Join the Marines

listen to some good jazz with us. But it never happened. With little more than a winsome smile and a hurried, “Goodbye,” she stood up and walked out on us. Literally.

She disappeared down a path through the overgrown foliage at the back of the garden. And she never came back. We were bewildered, mystified. As I remember it now, we hung around for awhile, shrugged it off, paid the bill and wandered next door to view wild designs on the wall of the tattoo shop.

I came close to taking a needle in my upper arm that night for a USMC globe-and-anchor tattoo, but I thought better of it. Instead, we rolled on to one more jazz and blues joint a couple of blocks up the street.

Late on our last night in New Orleans, Dick returned to the hotel while I set out on a long walk in the moonlight, alone. I strolled deep into the Quarter, where the din of Bourbon Street soon gave way to residential charm-narrow passageways behind wrought iron and mysterious patios glimpsed though the profusion of hidden gardens. And always, the moist sweetness of perfumed air.

That first visit to New Orleans was many years and thousands of miles ago. But even now, it makes me smile to look back on it.

Inside the cavernous New Orleans train station, before boarding for Atlanta, I remember that we gulped strong New Orleans coffee and devoured deep-fried beignets sprinkled with powdered sugar, The station was crowded and noisy. Across the far end of the station stretched a giant banner with the message, Loose Lips Sink Ships.


Walking the streets of a city’s old town district at night, alone, became a vicarious habit of mine in later years, especially during the sixties and seventies. After a dull business dinner, or a high-pressure business meeting, or sometimes just for the sheer intrigue of it, I would walk narrow cobblestone streets for an hour or so, enveloped in the atmosphere and architecture of the past. It was a head-clearing routine that I followed at various times in Geneva, Copenhagen, Athens, Paris, London, Tel Aviv, Barcelona and New York.

Today, of course, strolling alone late at night in the old town district of any one of these cities would probably be risky business, indeed.


“You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there isn’t any

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