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magazin magazine Vol 42 January 2014

FRANK DAVIS We will miss our friend WE KEEP IT FRESH


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Kendra with artist George Rodrigue at the New Orleans Museum of Art

“If I brought a smile to people’s face; if I made them feel better about themselves, their fishing, their cooking, their day… man, I’d want that to be my legacy.” ~ Frank Davis

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magazine PO Box 4147 • Slidell, LA 70459 • 985-789-0687

Kendra Maness - Editor/Publisher Alan Lossett - Graphic Design Lee Kreil - Staff Writer

December 2013 was a tough month for southern Louisiana. We lost two of our finest ambassadors – Frank Davis and artist George Rodrigue. Frank & George (…I never noticed until now that they both had such “everyday guy” names - ironic because of how extraordinary they both were…) helped to bring Louisiana and New Orleans culture to the masses. Blue Dog paintings and Frank Davis cookbooks are sold worldwide and serve as examples of the colorful, quirky, flavorful and talented people Louisiana has. These two men and their talents have become part of New Orleans lore, and their legacies live on through the impact they had on our culture. Each of us has our own legacy. It changes and grows as we accumulate days of life. And it’s different for everyone. Some of us will leave behind a legacy through our talent or career – whether it’s painting a beautiful canvas, cooking an amazing meal, or publishing a community magazine. Talent is often times one of the most obvious parts of our legacy.

Your legacy may be the impact you have had on our community, state, or country through your service. It may be the kindness you’ve shown others. And for those fortunate enough to be parents, your legacy will live on eternally in the heart, minds and bodies of your children and the generations to come. I guarantee you this - any given person you know has impacted your life more than you could ever realize. Think of the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. It would be impossible to guess at what the world would be like if YOU were not in it. Whether we are aware of it or not, we have changed everyone around us. If I had to guess, I bet that Frank would have defined a legacy as a gumbo of LIFE - all of our experiences, relationships, accomplishments, talents, victories and defeats – as they are remembered by others.

Contributing Writers: Donna Bush EFOP, Nancy Richardson Sli-Ku, Lee Kreil The Storyteller, John Case Jockularity, Corey Hogue Pet Points, Jeff Perret, DVM 20/20, John Maracich, III Crimi-mommly Insane, Leslie Gates Lori Gomez Mike Rich Rose Marie Sand

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It’s the start of a new year, offering each one of us the chance to begin anew in creating the legacy by which we will be remembered. Make it a good one. 5

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Extraordinarily Fascinating “Ordinary” Person of the Month by Nancy Richardson Sponsored by:

Joe Minacapelli

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If you’ve lived in Slidell for more than 35 years, take a tour with us through the memories of Olde Towne as it was in 1980… From the Times Picayune, Sunday, March 9, 1980

Minacapelli’s Sparks Slidell Revitalization Story by Pat Adams

SLIDELL, La – Saturday afternoon Joe Minacapelli sits at one of his dinner theater tables set for six. He’s drinking coffee and looking at papers while the crew prepares for the evening show. Nellie Minacapelli and sister-in-law Mary are in the kitchen cooking lasagna. The door to Minacapelli’s Cabaret Dinner Theatre is open, letting the only natural light inside the black theater. With the show four hours away, no one seems to be hurrying. After deboning the

January 2014

chickens, Nellie comes in and sits down at the table to light a cigarette. She looks tired. Joe and Nellie started their dinner theater in the old part of Slidell in 1974. Minacapelli is a short, 56-year-old man with a thin black moustache. His manner is polite and warm and, well, Italian. Although he has no theatrical background, Joe knows what his audience likes. “A good meal and comedy. We don’t do any drama here. People come to be entertained, they don’t want to look at something sad. They’ve worked all week.” Dinner is what Minacapelli’s is all about. Even Joe admits it. “The thing that sells our dinner theater is the food. This guy called the other day, said, ‘Joe, make me a reservation for six…and by the way, what’s playing?’” The Italian-American menu has not changed for five years. Nellie, with two helpers, fixes her famous

tomato-rich lasagna, chicken and mushrooms, prime rib, Oysters Minacapelli, broccoli in cream sauce, buttered potatoes, salad, fresh Italian bread and dessert Friday through Sunday. On Thursday, there’s no oysters or lasagna but it’s still all you can eat, buffet style. The rest of the week, Nellie runs a lunch and dinner restaurant in the theater. She rarely takes a day off. Nellie comes in around 8 a.m. to start the cooking. She usually leaves at showtime but Joe stays on, doing everything from leading the sing-along to helping aged ladies out the door. Before the curtain goes up, Joe straps on a beat-up guitar and plays along with an old upright player piano. He passes the microphone to people in the audience, pressing them to sing “Bill Bailey.” His finale is always “Granada.” With the last shake of his maracas, the red velvet curtain opens and the play begins.


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The renovated brick building with its small wooden sign out front is a long way from what Joe and Nellie expected six years ago. Across the street is an old abandoned Dollar General Store. Most people in Slidell thought downtown would end up the same way. “Heck,” says Joe, “people just mill around down here like it was Bourbon Street on Saturday night.” Cousin Street now has three popular bars and Joe says more young people are staying for good in Slidell. Said a recent surprised Minacapelli patron, “I never knew there was anything there but a truck stop.” The Minacapelli’s are changing the image of a city.



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If you lived in Slidell in the 1970’s and 1980’s and wanted a place to celebrate a special occasion like a birthday or an anniversary, or just wanted really good food with some darn good local entertainment, you made reservations at Minacapelli’s Dinner Theatre located in Olde Towne. It was THE place to go in Slidell. Owned and operated by Joe and Nellie Minacapelli on the corner of First and Cousin, it started as just a speakeasy bar with Nellie offering a lunch menu with “the best eats in town,” says a very proud Joe Minacapelli. “People loved her cooking! Without Nellie, it just couldn’t have happened.” Slidell Magazine is proud to highlight Joe Minacapelli as our EFOP for January 2014. According to Joe, who is now 93, he and Nellie were looking to open a little place with good food and entertainment and, as there wasn’t much in Olde Towne except a few bars, he could afford the two story brick building that was originally a Jitney Jungle downstairs and a defunct hotel upstairs. “Olde Towne was pretty wild, with several bars and not much else. It was Slidell’s own version of the French Quarter.” Joe continues, “In 1973, we opened the bar/restaurant downstairs and used the upstairs for storage of props and such. Not long afterwards, we started offering plays which ran about a month at a time, depending on demand. A very popular play like Fiddler on the Roof ran for six to eight weeks. Audience capacity for our little theatre was between 125 and 150 guests.” As a result of the dinner theatre, Olde Towne soon grew with more new businesses, like Frank Jackson’s Olde Towne Soda Shoppe.

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It was a family affair, with Nellie doing pretty much everything from hiring directors, recruiting actors, scheduling, ordering food, doing all the cooking, and Joe coming back from his day job at Martin Marietta (where he worked for over 20 years) to warm up the audience before t h e p l a y. “ M y sister Mary and I would sing during intermission and we always closed the shows with some kind of song like ‘Granada.’” Even the Minacapelli’s grandson, Joe Gilbert, at an early age would travel from Baltimore during his summer breaks from school to work as a busboy or to help out wherever he was needed. Nellie’s right hand “man” was her friend Susan McCune who ran the restaurant end of things. “Susan’s gift was that she remembered regular customers’ favorite drinks and had them waiting for the guests when they got to their table,” remembers Joe. One of the dinner theatre’s more popular performances was “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, which was directed by Bob Kearney, and ran in February and March of 1980. “What a cast!” says Joe, who was 60 at that time. He continues, “Actors are so much fun and are such great people. We had more fun doing those plays! It was easy to get actors who volunteered their time and talents, but we paid our directors though.” The hot time in Olde Towne continued until 1986 or 88 (Joe can’t remember exactly) when the Minacapelli’s closed the doors permanently on their dinner theatre. After changing hands numerous times and operating as multiple different bars, the historic red brick

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building suffered a disastrous fire last year. The brick shell is all that remains of the classic Slidell institution. Joe was born in the little town of Coalport, Pennsylvania, and moved to Baltimore where he met his beloved Nellie. He tells the story of how he met Nellie Dodson: “I was playing in a little four piece band in a lounge when I put my eyes on this lovely girl who came in with her girlfriends. I could tell she kept looking at me, so as soon as there was a break, I shot over to her table and got my eyes on her good!” Joe continues, “On our first date, I held her handbag for her and commented on how heavy it was. I asked her, ‘What do you have in there, a bottle?’ Then she showed me her handgun and replied that it was her protection from guys like me!” laughs happy-golucky Joe.

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“Being a pretty good cook already, and not being Italian, Nellie had to learn Italian cooking from my cousin Josie,” remembers Joe, Bob Krieger and Morten Andersen who was married rehearse ‘The Tender Trap’ to Nellie for 60 years until she passed in 2001 at the age of 86. They moved from Baltimore to Denver for Joe to work as materials procurer for Pan Am and then Martin Marietta. Joe laughs and says his job title was “Hey Boy!” Anything that was needed for the facility, Joe would either find it or order it. “I knew what was in the warehouse. If not, I knew how to get it,” says Joe.

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The zany cast and crew of “A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum” as they were at Minacapelli’s Dinner Theatre, circa 1980


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Always the entertainer, Joe still loves to laugh and make people happy. Slidell Magazine is thrilled to have Mr. Joe Minacapelli as our Extraordinary “Ordinary” Fascinating Person of the Month for January 2014.


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Today, on a typical Tuesday or Thursday you can find Joe with his girlfriend Rudy Duckworth, who will soon be 102, playing duplicate bridge, perhaps arguing over the play of a hand. You’ll know that Joe is there when you hear his trademark expression, “Sugarfoot!” or “No talking!” If anyone has a birthday, he’ll happily play his guitar and sing a birthday song, but only if asked. He still enjoys entertaining and making people happy. His bridge partner is always Rudy, whom he met after Katrina when she moved back to Slidell from Oklahoma. This sharp, good looking lady sat down next to Joe at a bridge game and hasn’t left his side much since. Besides playing bridge two times a week, Joe and his grandson, Joe Gilbert, play 9 holes of golf as often as possible.

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The Tales of Wags As you age, you look back and remember a few defining moments of your childhood. Most likely some, if not most, of them will be the warmth, love and compassion bestowed upon you by your parents. I believe that in these tender moments we learn compassion, love and care. You see, I don’t believe that these emotions are born of human instinct; I believe they are learned through experience and exposure. This is why I think mankind has not only endured, but for the most part has thrived. This story is about one of those defining occurrences that influenced my life and my mother’s.

tender care my mother gave to me. I especially remember the time I was sick and she read to me the book Wags and Woofie. We lived in a frame house my daddy started building soon after WWII and before I was born. When I was very small, we moved in. It was by no means completed, and would not be for another nine years, but the design was large and there was enough modestly finished area to house a family of five. When I say my Dad built the house, I mean every word of it. He often demolishing other homes to get the lumber, nailed every nail, and laid every brick. One thing he did not do was add insulation; thus, the house was drafty and uncomfortable cold, especially in the winter.

It could be said that I was a healthy child - with one exception. About twice a year, I would get severe, acute tonsillitis; usually in the winter time, and it would last for several days. I would run a high fever and my throat would swell to almost closing. The pain was excruciating. Doctors had recommended that I have my tonsils removed but my parents had a friend whose child died having a tonsillectomy, so that was not an option for me. Eventually, when I was grown, I would have the operation. But in the meantime, the cure was to stay indoors and have my throat swabbed with a red medicine that smelled like (and probably was) Mercurochrome.

This story starts when I was in the second grade and, just coincidentally, had made my first visit to the Bookmobile that came twice a month to my rural school. I checked out a book named Wags and Woofie. The next day, the dreaded tonsillitis made its appearance. It began with a slight sore throat, then chills, followed by a high fever and worsening sore throat. Strangely, I look back fondly on those sick times because of the

In one room, which we called the den, was a space heater. It was the only heated room in the house except for the kitchen, where mother prepared three full meals a day. In the den was a small couch; and on this couch, in front of the space heater, was where I would stay when I was sick. My mother was an excellent reader and, when I was ill, she would cover me with a blanket, turn up the heater, and read to me. When she read she

would make it sound so interesting. It could be a newspaper article, a recipe, or an advertisement; but she knew how to give the perfect voice inflections and facial expressions to make the story come alive. Under these circumstances, and during this bout with tonsillitis, she read me the story of Wags and Woofie - a book that would certainly influence both of our lives. The book was actually a child’s story about two puppies that were raised on a farm. Woofie was the alpha dog and the leading character in the book; and Wags was his playful, shyer sibling. Mother always pulled for the underdog in all situations and I am sure she took liberties in her reading to give Wags a more winning personality than perhaps the writer had intended. With my head in her warm lap, covered with a blanket to ward off the cold draft, my fever raging, I remember m u c h o f the story and the illustrations until this day. I don’t remember much about Woofie but I remember Wags, because mother felt sorry for him. I also wanted a puppy and I wanted him to be like Wags. Our neighbor, Corbitt Thames, raised dogs. Not that he liked dogs, but he used them for hunting. And hunting was a major means of feeding his family. He had two types: hounds for raccoons and rabbits, and a smaller breed for squirrel hunting. They were called feist dogs. One of his feist dogs had a litter of puppies. I was attracted to one of the puppies; not the biggest one and not the runt, but one that was a dirty white color. I wanted that dog. I told Mr. Thames that I would give him a dollar for it. I did not have a dollar. In fact, I did not have twenty five cents. A few days later, I upped the offer to two dollars, and finally three. He told me he would think about it. I took that to mean that he would sell me the dog and I began to do some financial planning. I would skip lunch at school and save the fifteen cents every day. Finally, with money in hand, I went to see Mr. Thames. I gave him the money and he gave me the dog. As I thanked him and started home, he handed back the money to me and said, “You can have the dog, just give him a good home. He is a smart one.”

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All of these negotiations had been done without my parent’s knowledge or approval, and my presentation of a puppy did not, in any way, thrill my mother. Mother was a frugal woman because she had to be. We always ate leftovers the next day. A couple of days later, we would eat left over leftovers. Finally, anything that remained was combined into a stew, a soup, or a casserole. There were no scraps that could be sacrificed for a dog and buying dog food was out of the question.

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Looking back, I guess her heart softened when I told her his name was Wags. She smiled, patted him on the head, and agreed that I could keep him. She remembered the story. Wags and I were inseparable in the daylight hours. When bedtime came, he slept outside in the pump house. No dogs were allowed in

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our house; but on real cold nights, I would sneak him inside and put him under the blanket. If mother ever knew this, she never let on. And it did not happen often. My mother was not only frugal, she was industrious. Each year, she made two gardens - one on the hill between our house and the barn, and the other in the low land to the south of our house. Her reasoning was that if nature caused one to fail, the other may produce and her family would have plenty to eat. The garden in the lowland was the more fertile, as prior to the highway being built, it would flood from the high-water of Big Creek. This deposited silt that made for perfect gardening, but it also encouraged undergrowth that had to be hoed often. It also held more moisture. As strong as my mother was, she did have her fears. She was frightened by the very thought of a snake. Unfortunately, we were cursed with lots of them. The garden on the hill tended to attract what we called ground rattlers. They were a small snake related to the rattlesnake family that possessed a mild, but painful, venom. The garden in the lowland, however, attracted cotton mouth moccasins and copperheads. Both of these species were highly venomous and could threaten human life, if not treated. Thank goodness, they were not as plentiful as the ground rattlers. I suppose mother’s weakness, her fear of snakes, was Wags’ strength. He hated snakes too, but he had no fear of them. He was quick and smart and knew how to attack them. With a few shakes of his head, he would render them dead. Early in the morning, mother would pick up her garden basket and say, “Come on, Wags. Let’s go.” I know without a doubt Wags knew this was his duty. Some dogs may herd cattle, some pull sleds, but Wags’ sole purpose when he was with my mother was to seek and destroy the serpent. As time passed, he and I could be playing, but when he saw the basket in mother’s hands it was time to go to work.

Wags would go up the garden row in front of mother, searching both right and left. If he spotted a snake, he would give a certain shrill, sharp bark. It would be followed by a lightning fast attack, and soon a lifeless snake would be laid at mother’s feet. Of course, he got the typical doggy pat on the head with a reassuring “Good Boy” from Mother. Off he would go again. Like all living things, Wags loved to be needed. And mother needed him. Over the next few years, their relationship grew into one of closeness and respect. I noticed an extra piece of bacon in the skillet on most mornings and it was for Wags. Wags was not always perfect in his attack. One day he got bit on the nose by a ground rattler. His head began to swell and his eyes began to close. Archie, the black man that plowed our garden with his mule Fred, told mother to feed him sardines. He said the oil in the sardines would sop up the “pison”. It seemed to work and, in a few days, Wags was back at work on his mission of seek and destroy. More bites would occur and it seemed that Wags built up an immunity. His face would swell, but not as much as it did at first. It happened so often that he began to lose the hair on his nose and face. By the end of the third year, he was completely hairless on his face. He became known as “the Case’s bald-headed dog.” One year, when Wags was about five years old, Mother was gathering in the lower garden. She heard his familiar shrill bark and then she heard a long whine. She had never heard that noise before. Wags did not bring the snake to her. When mother approached, she saw a large dead copperhead. She also saw Wags, and he was beginning to have convulsions. Mother dumped the contents of her garden basket in the middle of the row and scooped Wags up, put him in the basket, and started to the house. Archie did not live far away so she drove up and told him what had happened. He went into a shed and came back with two jars of liquid and something wrapped in a newspaper. He rode to our house with mother. Wags was next to death. His body was twitching uncontrollably, his face was so swollen you could not see his eyes, and his tongue was swelling. With the expertise of a physician, Archie opened the first jar of liquid. “Coal oil, Ms. Eunice. We start with that.” He rubbed the coal oil in the two fang marks and then squeezed the wound as if to drain the poison. He then had mother heat some water. He applied hot compresses to the area for what seemed like an hour. Next, he applied more coal oil. In a few minutes, he opened the other bottle. “This be turpentine, Ms. Eunice. Yo’ dog plenty hurt.” Finally, he opened the newspaper.


“This here is cob webs. They be almost magic. Suck up that ‘pison.’” I knew cob webs were spider webs and I had heard they could stop bleeding. I had no idea they were good for snake bites, but Archie seemed to know what he was doing. “Ms. Eunice, yo’ dog may not make it, but I done all I can do. He be too sick to eat but pour that sardine oil down his mouth if you can.” Archie was right, Wags almost did not make it. But finally he turned the corner and, in about three weeks, he was a good as new. If Wags had hated snakes before the bite, it reinforced his dislike. Instead of just going up a row looking on each side, he would go all over the garden. It seems he wanted to get even with every cotton mouth or copperhead he could find.

The next day was Saturday and, just as mother had comforted me with my head in her lap, so she held Wags. That night she checked on him at least every hour and there was no improvement. The next day, Sunday, we went to church. When we came home, Wags had passed. We buried him in the high garden and mother never planted near his grave as long as she gardened. In fact, she never gardened amongst the cotton mouths and copper heads again. All this happened 55 years ago. I will probably drive home and read this story to my mom. She is now 102 years old, but she will still remember. Better yet, I think I will let her read it to me. She can do it better than I.

There were more bites and he got sick, but never as bad as the first time and never was his life threatened. He was a well-tuned snake killing machine, and my mother’s companion and protector.

Epilogue Everyone dreads that phone call in the early morning hours; or even more so, a knock on the door. On a very cold winter night when Wags was about seven years old, that knock came. When we went to the door, our neighbor and good friend, Tommy, held Wags in his arms. He had been hit by a car on the highway. He was alive, but unresponsive. The only wound appeared to be a cut over his right eye. Mother turned on the heater and warmed a blanket. Wags would sleep inside with mother’s blessings that night.

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Last month we lost a very important member of our community, Frank Davis. I have a special place in my heart for Frank as many of us do. Even before I met him, I enjoyed watching him and Mary Clare cook on Tuesday mornings with my two children, Kaitlin and Glynn, as they got ready for school. What we loved about him (besides his joyful personality) was that he made his recipes easy for the everyday home cook, using ingredients that we were familiar with. We looked forward to Tuesday mornings to see what he and Mary Clare were cooking. With mouths watering, we would make these recipes so that we to could enjoy the food that they had prepared that day. It was a great gift that he gave me and my children. Time together doing something we enjoyed. In 2009, when Frank was doing a cooking demonstration at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium, I wanted to do something for him as a way of saying thank you. I decided a painting of him, in my style, would be the thing to do. Because Frank liked hunting and fishing I had to put a bayou scene in the back ground, complete with a pirogue which

Story and Art by Lori Gomez


that voice. I'm fine Frank how are you? "Well, I was calling to see if I can come on over and film a segment of Naturally N'awlins in about an hour?" Uh... sure Frank, no problem... I said out loud but inside I'm thinking how in the heck am I going to get myself and the house ready that fast? Let me tell you - I've never moved so fast in my life.

I named Mary Clare, of course. The night of his cooking demonstration was the first time I met Frank; although he had a way of making you feel like old friends. The night was filled with good food and (as always) a great sense of humor. In my kitchen, I proudly display a picture from that night of Frank, Mary Clare and my family. Then in 2010, the oil spill happened. I sent Frank an email about my concerns. The next morning, the phone rings about 9am and it's Frank, bigger than life. "HI LORI, HOW ARE YOU?" There was no mistaking

Sure enough, he and his photographer showed up promptly. When I opened the door, that big smile of his immediately put me at ease and I was ready. We sat down at the kitchen table and talked over a glass of sweet iced tea (as all good Southern people do). The conversation was amazing. I almost had to pinch myself to make sure he was really at my table, talking as though he'd been here many times before. The whole experience was such a pleasure that I almost forgot that we were actually filming. The segment came out great. It is a memory that I will always cherish. There is a link to it on my website's home page:

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Shortly after, Frank retired. I would miss those Tuesday mornings with him and Mary Clare. Then I opened up a copy of Slidell Magazine, and there he was. This is great! We can still get our Frank fix, even if it was only once a month. I love the way he would tell his stories and share his recipes. It's funny how his stories seemed to always bring up very similar memories of my own. I think it's the Italian thing. You know - my maw maw and your maw maw makin' groceries... Always makes me smile. Then came the news of his illness. Not too long after, he was unable to do his column. Surely Frank would get better and someday return to telling his stories and sharing his recipes in Slidell Magazine. At least that was the hope. My friend and Slidell Magazine Editor, Kendra Maness, called me up and asked me if I would fill in for Frank. As much as I've always wanted to do a cookbook of my own, where I could combine two of my favorite things, cooking and my art - I hesitated. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill. I certainly know that no one will ever be like Frank. How could I do this in a way that would honor him? Then I reminded myself of what it was about Frank that I admired. Frank was the most down to earth person I had ever met. Although he had a bigger-than-life personality, he was true to himself. Never putting on airs. He spoke from his heart. As long as I can do that in my own way, and write from my heart, then I think I will honor him. It breaks my heart that our friend is gone. But, I just remind myself how blessed we were to have him in our lives - whether it was as a personal friend or just our TV friend. We were the lucky ones to have him make us smile and fill us with so much joy. For this month’s recipe’s I thought we could use some comfort food. With the weather getting colder, I figure soup would do the trick. I've had a couple of requests for Crawfish Pepper Jack Soup after posting a picture of it on my face book page earlier in the week. Here's the recipe:

Crawfish Pepper Jack Soup 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 2 stalks celery, finely chopped 1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped 1 carrot, finely chopped 1/2 stick butter ¼ cup all purpose flour 3 cloves garlic, minced ¾ tsp. dry mustard 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper 2 cups chicken broth 4 cups (1 quart) half and half 12 oz package cooked crawfish tail meat 12 oz Monterrey Pepper Jack Cheese, grated ½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. pepper 1. Sauté onion, celery, bell pepper and carrots in butter for 3 minutes. 2. Add garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes. 3. Add flour, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne, stirring constantly for two minutes. 4. Add broth and bring to a boil, still stirring. 5. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in half and half. 6. Add crawfish. 7. Do not allow mixture to boil. 8. Stir occasionally and lower heat as needed to keep from boiling. 9. Cook for 15 minutes on medium low heat. 10. Add pepper jack cheese and stir until melted . 11. Add salt and pepper. Serves 4-6 people if served as a meal with salad and bread.

This next recipe was my Maw Maws. It’s a family favorite. I think Frank would appreciate this one.

Maw Maw’s Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce 6 eggs 1 cup sugar 1 ½ tsp. vanilla 2 tsp. butter flavoring or real butter 2 quarts whole milk 1 large loaf of stale French Bread, cut into bite-sized pieces 1- 16 oz package of raisins 1. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter and milk in a saucepan. 2. Cook till sugar dissolves. 3. Pour over bread and mix. 4. Stir in raisins. 5. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. 6. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Rum Sauce 1 cup sugar ½ cup cream ½ cup butter 2 tbsp. of rum 1. Melt butter in a small sauce pan. 2. Add cream and sugar. 3. Cook on low heat stirring continually for 10 minutes. 4. Remove from heat and add rum. 5. Spoon over warm bread pudding and serve.

I’d love to hear your feedback! Send your recipes and opinions to:

In Memory of Frank Davis whose spirit will carry on. Lori's painting of Frank Davis in his chef's jacket depicts Frank in a bayou scene, cooking up a batch of seafood gumbo. The pirogue in the back of the painting holds a crab trap and bears the name, "Mary Clare."

You can enjoy more of Lori’s art on facebook or by visiting:


Making ₵ents

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Back to basics:

A re you taking advantage of these timeless financial concepts? It seems that financial issues are all over the news, and we are relentlessly bombarded with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some of it’s real and some isn’t. Not only that, financial writers are urging us to buy, sell, do this, don’t do that, and on and on. However, despite problems with the U.S. federal budget deficit, the tepid jobs market, or whatever the crisis du jour is, the basics – the fundamental, common-sense rules for achieving financial security for most

of us worker bees – have stood the test of time. So, with the New Year upon us, we at Pontchartrain Investment Management can’t think of a better way to ring it in than to review some timeless money concepts: Timeless Concept No. 1: If you don’t save and invest money today, you probably won’t have any in the future. OK, right now you’re

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moron? Of course I won’t have any money if I don’t save.” But, hear me out. I’ve run into a lot of people who, because of the way they are NOT saving, must be thinking that there’s a money fairy out there with a magic wand she’ll wave 30 years from now that will make all those years of spending, spending, spending go away, to be replaced with some golden bowl of money that never runs out. Well, I have looked mightily, but have not yet met that fairy. If you haven’t met her either, and think saving and investing for yourself might work better, let’s get together and put your plan in place. Timeless Concept No. 2: When it comes to building wealth, the short term doesn’t mean much. First of all, before you invest,

make sure you have enough liquidity to get through an emergency. That means cash in the bank, a money market fund, a cash value life insurance policy – anywhere you can get to money quickly and without selling an investment that you might not want to. Beyond that however, your investment goals – college costs, a vacation home, a nice retirement – are best addressed by taking a longer view. Experienced investors will tell you that chasing returns over the short term typically ends badly. Instead, a better way to invest for the big stuff is to set your goal and work with us to implement a plan to get there. For example, if your goal is to send your two-year-old to college in 16 years, you have a great gift: time. Although we can’t forecast exactly how much it will cost to educate your little scholar, we can use current costs and a realistic rate of inflation to make some pretty good guesses. With that information in hand, it’s not too difficult to set up a long-term investment program that can get us to our goal. The real difficultly is in sticking with the plan, especially when the financial markets are going through one of their periodic see-saws. That’s where Andy, Chris, Steve, Robin, and I come in. Our job is to keep your eye on the prize and help you ignore the relentless pressure from the financial media (and your next door neighbor) to run with the latest short-term fad.

Timeless Concept No. 3: Many things we buy next year will cost more than they do today, so plan accordingly. You can ignore the monthly

gyrations of the government’s Consumer Price Index, but you can’t ignore its long-term effects. Inflation is the insidious tax we all pay and it is not going away. Frankly, I don’t know what the actual rate of inflation is going to be next month or next year, but I do know that my family’s cost of living over the long haul will grow as surely as the weeds in my yard. Here’s a sobering thought: At a 3% average rate of inflation (which it’s been over the past 20 years or so), $500,000 in today’s dollars will have the purchasing power of about $277,000 in 2033. The message? We all need to spend less than we earn and save the rest because we’re going to need it. If you want to learn more about dealing with the risk of inflation now, rather than when it’s likely to be right on top of you, call us for a free appointment. Timeless Concept No. 4: If you are not protecting your assets and income from unplanned bad events, you are setting up yourself and your family for financial disaster, period. Bad things happen to most of us, and they

usually have bills attached to them. Premature deaths, disabilities that stop paychecks from coming in, and lawsuits from car accidents are real events that happen to real people (everything on that list has happened to my family). For many baby boomers, the financial nuclear bomb is going to be the astronomical cost of medical and long term care in their later years. The sad thing is that many people hate insurance companies so much that they forget how cost-effective it is to pass off risk to them. On the other hand, for insurance companies, handling risk is their business, and they do it very well. We like to tell clients that if they have insurance, but don’t need it, they might have made a small financial miscalculation. However, if something bad happens, but they don’t have insurance for it, those premium payments they didn’t make will likely seem pretty small. It’s easy to protect yourself and your family – not to mention your money– from bad things. Meet with us to review your risks and address them. Some folks in the financial world have suggested that we’re in a “new normal” and that the old rules for investing and managing your money life don’t work. When viewed in the light of events of 2008, there is some truth to that assessment. However, the basic ways to achieve financial security – setting up a savings plan, investing for the long term, preparing for inflation by saving as much as you can, and protecting your family and your wealth from risks – haven’t changed. So, if this common-sense approach sounds like it might work for you, call us for a free appointment. We’ll get down to basics with you.



2242 Carey St. Olde Towne, Slidell, LA Securities and Advisory Services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.


FRANK DAVIS: 1942-2013 I first met Frank when I interviewed him for Slidell Magazine in February of 2012. At the time, my fledgling little magazine truly needed a Slidell star to put it on the map. Slidell’s brightest star was Frank Davis. Frank and Mary Clare were proud and active Slidellians for almost 40 years. Perfect for my publication. I had no idea that our first meeting would lead to a beautiful and treasured friendship.

Long before radio, television, cookbooks - and the fame that went with all of them (which NEVER, EVER affected his personality) – Frank’s passion was writing. He offered to write for Slidell Magazine that very first day, more as a favor to me than anything else. The first “Frankly Slidell” was published in April 2012. It was a whimsical, fun story (written like only Frank could) leading into one of his famous recipes. His stories were only the tip of the iceberg, though. Frank, Mary Clare and I would spend hours on the phone each month, talking about the magazine, food, grandkids and life. A friendship was born. In the next few pages, you will read remembrances of Frank Davis. When I asked for input for this special tribute, the response was overwhelming. HUNDREDS of memories came pouring in – from the captains he fished with, his radio and TV co-workers, National Guard servicemen, friends and neighbors, people whom he had met briefly while shopping, and people who simply enjoyed watching him on the news… Frank impacted the lives of so many. It was an honor and privilege to work with Frank. Even more, it was a blessing to call him my friend. ~ Kendra Maness, Editor


Frank asked me to join him going across the country promoting Crisco for Proctor and Gamble. We started traveling on our own special bus in which we would bring our own equipment. We ate Vienna sausage, crackers, hogshead cheese, and things like that on all our trips. Frank said that people would laugh at what we ate while traveling because of the food that we cooked for everyone else. One time in Venice, we were fishing tarpon and we all went to sleep on the boat. At sunrise, the captain yelled “Fish in the water.” Frank was up to catch the first fish. He fought with that fish for an hour and a half before he brought it in. The whole time he was fighting with the fish he kept saying that he wasn’t giving up and he would get that fish no matter what. That was how Frank was with everything. He just would never give up. He was always putting people first and himself second and that is why so many people liked Frank, because he loved people. ~ Glenn Randall

[...about his stories ] I didn’t do TV like every other TV reporter. I don’t say much, I let the people tell the story.

I was campaigning for state representative years ago in Slidell knocking on doors on Dover Street. It was about 102 degrees and just past 2 in the afternoon. I skipped lunch so I could finish in the neighborhood. I was so hungry but I was determined to hit every door. I remember walking up to a front door and someone was cooking something that smelled awfully good! It was Frank’s house and he answered the door but was not able to shake my hand because he had flower up to his elbows. He invited me in and made sure I had something cold to drink and offered me some freshly prepared lemon fish. Frank, Mary Clare and God were looking out for me that day and I will never forget his love of our great city and his heart of gold. Our prayers and love go out to Mary Clare and Frank’s loved ones. He’s probably checking out the best fishing places in Heaven right now. ~ Senator A.G. Crowe

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As a young outdoorsman, I read Frank’s magazine stories and listened to his radio shows. Frank was a trail blazer and a model for today’s outdoor writers and broadcasters. He inspired and encouraged me to enter the field and we often worked together covering fishing rodeos, tournaments and award presentations. I was honored when he recommended me to WWL TV to continue the long tradition of the Fish and Game Reports after his long-running, highly rated features. I don’t think people realize how unique, as well as difficult, it is to go fishing in the morning and present the story to living rooms on the six o’clock newscast. I don’t know of any other TV station in the country that turns around same day fishing features and it was Frank who created and upheld that standard. Frank and I often discussed our jobs and probably the most important part of print and broadcast journalism I ever picked up from Frank was that, as reporters, the story was not about us, but the experts that we covered. Frank always seemed to have a special slant to even the most ordinary stories. He was one of the most creative minds I ever met and hundreds of thousands of sportsmen will miss the man who kept them informed and entertained. ~ Don Dubuc

Frank wanted me to photograph him and Mary Clare for some promo photos. He invited me on my first fishing trip to film the “Fish and Game Report” for WWL TV. And that’s where our friendship began. One day I decided to cook a pot of a very hearty beef stew. Frank said it was one of the best beef stews he’d ever had. He said, “Mike, why don’t you come and be my guest chef and help me cook it?” Pam and I both joined Frank and Mary Clare in his kitchen on the set at WWL TV. We had a blast! Frank was so much fun to be with and Mary Clare just would stand back and let him do his thing sometimes shaking her head at some of the crazy things he would come out with. On the way home we all laughed at the fun we had. Frank said, “Pam and Mike, won’t you both please consider coming back on my show.” I continued on as Frank’s guest chef for 2 years. There were times when Pam and I actually did the show by ourselves when Frank and Mary Clare were on vacation. It was so much fun! As time went on, Frank, Mary Clare, Pam and I became close friends. There were 2 other couples that we met through the Davis’ - Pete and Gina and Sonny and Randi. Since the first time as a group, we all became friends. Since Frank and Mary Clare lived on Fleur De Lis Street, we adopted this name as a club name, “The Fleur De Lis Club.” We all met once a month at various places to have dinner together. Then later, we asked two other couples to come into the club. Getting together was always so much fun. People actually felt they knew Frank and Mary Clare as family whenever we would go out. It was like hanging out with a movie star. ~ Mike Sanders

[...about his work]

Everybody at Channel 4 always wanted my job. I get to fish. I get to cook. And I got to put it on TV. I go do Naturally N’awlins pieces and I get to just hang out with people and talk to them and have a good time and I get paid for all of it. They would say, ‘I want your job – you only work 2 minutes a day.’

I loved doing the Fish’n Game Report with Frank because you never knew what he had up his sleeve. I remember one morning, I picked up Frank (carrying 7 extremely large Po-Boys), Kenny Campo and our camera man at Campo’s Marina and headed for Lake Borgne but about two blocks from the marina, we noticed some redfish activity around the pilings near the bank, so we eased on in and set the anchor. We all caught our limit right away. So, Frank tells the camera man to point the camera toward the marina and promptly announces, “Do you recognize that place? It’s Campo’s Marina, a cup of gas away. If you want to make an easy trip and catch redfish, this is the place.” The next morning there were at least fifteen boats crowded in that small area. That just shows how popular he and his show were and what a big following he had. We did many trips and he always loved showing his viewers when, where and how to put a few in the ice chest so they could have a successful fishing trip. May you rest in peace my friend till we meet again. ~Capt. Tim Ursin aka “Capt. Hook”

At our photoshoot in Griffith Park for the cover of the March 2012 Edition. I am asking Frank to pose “like that kid from Home Alone.” We lost a brother when Frank Davis passed away. I met Frank when he worked at WWL Radio in the early 80s, doing marathon shows every Saturday and Sunday. From the first, he was a mentor as well as a friend. He showed me broadcasting at its best. He was always entertaining, and yet he was just being himself. He found the fun in life, and shared it with everyone around him. For three decades, we worked together at Eyewitness News. Anchoring the Morning News when he was cooking was pure pleasure (you would really have enjoyed it if you could have seen what went on during the commercials). I even got to interview him for our 12 For The Road series in 1996. We used to say that Frank could ask people to read the phone book, and he would find a way to make it hysterically funny. But he never treated people badly in his Naturally N’Awlins reports. He always enjoyed being with them as much as they got a kick out of him, and they would happily do things for him they never would have considered otherwise; singing, dancing, answering impossible questions, it was always fun. But some of the best times for me were when I was with him and Mary Clare. She was truly the love of his life, his partner in everything, and just as much fun to be with as Frank was. We’re sharing a lot of memories about Frank today, sometimes consoling each other, and feeling the emptiness at the loss of a beloved friend. We will miss Frank, but he will often be remembered, and always with a smile, and I guess that is what he would love the most. ~ Bill Capo

I worked with Frank for more than thirty years and over that time Frank and his wife Mary Clare became friends. Frank was such a good man. Funny, smart, a great cook and a loving father and husband. I cherish the years I spent with him, the fishing trips, his guidance through the years, but mostly his friendship. ~ Eric Paulsen

[ ...about naturally n’awlins] Jim Boya [WWL TV station manager in 1981] called me into his office and asked me if I minded working on weekends. He said, ‘I’m tired of using canned stuff – I don’t want to buy that network crap. It’s not personal, it’s cardboard. I want to get somebody that does something that’s naturally New Orleans.’ And I said, ‘Well, then let’s call it that – but let’s do it like New Orleanians say it when they smile.’ If you smile and you say New Orleans, it sounds like N’awlins.

Slidell Little Theatre lost a good friend with the passing of Frank Davis. SLT had the privilege of having him perform in our productions – that’s him in the photograph (left) as Marcellus in “The Music Man” back when SLT performed at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium. He also served with his wife Mary Clare as a Judge for our productions and our Gumbo Cook Off. He will be missed by so many. ~ Don Redman


This “Pointing Finger” pose is what we used for our ‘Frankly Slidell‛ story header. We cut Frank out and reversed his pose to appear that he was pointing at the title of the story. I first met Frank in 1963 when I joined as a cadet the Slidell Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. Captain Davis was the Commandant of Cadets for the squadron and responsible for the education of Aerospace and Air Force history and tradition of youth 13-19 years old. Through the years, Frank grew the squadron to one of the largest in the state. He instilled in us values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do. When I was 16 years old, one of our cadets was killed in a hunting accident and we stood as the Honor Guard for his funeral on my birthday. A couple of weeks later, Frank threw a surprise birthday party at my parent’s home. To me, this was always what Frank was all about, taking care of the tradition of honoring one of our own who was lost and ensuring those traditions of important points in our lives were celebrated. He inspired me to achieve things I never imagined when I was a teenager. I spent 9 years active duty Air Force and 31 years in the Louisiana Air National Guard, retiring in 2010 with 40 years of service with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. Thank you Frank for being such a great role model for me. ~Milton R. Lizana, CMSGT LAANG (Ret)

The first time I worked with Frank was on a Naturally N’Awlins piece. His “N’Awlins” pieces were fun to do, they were interesting, they almost always had visual potential, and Frank made the work fun, always fun. Frank was the master of having a “conversation” and turning it into an entertaining story. To watch and listen to him talk to someone was like watching a poet write poetry. In the end it all came together. Frank would talk to anybody because he genuinely liked people…they were “his” people, and he considered himself one of them. He believed everyone had a story to tell, and that story in some way would be Naturally N’Awlins. There was one story about a guy who collected cast-iron pots and pans, a bunch of them. He had them on his walls, hanging from his ceiling, they were everywhere. I thought, what the heck am I going to do visually with just a bunch of CASTIRON POTS and PANS? So he started talking to this gentleman, and as I listened to Frank’s conversation about his collection, it dawned on me that what I was hearing was the music, and how I photographed the “pots and pans” would be the tempo. Not every story could, or would, be a grand slam winner, but Frank ALWAYS was able to get an interesting story out of what someone said. Every year Frank would do a St. Joseph Altar story, they were an important part of the city’s culture. St. Joseph Altars always look the same. So, I try something different shooting another altar…try. But it wasn’t the altar itself that was the story; it was the people who had a poignant personal story to tell about what the altar meant to them. There was the personal touch. Frank just knew what parts of those stories to tell. He knew what would touch his audience because he was one of them; he was a true New Orleanian through and through. He knew his city…he loved his city. He knew his audience…he loved his audience…he respected his audience… he was one of his audience. Working with Frank taught me one thing…he was a teacher, and a very good one. He knew his subjects, and he knew them well; whether the story was a NatNO story, or a Fish and Game story, his audience always learned something. Frank taught something about all he spoke about, or let people speak about. But above all, Frank entertained. That was his gift. Frank touched many people throughout his career. He was loved and admired by many…many who knew him personally, and those who knew him just from television. He was in touch with people, and they were in touch with him because they could relate to him. He brought them information and entertainment, but most of all, he brought them laughter, or just a smile. He was Frank. He will be missed. ~Bob Weaver

[...about himself]

People would ask the station what I was like behind the scenes. And they would say, ‘That’s him. That’s not fake, it’s what he does, who he is. If you like him, that’s great. If you don’t, we apologize but that’s just who he is.’


I shot quite a number of Frank Davis features over the thirty years we knew each other, but one incident kept fighting to crowd out other fond memories. Frank was anxious to strike out early one morning and catch his limit on one of his Fishin’ Game Reports. In dawn’s glow he was but a dim silhouette as he made his first cast of the day. As his hook glided toward the marsh, a pelican flew in its path. Frank’s line wrapped itself around the hapless bird about three times before the hook found its mark. Suddenly the graceful bird resembled a kamikaze fighter as it crashed beak first into the water. By the time Frank and our charter captain got the poor bird into the boat, it was quite distressed. “I thought gettin’ the hook out of a speckled trout was tough,” Frank said. “This guy ain’t cooperatin’ at all.” Suddenly Frank turned and noticed me bending over his shoulder, focusing on all the action. “Don’t tell me you’re rolling on this!” he exclaimed. “We can’t put this on TV. Wildlife and Fisheries will KILL me.” It was the greatest catch that never aired. ~David Joachim

[... philosophies] You can be anything you want to be. There is nothing in this world you can’t do provided that you have determination, the will, and the talent to go do it. Success is defined as this: Number 1, find something you like to do. Number 2, do it better than anybody else. Number 3, get somebody to pay you to do it. If you live by those 3 principals, you can’t be a failure. To me, that’s the soul key to success.

Frank and I go back a very long time and my memories were always happy. He was a man comfortable with himself, he always was down to earth and being a celebrity never went to his head. He was one of the most talented people I know. You never knew what we would do when we got together. Sometimes we cooked and made homemade spaghetti or real hot tamales. He cooked on T.V. and it wasn’t just for show, he was a wonderful cook. We had great times fishing and catching crawfish. I had never caught my own crawfish before but being with Frank and Mary Clare was always an adventure. Music was another talent. We would sit around the piano and sing songs or he would play some that he had written, nothing heavy or deep, just fun. Sometimes we just had coffee and talked about how we would change the world: he never realized HE WAS changing the world. One time we had gone out and were coming home late through a rough neighborhood. He said he had to stop for gas. We were worried, but not him. When he got out he was surrounded by a rough bunch, but all they wanted to do was shake his hand and swap stories with him. He was loved by rich and poor, old and young. When he came to the daycare where I worked, Frank had those children hanging on every word he said. My favorite memory, if I had to pick one, was our trip to Italy. When the Italian musicians would entertain us Frank was with them singing too. When we were in Venice and going down the canals in a gondola, Frank was singing “When the Saints Go Marching In”. The Italians standing on the bridge looking down were just shaking their head wondering what those crazy Americans were singing! Frank was a man who loved unconditionally. He was truly a unique man and will be missed by all who were lucky enough to know him. ~Jackie Armand Arceneaux

Mr. Frank, you will be missed. I will always remember you eating at Peck’s Seafood weekly and watching you on TV fishing every week growing up as a kid. God bless to the Davis family.

2315 Gause Blvd. East 985-781-7272


by John Maracich III

If you grew up in the New Orleans area in the last 40 years, you knew Frank Davis ... I certainly did. His cookbooks were the King James Bible when it came to seafood around my house. Folks from New Orleans and the surrounding area are very discriminating who they take there direction from. For years, Hap Glaudi (and later Buddy D.) was the voice of sports in the area. Tom Fitzmorris is Mr. Food. Frank was the authority on fishing and seafood. From a business perspective, that kind of authority can be a great asset. So it’s not a stretch to say that Frank was one of Slidell’s greatest business assets - an ambassador to the world marking our town as a haven for seafood lovers.

Slidell: Seafood Starts Here...

Seafood Emerging - or Emergency?

Obviously, Slidellians are aware of how important seafood is to the area. It’s much of what we eat - from home crawfish boils to Shrimp Po-boys at Peck’s. Our close proximity to fresh water, the lake, and the Gulf of Mexico makes Slidell a rare triad of seafood excellence. Much of our housing is built on the water to afford easy access to fish, crabs and shrimp.

It’s may seem of funny now but after the Oil Spill of 2010, a lot of folks wondered if we would ever again enjoy local seafood. The industry was battered but not beaten. There are still problems, evidenced by a recent crab shortage that had some folks wondering if the spill was still causing grief for the local industry. Others thought it might be Hurricane Issac or the closing of the MRGO.

But our seafood means a lot to the rest of the country too. According to the Louisiana Seafood Board, one out of every 70 jobs in Louisiana is seafood related. The total economic impact is in the range of 2.4 billion dollars. Slidell is responsible for a lot of that seafood.

Louisiana Crab Task Force (who knew?) chairman Keith Watts notes that crab production runs in seasonal cycles. “Even the low cycles we have seen in the past, have never been this low.”

When the White House sent ”First Chef” Cristeta Comerford to Louisiana to learn about the Louisiana seafood industry, she came to Slidell. Touring the waters of Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico with a cadre of the country’s most prominent chefs, Comerford was impressed with the bountiful harvest of wild-caught seafood. “I’m a seafood lover myself,” said Comerford. “And yesterday, just coming down to the different restaurants and trying everything – this is very, very good seafood down here.”

Low crab production affects Slidell in a big way because blue crabs are a huge industry here. Pontchartrain Blue Crab, a leading Slidell crabmeat processing company, employs as many as 100 people on a regular basis and buys from upwards of 150 local crabbers. The crab industry in Louisiana has an economic impact of $293 million dollars!

Seafood - a Slidell Way of Life Whether you buy and sell fish and seafood for a living or just like to enjoy a seafood platter at Vera’s, it’s nice to remember how important the industry is to the area. And it’s even nicer to reflect on how important it was to a regular guy like Frank.

go beyond by Rose Marie Sand

“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”


The best New Year’s resolution is whatever you did last year, do it better. My perennial resolution is one I always keep – travel more.

time and space to notice details and meet people and create moments that wake up your life.

At the beginning of the year, I pull out a large calendar full of white space filled with infinite possibilities. I consider travel destinations, daydreaming my way through the months and the globe.

“He travels the fastest who travels alone” ~Rudyard Kipling

But often, I don’t have a traveling companion who can join me. “I couldn’t get anyone to go with me” is a terrible reason for not doing something. So this year, I’ve changed one word of my New Year’s Resolution – travel Solo. “Travel is to take a journey into yourself” ~Danny Kaye Usually on trips to meet someone in a distant city, I tack on a couple of days before or after, to explore by myself. But only once have I traveled completely on my own, with no companion. And it was a great experience. That trip wasn’t simply travel for travel’s sake - I went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a writer’s conference. But it was extremely daunting and the completion of that trip helped me realize that traveling solo has as many rewards as traveling in a group. Because travel helps you see the world differently and, on your own, you have the


— Mark Twain

So my New Year’s resolution is to go both above and beyond, and plan travel where I’m completely on my own. Sure, it’s intimidating –but there’s also an upside. Want to stay in bed all day and order room service – just do it, you’re the boss. Spend the whole day wandering in museums or sit in a park people watching – why not? To shop or not to shop is completely up to you – no waiting on someone who doesn’t share your esthetics! Travel with the idea that there are no rules; everyday demands are non existent, overcrowded schedules can be ignored. Choose to take your Facebook or email friends on your journey, or post pictures and comments when you return – it’s all up to you. Sometimes on my own, I spend way too much time pondering existential questions about what it means to be alive – but usually I’m simply happy to see new places and meet new people. And frankly, now that I can write “Go Beyond,” I always feel I have company in my notebooks.

I must admit, when I’m traveling with others, sooner or later someone is going to irritate the hell out of me. Benjamin Franklin said fish and visitors smell after three days, and the same can be true of travel companions. But every time the closeness of a travel buddy begins to wear thin, I think of how irritating I must be, too. On my own, I have no one to blame but myself for a rotten day! So, journal away and get all metaphysical, or wallow in a crabby mood for awhile. Take notes or pictures if motivated, or simply BE. Travel is all about freedom, and what’s more free than being on your own? Traveling alone also means that you don’t have to argue with anyone about what and what not to see or do. There’s no worry about whether someone is truly enjoying themselves as much as you are, or whether they’re satisfied with how the trip is going. “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one, it’s the loneliest number since the number one.” ~Harry Nilsson Expect you will get a little bit lonely from time to time. That’s true at home or on the road, but when you’re on the road the fact that a loved one isn’t a few minutes away can creep up on you. That’s where it’s important to remember that on your own, you will discover that you can be braver than you knew possible.

Keep that attitude in your pocket – especially when the unexpected occurs. Because nothing is as empowering as doing something on your own. The experiences and consequences are yours and yours alone, so you’ll really learn to like yourself and enjoy spending time alone. The real reward is that sense of self-reliance is something you can draw on in your everyday life. Cruise ship travel is an excellent way for a solo traveler to see new places. Excursions to distant ports are well-planned, meals are usually excellent, and you’ll find dozens of other solo travelers on board. The choice is yours when it comes to taking part in ship board activities, enjoying live entertainment, or finding a quiet spot to read alone.

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“To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.” ~Carlos Ruiz Zafón Many people, especially women, hesitate to travel alone because of safety factors, and that’s completely warranted. But there are several ways to insure your journeys, either on the road or at home, are as safe as possible. Safety comes down to common sense – the things you teach your kids when they’re growing up – apply. There’s being brave and then there’s being just plain stupid. Don’t walk in strange neighborhoods after dark, lock your doors, don’t leave your valuables lying around, be alert. Scan the street, trust your instincts, and don’t talk on the phone while walking around a strange area, especially if you have your hands full of bags. Cultivate an air of confidence, as though you know exactly where you’re going, even if you don’t. If you must refer to a map or look through a map, don’t stop distractedly in the middle of a sidewalk. Get a sling bag that keeps your belongings in front of you, rather than on your back. When it’s time to pull out cash or a credit card for a transaction, try to do so without taking your wallet out of the bag. Keep in mind there may be someone watching to see just where you store that wallet, cellphone or passport.

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“When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines o’re the bay. Do I want to be there, in my city...” ~Journey Don’t be afraid to visit a big city on your own. Times Square, a mecca for tourists, is teaming with activity both day and night. Exercise the same caution you’d use in New Orleans, and enjoy shows, restaurants and people watching for hours. Take along a open attitude, and use caution, not paranoia.

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A friend who worked front desk at a major hotel gave me this advice – tip your concierge or front desk clerk when you register. Have that after dinner cocktail in your hotel’s lounge, and ask for a hotel employee to accompany you to your room late at night.

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Of course, not getting trashed alone in a strange city is the best advice; and the same is true close to home. I like to stay in Bed and Breakfast places as often as my budget allows. They feel more secure, you have built-in experts in the area, and a homey place to come back to. Check into vacation homes by owners; they offer advice on safe areas, and solo travelers can often rent a room in a family home. You also get a better sense of the history and culture of a city by staying with a local.

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Develop an awareness of gender roles in foreign countries. Don’t do anything you can’t imagine a local woman doing (or yourself doing at home). Don’t wear expensive jewelry or show a lot of money in public places. In some cultures, a woman traveling alone is considered to be available. If you want to ward off unwanted advances from foreign men, wear a wedding ring. Don’t make eye contact with unknown men; this may be considered an invitation. “I ate the last mango in Paris, took the last plane out of Saigon, I took the first fast boat to China, but, Jimmy, there’s still so much to be done.” ~Jimmy Buffett I’m not quite ready for an “Eat, Pray, Love” experience – traveling solo to foreign countries carries a different set of considerations. But I do dream of taking off for London; starting off in an English speaking country should be a perfect foray across the pond. Here are some tips I learned from a woman I met on a cruise recently. She was traveling to Mexico, on her own, from Israel, and shared her experiences about international travel. Learn everything you can about the customs of a country, and be aware of how you should adapt your behavior to fit into that culture.


Know the equivalent of “911” wherever you visit, and have a functioning cell phone. A young friend of mine uses hostels to travel across the world inexpensively. My time has past for that particular travel adventure; I tailor time and budget for as many creature comforts as possible. “No man is rich enough to buy back his past.” ~Oscar Wilde Solo travel also means there’s no one else to share the expense of a hotel room, or a cruise ship cabin. As I consider exotic adventures and new destinations, I’m limited only by my travel budget and time. And stretching both to the limit has become raison d’etre. As a financial investment, adventure ranks at the bottom of the list. Its reward has no

trade value; its promise is unreliable. Yet, stepping out of the protective bubble of a group and traveling alone means you’re in the scene, not just watching it. Nothing is moving by you via the framework of others; you’re on your own and in the scene. Not quite ready for that much adventure? There are travel groups for singles that provide planned vacations that also offer time alone. “Road Scholar” provides diverse community learning experiences for both couples and singles. “There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me, and I know that I just can’t go wrong.” ~Jimmy Buffett I put aside my empty 2014 calendar, and searched the Internet for “solo women travelers.” Voila - dozens of hits of tips, suggestions and programs! There are books and websites and blogs all devoted to solo travel – so much to consider, it may take me the month of January to go through it all. I already have my annual family beach trip penciled in. The rest of the world, and the year, is my oyster.

Sli-Ku Wow…I’m still stuffed! It happened yet again. Seems like every year, I start going off track with my eating habits around Halloween; by Christmas and New Year’s, then my birthday…BAM! I’m in the ditch - derailed, full-on train wreck. I’ve been told one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Well call me certified because I’ve made the same New Year’s resolution every year: to watch what I eat and drink and go on a diet! But this year will be different; I will reset my mind and habits to follow through on my resolution this year. I just know I…Ooh, is that leftover birthday cake?…and homemade chocolate ice cream?…Mmmm and a King Cake to kick off the Carnival season? Sorry, I lost my train of thought. Where was I? January ushers in 2014; turning the page on last year and providing a clean slate for anyone who just wants to move forward. The month is named for the Roman god Janus who was the god of transitions and doorways. Usually depicted with two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward, what better deity than Janus to help reset the calendar? January gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past year and remember those special moments, the blessings, as well as those we’ve lost and who are no longer with us. It also allows us to look forward to the potential and possibilities the coming year may bring. It is International Brain Teaser Month and I am a willing participant; YOU just got volunteered! Because I have complete confidence in each and every one of my readers (mainly due to it being Be Confident in Others Month), I am going to forego the answer since it won’t be necessary. If this is not agreeable to anyone and choice words are cast in my direction, now would

be a good time to point out the week of January 19-25 is No Name Calling Week. So here is my participatory brain teaser for the month: Imagine you are in an empty, sinking pirogue in the middle of the Pearl River surrounded by hungry alligators…how will you survive? I’ll let you chew on that for a while. (Pun intended, of course!) Slidell has a rich military tradition with many of our citizens having served our country. When I see anyone in uniform, I make a point to thank them for their service. Some service personnel, civil servants, and even a scout or two out there should like January 11 - Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day. My father was in the Air Force and, when I was a kid, I learned the alphabet in Morse Code from an “If You Get Shot Down” survival kit he gave to me. The start of each January sees me one year older but for some reason I seem to never grow up. John Greier, the American psychologist famously stated, “You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.” It is a rather funny statement coming from the person who pioneered behavior assessment tools used by many companies to measure an employee’s personality profile. Finally, January 18th is Thesaurus Day or as it is also known…Hmmm? What would be another name for Thesaurus Day? Can somebody say “brain teaser”? One year ago this month, I introduced Slidell and the world to the concept of the “Sli-Ku” - a Japanese-inspired haiku with a Slidell theme. Unbeknownst to me, in one of those serendipity “a-ha” moments in life, I learned that the official Japanese floral emblem for the month of January is the Camellia. I just love it when a plant comes together!

What is the one name That represents us the best? Quite frankly- Slidell

Until next time…


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He comes at many times, but is most powerful at night. There is no stopping him once he has started. He can change the course of the game in an instant. He has many names, but most refer to this phenomenon as….the 12th Man. As we have seen many times with LSU, and several times (especially recently) with our Saints, the crowd can have an overwhelming impact on the outcome, spirit, and drive of the game. The 12th Man has a rich history and one that continues to evolve as human nature continues to become a part of the game, usually in the loudest possible way. This volatile component has affected many sports, especially football, and becomes a vital, make-it-or-break-it factor for home teams in close games. After all, I should know; I was part of one of the biggest 12th Man moments in LSU history. Many credit the original usage of this famous label to Texas A&M; however, the first recorded instance of a “Twelfth Player” was used in the November 1912 edition of The Iowa Alumnus in which E.A. McGowan described that “the eleven men had done their best; but the twelfth man on the team (the loyal spirited Iowa rooter) had won the game”. It’s comforting that, even after over 100 years, loyal fans have been such an influence on football. It proves the point that the butts in those stands can truly make a difference. Or rather, the fists in the you and I both know that butts don’t really stay in seats in the stadium. Texas A&M’s history with the term revolves around a particular man in a particular game. Against a superior opponent, Centre College, the Aggies were slowly and surely winning a hard fought game. The coach for the Aggies agonizingly realized that one more injury would leave him without another player to send onto the field. E. King Gill, a


student who had previously tried out for the team, was in attendance at the game. The Aggie coach sent for Gill and asked him to suit up and be ready if he was needed. Gill was quoted later as saying, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.” Sounds like an easy way to become a historical figure in Texas A&M lore. In respect for his “readiness, desire, and enthusiasm,” the entire student section stood throughout the game, ready to “take the field if needed”. Clearly, the 12th Man became and still is today an important part of Aggie tradition, and meanwhile has seeped its way throughout American Football culture across the country. The wide spread of this term became so abundant that in 1990, Texas A&M decided to trademark the term. They then started to send out requests for teams, especially professional teams, to stop using the phrase. And surprise! The Seattle Seahawks were the only team to ignore the request. In January of 2006, the University filed suit against the Seahawks, with the two organizations ultimately settling out of court. The Seahawks were given license to use the term “12th Man” in exchange for financial compensation

and public acknowledgement of Texas A&M’s ownership of the phrase. Seems like a lot of hubbub over just two little words. But given the meaning behind it, those two little words have become incredibly powerful. Imagine a team holding a legally sanctioned advantage over another team in a fair competition. It is hard to imagine something so contradictory. But still in all, the 12th Man is that advantage. The whole scene of football would be drastically different if it were not for the fans at games and their allowance to get loud and cheer for their teams. In the NFL, we have seen this advantage topple teams, such as when the Saints lost to the Seahawks late last year. It gets so loud in the stadiums where large crowds gather that players can’t hear each other in the huddle (physically inches away from each other), audibles are inaudible, and quarterbacks, even our near and dear Drew Brees, get confused. This says a lot. Typically, Drew Brees is really hard to rattle or get off-rhythm. But never have I seen him more out of sorts than when he was blasted with sound in

Washington in December. As hard as it was for us to watch, imagine how frustrating it was for him on the field, out of sorts and out of contact with his team. Fortunately for Louisianians, we have a great example of this deafening sound and extreme fan support at our very own Louisiana State University. Of course, one of the most famous games in LSU past, especially considering the crowd noise, was the Earthquake Game against Auburn University. On October 8th, 1988, Auburn was winning a close game against LSU at Tiger Stadium. With less than two minutes left, LSU scored what ended up being the winning touchdown. The noise from this game was so intense that it registered on a seismograph, hence the “Earthquake Game”. This is just a small sampling of how loud the LSU faithful have gotten in support of their Tigers. Though when I think of how the crowd can affect an LSU game, I think of a particular Florida game the year the Tigers won their 3rd national title. It was October 6, 2007. The game was close, and LSU was losing. In fact, they

were behind the entire game. Things started to look a little bleak for the Tigers. But, they got a serious emotional boost. USC, ranked #1 at the time, ended up losing their game against Stanford while the LSU game was still going on. Driven by the deafening sound of the ecstatic fanbase, LSU fought back against the Gators. Aided by a few turnovers, and an absolutely insane 4 fourth down conversions, the Tigers scored the winning touchdown with less than a minute left to play. I was in the stands that day and I can tell you, I have never heard a noise as loud as when that game was going on. But the experience was so much more than just noise. In those stands and surrounded by that pandamonium was like being in a different world. There is nothing else quite like it. When you are part of the crowd, of the screaming fans, you feel like you might actually help your team win the game. You feel that, if you scream just a little bit louder, if you care just a little bit more, and if you keep praying, you might just change how your team is playing or keep them from feeling the sting of defeat. You are convinced

that the quarterback or running back or tight end can literally hear YOUR scream. This is one of those cases where every single voice counts. I know that I helped the Tigers win the game that day, and I will always remember that game because of the effect MY yelling had on the game. You can thank me later. The 12th Man is historical and powerful and continues to change and mold the influence over records and statistics. Football games have been decided by this juggernaut of support. And we know all too well how it feels to win when you are a part of the team. When you are in those stands, you ARE part of the team. You ARE the 12th Man on the field. You are the deciding factor, the secret weapon, the home-field advantage. I can tell you, it feels really good.

Corey Hogue January 2013

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Crimi-mommly Insane I WILL, be ok. And so will I. By Leslie Gates

“Next to Normal” “Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so. Entirely Bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret... ALL THE BEST PEOPLE ARE.” - Alice in Wonderland My 6 year old daughter told me she wants a “normal Mommy.” I don’t know what this means. After all, my therapist told me I’m a great Mom! Then something about when my meds are adjusted properly... blah, blah, blah... anyway, OBVIOUSLY not important. So, this got me thinking... Am I “normal”? And WHAT IS “normal”? Let me give you a visual: When my daughter said this, I was wearing an Alice in Wonderland costume, holding a teapot full of flour. No, it wasn’t Halloween. And I wasn’t having a tea party, or baking cookies. I was on my way out the door, about to go on a run through the woods. Now. Just stop here a moment. Go back and re-read that visual again. But read it as a 6 year old child. I’m sure you can see her concern.


Ok... Continue. So I can clear things up. I am a part of a running group, and every run has a theme. We also follow a trail of flour to get to the end. I can see where this might seem a little abnormal to my child, or anyone for that matter. But honestly, it is something I enjoy. It’s different... It’s fun... Don’t judge me. Anyway, while trekking through the swamps and swimming across canals, I had plenty of time to think. Alot of those thoughts DID include what was lurking beneath my feet, but mainly, all I could think about were my daughter’s words. Oh yeah, and the one lady who was hiding her children from my view as I passed by... THAT kinda disturbed me too. Made me question my sanity a bit. Although I did look like I had escaped from a mental institution... running with my mud soaked blue dress, backpack in tow, laying a trail of flour and dragging full thorn branches behind me. Can’t blame her, I guess. But my child’s thoughts of me not being “normal”, bothered me the most.

Running along, I figured that coming up with some New Year’s resolutions might be helpful. Oh no, not for myself;FOR MY CHILDREN. I’m perfectly fine just the way we are. I was more so wondering what is “normal” through their eyes. And that maybe doing this list, could somehow help me see it better. So here are a few that popped in my head...

1. I will take the plastic off of the popcorn bag BEFORE putting it in the microwave. 2. I will sleep with my school uniform on, including shoes, and possibly school bag, to make Mommy’s mornings easier. 3. I will not put my lizard on Mommy’s shoulder. Not only will it give her a heart attack once she discovers it’s there, but reptiles poop too. And they don’t care where they do it. 4. I will no longer drag my sister around on a leash, or put her on a skateboard tied to the back of a go cart. 5. I will figure out WHY it is so hard to pee INTO the toilet bowl. 6. If my pant bottoms are not AT LEAST down to my ankle bone, I will realize that they belong to my younger sibling, and I will not walk out of the door with them on. This makes Mommy look bad… and possibly not normal. 7. I will not put my fingers in the hot candle wax and flick it all over the wall. Or pour it on the carpet. 8. I will not hide my games under the sheets at bedtime. Mommy is not stupid. 9. After I fill my big toy dump truck with dirt and rocks, I will not throw it in the pool. 10. I will not annoy my big brother until he hits me upside the head... With his shoe... That mommy can never find the next morning before school... As the bus is honking... And Mommy is yelling... This makes her feel horrible after I get on the bus. 11. I will not use my shoe to hit my little sister upside the head. It will stay in the closet with its mate, so we can find it. I will use something else. 12. Last but not least, if I have questions or concerns about anything EVER, I will make sure to include Daddy, because he REALLY wants to know, and help in ANY WAY possible.

So here’s my conclusion... What our kids think is “normal” comes from what we (and people around us) teach them is “NOT normal.” We can teach them to be safe, of course. I’m all about keeping them alive and well. We can also teach them that making mistakes doesn’t mean you are not normal. It just means you are learning. But in my opinion, we are all different, and so NO ONE is normal. There is NO SUCH THING. Now, some things are not acceptable around your children, such as... Naked hula-hooping...


Running with scissors naked... Doing drugs while naked... basically, anything naked. For a full list of these inappropriate activities, just use your imagination. OK. Quit thinking about naked people. Sicko. That is soooo NOT normal. Back to my point... There is no normal parent, but there is such a thing as a parent doing the best they can with who God made them to be... one who loves their child... That will worry for hours if they are a good enough parent after one simple statement. Or protect them from the crazy lady running through the woods. We never know a person’s story, but we can make our own, and teach our children to make their own. So that the word “normal”

is out of our vocabulary, and it will be ok to function as an individual human being.

BUT, to be clear...

As a good friend once told me, “We are all gonna screw our kids up in some way, it will just be a different way than our parents screwed us up.”

And if you have any questions about that, just ask the Mad Hatter.

I’m definitely NOT crazy.

He was running next to me.

We just do the best we can and teach our children to simply be THEMSELVES. I love my kids more than anything in this world. But there is not anything in this world that can keep me from being myself. And I want the same for them. Find who you are, be who you are, and love who you are, even if you have to do it in costume. THERE IT IS. So yeah, I’m not normal. Neither are you.

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January 15, 2014

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1050 Robert Blvd., Slidell, LA

St. Margaret Mary Catholic School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policy.


Out of Slidell... and Into

AFRICA Photos & Story by Donna Bush

Dear Readers, Slidell Magazine received a wonderful treat when our contributing writer and photographer, Donna Bush, recently went on safari in the great African expanse of Tanzania. Donna’s vibrant, detailed journals and amazing photography warranted a two part story within our pages, beginning this month. After all, who amongst us ever gets an opportunity to go on safari? In fact, the story and photos are simply so amazing that we bring them to you uninterrupted It‛s a very long flight, 22 hours from New and ad-free. Enjoy! ~ Kendra Maness, Editor Orleans to Kilimanjaro and 28 hours to return. Tanzania lies just south of the equator, transitioning from spring to summer A trip of a lifetime! Yes! Tanzania! Photo and a shorter rainy season for our November safari – 6 girls, all serious photographers trip. Low humidity, cool enough temps to and all great friends! The plan was hatched sleep comfortably at night with the windows over a year ago - four from Alaska - one, open. Warm during the day, but only really yours truly, from Louisiana, and one from hot the last 2-3 days. Our trip consisted of North Carolina. How did we meet when we five major areas of Tanzania and 1056 miles, live so far apart? Our love of nature and including our game drives for the 14-day nature photography brought us all together. trip. Our mode of transportation would be I first met Cathy 13 years ago at a nature two Toyota Land Cruisers with typical East photography conference. I went to Alaska African roofs that can be pushed up to allow that year for the very first time and we standing and shooting above the traditional became best friends. Over 4000 miles apart, roof line. Our trip is well planned with one 13 years and still best friends, still rooming row per photographer, which means we can together and still traveling together. That easily move from side to side with one seat first year in Alaska I met Alissa. A year or for our gear. two later I met Robin and Julie, and after that Mary from North Carolina. All of them First stop Arusha. We will spend an extra had been to some part of Africa at some time day here to get acclimated. Tanzania is 9 during their photography careers, except hours ahead of New Orleans and 12 hours for me. I would be the newbie on the trip! ahead of our Alaska friends. Then we hit the ground running. I‛ve been photographing nature in Louisiana for over 20 years, starting with film while Our guide, Niko of The Destination working as a computer programmer. My love Consultants ( of nature gave me solitude and downtime and one of our drivers, Raymond, meet us from the stress of sitting at a computer all when we arrive at Kilimanjaro airport. They day. Of course, now I shoot digital and I‛m help us with luggage and deliver us to Mt. spending more time on a computer than ever Meru Hotel, a beautiful place, almost too before. The stress and hours at a computer posh to be a destination on an African safari, led me to yoga. Nature photography and yoga just the beginning of some wonderful lodges. compliment each other in many ways. The intertwining of photography and yoga has Niko and Raymond pick us up the brought me much peace, joy and solace. next morning around 11 to show us around With a trip to Africa, comes a visa application, the town of Arusha, shots, and lots of preparation. My shot population 400,000. requirements were hepatitis A, yellow fever, Arusha is regarded typhoid and an up-to-date tetanus. I also by most as the gateway requested a dose of malarone to prevent malaria.

to the Northern Safari Circuit. Although we were on paved roads, the landscape is mostly dirt. With the persistent winds and dry conditions, dirt is constantly blowing around. It is amazing to me to see women walking along the roads wearing white skirts! How could they ever keep them white? I also see men pulling handcarts loaded with various items such as trees and produce, obviously strong people. Many of the women still carry on the tradition of balancing buckets up to 40 liters containing water, produce and other items, on their heads. Per our guide, many of the older women still maintain this tradition as part of their culture. However, younger women are turning away from the cultural tradition. We visited Shanga River House, which contains high quality crafts made by disabled Tanzanians of recycled glass, paper and metal. They also have a tanzanite shop. The main business of Tanzania is mining, selling and exporting tanzanite. The beautiful grounds along the river have sofas for lounging and enjoying lunch or a cold drink. Their motto, “Kindness is a language which blind people see and deaf people hear,” resonates with this yogini. Our guides caution that many Tanzanians object to having their picture taken. Photographers have gotten into trouble for photographing people without permission. It is always a good idea to ask first. In many of the areas it was not conducive to ask permission, but we unobtrusively snapped a few images as we drove the streets. Ahhh, first day of safari, we are up early and out the

door with box breakfasts and lunches so we can stay in Arusha National Park all day. We spend one and a half days in the park then head to Ndutu Plains, by way of Olduvai Gorge and a Masai Village. Black and white Columbus monkeys, Masai giraffes, Sykes monkeys, a variety of bee-eaters & baboons, lesser flamingos, and bushbucks are just a few of the animals we observe and photograph. The several hundred lesser flamingos in Lake Manyara feed on blue green algae, causing their pink color despite the blue green name. During the hours of driving, our guides educate us about the wildlife of the parks. There are browsers and grazers. Browsers, such as the giraffe, feed on leaves, stems and bark. Grazers, like wildebeest and warthogs, feed mostly on grasses or vegetation near ground level. Some animals, such as elephants and impalas are opportunistic, eating whatever is available. We visit an authentic Masai Village that includes observing their native dances, learning about their way of life, viewing their crafts and seeing their schoolrooms with the children singing for us. They live a nomadic life style moving every 2-3 months in search of grass for their cattle. They are polygamous, with several wives and children by each wife. Each wife has a hut for her and her children. All family members have responsibilities. The warriors‛ main job is safety of the family and livestock from lions. It is legal for a Masai warrior to kill a lion for protection and the lions know this. The lions recognize the brightly colored shuka, or robe, worn by the Masai villagers and avoid them. Frequently we see shukas hanging over trees around lodges to help persuade the lions to go elsewhere. The females are responsible for the majority of other tasks – building huts, cooking, and raising children. The huts are made of mud, sticks, grass, cow dung and cow urine. A fence of thorny Acacia limbs helps protect the village from lions. The young boys herd the livestock during the day. The diet of the Masai people consists of beef, beef blood, millet and tree bark. Surprisingly, they speak perfect English and perform currency exchange in their head! Our next stop, Olduvai Gorge is a paleoanthropological site within the boundaries of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, excavated by Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1950‛s, establishing the African origin of humankind. Louis was convinced that early foundations of man were from Africa, not Asia. Numerous fossil remains from Pliocene to Pleistocene times (from about five million to 10,000 years ago) have been discovered in Olduvai. The skull of the primitive hominid nutcracker man, believed to have become extinct about a million years

ago was found here. Archeological finds also include humanoid skeletons thought to be over three million years old. It was these pioneering finds of Louis and Mary that convinced anthropologists to search other areas of Africa, which led to finding ‘Lucy,‛ thought to be over three million years old, in Ethiopia. Mary discovered the earliest known humanoid footprints, estimated to be 3.5 million years old, in nearby Laetoli. Breaking for lunch, we observe herds of zebra feeding nearby, while we fend off black kites that try to swoop in and grab our food. Our knowledgeable guides explain to us that although there are seven types of zebras in Africa, we will only see the common zebra during our safari. Zebras are born with brown stripes. As they grow older the stripe turns darker to black, with the female always a little browner than the male. If the mane is standing erect, the zebra is in good health. If the mane is drooping, the zebra is stressed or ill. Zebra stipe patterns are like snowflakes, making each animal unique. The mother zebra will take her offspring away from the herd for a few days to allow her young to imprint on her unique stripe pattern. We make our way to Ndutu Safari Lodge, where we will stay three nights, allowing us to explore the Ndutu plains, which lie inside the Ngorongoro Conservation area. The Conservation Area is a multi-use area, meaning that it is used for conservation of wildlife but also used by the Masai villagers as grazing land for their cattle and sheep. The lodge proves to be an exciting locale. It is located on the southeastern side of the Serengeti ecosystem and is more what I imagined an African safari lodge would look like. We are in cabins with thatched roofs and screened windows overlooking a savannah of indigenous trees, including acacia trees, loaded with native birds and wildlife. Indeed! Our first night I‛m awakened by lions roaring. We have guards patrolling outside our cabins! Wow! We are that close to lions! After our next day of game drives, we return to the lodge, start downloading our photos, grab a glass of wine and head out to the fire pit to share stories of the day. The guards are patrolling the perimeter and shining their flashlights. How exciting! We see the reflection of eyes of lions, jackals and hyenas. Oh my! The safari lodge has their own resident genets that make themselves at home in the rafters above the lounge area. They are nocturnal creatures, about the size of a large house cat with leopard like spots, but more closely related to a mongoose.

During our stay and game drives around Ndutu, we photograph numerous lions, warthogs, coke‛s hartebeest, kirk‛s dik-dik, secretary birds, lilac crested rollers, banded mongoose, bat-eared foxes, Masai giraffes, savannah elephants, thomson‛s gazelles and grants gazelles. Remember cute little Pumbaa, the warthog, from the Lion King? Warthogs get their name from the wart-like bumps on their face. Males have four – one large beneath each eye and a smaller one on each cheek. Females only have one on each cheek. They are the only pig that can live in areas without water for several months of the year, because of their ability to tolerate a higher than normal body temperature, similar to camels. They have calloused, hairy, padded knees that allow them to kneel to eat short grass. They have four tusks, with the two upper tusks forming a semicircle from the sides of the snout. A warthog can run up to 33 mph and can run backward into burrows to escape their predators, allowing them to use their longs tusks as defense. The tuft of bristles at the end of their tail appears like a flag as they trot along, signaling for the young to keep up. Interesting as the warthogs are, the highlight for me was the cheetah and her two three-month-old cubs! Cheetahs are the fastest animals on earth, capable of accelerating from 0 to 64 mph in 3 seconds. However they can‛t maintain this speed for long periods of time. They stalk their prey to get close and then sprint in to apprehend. Their golden coats are interspersed with black dots helping to blend into their surroundings. Non-retractable claws help them grip the soft ground and the long tail acts as a rudder and for balance during the sharp, high-speed chase. The black teardrops underneath their eyes act as sun protection, much like a football player placing a black mark underneath his eyes. Cheetahs are more susceptible to infection than other cats because their coats are not water repellent. Females are non-territorial and constantly on the move when they have young. Male siblings will remain together forever and have a territory of 6-9 miles. Of course another highlight of the Ndutu area are the two sister lions with their four cubs. One set of cubs is one and one-half months old and the other pair is three – five months old. The lioness is so comfortable with us that she nurses hers and her sister‛s cubs in front of us. We can hear them purring! They make me miss my house cats, Missy and Annie. The behavior is so similar, even with a large size difference.

Lions are truly sociable cats and live together in a pride, ranging in size from two or three, up to forty. Lions grow very fast but have small hearts that eventually lead to early deaths. Males only live 10 years, dying of old age or injuries from fights, while females live 14-15 years. Male lions are kicked out of the pride around age 3 when their fathers begin to view them as a potential threat. The young males will maintain a nomadic lifestyle on their own for 2 years and then begin to look for a female to mate with. There may be multiple males in a pride but only if they are siblings. Lions will mate for 72 hours. Female lions leave the pride for 4-6 weeks when their young are born. This gives the young cubs an opportunity to nurse and grow stronger without older cubs pushing them away from Mom. In temperate climates, such as the Serengeti, male lions will have a black mane, which they gain at age 7. Male lions in hotter climates with have a reddish or blonder mane. Lions have black tips on the back of their ears and the tip of the tail, used as follow-me signals to other lions when hunting in tall grass. Female lions are the primary hunters. Males will help out when the prey is a large animal such as a buffalo. Unlike cheetahs, a lion‛s coat is water repellent; therefore it is not susceptible to infections. Following our last game drive at Ndutu, we pack up and head into the Serengeti, meaning “endless plains.” The Serengeti region encompasses the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, Loliondo, Gremti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas and the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Over 90,000 tourists visit the park each year. Tanzania‛s protected areas make up 14% of its land area. The Serengeti National Park is Tanzania‛s oldest park, recently announced as a seventh World Wonder. It is known world wide for its annual migration involving up to one million wildebeest, 200,000 zebra, and 300,000 Thomson‛s gazelles, searching for fresh grazing grounds. Even though we are not there at prime migration time, we still see lines of wildebeest on the horizon for as far as the eye can see, steadily moving in the same direction. It is truly amazing to watch this incredibly huge number of animals all moving together in a single line. Zebras and Thomson‛s gazelles migrate with the wildebeest as protection from predators. They tend to blend in with the larger, darker wildebeest. The soil of the Serengeti is calcium rich, producing calcium rich plants, making this the perfect location for wildlife to give birth to their young. Wildebeest offspring are typically female and born fully mature, able to run with the herd if necessary. A pregnant wildebeest can delay birth for up to two weeks if conditions are not best for childbirth.

We have completed seven days of our fourteen-day photo safari. Only half way through and I‛ve seen so much. If I had to go home tomorrow I would not be disappointed. But, wait! We have another 7 days! Come join me for the rest of the trip in next month‛s edition of Slidell Magaazine. We arrive in the Serengeti where much more adventure awaits. More lions, leopards, hippos and monkeys! Oh my!



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