Evening Star lecture at the Gallier House

On Friday, May 20th, 6pm at the Gallier House in the French Quarter (1132 Royal Street – designed and built by James Gallier, Jr.) I will deliver a lecture on the Evening Star. I gave the lecture at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities building last October but I have added new information and new photos. Lots to know!

The sinking of the Evening Star.

The sinking of the Evening Star.

The Evening Star was a luxury steamship en route from New York to New Orleans that encountered a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina. Of the nearly 300 passengers, an estimated 24 survived, making the maritime disaster one of the most deadly prior to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Fatalities included noted New Orleans architect James Gallier Sr. and his second wife, Catherine Maria Robinson, along with a French opera troupe, a circus company, and dozens of trafficked prostitutes destined to work New Orleans’ brothels. Public reaction and newspaper accounts of the era elicited both sympathy and scorn for those who died at sea. One prominent preacher, nothing the large number of prostitutes and performers on board, stated the ship was destined to sink since it was “loaded down with iniquity.”

Gallier's cenotaph at left. It was designed by his son.

Gallier’s cenotaph at left. It was designed by his son.

Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture starts at 6pm. Afterward, I will be signing copies of my books Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names (just had its second printing) and Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans.

Hope to see y’all out!


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1920 Mardi Gras

What a crazy and busy year! So much to catch up on.

Anyway, here is a mini documentary on Mardi Gras 1920 that I did for the local PBS station, WYES. It focuses on General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing’s visit to New Orleans during the first “dry” Mardi Gras.

Pershing WYES-2

It debuted at the 2016 Rex Ball.

Many thanks to Peggy Scott Laborde, who co-produced it with me and encouraged me to be more perky.

Thank you to the very talented and amazing Larry Roussarie who helped me edit it.

Thank you to Terrence Fitzmorris, associate dean of the Tulane School of Continuing Studies for agreeing to be interviewed.

Thank you to the talented Will Burdette, Kerry Cahill and Dane Rhodes for lending their fabulous vocals.

Thank you to the patient camera man Paul Combel

Archival Acknowledgements: Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University; University Archives, Tulane University; Historic Collection of New Orleans.

Special Thanks to: Sean Benjamin, Ann Case, Scott Frilot, John Haffner, and Lee Miller.

Here it is: General John Pershing Visits Mardi Gras.




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Lifelong Learning Event

TAAOfficial Release from an event I am doing on Wednesday, April 6th.


A Tulane Club of New Orleans Lifelong Learning event:

“Life, Death, and Burial in New Orleans”

Wednesday, April 6
5:30 p.m. ~ Reception
6 p.m. ~ Panel followed by book signing


Bea Field Alumni House
6319 Willow Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(corner of Willow and Calhoun)

$10 admission

Join us as a panel of local authors discuss the traditions and myths surrounding life, death, and burials in the City of New Orleans.

The event will be moderated by David Johnson, communications associate for the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses in the French Quarter. For 24 years he served as executive editor of Louisiana Cultural Vistas, the award-winning quarterly arts-and-culture magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.

On the panel: 

Sally Asher (“Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names” and “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans.”) holds two master’s degrees from Tulane University and has been the public relations photographer since 2008. She frequently lectures on New Orleans history through the Louisiana State Museum and is on the board of Save Our Cemeteries. Asher is currently working on a book about Prohibition in New Orleans to be published by LSU Press in 2017 and is contributing a chapter to a New Orleans tricentennial book to be published by Pelican Press.

Cheryl Gerber (“Life and Death in the Big Easy”) is a freelance journalist and documentary photographer working in New Orleans, where she was born. She has been s regular contributor to The New York Times, the Associated Press, New Orleans Magazine, and has been a staff photographer for Gambit Weekly since 1994. During the past two decades, Cheryl has won several awards from the New Orleans Press Club for her work on social issues and news photography.

John Pope (“Getting Off at Elysian Fields”) has been a reporter in New Orleans since 1972 and was a member of The Times-Picayune’s team that won two Pulitzer Prizes and a George Polk Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. “Getting Off at Elysian Fields,” an anthology of 123 of his obituaries and stories of four funerals he covered, was published in October by the University Press of Mississippi and is in its second printing.

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2015 Year in Review

My calendar from last year.


Please check back here frequently for updates and additions!

Some of my work is currently being show at the Cake Cafe at 2440 Chartres.

Please remember that weather conditions may affect the markets’ times and dates. If in doubt, please check the night before the market for any possible changes.

Saturday, June 6th: Book signing of Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names. The Bolden Bar – part of The New Orleans Jazz Market. From 5pm to 8pm. 1436 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

Saturday, September 12th: Lecture: “New Orleans’ Snake Charmers: Female Bootleggers” Part of the Downriver: Mighty Mississippi River Festival 2015. 2pm. 3rd Floor of the U.S. Mint. 400 Esplanade.

Saturday, September 26thArts Council of New Orleans Arts Market. 10am to 4pm at Palmer Park, corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne.

Saturday, October 3rdFreret Market. 12pm to 4pm. Located at the intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue.

Monday, October 19thBOOK RELEASE! My new book “Stories from St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans is now available. Woo-Hoo!

Saturday, October 24th: Book Signing of “Stories from St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans  at the 1850 House. 523 St. Ann Street. 1pm to 3pm.

Saturday, October 24th: Book Release Party for “Stories from St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans  and New Orleans Neighborhoods by Maggy Baccinelli. 6pm to 9pm at Treo. 3835 Tulane Avenue. Music, drink specials, and books!

Thursday, October 29th: “Tales from the Crypt & Deep Sea: Marie Laveau’s Tomb and the Evening Star Shipwreck.” Historian Carolyn Morrow Long discusses the long history and mysteries surrounding Marie Laveau’s tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Afterward, my presentation on the 1866 shipwreck of the Evening Star. Louisiana Humanities. 938 Lafayette. 6pm to 8pm.

Saturday, October 31st:  Louisiana Book Festival. Baton Rouge State Capital. 3:15pm to 4pm. Senate Room Committee Room A. I will be moderating “Hallowed Grounds” panel.

4:15 to 5pm Book Signing.

Tuesday, November 3rd: Book Signing of “Stories from St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans  at theGarden District Book Shop with Maggy Baccinelli. 2727 Prytania Street. 6-7:30pm.

Thursday, November 5th: Appearance with Cheryl Gerber and John Pope on “The Sound of Salvation with Chris Rose.” WHIV Radio. 102.3 FM

Saturday, November 7th Freret Market. 12pm to 4pm. Located at the intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue.

Tuesday, November 10th:“Taken to the Grave: Lesser Known Tombs in St. Louis Cemeteries.” Sponsored by Save Our Cemeteries. Free and open to the public. 6:30pm. Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home. 5100 Ponchartrain Blvd. Book Signing to Follow.

Friday, November 27th: Appearance on “Steppin’ Out.” 7:30pm on WYES.

Saturday, November 28thArts Council of New Orleans‘ Arts Market. 10am to 4pm at Palmer Park, corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne.

Sunday, November 29thArts Council of New Orleans Arts Market. 10am to 4pm at Palmer Park, corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne.

Wednesday, December 2nd“Reading Between the Wines” with Maggy Baccinelli. 6pm to 8pm at Pearl Wine Company, 3700 Orleans Ave. Sponsored by Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Bookshop.

Saturday, December 5th:  Freret Market. 12pm to 4pm. Located at the intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue.

Saturday, December 12th:  Freret Market. 12pm to 4pm. Located at the intersection of Freret Street and Napoleon Avenue.

Saturday, December 12th: Book Signing at Kitchen Witch Cookbooks. 1452 N. Broad Street. 3pm to 5pm. There will be wine and gift wrapping!

Saturday, December 19th: Arts Council of New Orleans Arts Market. 10am to 4pm at Palmer Park, corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne.

Sunday, December 20th: Arts Council of New Orleans Arts Market. 10am to 4pm at Palmer Park, corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne.

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Book Signing March 4th at 1850 House

I will be doing my first book-signing of the year for Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans, this Saturday, March 4th at the 1850 House, 523 St. Ann Street in Jackson Square from 2pm to 4pm. Come by and chat about cemeteries – and I can tell you about some recent discoveries!

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Freretstivus & Kitchen Witch Cookbooks!

Freretstivus for the rest of us! I will be at the Freretstivus Celebration (also known as the Freret Market Holiday Edition) this Saturday from 12pm to 4pm. There will be music, food, art, pet adoptions, and an airing of grievances!


I will be in booth 80 selling photographs, books, greeting cards and ornaments. Since I shot so many new photographs this year, I need to get rid of some of my stock. Many of my photographs are being discontinued and will be on sale – when they are gone, they are gone!

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 2.50.00 PM

Thanks to my lovely assistant and good friend Glenn, I will sneak away from my booth (although it will remain open) to go to Kitchen Witch Cookbooks (1452 N. Broad St) from 3pm to 5pm for a book signing of “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans.”


KWC is a lovely bookstore that specializes in rare, hard to find, out-of-print, and pre-owned books on food and cooking. They also carry other local books, records, knick knacks, art, and … as a bonus they even sell their own spices (I am picking some up for holiday gifts). It’s a wonderful way to shop local!

Hope to see some of y’all out!

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For the week of November 30th to December 5th

Busy Week!

On Wednesday, December 2nd from 7pm to 8pm I will be returning to Reading Between the Wines! It’s a laid-back, salon-type event moderated by Candice Huber, the owner of Tubby & Coo’s. It takes place at Pearl Wine Company (3700 Orleans) inside the American Can Company. They offer $5 wines by the glass! My dear friend and lovely individual Maggy Baccinelli, author of “New Orleans Neighborhoods,” will be there as well as Brandon Black, editor of “Cairo by Gaslight.”

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Friday, December 4th from 5pm to 7pm I will be returning to the Roosevelt Hotel (130 Roosevelt Way). Woo-Hoo! One of my favorite places – and this time during Christmas so I can sit amongst all the gorgeous decorations. I will be signing books in the lobby (and possibly sneaking some sazeracs)!

Saturday, December 5th from 11am to 4pm I will be at the Freret Market (corner of Freret and Napoleon). I will be selling copies of my new book “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans” and my old book (2014) “Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names.” Amazon is sold out and I only have a few first-edition copies left. I will also be selling some of my photographs, Christmas ornaments, greeting cards, and hand-framed photographs. Also – SALE! I shot so many photographs this year that I have to clear out some of my stock. I have a sale bin and when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Hope to see some of y’all out! Happy Holidays!

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111 Places in New Orleans That You Must Not Miss

My latest book, “111 Places in New Orleans That You Must Not Miss,” came out a couple of weeks after my recent one, “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans.” It’s a guidebook for New Orleans – a series done by Emons Publishing of Germany. I did all the photographs (minus one) and wrote some of the entries: Aidan Gill for Men, Chainsaw Tree, Fifi Mahony’s, Gator Run, Greg’s Antiques, Miss Claudia’s, NOLA Brewery, Sacred Grinds, Street Tiles, Studio Inferno, The Umbrella Girl, Yvonne LaFleur; and contributed to others. Michael Murphy wrote the rest of the book.

Front and back.

Front and back.


If I ever decide to write (and photograph) two books at the same while going full-time to graduate school – please schedule a CT scan. It almost did me in – every time I think I can’t be more busy….

For months and months, every minute of every day was accounted for and I became somewhat of a babbling idiot. Sadly, it was also the first time in 20 years that I did not go home to Washington State for a summer visit. I could not spare the time. When I did get some breathing room, I lost two people I cared about in a span of a few weeks. One I had a chance to say goodbye, the other I did not. I had booked my interview with Poppy Tooker a few weeks in advance to meet her at St. Louis No. 3 Cemetery. Little did I know I would be coming directly from a funeral at St. Louis No. 1. It was a bit surreal and I was a little bit shaky but Poppy is so lovely and gracious she let me catch my breath and pause whenever I needed to. The second person I lost, I did have an opportunity to say goodbye to less than a week before, but it was still a shock. She passed a few hours after my cemetery book was officially released. You always think you have more time. Spending time in cemeteries and hours upon hours reading countless obituaries still doesn’t better prepare me for death. It gives me an even greater appreciation and respect for life but – having someone’s story “end” still shatters me to the bone. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal… From an Irish headstone.

On a brighter note… The nice part of this book was being able to promote some of my friends’ businesses as well as meet new people – Aidan Gill, the Countess Broel, Yvonne LaFleur, Mike Tata, and Marcy Hesseling were some of my favorites. On another personal note – I inserted myself and a couple of friends in the book. In the “Crescent Park” entry those bikes are mine and John’s. The bike rack is on the side but I positioned them there – the yellow is John’s (named Fella) and the red one is mine (named The Love Machine). This was actually a fun day. It was during Jazzfest and John rode with me to get some photographs in the Bywater. My neighbor always throws this mimosa-merkin party every Jazzfest and I almost always miss it or can only attend for a short while. This year, I promised to go. While we were in the Bywater I get a text from Trixie Minx introducing me to a burlesque performer she thought I would hit it off with – Jo Boobs. I mention this to John and he gets all excited saying he just saw on instagram that Trixie was at a party and about to get into a wading pool of Jell-O. He said that she was probably in the Bywater and I should text asking where she was and we could ride by. Determined to remain professional and stay on target I declined. John asked a few more times but I kept saying I did not have time – and if I did, I needed to go to my neighbor’s party. Shooting took longer than expected and by the time I rode home it was too late and I was exhausted. Later that night, when I looked at instagram I realized that Trixie (and the wading pool of Jell-O) was, in fact, at my neighbor’s house! Ahhh a small world that sometimes is separated only by pools of Jell-O.

John and I rode by this random dance party on the corner of Esplanade and Decatur.

On that day, John and I rode by this random dance party on the corner of Esplanade and Decatur.

The other secret insertion also dealt with a Trixie – my other Trixie – Trixe la Femme (aka Katy Ray). The Gator Run was one of the last things I shot. I asked Trixie if she and her son Louis would be in it for me – it would be good to catch a kid’s face (and Louis is a looker) and that way I would not have to worry about photo releases from strangers. She was game. Unfortunately, time and time again something came up – mostly weather. Finally, we were down to the wire…. Let me say this – it is a very, very good friend who will put on a bathing suit during her lunch hour, pull her kid from school, and float around a lazy river in an inner-tube while you yell directions at her. Trixie is that kind of friend. We got there right after the rain and they have a policy that no one can go in the water for at least 45 minutes after thunder. The staff was very gracious and accommodating and we had a bit of a wait left. Once we were allowed in the water, BAM – everyone piled in. Instant chaos as I stood on the bridge shooting. Trixie would circle around, grab Louis, try to put him into an inner-tube (the boy just wanted to float), telling him “look up, look up at Sally, smile, smile.” And then often grab him, walk against the current/flow (dodging and weaving other tubes) and do it all over again. It was next to impossible to try and capture pictures of Louis without getting others in the shot and to be able to show the scale of the lazy river (all of the photographs for the book had to be vertical).

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What good sports! The BEST!!

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Fixing the model’s hair.

I did manage to get some shots after numerous attempts – and then went and shot some inner-tubes stacked up on the side with people floating in the background. On a whim, I took a photograph of them from behind. That is the one the editors chose. You can see Trixie standing in her blue bathing suit by an empty inner-tube and Louis floating off. I am used to selecting my own photographs, but for this project I was to submit 3-7 photographs of each entry and they would chose. Sometimes my editor (who was wonderful) would narrow it down to two photographs and she would ask my opinion, but more often than not the publishing company made the decision.

So I am thrilled that John, Trixe, Louis and I are represented (in a small way) in this book. It makes it memorable.

So there it is – no new books for 2016, but look for two in 2017!

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“Taken to the Grave: Lesser Known Tombs in the St. Louis Cemeteries”

Very excited for my upcoming lecture for Save Our Cemeteries on Tuesday, November 10th at Lake Lawn Cemetery, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd, 6:30pm.

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I will be discussing nine relatively unknown (but fascinating) graves from St. Louis 1 -3. Pirates, piano players, and painters!

I will also be showing dozens of photographs that do not appear in my book “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans” and reading from various primary sources.

I will be signing copies of my book afterward!

Event Details are HERE!

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All Saints’ Day in New Orleans

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of walking around St. Louis No. 3 with the lovely Poppy Tooker to talk about the cemetery for her fabulous radio show Louisiana Eats. Poppy’s love of New Orleans extends outside of the kitchen and her passionate and vibrant personality is apparent in everything she does.

On our stroll, we talked about a variety of subjects, but one of the main topics we discussed was All Saints’ Day.

I discuss All Saints’ Day in my new book Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans, but of course I never really have enough room to write about EVERYTHING (word count is always an issue for me). So in honor of All Saints’ Day, here are a few extra things about the holiday.

Headline from 1894.

Headline from 1894.

It was also known as La Toussaint. French Creoles called it that, a term that was common until almost the middle of the twentieth century.

An ad in French and English from 1866.

An ad in French and English from 1866. 

It was a fashion show. It was the first day when “La robe de la Toussaint” was worn by women and children. They wore dark clothes made in the finest materials they could afford. The Times-Picayune wrote about in 1951. “With the cemeteries serving as open-air style shows, the same festive air prevailed which nowadays is reserved for Easter Sunday.”

la robe

A photograph from 1951.

A photograph from 1951.

 New Orleans encouraged visitors and non-Catholics to take part.

 We reiterate the invitation we yesterday gave to strangers to visit the Catholic Cemetery to-day [St. Louis No. 1]; and as it may be interesting to some of our readers, we shall here publish some observations that we inserted in our private scrap book a year or two since.

To a stranger, there are few objects more striking than the mode of interment practiced in this city. Actual inhumation is rarely seen. When it is attempted, the ground is sometimes so saturated with water, that the most revolting scenes are connected with the last sad duties which the living performs for his departed comrade. Hence the customary manner of burial is to deposit the corpse in a tomb raised above the surface of the ground.

The Catholic Cemetery is a fine illustration. At the same time, it constitutes a diversified monument, not only of the virtues of the dead, but the classic taste of the living. In its very appearance, it is a “City of the Dead.” Its streets, intersecting each other at right angles; the neat little edifices constructed for the last home of humanity; here and there overtopping its neighbors, and glittering with the rich gildings of the crucifix or with some magnificent escutcheon; the splendid railing which encloses some of these mansions, and the willow trees, scattered over the ground; all these together with the surrounding wall, unite in impressing one with the idea of a miniature city.

The handsome shelled pavements, the neatness even of the most humble tombs, and the great variety of pursuit and of nativity, as indicated by the epitaphs, renders this cemetery an attractive resort at any time. Here you may walk for hours, sympathizing with Hervey [James Hervey] in all the florid beauty of his “Meditations” [“Meditations Among the Tombs”]; and in a thousand circumstances, you can find even richer themes for reflection than those suggested to his mind.

All Saints Day (Nov. 1), is observed at this place with great éclat. It is several years since we first beheld the scenes usual on this festival. Never shall we forget them. The thought that then, fifteen, or twenty thousand people, leaving their occupations to spend a day in company with the remains of beloved associates or relatives – to cherish the remembrance of their virtues, and to decorate their tombs with garlands and evergreens – presented before us the affections of the human heart in an aspect they had never assumed before. It was a species of beauty of which we had indeed heard – we had read of it in the pages of inspiration, and in the philosophy of heathen sages; but never had out perceptions grasped even the outline. It was reserved for the simple, the unostentatious, the affecting incidents of All Saints Day, to delineate, in brilliant colors, the features of a great truth as eminent for its beauty as it is important in its relations. – The Daily Picayune. November 1, 1838.

An article from 1842.

An article from 1842.

 It was a time to take collections up for orphanages. Typically, orphans were dressed up and trotted out to stand in front of the gates. Nuns and orphans were positioned at almost every gate holding wooden plates for visitors to drop money into. Sometimes the children rang a bell or beat the plate with a stick to attract attention. Benevolent Society Tombs also took offerings usually for specific orphanages. They would borrow an orphan or two to stand by their tombs for greater effect.

Letter to the editor from 1872.

Letter to the editor from 1872.

 It was a popular time for peddlers and vendors who set up outside of the cemetery gates. “L’estomac mulatte,” a flat ginger cake dented on the sides and sometimes covered with white or pink icing was a popular treat – so were pecan pralines, “calas,” a rice cake, apples, popcorn, and candy. Balloons and toy skeletons on strings were sold. Florists were booming as were saloons where men usually retreated to enjoy “La Biere Creole,” a Creole beer made from the juice and pulp of pineapple.

peddlers Killing a lizard was hazardous. Children were warned not to kill lizards in a cemetery or they would be dead in a year. According to the superstition if they did it on All Saints’ Day it would bring their end much quicker.

An illustration from 1894.

An illustration from 1894.

You can hear my interview with Poppy Tooker HERE.

Poppy and I standing in front of Jean Galatoire's grave.

Poppy and I standing in front of Jean Galatoire’s grave.

Enjoy and Happy All Saints’ Day!

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