This is a mostly true story. Mostly.

Louisiana was originally settled by the Spanish (1528). Then the French (1662). Then the Spanish- again (1763). French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte took it back (1800) because he was a big-fat-baby about France losing it in the first place. And, finally, Thomas Jefferson, had the good sense to settle it once and for all in 1803. 

Viola! Louisiana.

But, it had a whole lot of different kinds of people living here by that time: Indians, Spanish, French, African, Caribbean, and a few ‘Americans’ (Western Europeans), so, of course, there were many languages being spoken, and foods being prepared, and religions being sinned about.

The French Quarter is the original part of the city. It was populated with French ‘Creoles’ (native born & high society). Esplanade Avenue (a bounding street just to the east of the Quarter) was mostly Spanish artistocrisy. The northern area just beyond the Quarter (now called Treme) was mostly free people of color. The Garden District was built by ‘Americans’ (from up North). 

Everyone spoke French and attended Mass and had illicit affairs. 

No one knew, for sure, who, or what, anyone else was (think of a Kaleidoscope of Color).

So, it goes to reason, that if you wanted to ‘make-up’ a fiction about yourself, you could do it here.

And here it happened- regularly.

Meet Adah Isaacs Theodore (1835-1868), who was born in the Quarter, to a free man of color and a creole woman. She loved to sing and dance. She was educated in the ‘Creole’ fashion (girls were required to attend and become proficient in the three ‘R’s). She loved sneaking into the French Opera House (formally on Bourbon St.) to listen to the voices and enjoy the performances. She wanted to be a star.

So, she did what any self-respecting young girl in 1850 with a cloudy past would do: She changed her background history, slept her way to the top (marrying seven times), produced her own play in which she was the star (outfitted in a nude-colored leotard and put on a horse), had two children (both of whom died in infancy), travelled to Paris, and died of Tuberculosis without a penny to her name (age 38).

I thought I’d revise her history to include a secret alley that leads to the second floor flat of a Quarter pied-a-terre, where she secretly met her Cuban lover, and drank strong coffee laced with the ‘Green Fairy‘ and had her meals brought to her by a mulatto servant who practiced Voodoo. 

Why not. She inspired me…

and so does New Orleans history.

Adah Isaacs Menken
‘The Menken’
A New Orleans creation.

  • bethteliho - Stunning photographs! I love the texture on the building….and the colors….sigh. A painters dream. Very cool story. Enjoyed it. Who wouldn’t want to meet their Cuban lover in a secret alley? 😉ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - That’s why so many painters are here! The colors, the light, the food… (well, maybe not to paint) and a Cuban lover sounds good right?ReplyCancel

  • Corinne Rodrigues - What a fascinating woman! I’m always fascinated by New Orleans although I’ve never visited the US. The mix of cultures, cuisines, music draws me to it – someday, someday! Meanwhile, thank you for sharing such beautiful pictures and stories from there.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - You are so WELCOME Corinne! I’ve got to get to your neck of the woods, as well, some day. Thanks for stopping by!!!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie DeYoung - Oh, such gorgeous photos! And what a fascinating story. I’ve always wanted to visit the French Quarter…now even more so!ReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - I agree…
    loved that street…so much brightness and positivity oozing from it.ReplyCancel

  • Sandra Sallin - Love the story and the photos. Beautiful. That face. Such stories to be told. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Dana Hemelt - Next week is the week I’ve visited New Orleans for the past two years, and I am so sad that we aren’t going this year. Your story made me feel a little better, though. Such history!ReplyCancel

  • William Kendall - Beautiful pics!

    Napoleon, of course, tended to bite off more than he could chew, so to speak…ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - Napoleon was an interesting little guy wasn’t he. As for the pics- every where you go you see beautiful images to capture. Thanks for the compliment Mr. Photographer.ReplyCancel

  • Sue - You’re such a good photographer! Just gazing at the beautiful building itself tells a story let alone your secret alley 2nd floor flat pretend story that I love. Thanks for the read.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - I’m really not- it’s just the subjects that photograph so well. and then a little photoshop magic. HeheheeeReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - And PS: The way you describe the post (above) is spot-on “secret alley 2nd floor flat pretend story”. You got it!ReplyCancel

  • Linda Roy - Great photographs – those colors are gorgeous. That’s an alley I’d like to be in. These photos are so painterly. Love it. And what a story – what a woman. Inspiring for sure.ReplyCancel

    • A Pleasant House - There are hundreds of secret places in the city. And even more interesting stories. Thanks for stopping by Linda!ReplyCancel

  • conniemcleod - Have you read Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints? She really tells that slice of history well.ReplyCancel

  • Rich Rumple - I truly miss that city … but not the hurricanes the Gulf Coast is so well known for! lol I’m curious about this inspiration comment. Hmmmm … maybe some things are better left unsaid. Nice twist with the history and the human element. Good job!ReplyCancel

  • A Pleasant House - Ah ya know, sometimes I just walk around and a story pops in my head. There’s just so much to look at! Thanks for stopping by Rich!ReplyCancel

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