Archive for July 28th, 2006

Hello Mr. Mayberry


The Wednesday night cookout was awesome. Phil cooked everything here, so there was no need for the grills to come. That meant that I got to talk to folks this time. I sit down next to a guy I knew from the neighborhood working with Phil.

Enter Mr. Mayberry.

We lock eyes as he sits down. “Arnell Mayberry 54 years old. Admiral. US Navy. Retired 5 times.” That’s when I noticed his cap- US Navy Retiree. Now, picture in your mind what you think a retired naval officer with a chip on his shoulder might talk and sound like. This guy was it. He was a very intense fellow.

I had an interesting talk with this fellow. We talk (well more like he talked and I listened, but still) about what’s wrong with NOLA, the Gov’t, and NOLA’s Gov’t. He told me that he was one of the first Black Admirals in the Navy. Then he mentioned that, as a perk, he couldn’t go to jail. He said he could get into a fight right here right now, or take off all his clothes, and the worst that would happen to him would be a luxury trip to the V8- at which point, he’d get PAID for being there.

We talked about how he’d been around the world 21 times. Then about some bombing that he thinks was meant for him that happened in the 80’s during the Pope’s first (and only, to my knowledge) visit to NOLA. He got some big settlement out of it. Bought several houses. One thing that was interesting to me was when he started talking about racism. He said when he was in the service and went to Europe, people treated him like a king he thought. Someone said to him no, its not that – there was just no race here (Europe). Meaning, it simply just didn’t matter. Makes ya think…

Anyhow, he just keeps going on and on. My friend and I kind of share a look like the lights are on but nobody’s home. I’m thinking, if this guy is who says he was, what’s he doing in a ruined house etc etc. Nevertheless I like this guy, and I keep listening and asking him questions about things. At one point, he’s talking about how he can go on any naval base and basically go anywhere he wants in the world and has 3 passports yada yada. Then all of a sudden he pulls out this rather large wallet and starts flipping through it. That’s when I see his department of defense ID, among other official looking things. I didn’t have time to look at things too closely, nor did I want to be rude, but dang! It looked real! Real enough that they either were real, or he payed a lot of mula get them.

Now, I’m not saying everything this guy was saying was legit. But it did blur the lines here. I forgot to mention how at one point he told me that how he retired from the post office was that he told them he was going to blow the place up or shoot people (out of frustration I assume). So instead of what I might surmise would happen, they gave him a pension equivalent to 6k a month.

Well, needless to say it was an interesting conversation. We talked almost the entire length of the cookout. I did notice that the longer we talked, the less tense he seemed. He kept mentioning how there was no one to talk to (since the storm), and how this was nice to talk.

Yes, it was very nice to talk, Mr. Mayberry. See you next week.

Add comment July 28th, 2006

Pinchin’ Tails


I… did it. I did it! I pinched tails.

Last night, the cookout was a huge success. Excluding the people we brought with us, we fed around 150 people! There are four FEMA trailer parks in the area (that we know of), so, since the security guards are confined there, we thought we’d bring them over dinner in carryout boxes. I took three members from the teams we had with us (two from Minnesota, and a guy from Texas) and we drove on over. But… as I was pulling away from the cookout, a man came running up to the truck and said, “They said you were leaving!”

It was Tyrone. Tyrone, and his niece Yolanda, I met last week at the cookout. The flies in that field are terrible. We were talking about N’allins cuisine, and I made an off hand comment about how I’d rather eat food that flies landed on than suck the head of a crawfish. Well… he promised me that he would bring me some crawfish (and the spicy corn and potatoes they boil in the water with it) the next week.

And… he did. He ran up to the truck with a clear plastic bag full of crawfish. How… terrifying!! (And sweet.) When we got back to the cookout I… brought the crawfish over and he and his niece’s daughters taught me how to do it. (I got schooled by a six year old! She told me that it was just like eating celery. ???)

So… Yolanda pulled them in half, BUT… I pinched the tails myself. I… never thought in a million years I would could do that, but, it happened. The corn and potatoes were so spicy that my lips were tingly and numb!! Think they could’ve started a Yankee girl like myself off with mild? 😉

[Tyrone swam a half mile in 8 foot water to get out of the flood last August. Yolanda delivered her sister’s baby on I-610 during the evacuation. He’s living in the trailer park, she’s renting a place with a mice problem… and, though deathly afraid of mice, considers herself lucky.]

Never a dull moment.

6 comments July 28th, 2006


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