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Tues. Sept. 28

Quote for your day: “Lord, grant me the courage not to give up, even though I think it is hopeless.” -Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

This is a Hurricane Rita story from Hearts across the Water:

Whistling Past the Graveyard

After Katrina shelters filled up all over our part of Louisiana, there was a need for new shelters to open. My favorite shelter story comes from Smyrna Baptist CWhistling past the Graveyard

After Katrina shelters filled up all over our part of Louisiana, there was a need for new shelters to open. My favorite shelter story comes from Smyrna Baptist Church. They were excited to open their family life center to evacuees. They waited for days for word of evacuees sent from the command center in DeRidder. Finally, several folks from a New Orleans group came to inspect the Smyrna facility.
Now before moving forward let me tell you about our area. Smyrna is near the hamlet of Sugartown. Like Dry Creek this area is extremely rural and all white. Our school of nearly 1000 has less than ten black students.
So this New Orleans group of black evacuees drives out in the dark to Smyrna Baptist. A fine welcoming committee is awaiting their arrival. The inspecting folks get out and walk around. The Garrett Collins Memorial Family Life Center is lit up and the smells of a country supper greet everyone. But there is one thing the four inspectors cannot quite take their eyes off: the graveyard that sits beside the church and life center.
As they return to their cars, they warily eye the graveyard with its white tombstones glistening in the moonlight. Their last words are, “Thank you. We’ll get back to you.”

As you can imagine, that was the last they heard from the New Orleanians. The country graveyard was a little too much for them. Now before you are too hard on me, or think I’m a little too hard on them, let me confess: The one place I’m most scared of in New Orleans are their old cemeteries. I’ve never been in St. Louis Cemeteries 1 or 2. As a boy I read stories of tourists being robbed while touring among these above-ground vaults. Driving past them, I could just see a mugger waiting behind each one for a lone stranger like me.
I’ve also seen too many movies where crimes happened among these N.O. Cemeteries. I can still see poor Ashley Judd getting put away in one in the movie “Double Jeopardy.”
As I think about it, isn’t it ironic that these New Orleanians were scared of our cemetery while I am scared of theirs? Many times I go to our Dry Creek cemetery at night to mark a grave or turn off the water. It’s not really spooky to me. But put me in New Orleans in the dark and I’d jump at every shadow.
Isn’t it amazing that whatever we are unfamiliar with often scares us to death?
Whistling past the graveyard we go… whether it is at Smyrna Baptist Church or the St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery.

hurch. They were excited to open their family life center to evacuees. They waited for days for word of evacuees sent from the command center in DeRidder. Finally, several folks from a New Orleans group came to inspect the Smyrna facility.
Now before moving forward let me tell you about our area. Smyrna is near the hamlet of Sugartown. Like Dry Creek this area is extremely rural and all white. Our school of nearly 1000 has less than ten black students.
So this New Orleans group of black evacuees drives out in the dark to Smyrna Baptist. A fine welcoming committee is awaiting their arrival. The inspecting folks get out and walk around. The Garrett Collins Memorial Family Life Center is lit up and the smells of a country supper greet everyone. But there is one thing the four inspectors cannot quite take their eyes off: the graveyard that sits beside the church and life center.
As they return to their cars, they warily eye the graveyard with its white tombstones glistening in the moonlight. Their last words are, “Thank you. We’ll get back to you.”

As you can imagine, that was the last they heard from the New Orleanians. The country graveyard was a little too much for them. Now before you are too hard on me, or think I’m a little too hard on them, let me confess: The one place I’m most scared of in New Orleans are their old cemeteries. I’ve never been in St. Louis Cemeteries 1 or 2. As a boy I read stories of tourists being robbed while touring among these above-ground vaults. Driving past them, I could just see a mugger waiting behind each one for a lone stranger like me.
I’ve also seen too many movies where crimes happened among these N.O. Cemeteries. I can still see poor Ashley Judd getting put away in one in the movie “Double Jeopardy.”
As I think about it, isn’t it ironic that these New Orleanians were scared of our cemetery while I am scared of theirs? Many times I go to our Dry Creek cemetery at night to mark a grave or turn off the water. It’s not really spooky to me. But put me in New Orleans in the dark and I’d jump at every shadow.
Isn’t it amazing that whatever we are unfamiliar with often scares us to death?
Whistling past the graveyard we go… whether it is at Smyrna Baptist Church or the St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery.

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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