack of design books. At the ends of the sofas are martini end tables in solid brushed stainless steel with white marble tops. Two barrel-back chairs with linen fabric and burlap webbing in the back are finished in a textured charcoal and white. On a small table is a contemporary suspended wire and crystal sculpture by Key-Sook Geum. The windows in the living room are dressed in off-white silk dupioni. In the adjacent dining area are a contemporary round table and Empireinspired chairs with gold leather upholstery. The kitchen is a cook’s dream, with plenty of cabinets and Quartzite countertops in Perla Venata. The knobs on the cabinets, which are painted Classic Grey by Benjamin Moore, are brushed gold, another contemporary touch. The pecky cypress vent hood, also in Classic Grey, adds interest. An oversized Martha Sturdy resin bowl sits on the counter. Two very rare wooden


odalisques flank the entrance to the kitchen. The downstairs office houses a slick white Lillian August campaign desk with a burnt orange leather chair. Over the desk is an antique portrait of Alice’s great grandmother. Two comfortable club chairs offer extra seating. An antique French walnut armoire and a freestanding metal-and-smoked-oak Susanne Kastler bookcase hold antique books, an antique horn, a small George Dunbar painting from the Coin Du Lestin series, a Beatrice Ball piece and a large selection of family photos, making it a comfortable work space. Providing storage are a rustic French armoire and an English pine cabinet; the cabinet holds gold acanthus leaf lamps. The lantern chandelier is a faceted orb with brushed gold finish. The master bedroom is sophisticated in subtle tones of white and grey. The shelter headboard is

in textured linen with nail head trim. Dressing the bed is a mix of white bedcovers by Bella Notte and Alessandra Lili, with a white satin embroidered pillow. As a crowning touch, Alice hung a floral motif chandelier fragment in old gold over the bed. The night stands are in pickled oak with beige painted accents and bronze pulls. Above the night stands hang two framed antique etchings. On the wall beside the bed is an exquisite George Dunbar from Rouville sculptural painting in Palladian clay. A contemporary solid brass bench sits at the foot of the bed. As you open the master bath double doors, you see a large soaker tub with a pressed botanical of elephant ears by Bali artist Lauren Lachance and a fantastical chandelier in capiz shell and brushed gold. The spacious and understated bath has two separate vanities, topped by chrome sconces with white linen >> November-December 2019 33


34

Inside Northside

photos: KIKI RANDON

shades. A built-in bookcase for towels and objets d’art is beside a mammoth, spa-like, walk-through marble shower. There are two guest rooms upstairs with a private balcony where guests can enjoy their morning coffee. One is furnished with a studded oatmeal linen headboard; the queen bed is covered in white linen. Two reeded-front nightstands hold brushed gold sunburst lamps. On the side wall are an early Bernard Mattox painting and a painting by Leslie Dudley. An antique French walnut armoire and a white linen slipcovered club chair are on the creamy cowhide layered on a sisal rug. Everything in this house has been executed to be a relaxed yet luxurious home. It’s about the coming together of the elements of texture, color, fabric and form that combine into a workable aesthetic. “Working with Greige was such a delightful experience because they helped me source all of the new furniture, original art, rugs and accessories. With their new lighting gallery, picking out new lamps for the house was a breeze,” says Alice.


by Leah Draffen

36

WHO KNEW? Country music doesn’t have to be some old sad song. In fact, it may be the very formula that has kept Christian Serpas & Ghost Town rocking for 20 years. You read that right—20 years. Their charisma on stage and the revved up country they produce leaves you feeling happy. “I feel like it has been a blink,” Christian says. “It seems like the day that we sat in a room and talked about starting the band was last week.” With three of the four bandmates being original members and the “newest” member being with the group for eleven years, their history is almost unheard of in the music world. The band, made up of Christian on mic, Jeff Oteri on drums, George Neyrey on guitar and Don Williams on bass, plays honkytonk tunes with a rock-n-roll influence. Reminiscing about the band’s start, Christian

Inside Northside

says: “It didn’t go the way that I anticipated it. I didn’t have a clear-cut vision of where it was going to go. When we first got together, we knew what we wanted it to be—the country band that we always wanted to see, with a lot of rock influences and rockabilly. Everything we grew up liking. So, we knew how we wanted it to sound, but we didn’t have any idea of whether it would be accepted or where we would play.” They wanted to share the sounds of Dwight Yoakam, Buck Owens and Willie Nelson, but with sprinkles of The Clash, Led Zeppelin and The Ramones. “I remember we played our first show at a place in Folsom called the Rocking Horse that’s not there anymore. We played nine songs because that’s all we knew. I think we may have played one of them twice. I remember riding home from the show and asking my

photo: BARRY PARKER

IN A BLINK

Ghost Town Turns 20


wife, ‘Now what do we do?’ I had no idea that we would become a festival band—I had not even thought of that. It just kind of happened. We played one festival, then another, and realized that people were accepting us for what we were.” Now 20 years later, Ghost Town has played over 1,400 shows, sharing the stage with many artists, including: Blake Shelton, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Merle Haggard, Montgomery Gentry, Pat Green, Zac Brown Band and almost 100 others. “It found its own level and identity, and we’re very thankful that people gave it a chance,” Christian adds. “I never dreamed it would last 20 years.” Ghost Town now boasts eight CDs and a DVD, the latest being Rockin’ ol’ Christmas that the band released last December. “I’ve always been a big fan of Christmas music—my favorite being Elvis’ Christmas album. It was so rockin’. It was my favorite when I got it, and it’s still my favorite now. I knew that one day I wanted to make a Christmas record, and we finally did it.” Christian also hinted to keep an eye (and ear) out for a new CD that will make an appearance in 2020. It will be Ghost Town’s classic CD recipe of a batch of their own songs and one cover. When asked if it will be the best one yet, Christian says all of the albums are special. In 2016, they put out a CD called Favorites. “We took the best songs from our very first CD, Electric Hoedown, and re-recorded them to improve the quality, along with a handful of new songs and a cover of Merle Haggard’s I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” New songs written by Christian himself and new covers are continuously added to the repertoire. “Our song list is so long that we often won’t have a designated set list. Right before we go up, I’ll just say, ‘Okay we’re going to >> November-December 2019 37


Ghost Town in 2001.

open with this and go into this.’ From there, we read the audience and gauge what songs to play next. It’s a much different perspective on stage, getting to watch the room and the people in it.” And it’s the people that Christian credits all of Ghost Town’s success and memories to. “We’ve always said the coolest thing about being in a band is all of the great people we meet. In 20 years, we’ve met so many good people that it is more like a celebration of them and the places we’ve been and the shows we’ve played. It’s like a nod to the great things in life that have happened. There are couples who have met at our shows, and now they’re married, some have children. It’s very, very cool.” Approaching the band’s anniversary, they were hesitant to acknowledge it because they were afraid that people would think it was the end. However, Christian and the guys have other plans. “We wanted to let people know that we appreciate them letting us hang around for 20 years.” And for the next 20? “There’s plenty more where that came from.” For performance dates and more, visit christianserpas.com. 38

Inside Northside


M E D I C A L

P R O F I L E

Warren “Jay” Huber III, MD, PhD, FACOG FERTILITY INSTITUTE OF NEW ORLEANS

Since 1978, the Fertility Institute of New Orleans has assisted with over 18, 011 pregnancies. As one of the longest established fertility practices in the

abnormalities of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. During his time in residency, Dr. Huber was recognized for outstanding

United States, FINO has been a pioneer in the introduction of new infertility

laparoscopic and pelvic surgery. His favorite surgery is a robotic myomectomy

treatments in the region.

utilizing the da Vinci robot system. He has an adjunct appointment at the LSU

The team at the FINO is delighted to welcome their newest Fertility

School of Medicine as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In

Specialist, Warren “Jay” Huber III, MD PhD, FACOG, back home. New Orleans

this role, Dr. Huber will be heavily involved in OBGYN Resident and medical student

native Dr. Huber joins FINO after completing his residency in Obstetrics and

education, both in the office as well as the operating room.

Gynecology and his fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at

As a Doctor of Philosophy, Dr. Huber has always been devoted to translational

The Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University/Women & Infants

research –bringing the bench to the bedside. Most recently his interests have been

Hospital of RI in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Huber graduated from Jesuit

in the role that the maternal immune system plays in successful pregnancy. Dr.

High School in New Orleans and then received his B.S. in Biochemistry at LSU

Huber has also been involved with patient advocacy work/policy, with the passage

in Baton Rouge. Following his time in Baton Rouge, Dr. Huber returned to

of a law in Rhode Island requiring private insurance companies to cover fertility

New Orleans where he received his PhD in Pharmacology and Experimental

preservation cycles in patients undergoing treatments that may impact future

Therapeutics and his MD at LSU Health Sciences Center.

fertility. This work was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Huber and his wife Dr. Lauren Brignac-Huber, also a New Orleans

In his downtime, Dr. Huber enjoys spending time at home with his

native, currently live in the Uptown New Orleans area with their 10-year-old

family and their 4-year-old black lab, Lucy. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and

daughter, Maryn. The draw back to New Orleans was a combination of family

reading. Dr. Huber is now accepting new patients in Metairie and Mandeville.

in the area and his ability to bring the knowledge gained in the New England

Call today for a consultation.

area to the Gulf South to benefit couples with infertility. Some of Dr. Huber’s clinical interests include female infertility, optimization of the endometrium for embryo transfer, fertility preservation and same-sex couple fertility care. While at Brown/Women & Infants, Dr. Huber had extensive training in minimally invasive infertility surgery, including advanced hysteroscopy and laparoscopy/robotic surgery to address

Fertility Institute of New Orleans is located at 800 N Causeway Blvd, Ste 2C, Mandeville, (985) 892-7621; and 4770 S I-10 Service Rd W, Ste 201 in Metairie, (504) 454-2165. fertilityinstitute.com. November-December 2019 39


Mark and Susan Blanchard. 40

LIFELONG FRIENDS AND CLASSMATES from elementary through high school in Covington schools, Ben Blanchard and John Alford went to LSU. Blanchard pledged Lambda Chi fraternity and Alford Sigma Chi. All pretty normal procedure for incoming freshmen. In high school at St. Paul’s, handsome, darkhaired Ben was always the life of the party and had some eye-catching ridiculous moves on the dance floor, although he didn’t drink. Basketball-tall and also handsome, Alford was a self-described introvert. “We didn’t room together because we didn’t want to jeopardize our friendship,” Alford said. Still they wound up on the same floor of their dorm and hung out together. Both had the same major—international trade and finance. Blanchard’s father was in shipping,

Inside Northside

and Ben planned on going into the business. “Not long into the freshman year, when you walked around campus, you started hearing the buzz about this guy Jenkins,” said Alford. “When people would find out I was from Covington, they’d say, ‘Well, you must know this guy Jenkins, right? Where’d you go to school?’” Alford said St. Paul’s. “Yeah, so did Jenkins,” came the reply. Alford would say, “Never heard of the guy.” One day, Alford and Blanchard were walking to class together, and this guy walks by and says, “What’s up, Jenkins?” “And then it hit me,” said Alford. Ben’s nickname at Lambda Chi had become “Jenkins” because some active mistakenly thought his name was Jenkins. Jenkins this, Jenkins that. “For

photo: TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER / STUDIO U

by Angus Lind

“Never Retreat, Never Surrender”


all of his undergraduate career, he was known as Jenkins,” said Alford. Blanchard became president of Lambda Chi and took full advantage of college life. By then, he was drinking and took his partying to another level. “He truly loved his fraternity and amassed an army of friends,” said Alford. After graduating, Alford chose to go to law school and Ben became Vice President of Van Weelde Chartering, having opened their New Orleans office after beginning his career in Rotterdam, Holland. That was fortunate, because Ben was an avid duck hunter and saltwater fisherman, having spent considerable time at his grandmother’s camp in Grand Isle growing up. After Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Blanchard hooked up with admiralty lawyer Bill Wynne, now a partner at Jones Walker Law Firm in New Orleans. “We became fast friends,” said Wynne. “Really tight. Drinking buddies.” They partied together and lived in the same condo building for seven years. Alford met Wynne at what became known as “Da Condo.” It was the hub of their social

with a passion. Ben was a charter board member of Success Prep (Now Success at Thurgood Marshall), an inner city charter elementary school. “When it got started, 85% of the kids were two years behind their grade level,” said Mark Blanchard. “He got involved after Katrina. When he saw all the devastation, he just wanted to come back and rebuild New Orleans. “He really loved New Orleans. He said, ‘I know what I’m going to do—I’m going to get involved with education because my education got me where I am today. If New Orleans has any chance of getting through this we have to educate,’” his dad said. “So he walked the projects, sat in the parking lots to recruit students before the school even opened. Who’s gonna do that?” Ben Blanchard, that’s who. “He worked with the principal, intimately supporting the school,” said Susan Blanchard, his mom. “He got tickets for sporting events, recruiting funding for teachers.” On March 13, 2014, Ben’s life was thrown a nasty curveball. He was diagnosed with Ewing’s

The Ben Blanchard Story life, with Ben as the director of the nighttime social activities. They met new people who immediately became Ben’s best friends. Alford, now an attorney at Dudley DeBosier in New Orleans after spending years with the office of Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizaro as an assistant DA, tells a legendary story about Ben getting “married” one week at Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street. Three girls hung out with them all weekend. “On Saturday night in the wee hours on Bourbon Street, we run into a judge not to be named,” said Alford. “So he recited the vows and married them.” The judge was holding a Lucky Dog while he officiated. The girl left town; the marriage was annulled. “The crazy thing,” said Alford, “is that of all the girls he dated, there was never anyone he didn’t remain friends with, including her.” The Blanchard home on the Bogue Falaya River in Covington is all about LSU football and Mardi Gras and family, the walls adorned with Tiger moments and Mardi Gras celebrations. While that was still a huge part of Ben’s life, he embraced New Orleans

Sarcoma, an aggressive and deadly cancerous tumor that grows in or around bones. It is rarely found in adults, more often in children hitting puberty. He was treated primarily at MD Anderson in Houston and also at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Covington. He went through 16 rounds of chemotherapy. He had surgery to remove a tumor and a rib in October of 2014. He also went through six weeks of radiation. No one gave up hope, but the prognosis was not good. He adopted the motto “Never Retreat, Never Surrender,” which came from a letter Wynne gave to him at Grand Isle. Ben’s dad, Mark Blanchard, the President and CEO of New Orleans Cold Storage & Warehouse Co., toasted the idea. ”Something that’s written down on a piece of paper can’t make someone great,” said Wynne. But he wanted him to have hope and inspiration. “I think he had that within himself anyway. I think it had to come from within him, and I think it did.” Wynne added that he always wanted to be “well in the background” on this. “I wanted it to be him and not me.” >> November-December 2019 41


More than 4,000 yellow “Ben Bracelets” with “Never Retreat, Never Surrender” and Ben’s initials on them were made and distributed. Friends sent in photos of themselves wearing their Ben Bracelets all over the world showing their support for Ben. The guy was simply beloved. “I don’t think Ben ever gave up hope, but deep down it was very unlikely that he would survive,” said Wynne. “When your final day gets moved up, it’s what you do in between. He tried to live a life that would be inspirational to other people and understood that while death might be inevitable, that’s not the point—it’s to live a life with meaning and purpose.” Ben even visited an 11-year-old with Ewing’s Sarcoma at a hospital and told his parents, “I don’t think his prognosis is as good as mine.” Alford wanted Ben to experience something he knew his dear friend never would. Alford’s wife Blair was about to give birth in 2014. “It was obvious that he was never going to be part of a childbirth. So I asked him to be the godfather, which he probably would have been anyway.” Ben accepted. Alford then asked him to be in the delivery room. He was. “I didn’t know 42

Inside Northside

what to expect, but classic Ben—he was all in. Probably more excited that I was. Northshore neighbors Gordon and Anne Stewart are close family friends. Gordon traveled with Susan Blanchard for Ben’s procedures in Houston. “Ben left such a big footprint,” said Gordon. “After he got sick, he became bigger than life. Every time I’d call to see how he was doing, he’d spin it and ask me, “Are you going to take care of my Dad?”’ On December 26, 2015, the Blanchards hosted a Christmas party at their home. More than 250 friends came. “Ben was on oxygen, which he needed. We knew he was losing a lot of lung capacity,” said his mom “He sat on the sofa for 4½ hours and people just came to talk to him; it was like a living wake. Everyone kept it upbeat, and they knew it was goodbye, but he never burdened them with that sense of goodbye. It was more like this is the greatest holiday.” Even girls who Ben had set Alford up with called that week. “You’ve got to remember, Ben was the greatest wingman to ever live,” said Alford. Chris Blanchard, five years younger than Ben and also in shipping, is the managing director of the fleeting operation of Cooper Consolidated, part

photo: TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER / STUDIO U

Friends and family at the Jenkins Jam Grand Finale.


of Cooper T. Smith. Chris said Ben was “a great big brother.” Ben adored and mentored Chris. As Chris was driving him to the Christmas party, Ben said “Hey buddy, I just want to let you know I’m not feeling good. And I can tell something’s changed in my body. Something’s different. I’m sick; I’m not getting better. I’m getting worse. I want you to know that.” Chris said he knew his cancer was growing. It had doubled in size. In a lot of ways, Ben was the Yankees’ Lou Gehrig without the 493 home runs and pinstripes, battling a losing cause against ALS and telling the world on July 4, 1939, at a packed Yankee Stadium, “For the past two weeks you’ve been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Gehrig died two years later. Chris had already told Ben, “You know, you’re a Hall of Famer. You had a short career, but your body of work was excellent.” Ben was hospitalized on December 28, 2015. Groups of high school and college friends were there. Chris had summoned them, but he had to step to the back of the room. He was overwhelmed. “It was moving and surreal,” he said. But Ben didn’t want any sympathy. “Let’s just tell some stories,” he said. On December 31, 2015, Ben was brought home to his parents’ home in Covington and placed under hospice care. He died on January 4, 2016, at their house, surrounded by family. He was 33. Ben had prepared well for that moment. “When Ben knew he was dying, he asked if we had a plot,” said his mom. Ben knew his parents were married at St. Joseph’s Abbey. And he had played basketball on the courts there as a kid. She told him she loved the Abbey. So he went there to check it>> November-December 2019 43


out. “He loved it, picked out the plot; it faces west, we all love sunsets.” He was buried there. What his brother Chris didn’t know until Ben was gone that he had bought two more plots, one for his brother and one for his wife Caroline. The funeral for Benjamin Marquette Blanchard, aka Jenkins, aka The Big Guy, aka Coach was on January 7, 2016, at St. Paul’s School and was attended by more than a thousand people. He was eulogized by Alford; his dad, Mark; and his brother, Chris. Among many moving remarks, his dad said, “Our family really connected with many of the things that (the late) ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott said in his book, Every Day I Fight. And it wasn’t until this morning that Chris told me, ‘Dad, did you realize that Stuart Scott died on January 4, just like Ben?’ One of my favorite quotes was, ‘Life is all about the dash.’ You know, the dash that is placed between your birthdate and the date of your death—all that stuff that you do, all the stuff you accomplish in life.” Chris said Ben told him he “had been blessed so much more than most.” He said he “had never ever, nor will he ever, question his situation, nor should we. At the end of the day we have family, we have friends and our reputation, and a reputation is very hard to build and so easy to tear down, so always protect it.” He said he was “Honored to be called early. You know, only the best get called early.” Lifelong pal Alford pointed out that Ben loved weddings. At receptions, “Ben stole the show. At some point there would be a ring around him while he displayed his latest and absolutely absurd dance moves. The night would inevitably end with Ben having split his pants from dropping low on the dance floor. He had a rather large caboose. He would always say my momma always told me that personality was in the seat of the pants. 44

Inside Northside


MONEY DOCTOR

photo: TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER / STUDIO U

Stick to the Plan

“For all of the people this could have happened to, Ben deserved it the least,” said Alford. “He led a truly exemplary life—he worshipped God, loved his friends and family, never met a stranger and made everyone around him better. I finally found some peace when I came to the recent realization that this was Ben’s purpose. The purpose was to provide an example of living life to the fullest, a reminder that whether we die at 33 or 93, life is too short and to focus on what truly matters—God, family, friends and LSU football. Ben lived his motto, ‘Never Retreat, Never Surrender’ until the end.” Ben’s parents understandably went through a long period of grieving, which was one of several reasons this story did not come to the forefront sooner. The way their son faced his ordeal gave them strength, but the healing took a long time. Susan Blanchard had just sold her business and spent more time with Ben than her husband did because he had to continue to run his company. “Ben inspired me to be very strong,” she said. “And to keep the peace. Because there was a little bit of denial about never giving up from Chris and Mark. And for Mark, there was a lot of anger, anger toward the disease and the lack of success we had in addressing it. And as Ben said, ‘When you look back we really didn’t have any wins.’” Both parents went to counseling before Ben passed. She joined a mothers grieving group in Baton Rouge. “I cried, but I joyfully remember things and always feel refreshed. It makes no difference how you lose a child.” “Ben never ever complained,” said Mark. “He was worried about us, particularly me, and he reached out to a number of my friends and asked them to check on me after he was gone.” That was done and it hasn’t stopped to this day. Ben’s friends decided they would come in from out of town and get together once a year, party, laugh and cry and tell Ben stories. “Ben was the glue for everyone,” said Alford. “He’s the one who brought people together. We had to >> continued on page 84

Q A

W. Mike Stewart AIF, RFC

Rick asks: I’m worried about Washington, should I move to safer investments?

Whether it’s a new tweet by the president, or the threat of

impeachment, politics have an impact on the way people manage their investments. However, even in times of political unrest, the stock market has remained relatively resilient.

Recently, the market has successfully weathered the unprecedented

bitter partisan politics and is up double digits this year. I fully expect some volatility this fall, but unless there is a real economic reason to act, you are best (in my opinion) to stay the course of long-term investing. I like to tell my clients to act like “Rip Van Winkle” and go to sleep (not to look at their accounts during downturns). The only reason you would get emotional and make a mistake is because you try to time the ups and downs of the market.

As a Fiduciary Investment Advisor, I generally caution against making

changes to an investment portfolio based on political actions. The political arena is often reactionary and sensationalized by our modern day instant news media in a way that isn’t favorable to a stable investment strategy. “If it bleeds, it leads” is a phrase I heard to describe the way our instant news world selects what to report on. Most of what you see today is embellished and sensationalized.

It is imperative for you to focus on your own personal financial

objectives and personal risk tolerance. Construct a plan and portfolio designed to meet your specific goals and stick to it while avoiding getting caught up in the emotional rollercoaster of politics and instant news.

This is your money and your future, not the politicians’, or the news

organizations’. Make sure you limit how much they impact your decisions by tuning them out! You have financial questions? Call or email Mike today.

W. Mike Stewart AIF, RFC • Wealth Management Services 985-809-0530 • wmsgroup@advisormike.com Check out Research Materials and Video Library at: www.advisormike.com November-December 2019 45


Rugby Returns

A Southeastern Tradition is Back

I WAS RAISED IN A FOOTBALL FAMILY. With five brothers and a dad who lived and breathed Saints football long before they were something to celebrate, I didn’t have much choice but to embrace the sport. I married a former high school quarterback. So, when our older son, Hewson, was seven and begging to go out for the local rec team, my protests about concussions and other injuries fell on deaf ears. The boy was a natural, playing quarterback and defensive lineman simultaneously in junior high, then going all-district as a high school linebacker. But this mama breathed a sigh of relief, when he played his last high school game with his brain and body intact. Thank You, Lord! Next came college and his announcement that he’d be playing rugby for LSU. Although my husband played in college (ten years before we met), I knew as much about rugby as molecular biology. That is to say, bupkis. Once on the sidelines, I got a kick out of the games and the fact that most of the other spectators seemed to know as little about the sport as I did. As I walked around the pitch (which 46

Inside Northside

I learned not to call the “field”), it seemed every tenth person I passed was explaining the game to someone else. So, I reverted to my mama fallback of only watching my baby and not attempting to follow the game. Then a wonderful thing happened. Hewson switched to Southeastern Louisiana University, a smaller school, which he loved immediately, and as fate would have it, discovered they were reassembling their once-formidable rugby team. For decades, SELU had been the hub of Deep South rugby and a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. But the team had been defunct for eight years. Then came Dr. Donald Hart, former international rugby player, former rugby ref, former rugby coach and lifelong rugby fan. And rugby at Southeastern was resurrected. “I tell the new boys, ‘If you like the passing of basketball, the contact of wrestling, the hitting of football, and the kicking of soccer, you’re going to love rugby’,” Hart says. “I also tell them the closest relationships you’ll ever have will be with your rugby teammates. You may belong to a fraternity. You

photo: SARAH HOERNER

by Mimi Greenwood Knight


may have close family relationships. But you’re going to sweat and laugh and work with these guys and you’ll become a family together.’ Nobody does anything alone in rugby. There are no prima donnas. This is a team sport, in every sense of the word.” What I’ve learned about rugby in my son’s three years playing the sport is: number one—it’s a hoot to watch. Play is continuous, so there isn’t all the stopping and starting—and waiting— there is in football. When a player is tackled, the fun has just begun as he tries to hand the ball off to his teammates (while flat on his belly) and opposing players scramble to snag it for themselves. Secondly, I learned that all those people who were quick to tell this worrying mama, “Rugby is more violent than football” don’t know what they’re talking about. Yes, it’s a contact sport. But there’s no blocking, which is where many injuries occur in football. Because players don’t wear helmets and padding, they don’t have the false security they can have in football. You’re hitting another guy (or girl), and you know it. You proceed accordingly. I learned that rugby is newer than soccer (football to the rest of the world), but older than American football, and is currently played by six million players worldwide. A normal game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball (which looks like a football someone left out in the rain) on a rectangular field (a pitch) with H-shaped goalposts on either end. Points can be scored by running the ball across the goal line to score a try for five points, then going for a conversion kick for two more. A penalty kick or a drop goal will earn you and your mates three points. Then there’s the scrum, the ruck, the line- >> November-December 2019 47


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referee,” says Hart. “I was lucky enough to play until I was 40. Then I refed for 12 years, all around the world, including England, Wales, France, and Ireland.” Next, Hart turned his heart toward coaching, with his last position at St. Paul’s School in Covington. “When I left, my wife, Kristi, said, ‘You’re going to go crazy without it—and you’re going to drive me crazy.’ When we heard that Southeastern hadn’t had a team in eight years, Kristi said, ‘They need you’.” Hart enlisted Mark Dixon, with whom he’d coached at St. Paul’s, and they started recruiting players around campus. Some are former football players, swimmers, powerlifters, or wrestlers. Some played rugby in high school. But many knew as little about the game as I did. It was astounding how quickly they picked it up and began winning on the pitch, successful against the SLU alumni team, University of Louisiana at Lafayette,

photo: SARAH HOERNER

out, and the fact that players run— basically non-stop—for 80 minutes per game, with a mere five-minute break. Yet, rugby is a game you can play well past high school and college. “We tell the boys, ‘If you still want to be involved in a contact sport after college, rugby is your game’,” Hart says. “Traditionally, players past a certain age wear red shorts, which signals to the other team they’re not to be tackled.” Another celebrated tradition comes when a player scores his first try and must “shoot the boot”. That’s Rugbyese for drinking beer out of another player’s stinky, sweaty game shoe, while your teammates egg you on. An old English adage asserts, “Football (soccer) is a gentleman’s game played by ruffians, and rugby is a ruffian’s game played by gentlemen.” Throughout the game, players address officials and coaches as “sir” and treat the opposing team with respect. “And players never question the calls of the


Louisiana Tech, and Loyola. Dr. Hart is everything you hope a coach will be—a role model, father figure and mentor. His enthusiasm for the game is contagious, and you get the feeling his players would do anything for him. Player Will Munn played for Hart at St. Paul’s. He says, “I said I’d only play again if Coach Don was my coach. Then he started the team at Southeastern. He teaches us not only to know our position, but to understand the whole game, so we can exploit the things the other teams don’t understand.” Player Allen Pennington agrees, “Coach Don is what makes the game fun. After one practice with him, I fell in love with the game. He’s one of those coaches who makes you believe in yourself and your team and makes you know you can do it.” Although Southeastern rugby is still a “red-headed stepchild” among campus sports, having finished their first season taking second place in the Annual Battleship Tournament in Mobile, second in the Louisiana Collegiate Rugby Tournament and second overall in the Deep South Rugby Conference, they’re beginning to turn heads. “The future looks bright for Southeastern rugby,” says Hart. “Enthusiasm is growing among the boys, and they’re starting to recruit other players.” J.T. Tucker, who came to the team after playing rugby for Brother Martin in New Orleans and was recently named MVP of the Louisiana Collegiate Rugby Tournament, says he’s happy to be back this year, and he’s actively recruiting new players for the team. “We started last year with a lot of guys not understanding the game, but we’re going to win the conference this year.” Seeing the boys in action these past few months, I have little doubt that he’s right. November-December 2019 49


Men’s Gifts

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1. Mallard painting by local artist Catherine Camp, $800. mélange by kp, Mandeville, 807-7652. 2. Omega Seamaster Diver 300M in stainless steel and 18K gold,

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$6,500. Boudreaux’s Jewelers, Mandeville, 626-1666. 3. Leather overnight bag with multiple large pockets and a foldopen side section, $295. Jos. A. Bank, Mandeville, 6244067. 4. Avenger Character Marvel Watch by Citizens, starting at $295. DeLuca’s Fine Jewelry, Covington, 4

892-2317. 5. Tag Heuer Aquaracer, $2,300. Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, Metairie, 504-832-0000. 6. Dry Gear Waterproof Tactical Backpack by Mad Style keeps items protected, dry and safe; waterproof 500D PVC; lightweight but tough, $79. Niche Modern Home, Mandeville, 626-4045. 7. William Henry Monarch Woodridge Knife, $775. Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, Metairie, 504-832-0000. 8. Custom design a dream closet for the man of the house. Louisiana Custom Closets, Covington, 871-0810.

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Flourishes

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1. Cassifina dinnerware with pompom 4

napkin and oyster napkin ring, starting at $8. mĂŠlange by kp, Mandeville, 8077652. 2. Build your own custom settee; choose wood finish, fabric, and nail head details. The French Mix, Covington, 8093152. 3. Governor Poolhouse Lantern; 3 sizes, $400-600. Bevolo Gas & Electric Lights, Mandeville, 249-6040. 4. Fourpiece swing set includes swing, tote, back-printed pillow and bottom-stripe pillow; assorted designs, $159. Outdoor Living Center, Covington 893-8008. 5. Amorphous ceramic vases are randomly striated and glazed, adding blue tone to the cream-colored base; available in three sizes, starting at $99. Greige Home Interiors, Covington, 875-7576. 6. Hand-blown etched crystal from Prague. The Southern Hotel, Covington, 866-1907.

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1. My Saint My Hero wearable blessings bracelets. Auraluz, Metairie, 504-888-3313 or shopauraluz.com. 2. Elegant contemporary Biltmore Approach gas or electric lantern, available in 3 sizes, starting at $682. Gulf Coast Lantern, Covington, 800-910-3275. 3. Handled white rectangle Bianca casserole baking dish; collection starting at $79. Niche Modern Home, Mandeville, 624-4045. 4. Crystal, acrylic and metal sculptural art on canvas from the Sacred Stars Series by Rhonda Alleman, $95. Rug Chic, Mandeville, 674-1070. 5. Louisiana Ghost Stories, Tales of the Supernatural from the Bayou State, by local author J. Lee Wimberly. Available on amazon.com.

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1. Dancing alligator ornaments, $19. DeCoeur Gifts & Home Accessories, Covington, 809-3244. 2. Santa punch bowl, $288. Bliss Clothing + Home, 778-2252. 3. Seasonal arrangements starting at $65. Florist of Covington, Covington, 892-7701. 4. Painting of colorful fleur d’lis, 30” X 40”, $149.99. DeLuca’s Fine Jewelry, Covington, 892-2317. 5. Each Peace Planter is an original, one-of-a-kind Peace of Art with two faces, one representing ‘Awake’, and the other ‘In Meditation’; Small Multicolor, $45. Marianne Angeli Rodriguez Gallery, Covington, 238-0842 or online at marianneangelirodriguez.com. 6. Lightweight and foldable headphones in rockstar bling package; connect with any Bluetooth device for music or handsfree calls; starting at $35. Olive Patch, Covington, 327-5772. 4

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Locally Designed Bags and Jewels

by Leah Draffen

CREATIVITY RUNS A-PLENTY in Louisiana. Artists, musicians, chefs and designers, each having their own special flare, create signature art, works, dishes and more for locals and others to enjoy. There’s something special about locally designed products—they’re always the perfect touch for home, the dinner table and especially, an outfit. Below we take a look at some of the local designers making a splash in your closet.

BENE Handbags In less than three years, Eleanor “Ellie” Schwing has created a chic and stylish collection of handbags. Her inspiration began in 2014 as she set off to Europe, landing in Rome. Discovering a new kind of city where old-metnew provided Ellie the stimulus to develop BENE Handbags. She says, “I was never a girly girl, but always a collector of designer bags. A bag was always my security when growing up. As I got older, I didn’t need the security, but still appreciated a beautiful bag.” Ellie spent the next year curating a team of close friends 58

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photo courtesy: BENE photos courtesy: MIMOSA HANDCRAFTED

Accessorized

and family, artists and Italian leather specialists, and by fall of 2016, her premiere collection launched. “It started with me just making a few for my friends and family, but once I put them into the world, people wanted more, and I hit the ground running. It’s been a crazy couple of years in a world that I have never been exposed to, but I have learned a lot about the industry.” The locally designed, Italian-made bags blend Italian luxury with New Orleans funk. Each leather bag is lined with avant-garde fabric featuring the original artwork of Louisiana female artists. “I started with three styles and basic colors that were chic and very ladylike,” says Ellie. “By adding the pop of a vibrant interior, I marry my two worlds of Italy and New Orleans.” Works by Gretchen Howard and Beth Lambert have added the New Orleans touch to BENE’s collections so far. Ellie’s newest collaboration is with artist Artemis Antippas. Born and raised in New Orleans, Artemis’ works revolve around her intimate connection to New Orleans and her various obsessions—obsession with color, glitter, fried chicken and much more. “Artemis’ chicken bones are so unique. She cleans the bones and dips them in glitter,” says Ellie. “The colors and pattern create a whole new look of vibrancy inside the bag. It’s a pop of energy. As we look inside our bags, why shouldn’t they be beautiful and fun? It’s something that we don’t realize is missing until we experience it!”


MIMOSA Handcrafted Cast in Madeline and Dawson Ellis’ home studio, MIMOSA Handcrafted pieces exude creativity and South Louisiana culture. MIMOSA’s pieces tell the story of everything from culture to history to landscape and invite conversation and opportunity for connection around things that matter to the heart. “Louisiana makes it easy— between our landscape and culture, there is never a lack of inspiration,” says Madeline. “We Louisianians love the story and soul behind the things that surround us, and I love that my job includes connecting us to that.” The duo, who started as landscape architects, work side by side to create wearable pieces of bronze, sterling silver and 14 karat gold using the ancient art of lost wax casting. “We start with a block of wax. I carve it into the piece of jewelry I want to make, very similar to how a sculptor carves marble,” says Madeline. The process then follows several steps: “We put it into a kiln and melt all of the wax out of the mold. This is the ‘lost wax’ part, so then we are left with a perfect void of the wax creation I made. We heat that mold up to the temperature of the melted metal, then pour the metal into the mold and use a vacuum suction to help pull the metal into all of the >> November-December 2019 59


photo courtesy: VIRTUE JEWELRY

details of the mold.” Eventually, once cooled, Madeline is left with a metal version of that original wax-carved piece. It was Madeline’s lifelong passion of making that brought her to jewelry. While a landscape architect, she craved making with her hands and found jewelry satisfied that need. With a nudge from her husband in 2008, she created MIMOSA, and in 2013, she took the business full time. Since 2013, she has been joined by Dawson and a team of hardworking women. “Working alongside such talented, ambitious people keeps it exciting. We aren’t scared to take on challenges or try something new or change something when it isn’t working.”

Madeline says: “One of my most favorite parts of this work is when we create something that resonates with people and we hear why and what it means to them. We are moved to tears a lot around here, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Much like Ellie’s whirlwind of success, Tracy Kopfinger experienced the same for her South Louisiana jewelry business, Virtue Jewelry. She says, “It began as a hobby before I started selling pieces on Etsy. In six months, I had my first wholesale account, and in another six, I had my first showroom in Dallas.” Eight years later, Tracy is designing and creating fun, luxe fashion jewelry out of Slidell. As a mother of four, she balances running the business, making jewelry and going to market. “It is fun to get to meet people and share with them what they’re a part of.” 60

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photos courtesy: MIMOSA HANDCRAFTED

Virtue Jewelry


photo courtesy: VIRTUE JEWELRY

B U S I N E S S

P R O F I L E

ASI Federal Credit Union

ASI Federal Credit Union isn’t new to banking, new to the area, or new to its more than 63,000 members. For more than 58 years, ASI’s staff

Tracy’s driving force behind Virtue Jewelry is giving back. “People can buy jewelry from anywhere, but I like to share that they are a huge part of giving.” Virtue Jewelry has funded and decorated three rooms at Lynhaven Retreat in Hammond, a program of the New Orleans Mission that provides shelter, training and ministry for women who have experienced trafficking, physical and sexual abuse. “I’m passionate about human trafficking and doing what I can. Being a Christian, it’s important to give, because I’m able to do what I love and believe I owe our success to it.” A scripture can be found on the back of Virtue’s earring cards.

has done what they do best—caring every day for members. “The benefits of credit union membership go far beyond just great rates in financial products. We center our business on service and education,” says Albert Richard, CEO of ASI Federal Credit Union. “Our staff is passionate about finding solutions and helping our membership stay on track with their financial goals. We know it’s more than just providing a mortgage or a business loan. It’s being able to provide answers to questions that impact people’s lives and make their journey through life better.” Anyone can apply for membership as long as they live, work, go to school or worship in St. Tammany, Orleans, Jefferson or LaFourche Parishes. So, what are the some of the benefits exactly? Number one is being a “member-owner.” Every profit ASI Federal Credit Union makes goes back to members in the form of lower interest rate loans and higher dividend returns in savings and investments. Another? No driving across town to access your branch. ASI belongs to a network of 5,000 plus shared branches and fee free ATMs. You can enjoy personal account access from a

Tracy’s creative process is a mix of sketching and playing with pieces and parts. Sometimes, it starts with pen and paper, and other times it starts with a specific piece of acrylic that Tracy has an idea for. Virtue styles stay on trend with what is in fashion. Being a buyer for a boutique for many years, Tracy makes sure to stay current. For example, emerald has made a splash this summer and will carry into fall. “I have sold to over 400 stores, and it still feels surreal to say I am a jewelry designer,” she smiles. “Yet, my business is not important. Making a difference is. Fashion will come and go, stores will come and go, but being able to give back is what matters.”

partner credit union closest to you.

Find pieces from BENE Handbags and Mimosa Handcrafted at Ballin’s LTD. Virtue Jewelry can be found at Ballin’s LTD, The Villa and The Lifestyle Store at Franco’s.

Pelicans. Visit one of 11 branches including Mandeville, Covington and

And the greatest benefit? A personal relationship. “We believe that everyone that dreams big, works hard deserves a great local banking partner. We take pride in knowing that we take the time to actively listen to our members, answer their questions and build customized solutions to meet their financial needs,” Joey says. “We know that every person’s situation is unique and strive to find answers in their best interest.”

ASI is the Official and Exclusive Credit Union of the New Orleans Slidell and learn more about the great things happening at ASI Federal Credit Union. asifcu.org. November-December 2019 61


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INside Look

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1. Camouflage sequin bomber jacket. Suella, Covington, 302-5000. 2. Moonlight Garden earrings in onyx, $58. Palm Village – A Lilly Pulitzer Store, Mandeville, 778-2547. 3. 14 karat white gold and diamond chandelier earrings, $5,400. Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, Metairie, 504-832-0000. 4. Black fur fringe coat with metal chain detailing around inner edge. The Lifestyle Boutique at Franco’s, Mandeville, 792-0200. 5. Reserve Traditional Fit non-pleated tuxedo shirt, $119.50; Jos. A. Bank navy textured dinner jacket, $398; 100% silk pocket square, solid white, $24.50; solid black tie, 100% silk, $69.50. Jos. A. Bank, Mandeville, 624-4067. 6. Lana scarf in almond, $98. Palm Village – A Lilly Pulitzer Store, Mandeville, 778-2547. 7. Seasonal Whispers of 24K gold and Swarovski crystals; handmade in New York; earrings, $39; bracelet, $98; ring, $59. Shoefflé, Covington, 898-6465. 7

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INside Look 2

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6 1. Large mink cell phone crossbody, $89. Ballin’s Ltd., Covington, 892-0025. 2. Platinum fancy yellow diamond engagement ring, $37,500. Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, Metairie, 504-832-0000. 3. Jude Frances large-link diamond rondell toggle bracelet in 18K yellow gold, $4,130. Boudreaux’s Jewelers, Mandeville, 626-1666. 4. Kay Wristlet in Rosé Zebra by Satchel includes detachable wristlet and holds cell phone, sunglasses, lipstick and card case, $100. Oasis Day Spa, Mandeville, 624-6772. 5. Red shimmer, bell sleeve A-line dress by 7

Dondolo Children’s Clothier. Kiki & Lolli, Covington, 9002410. 6. One-of-a-kind pave diamond earrings. The Villa, Mandeville, 626-9797. 7. Elegant fringed twin set. Jacket, $46; cami, $32. Columbia Street Mercantile, Covington, 809-1789 or 809-1690.

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IN the Bookcase “A BOWL OF MY MAMA’S GUMBO and a little wine will solve any problem you’ve got,” said every single Gumbeaux Sistah ever. After over ten years of painting many additions to her Gumbeaux Sistahs series of original artwork, Louisiana artist Jax Frey has released the sistahs from their canvases. She brings them to life in her humorous debut novel, The Gumbeaux Sistahs, a Novel, set in Covington and New Orleans. In The Gumbeaux Sistahs, five Southern women wage a hilarious war against the ageism problems of one of their deep-in-trouble sisters using their improbable friendships, evil-genius schemes, oh-so-numerous cocktails, and a shared passion for good gumbo. When Southern artist, Judith Lafferty, loses her long-time, prestigious museum job to a much younger man, she finds herself devastated, alone in her sixties, and on the brink of financial disaster. Enter the incomparable Gumbeaux Sistahs, who deliver day-old coffee to her front door as a ploy, then go on to kidnap her, feed her excellent gumbo, and come up with outrageous solutions to her problems. Their motives are just good excuses to drink wine, have a great time, argue over whose mother makes the best gumbo, and, most of all, help a sister out. Ageism, dangerous boyfriends, deep loneliness, and any other challenges that can face the over-fifty crowd don’t stand a chance against these five resourceful ladies. Author Frey says, “The Gumbeaux Sistahs is a humorous novel with a lesson for us all. Each sistah faces an issue dealing with getting a little older (i.e. employment ageism, loneliness, marriage and health challenges, abuse, etc.), and they come together to rescue each other with outrageous ideas, resources gathered over a lifetime, and a great deal of hilarity. The point is—they come together, and that is what I hope to encourage in readers. Women helping women are unstoppable—and can be pretty darned funny, too.

“The Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings are about women supporting women and celebrating their friendships. They spoke to me in a powerful way, and I knew they had something important to say. So I decided to give them a voice. I didn’t realize at the time that they were so funny. I wrote this book because there are a ton of women out there who are just like me—they love to read, they love the South, they are over fifty and feel the bite of getting older, and they love to laugh about it with their friends. This is my way of connecting with those women out there to let them know that I share what they are going through.” Born in New Orleans, Jax Frey came into this world, whooping and hollering, with a sense of love and celebration of Louisiana culture, food, family and fun. Translating that celebration into her writing and onto canvas is her true calling. Her colorful art depicts everything-Louisiana, from her dancing Gumbeaux Sistahs paintings to her popular line of original Mini paintings. Because over 25,000 of the mini paintings have been created and sold into art collections worldwide, Jax holds a world’s record for The Most Original Acrylic Paintings on Canvas by One Artist from the World Record Academy. Jax is also the co-founder of the Women of Infinite Possibilities, an empowering women’s organization in Covington.

The Gumbeaux Sistahs, A Novel by Jax Frey

The Gumbeaux Sistahs, A Novel website and blog: gumbeauxsistahs.com. Jax’s art website: artbyjax.com. November-December 2019 67


IT WAS ALWAYS A TRADITION at my house growing up, and when I had a house of my own, to decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. But now, since we are empty nesters, I decided to get started a little earlier this year. I really wanted to have a different look and a more luxurious tree. Niche Modern Home has a new tree gallery with the fullest and fluffiest natural evergreen and flocked faux trees. Niche’s selection of ornaments is one of the best on the Northshore. I chose a flocked tree with decorations in many different textures, soft golds, white, and a touch of traditional burgundy on the ornate Byzantine-style ornaments. The Niche team assisted with the finer points of decorating by adding textured ribbons in white and plaid. They also suggested touches that go so perfectly in our area, like crowns, and beautiful gold Sacred Hearts. The Niche team will also come to your home, assess your existing decorations, and help you pick out more to complement and update your tree. I also picked up new coordinating ornaments, ribbons and extras to decorate the Bevolo Gas and Electric Light post in my courtyard. The post lantern is a classic copper style and goes perfectly with my new traditional decorations. While I was

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s ’ i k o P icks P by Poki Hampton

at it, I decorated the Bevelo French Quarter-style lanterns beside the front doors. Bevolo has many styles of post lights and lanterns, and they cast a soft, warm glow that is perfect for chilly winter nights. Now the house is fully ready to go into the holidays dressed to a tee. The decorating went so quickly that I had a few hours to do some early shopping for my girls. Off I went to Boudreaux’s Fine Jewelry in Mandeville, where Tommy Boudreaux suggested the new adjustable neoprene unisex bracelets with sterling silver or 14kt gold slides. These show pride in our New Orleans roots, and have Louisiana- and New Orleans-inspired designs such as NOLA street tiles and the most notable symbol of our state, the fleur-de-lis. Boudreaux’s has also partnered with Team Gleason to create a piece bearing Steve’s iconic silhouette; 20 percent of all sales go directly to Team Gleason to give back to our community. After all this shopping and decorating, I needed to think about dinner. I decided to pick up a ready-to-go dinner from the new location of Pat’s Seafood on Highway 21 in Covington. This was practically a no brainer because they have several meals to choose from. I got crab cakes for an appetizer, shrimp and grits for the main course and a salad. I couldn’t resist the delicious bread pudding for dessert. After all, I worked off those calories already didn’t I? All in all, it was a very successful day and a great start to the Christmas holidays. So now, with the hard part out of the way, I can relax and enjoy the season.

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Generous Hearts by Susan Bonnett Bourgeois

WE LIVE IN A REGION OF BEAUTY, prosperity and abundance. And we live in a region with poverty, isolation and need. In each edition of “Generous Hearts,” we highlight those things, the good and the bad, so we never lose sight of the privilege and responsibility of living in this wonderful place. In this season of hope and thanksgiving, here are some highlights of gratitude from people who work tirelessly to make our place the best that it can be: “There are many things for which I am grateful, but what really stands out is working at a company and living in a community filled with good-hearted, caring people who are so generous and supportive of others in need. To me, this is the ultimate measure of who we are.” - Marty Mayer, President and CEO, Stirling Properties “I am thankful to be part of a community that is quick to support a neighbor in need. I am constantly in awe of the love and generosity shown by others each day.” - Jamie Andrepont, Development Director, Northshore Food Bank “St. Tammany Parish is my home and it always has been. The northshore values education and understands the impact it can have on a child’s life. This belief has created generations of exceptional citizens, and I’m extremely grateful that I have the 70

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privilege of being a part of that process.” - Trey Folse, Superintendent, St. Tammany Parish Public School System “I am thankful for a quality of life created by an active faith and nonprofit community dedicated to making ALL lives better. When good people offer their time, money and talents to this common purpose, the whole community benefits. I am optimistic that these values will carry on.” - Karl Zollinger, Board President, James Samaritan “In St. Tammany, we take great pride in our community, our culture, and our courage to take care of our neighbors. Like most areas, we have a portion of citizens living with disabilities (mental illness, intellectual disabilities, etc.) We are proactive instead of reactive, making this community a positive force towards change.” - Nick Richard, ED, NAMI St. Tammany “I absolutely love living in a place where I feel so connected. It has been easy to find and engage with people interested in the things I am interested in. And there is so much great energy to get things done! We are blessed by our community, our environment and our business climate. The northshore is a welcoming place to live and work.” - Lori Murphy, Publisher, Inside Northside


“I am grateful for a post-Katrina community. Neighbors acknowledge each other, help each other, walk in each other’s shoes. A community which acknowledges God’s sovereignty and actively pursues loving neighbor as self with joy.” - Sue Rotolo, Ministry Director, Good Sams “We are so thankful for the encouragement our nonprofit has received from community members. The northshore has such a welcoming, communityinvolved lifestyle. That welcoming spirit allows for collaborative exchanges of ideas and community outreach/growth in a manner that makes us enjoy this start-up process.” Thankful to be where we are.” - Elizabeth Cato, The Innovation Labs “I love to travel. I love seeing new places and meeting new people. But what I always love most is coming back to the best community I have ever experienced. I am blessed to have grown up in a special place whose people are generous, kind, resilient and strong. This is HOME, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” - Kelly Slimming, owner STAR Physical Therapy “I am thankful to be a part of creating a better community for ALL. I love the positive feeling of helping one another, the positive impact of a job well done, and the positive benefits to our community as a whole when we come together, collectively, to create real, lasting change.” - Sonja Ragusa Newman, United Way of Southeast Louisiana

the vibrancy and energy of a thriving place. I am especially thankful for our people that make it even more special.” - Maura Donahue, Owner, Donahue Favret Contractors “I have always loved the community feel of living on the northshore. We are so blessed to have some of the most truly genuine friends and neighbors who will always rally if you are in a time of need. They will come with prayers, well wishes—and usually a casserole in hand!” - Amy Day, Career Coach, Lakeshore High School “As a mother of three daughters, I am grateful for the resources that the northshore area offers our children, from a wonderful public school system and extracurricular activities to pediatric health care and safety services.” - Candice Laizer, Service Unit 381 Administrator, Girl Scouts Louisiana East “What I love most about this community is the fact that everyone comes together. Not only in times of emergency, but all the time. In the process of getting our facility built, the public schools, the governmental agencies, elected officials, other nonprofits, business owners and employees—literally everyone in this community—made it happen. It takes a village, and this village is incredibly generous with their time and their resources. They see the bigger picture and realize that the underserved in our community deserve all of the benefits that we enjoy.” - Noble-Bates Young, M.P.A., Manager, Miracle League Northshore

“I’m grateful for the flora, fauna, food, festivals, facilities, fashions, fun, frolic, friends, family and folks on the northshore. This place is always north of our expectations!” - Drew Jardine, Board of Trustees, Baptist Community Ministries

And with “authors personal privilege,” I will end with this. I am thankful for the army of good people who make up the Northshore Community Foundation. I have the absolute privilege of spending my days making the northshore all it can be for our families and our future. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

“I am thankful to live in a place where it feels like a quaint small town at times, and also has

Susan Bonnett Bourgeois is President and CEO of the Northshore Community Foundation. November-December 2019 71


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photo: THERESA CASSAGNE


ARTISTS JOHN HODGE AND FRANCIE RICH have dedicated their lives to creation and art. Coming from very different backgrounds, the couple found their way to New Orleans in the 1970s. Francie grew up in Minnesota and taught at Nicholls State and Dominican College, with forays into living and selling in the French Quarter when she moved south. They chased the same jobs for a few years. “Our mutual friend Don Marshall introduced us because everyone had been saying we should meet,” says John. “We met, but then didn’t see each other for four years. The second time we met we fell into a very comfortable relationship and were married.” “John was telling stories that day, and I fell in love with his stories,” says Francie. As time went on, the pair moved to Covington

in many of her paintings. John’s most popular pieces are those with religious themes. He uses drops of water he collects from fountains on his trips, and drops of Holy Water from European churches. Mixing drops into the clay just makes each piece more special, and John marks each of these with a cross on the back. He also collects bit and baubles, fragment pieces and anything that can be used for molds to enhance his pieces. As artists and partners, they have traveled the world. For 40 years, they have been coordinating European tours for both adults and students. At least once a year, they also travel to Mexico with friends to relax and rejuvenate. John’s work depicts symbolism from both Mexican and European visits. “Even in Mexico where they are so poor, their faith is inspiring, often very simple and

Artists and Partners World Travelers John Hodge and Francie Rich

by Poki Hampton

and set up shop with plenty of room for John’s pottery and Francie’s painting. Their living room is a treasure trove of their works of art. Francie taught at St. Scholastica Academy and St. Joseph Abbey and painted many portraits of her students. In the beginning, Francie painted backgrounds in her portraits, but switched to a gold leaf background, making the subjects look like icons. She says, “I get a lot of inspiration from the news media; I find those subjects very amusing.” She has painted television judges, Queen Elizabeth II and Frida Kahlo, to name a few. John had several National Endowment for the Arts grants, allowing him to purchase equipment to both paint and create pottery. But eventually, the pottery won out as the best direction to go because it was more profitable—and as John says,” One painter in the family was quite enough.” They do collaborate on some of John’s pottery where John throws the pots and Francie paints them. Francie has ventured into painting jewelry pieces with iconic classical ruins. She still does portraits of both dogs and people, with a whimsical bent. She uses John as a model

primitive. We love to visit churches and museums, but don’t insist that our group adhere to a strict agenda. We eat and shop and tell stories; we have a great time,” says John. “On one trip to Mexico, we asked our driver to take us to small chapels out in the fields. We never go past a church without going in, because it is like a museum, full of art and history. We visit churches over and over again because the light changes and we see things that we’ve never seen before.” John continues, “There is so much art in the Italian churches. I go all over a church when I’m allowed to go in. One day, I saw a group on a private tour at Santa Maria Novella in Florence, where a priest opened a cabinet to show life-sized statues of saints, bones and relics. It was amazing.” John’s work is available locally at mélange by kp, Rug Chic and Southern Avenue; in New Orleans at the Historic New Orleans Collection, Perino’s and Mignon Faget; and online at johnhodgepottery. com. Francie’s work is available at Shoefflé and the Southern Hotel in downtown Covington and online at francierich.com. November-December 2019 73


M E D I C A L

P R O F I L E

Healthcare Partners Open Post-Acute Care Close to Home Northshore Medical Complex opens in former heart hospital building.

Together, Ochsner Health System (OHS), St. Tammany Parish

investment in our community by offering critical post-acute care services,

Hospital (STPH) and Slidell Memorial Hospital (SMH) opened Northshore

growing jobs and expanding administrative services on the Northshore.”

Medical Complex to deliver long-term acute care and rehabilitation services in the former heart hospital in Lacombe. With an investment of $15 million over five years, the Northshore

Northshore Extended Care Hospital by LHC Group is designed to provide long-term acute care for the most critically ill patients. Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital by Select Medical provides intensive rehabilitative

Medical Complex includes the 30-bed Northshore Rehabilitation Hospital

care in an inpatient setting. The hospital is equipped with a state-of-

in partnership with Select Medical and 58-bed Northshore Extended Care

the-art gym with the latest technology, an activities of daily living suite

Hospital in partnership with LHC Group.

and training area all of which help patients achieve their best outcomes

“The partners have worked together to plan and open this specialized destination care center for patients upon discharge from the hospital to provide post-acute care right here in St. Tammany Parish,” said John Herman, CEO, Northshore Region, OHS, at the opening. “This partnership enhances post-acute care options for residents

when recovering from stroke, brain and spinal cord injuries, orthopedic conditions, neurological disorders, cancer and cardiac conditions. Together, the partners are elevating the level of post-acute hospital care close to home on the Northshore, enabling patients to remain closer to family during their post-acute stay.

of St. Tammany Parish and provides a better quality of care all in one location,” added Joan Coffman, President and CEO, STPH, “allowing patients to progress as they improve after they leave the hospital.” Summing up, Kerry Tirman, CEO, SMH | Ochsner, said, “Through partnerships like this one, we have the opportunity to make a significant

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64030 Louisiana Hwy 434, Lacombe, LA • 985-218-4660 Ochsner.org/NorthshoreMedical


INside Peek Northshore Medical Complex Grand Opening The Northshore Medical Complex recently opened in the former Louisiana Heart Hospital building in Lacombe, providing post-acute care services for the Northshore region. Working together as partners, Ochsner Health System, St. Tammany Parish Hospital and Slidell Memorial Hospital are offering long-term acute care and rehabilitation services in one location. Ribbon cutting attendees heard from St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister; John Herman, CEO, Northshore Region, Ochsner Health System; Joan M. Coffman, President and CEO, St. Tammany Parish Hospital; Kerry Tirman, CEO, Slidell Memorial Hospital; | Ochsner; Jeff Ruskan, President, Select Medical Inpatient Rehabilitation Division; Teri Fontenot, Member of the Board of Directors, LHC Group, and CEO Emeritus of Woman’s Hospital—Baton Rouge. Joan Coffman said during the ceremony: “Today’s announcement further illustrates our collective commitment to expanding access to critical healthcare services on the Northshore.”

November-December 2019 75


INside Peek 1. The Junior League of Greater Covington burying a bottle of bourbon at Summergrove Farm in hopes of good weather for the Harvest Cup Polo Classic. 2. Annie Barrios and Ellie d’Hemecourt strut their stuff down the runway modeling looks from Olive Patch at Hammers and Heels Fashion Show benefiting Women Build 2019. 3. The new Eros Home & Clothing

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in Madisonville celebrated with a ribbon cutting with Mayor Jean Pilot. 4. Marian Margetson, Mary Lee Holmes, Bruce Margetson and Marcia Holmes at the President’s Arts Awards at the Maritime Museum where Marcia was named Visual Artist of Year.

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1. Zachary Leach, Kyle Poupart, Lindsey Hebert and Brent Cafferal in front of the CANstruction structure at the Southern Hotel benefitting the Northshore Food Bank. 2. Kayla Theriot, Barbara Doyle, Maureen O’Brien, Amanda Paxton, Jessica Hester, Todd Whalley and NobleBates Young at the Fan Up Tailgate Pep Rally cohosted by the East St. Tammany Chamber and St. Tammany West

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Chamber to kick off football season. 3. The Greige Design Team at the grand opening of their new lighting gallery. 4. Members of the North Oaks Women & Children’s Services team gather to celebrate successful completion of EMPower Training, the yearlong training program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that aims to improve public health through the support of breastfeeding as optimal infant nutrition.

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November-December 2019 77


INside Peek THE Gala THE Gala, presented by HUB International, transformed Covington’s historic Southern Hotel into a tropical oasis. THE Gala theme for 2019, Step into Paradise, treated guests to tropical entertainment, live and silent auctions, delicious food experiences from Ox Lot 9 and delectable drinks and desserts. The evening benefited patients and families who received care from St. Tammany Parish Hospital, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and Ochsner, all fighting to beat cancer together at St. Tammany Cancer Center.

Horsepower Happy Hour Horsepower Happy Hour revved up the excitement for the Junior League of Greater Covington’s Harvest Cup Polo Classic. Polo fans gathered at Mercedes-Benz of Covington for drinks and light bites provided by Fidelity Bank. In preparation for the main event, Lee Michaels Hay Pull tickets were for sale and Haute Dames Couture brought a variety of hats. Polo artist Rebecca Buras was in attendance with her original art while Christian Serpas and George Neyrey played some tunes for added fun. 78

Inside Northside


“I’ve made it to a lot more LSU games thanks to Dr. Presser.” I met him in 2016 after two years of pains in my chest and belching from my stomach. Even though the pain started in 2014, I didn’t go to have a recommended stress done until September of 2016. At Lakeview Regional Medical Center, I finally went in for the nuclear stress test. While I was waiting for the results, that is when Dr. Presser walked in the room. As a cardiologist, he reviewed my results with me explaining the possible need for stents, but he didn’t stop there. Even though he wasn’t my assigned cardiologist, Dr. Presser shared that he had bigger concerns for me and that he wanted to me to return the following day for an angiogram. Yet, I was planning to get on a plane to head to Lambeau Field for the LSU game! Dr. Presser was adamant about me not going to the game. He even stopped me in the hallway and said, ‘You can go to a thousand LSU games in the next ten years, but don’t go to this one.’ After the angiogram was completed the next day, my wife and I were informed that I would not be leaving the hospital. Dr. Presser was right and thankfully, I didn’t go to that game. Although my heart was extremely strong, two of my main arteries were basically shutdown. Dr. Presser told us that open heart bypass surgery would be required. My procedure was a complete success. Dr. Presser even made sure that both my wife and I had his cell number so that we could contact him at any time. His quick action, incredible knowledge and

genuine concern for my wellbeing was very evident and appreciated. I feel like a new man today because of him. I know that I probably would not be here today if it weren’t for the efforts of Dr. Presser.” -Keith Ladner Dr. Presser, MD is a practicing Cardiologist (Heart Specialist) in Covington. He completed his cardiology fellowship at Tulane University and specializes in General Cardiology and Invasive Cardiology. Dr. Presser accepts multiple insurance plans including Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana, and Humana. He practices at Lakeview Regional Medical Center and St. Tammany Parish Hospital.

101 Judge Tanner Blvd., Ste 506 Covington, LA 70433 • (985) 273-3035

Dr. Dale Presser, MD


INside Peek Leadership Breakfast The Leadership St. Tammany Alumni Foundation hosted an informational breakfast at the Fleur de Lis Event Center. The breakfast, focusing on Traffic and Drainage, gathered leaders from the parish, the DOTD, Causeway Commission and local municipalities to give the most current updates on projects.

Unleashed Northshore Humane Society hosted its annual Unleashed! Rescue Me Gala at Pontchartrain Yacht Club on Mandeville’s lakefront. This year’s gala featured offerings from the area’s finest restaurants. Fox 8 news reporter Rob Krieger added his entertaining touch as event MC while guests danced the night away to the sounds of Crescent City Soul. Proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships, silent and live auctions, wine collectors’ cork pull and more directly funded Northshore Humane Society services.

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Our Enduring Artists Ballet Apetrei Studios hosted an opening reception to showcase the prolific careers of two of Covington’s premier artists, Steve Hasslock and Bernard Mattox, both of whose work has left its mark on the Northshore and beyond. Mattox is recognized for his richly symbolic mixedmedia paintings. Hasslock is known for both his clay and majolica ceramic pieces, as well as his mixed-media paintings and drawings. Guests enjoyed music by pianist Natalia Glavnenco and violist Iuliia Akers, food by Chef Jeff Mattia, a Ballet Apetrei performance of Blue Dancers by Degas and Bourbon cocktails.

November-December 2019 81


INside Peek Oktoberfest Oktoberfest 2019 at the Covington Trailhead was sponsored by Hosanna Lutheran Church. The event benefited the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation; the disease is commonly known as bile duct cancer. The familyfriendly event featured German food, a beer garden and music by Das Guten Tag Hopkloppers.

Polka Dots & Pearls The Mande Milkshakers held its Polka Dots & Pearls Ball at the Castine Center. The event was catered by many local restaurants and featured a silent auction and music by Four Unplugged.

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Stacey Verret Rehage, Dian e Guidry Weiss , George Reha Guidry Fisse an ge Sr., Karen d Debra Reha ge headed to Ralph's on th e Park in 2018 .

d e r u s a e Tr Tradition by Debra Rehage

What started out as a shopping trip to get a gift for mom has evolved into a very special, very sacred night out for our father and his girls. This is our 50th year for this tradition. It is not special only because of its longevity, but more for what it stands for, something shared by a father and his daughters. While that in itself may not be unusual, what makes ours different is that we are a blended family. It started with a man taking all of his girls, both the ones he married into and his own biological girls (one from his previous marriage), out for shopping and dinner when the youngest was only 1½ years old. Out of the love and respect for the woman he married, he lovingly embraced his entire family and taught his daughters that this love and respect melts away the words “step-sister” and “halfsister”—all are “sisters.” While we think of this as the norm, we have come to realize that it is indeed incredibly special and even rare. My father’s immense love has taught us much and brought us all many years of pride and joy.

November-December 2019 83


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keep that going.” The idea turned into a fundraiser to support Ben’s favorite causes. Dubbed the “Jenkins Jam,” the third version was held in August of this year. So began the Ben Blanchard Memorial Foundation and Academic and Leadership Promotion Award for eighth graders at Success Prep. The eighth graders with academic excellence are awarded a $500 scholarship and a laptop computer. There is also a program called Ben’s Scholars for kids with aptitude to develop greater skills. The students go on field trips. A grant was obtained to start a band program. Susan is very involved. The foundation has already granted another $80,000 to buy all the band members at Success Prep new instruments. The event on August 17 at Fulton Alley was called the “Jenkins Jam” Grand Finale. Going forward, the celebration will be called the “Jenkins Crew.” The gathering will be toned down, but it will still raise money, which was Ben’s wish. “We get a lot of joy out of helping people through the foundation,” said Mark. “It’s incredible what they have brought to the school trying to carry Ben’s spirit forward,” said Adam Meinig, executive director of Success Prep at Thurgood Marshall. “Launching a band program is not easy. And it’s not just financial. Susan’s in the school mentoring, paving the way for Ben’s legacy. We’ve hired two full-time music teachers. It’s changed the entire fabric of the school.” Meinig said the Blanchards told him, “We want to eliminate the barriers.” “They’ve been phenomenal.” And then there is the “Benjamin Confidence,” aka “The Ben,” an imposing ocean-going vessel named by Ben’s former employer, Van Weelde Chartering. Robert Frederiks, the owner of the company, came up with the idea. “It’s a great honor for anyone to have a vessel named after them,” said Chris 84

Inside Northside


The “Benjamin Confidence,” aka “The Ben.”

photo: TRACIE MORRIS SCHAEFER / STUDIO U

Blanchard. But Ben could not be informed of this great honor because these types of boats are oftentimes named for deceased people. “The Ben” arrived in New Orleans this year on Friday, June 7, downriver at Davant. A ceremony was held on Saturday. Robert Frederiks, the president of Ben’s former company, Van Weelde Chartering, had coincidentally scheduled a trip to New Orleans at that time. He called Mark and visited Ben’s grave in Covington. “It was very emotional for us,” said Mark. The ship was special to Frederiks, and obviously to the Blanchard family. At the Saturday ceremony, Brandy Christian, the head of the Port Authority of New Orleans, made a presentation to the family. All ships are referred to as “she,” but not this one. “The Ben” is a “he.” In the captain’s office is a picture of Ben. On the deck is a basketball goal for the Filipino crew to play ball. The backboard has “Benjamin Confidence” painted on it. In the wheelhouse is a replica of the crucifix that is attached to the Pope’s pastoral staff—a gift to the Blanchard family from a friend in California. There are some unaccountable circumstances surrounding the 30 hours the ship was in port. The name of the pilot who brought the ship up the river was Ben. There’s a calendar on board with the picture of a golden retriever on it. The Blanchards lost a golden a couple months ago, the victim of a sarcoma, the same cancer Ben had. Because the river was so high, “The Ben” sat at Southwest Pass for a day or so. “But I knew it was there. It was really, really, really emotional for me,” said Mark. “It’s coming to New Orleans for the first time, so it was like Ben’s coming home. Susan shows her emotions, she can cry pretty easily. But I was a basket case that Friday night before the ceremony.” The Blanchards were proud the ship was there, Chris included. “All of our friends were there. It was like Ben coming home . . . in a way. We believe there were signs that he sent us. And there definitely were signs.” Like it was meant to be. November-December 2019 85


Haute Plates

Antoine’s

713 ST. LOUIS ST. NEW ORLEANS 504-581-4422

Established in 1840, Antoine’s is the oldest French-Creole finedining restaurant in New Orleans.

A selection of restaurants and haute dishes found around the Northshore and beyond.

Ceasar’s Ristorante

Half Shell Oyster House

La Carreta

MANDEVILLE

COVINGTON • 276-4500

HAMMOND

408 N. CAUSEWAY BLVD. 951-2626

CEASARSRISTORANTE.NET Offering traditional and

MANDEVILLE,

70367 HWY 21

HALFSHELLOYSTERHOUSE.COM Local Gulf oysters and a variety of Gulf Coast seafood with a New

COVINGTON,

AND PONCHATOULA

CARRETARESTAURANT.COM Celebrating over 20 years of fresh

Come see what it is all about and

innovative authentic Italian food

Orleans flair and influence that

food in a fun and festive atmosphere, La

enjoy great food along with a

made from scratch sourcing fresh

extends throughout our ambience

Carreta offers authentic Mexican cuisine

memorable experience! Make your

local ingredients in their season.

and menu. Steaks, chicken, pasta and

at several locations across Southeast

reservation today.

Come enjoy the good food, Italian

so much more. Lunch, dinner, daily

Louisiana. Daily lunch specials, fiesta

wine, and elegant atmosphere.

happy hour, Sunday brunch.

time daily and family friendly.

one thirteen 113 N. OAK ST.,

HAMMOND 402-3481

ONETHIRTEENRESTAURANT.COM one thirteen restaurant seeks

Pat’s Seafood NEW LOCATION!

82010 HIGHWAY 25

AND 70456 LA #21, STE

796-4466

1248 N. COLLINS BLVD. 400 COVINGTON 892-7287

to enliven the senses through an inspired mid-century modern setting,

Roux 25

Fresh local seafood and a large

FOLSOM

ROUX25.COM Established in 2018, Roux 25

Salty Joe’s

43344 S. RANGE RD.

HAMMOND 956-7099 SALTYJOESBBQ.COM At our one-of-a-kind dining destination, dishes are made with the

is a farm-to-table gastropub located

best local ingredients from the land

graceful service and new-American

offering of deli to-go items, such as

in Folsom featuring craft cocktails and

to the sea. Pecan wood in the smoker

cuisine that simply tastes delicious.

boiled crawfish, gumbo, crawfish pie,

creative dishes using local ingredients.

gives slow-smoked meats the intricate

Menu items include chicken, beef,

corn and crab bisque, crabmeat au

Open Thursday to Saturday for happy

flavors of BBQ that you love. If it’s

seafood, wood-fired flat bread, and

gratin and po-boys. On-site catering

hour, 2 to 5 pm, dinner, 5 to 9pm, and

fire-touched flavors you crave, enjoy

house-made desserts.

available.

Sunday for brunch, 11am to 2pm.

our grilled meats, burgers, and fresh seafood.

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INside Dining New Orleans and the northshore are home to more great restaurants than we could hope to list here. For a comprehensive listing of restaurants in the New Orleans metro area, please refer to Tom Fizmorris’ nomenu.com. In this guide, you will find some of the best bets around town. Tom’s fleur de lis ratings are shown.

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434 N. Columbia St., 985-8980899 Copeland’s aa Creole, 680 N. US 190, 985-809-9659 Dakota aaaa Contemporary Creole, 629 N. US 190, Covington, 985-892-3712 Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, 69292 Hwy. 21, 985-871-2225 DiCristina’s aaa Italian, 810 N. Columbia St., Covington, 985875-0160 DiMartino’s aaa 700 S. Tyler St., 985-276-6460

ABITA SPRINGS Abita Brew Pub a 72011 Holly St., 892-5837 Abita Springs Café aa 22132 Level St., 400-5025 Camellia Café Traditional seafood and New Orleans cuisine, 69455 Hwy. 59, 809-6313 Mama D’s Pizza & More aa 22054 Hwy. 59, 809-0308

Don’s Seafood Hut aa 126 Lake Dr., 985-327-7111 The English Tea Room aaa 734 Rutland St., 985-898-3988 Fat Spoon Café aa 2807 N Highway 190., 985-893-5111 Gallagher’s Grill aaaa Contemporary Creole, 509 S. Tyler St., Covington, 985-892-9992 Garcia’s Famous Mexican Food 200 River Highlands Blvd., 985-327-

COVINGTON Abita Roasting Company 1011 Village Walk, 246-3345 Acme Oyster House aaa Seafood, 1202 US 190, Covington, 985246-6155 Albasha aa Mediterranean, 1958 Hwy. 190, 867-8292 Annadele’s Plantation aaaa 71518 Chestnut St., 809-7669 bacobar, International street food with South Louisiana soul, 70437 LA-21, 893-2450 Barrel Wine Bar Wine, small plates and more, 69305 LA 21, Ste. E, 272-8485 Bear’s Restaurant aa Po-boys, 128 W. 21st St., 892-2373 Beck ‘n’ Call Cafe 534 N. New Hampshire, 985-875-9390 Bud’s Broiler aa Hamburgers, 1250 N. US 190, 985-803-8368 Buster’s Place aa 519 E. Boston St., 809-3880. Seafood, po-boys, steaks. Open seven days a week. Lunch, dinner. MCC. Carreta’s Grill a Mexican, 70380 LA Hwy. 21, Covington, 985-8716674 CC’s Coffee House Coffee and pastries, 1331 N Hwy 190., 985900-2241 The Chimes aaa Cajun, 19130 W. Front St., Covington, 985-892-5396 Coffee Rani aa Soup and salad, 234-A Lee Ln., 985-893-6158 Columbia St. Tap Room & Grill aa

7420 The Green House Salad Co Signature salads made to order, 104 Lake Dr, 898-6380 Habanero’s 69305 Highway 21, Ste. 600, 985-871-9760 Half Shell Oyster House 70367 Hwy 21, Ste 100, 985-276-4500 La Carreta aaa Mexican, 812 Hyw 190, Covington, 985-400-5202 La Casa de Sabores 324 East Boston St, 985-900-2297 Lola aaa 517 N. New Hampshire St., 985-892-4992 Mattina Bella aaa Breakfast, 421 E. Gibson St., Covington, 985892-0708 McAlister’s Deli 206 Lake Dr., Ste. 15, 985-898-2800 Megumi of Covington aaa 1211 Village Walk, 985-893-0406 Mellow Mushroom aa Pizza, 30 craft beers on tap, 1645 N. Hwy. 190, 985-327-5407 Meribo Modern Italian, 326 Lee Ln, 985-327-5407 Mugshots Grill & Bar 300 River Highlands Blvd., 985-893-2422 New Orleans Food & Spiritsaaa Seafood, 208 Lee Lane, Covington, 985-875-0432 Nonna Randazzo’s Italian Bakery and Cafè 2033 N. Hwy. 190, Ste. 5, 985-893-1488 Outback Steakhouse aa 60 Park Place Dr., 893-0505. Australianthemed cuisine. outback.com. MCC.

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Crabby Shack & Po-Boys aaa Louisiana seafood dishes, 305 LA-21, 985-845-2348 Keith Young’s Steak House aaaa Steak, 165 LA 21, Madisonville, 985-845-9940 Morton’s Boiled Seafood & Bar aa 702 Water St., 985-845-4970 Orlando’s Seafood, 304 Hwy. 22 West, 985-845-4446

21, 985-875-7894 Pizza Man of Covington aaa 1248 N. Collins Blvd., 985-892-9874 Raising Canes 1270 N. Hwy. 190, 985-809-0250 Ristorante Del Porto aaaa Italian, 501 E. Boston St., Covington, 985-875-1006 Sala Thai 315 N. Vermont St., 985249-6990 Sweet Daddy’s 420 S. Tyler St., 985898-2166 TCBY 70488 Hwy 21, 985-892-9000 Vasquez Seafood & Po-Boys a 515 E. Boston St., 985-893-9336 Yujin Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar aaa 323 N. New Hampshire St., 809-3840. MCC. Zea aaa American, 110 Lake Dr., Covington, 985-327-0520

MANDEVILLE Another Broken Egg Cafe Breakfast, 1901 US 190, #7, 985-951-2246 The Barley Oak Serving 130 styles of beer, 2101 Lakeshore Dr., 985727-7420 Beach House Neighborhood Cafe, 124 Girod, 985-624-9331 Bistro Byronz aa American, 1901 Highway 190, 985-951-7595 Bosco’s Italian Café aaa 2040 Hwy. 59, 985-624-5066 Café Lynn aaaa Contemporary Creole, 2600 Florida St., Mandeville, 985-624-9007 Ceasar’s Ristorante aa Authenic Italian cuisine, 408 N Causeway Blvd, 985-951-2626 Coffee Rani aa Soup and salad, 3517 Hwy. 190, 985-674-0560

HAMMOND Brady’s 110 SW Railroad Ave., 985542-6333. Don’s Seafood & Steak House 1915 S. Morrison Blvd., 985-345-8550 Jacmel Inn aaaa 903 E. Morris St., 985-542-0043 Kirin Sushi 223 S. Cate St., 985-542-

Coscino’s Pizza aa Italian, 1809 N. Causeway Blvd., 985-727-4984 Creole Tomateaux Authentic Creole Cuisine, 1851 Florida St., 985951-2650 Daisey Dukes 1200 W. Causeway Approach, Ste 13, 985-951-2140 El Paso Mexican Grill 3410 US 190, 985-624-2345

8888 La Carreta Authentic Mexican Cuisine 108 N.W Railroad Ave., 985-419-9990 One Thirteen Restaurant New American cuisine, 113 N Oak St, 985-402-3481 Salty Joe’s BBQ 43344 S. Range Rd, 985-956-7099 Tommy’s on Thomas Pizza, 216 W. Thomas St., Tope là Contemporary delights, 104 N. Cate St., 985-542-7600 Yellow Bird Café 222 E. Charles St., 985-345-1112

Fat Spoon Café aa 68480 Hwy. 59., 985-809-2929. Fazzio’saa Italian,1841 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985-624-9704 Franco’s Grill Fresh organic foods, 100 Bon Temps Roule, 985-7920200 George’s aaa Mexican, 1461 N. Causeway Blvd., Mandeville, 985626-4342 Gio’s Villa Vancheri aaa 2890 E. Causeway App., 985-624-2597 K. Gee’s aaa Seafood, 2534 Florida St., 985-626-0530. La Carreta aaa Mexican, 1200 W.

LACOMBE Sal and Judy’s aaaa Italian, 27491 Highway 190, Lacombe, 985882-9443

Causeway Approach, Mandeville, 985-624-2990 La Madeleine aa French, 3434 US 190, 985-626-7004 The Lakehouse aaa Contemporary

MADISONVILLE Abita Roasting Company 504 Water St., 985-246-3340

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Creole, 2025 Lakeshore Dr., Mandeville, 985-626-3006 LaLou Breakfast, 200 Girod St., 985-


i 231-7125 Leonardo’s Trattoria & Pizzeria Authentic Sicilian dishes, 2625 Florida St, 985-788-2550 Little Tokyo aaa Japanese, 590 Asbury Dr., 504-727-1532 Liz’s Where Y’At Diner aaa 2500 Florida, 985-626-8477 Lama’s St. Roch Seafood and Cajun style entrees, 1814 N. Causeway Blvd, Mandeville, 985-951-2135 Mande’s 340 N. Causeway App., 985626-9047 Mandina’s aaa Italian, Seafood, 4240 La 22, Mandeville, 985674-9883 Nuvolari’s aaaa Creole Italian, 246 Girod St., Mandeville, 985-626-5619

639 Girod St., 985-612-1828 Pat Gallagher’s 527 Restaurant and Bar aaaa 527 N. Causeway Blvd, 985-778-2820

Poke Loa Louisiana’s freshest poke bowls, 1810 N Causeway Blvd, 985-778-0444 Pontchartrain Po-Boys aaa 318 Dalwill Dr., 985-626-8188 Raising Canes 3801 Hwy. 22, 985674-2042 Rip’s on the Lake aa 1917 Lakeshore Dr., 985-727-2829 Rob’s Rockin’ Dogs 2890 E Causeway Approach Ste B, 985-231-7688 Rusty Pelican aa 500 Girod St., 985-778-0364 SWEGS Kitchen Healthy pre-made comfort food, 4350 Hwy 22, Ste H, Mandeville, 985-951-2064 Times Grill a 1896 N. Causeway Blvd., 985-626-1161 Trey Yuen Cuisine of China aaa Quality China cuisine with Louisiana flair, 600 N. Causeway Blvd., 985-626-4476 METAIRIE AcmeOysterHouseaaa Seafood, 3000 Veterans Blvd., 504-309-4056 Andrea’s aaa Italian, 3100 19th St., 504-834-8583 Andy’s Bistro aaa American, 3322 N. Turnbull Dr. 504-455-7363 Austin’s aaaa Creole, 5101 West Esplanade Ave., 504-888-5533 Caffe! Caffe! aa Breakfast, 4301 Clearview Pkwy., 504-885-4845; 3547 N. Hullen., 504-267-9190 Carreta’s Grill a Mexican, 2320 Veterans Blvd., 504-837-

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Harahan, 
504-305-4833 Rd., 504-888-9254 Impastato’s aaaa Creole Italian, 3400 16th St., 504-455-1545 Legacy Kitchen aa American. 759 Veterans Memorial Blvd. 504309-5231 Riccobono’s Peppermill aaa Creole Italian, 3524 Severn Ave., 504455-2266 Ruth’sChrisSteakHouse aaaa Steak, 3633 Veterans Blvd., 504-8883600 Shogunaaaa Japanese, 2325 Veterans Blvd., 504-833-7477 Vincent’s aaaa Creole Italian, 4411 Chastant St., 504-885-2984 PONCHATOULA Middendorf’s Seafood Restaurant 30160 Hwy. 51, 985-386-6666 La Carreta aaa Mexican, 147 N.W. Railroad Ave., 985-370-0930

PJ’s Coffee & Tea Co. 2963 Hwy. 190, 985-674-1565

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Drago’saaaa Seafood, 3232 N. Arnoult

The Old Rail Brewing Company a Homemade American cuisine,

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SLIDELL A Touch of Italy Café 134 Pennsylvania Ave., 985-639-0600 Assunta’s aaa Italian, 2631 Covington Hwy., 985-649-9768 Blue House Grill Sandwiches, 2170 Gause Blvd W., 985-288-5544 Cafe Luke Breakfast and brunch favorites plus Dinner Theatre, 153 Robert St., 985-707-1597 Camellia Cafe aaa 525 Hwy. 190, 985-649-6211. Carreta’s Grill a Mexican, 1340 Lindberg Dr., Slidell, 985-8470020 Copeland’s aa Creole, 1337 Gause Blvd., 985-643-0001 El Paso Mexican Grill 1100 Robert Blvd, 985-445-1450 Gallagher’s on Front Street 2306 Front St., 985-326-8350 Nathan’s aaaa Contemporary Creole, 36440 Old Bayou Liberty Rd., Slidell, 985-643-0443 Palmettos on the Bayou aa 1901 Bayou Ln., 985-643-0050 Peck’s Seafood Restaurant 2315 Gause Blvd. E., 985-781-7272 Speckled T’s Seafood, 158 S Military Rd., 985-646-1728 The Blind Tiger Slidell 37330 Lakeshore Marina Dr, 985-707-1082 Times Grill 1827 Front St., 985-6393335 Vera’s aaa Seafood, 2020 Gause Blvd W., 985-690-9814 Zea aaa American, 173 Northshore Blvd., Slidell, 985-327-0520

6696; 1821 Hickory Ave.,

November-December 2019 89


Last Sip

The Cypress Bar at the Southern Hotel

GET WARM and in the spirit this holiday season at the Southern Hotel’s Cypress Bar. The talented bartenders will pour you a festive cocktail as soon as you and your friends pull up a seat! Sip a Bouché Mon Cheri made with Bolden Vodka, a special in-house honey syrup and Bouché Rosé hard cider. You will taste notes of ginger, cinnamon, honey, cloves, strawberries and apples while smelling honey, cinnamon and apples with a hint of thyme and citrus. If a hot toddy is what you crave, try a Mulled-Plum Cider Hot Toddy. Deep spices create a warming sensation while you taste the apple and plum favors. A nice mix of honey and citrus balances out the drink. We hope your holidays are tasty and bright! Cheers! Cocktails created by Zachary Leach, Cypress Bar Curator. 90

Inside Northside

photo: THOMAS B. GROWDEN

by Leah Draffen


Profile for Inside Publications

November-December 2019 Inside Northside Magazine  

November-December 2019 Inside Northside Magazine