08 April 2022

Memories come back to haunt

They come in dreams and they come in flashes when I'm awake.

Memories of people I once knew, memories of things that happened and sometimes memories of places.

As an army brat, I lived in ten houses in four states and one foreign country before graduating from high school. I remember some of the houses in flashes and a few in photos. Most of my negatives and photos were lost in Hurricane Katrina but some survived and I found a short series of negatives I took in 1979 of the place we lived in 1958-59.

Our building. We lived in the center apartment.

A short street called Navy Parkway in New Orleans was lined with two-story wooden buildings (exterior walls covered in gray slate) separated into three housing sections for military personnel and their dependents just across Bayou St. John from City Park. We lived there when I was in third and fourth grade and it holds the most vivid memories of my early childhood.

Walking to school a few blocks away, walking to the movie theater a few blocks away and seeing great films like The Vikings, King Creole, The Fly, The Buccaneer, Bell Book and Candle, Damn Yankees, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and many more.

I remember long hot summers playing in our neighborhood playground just outside our back door. The ever-efficient military engineers built the buildings around a central grassy playground with monkey bars inside and swings and merry-go-rounds and a canteen at the far end – a precurser of the convenience store – where we kids bought candy and comic books.

The canteen (rear building). Other structures were not there in 1959.

These pictures taken twenty years later show the buildings still there, although no longer military housing. They'd morphed into part of the LSU College of Dentistry. I went back after Hurricane Katrina and it was all gone, the buildings replaced by houses. Even the street was gone. But the memories remain.

Memories like these feed my books with settings long gone. When you're an old man, there are a lot of memories. Memories of faces stir emotions. Some happy, some not so. Old men get choked up easily because so much of our life is behind us.

There's an old saying that goes, "Sometimes memories sneak out of my eyes and roll down my cheeks." Sometimes they just make me laugh.

That's all for now.



  1. I'm with you on memories and emotions. Well said.

  2. Great post, O'Neil - my husband and I are both the last in our families, and these days we share a lot of memories and emotions with each other.

  3. It's astonishing what a few old photographs can bring up in us. Good post.

  4. O'Neil, I'm willing to bet the housing wasn't clad in grey slate but grey asbestos siding. I can make out the familiar edges and I'm pretty certain.

    I like that line about memories sneaking out of the eyes. Well said.


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