what i saw in the south part i (rellies and riverboat)

Mama Mondays went on hiatus this week. I was off in the Deep South these past five days while taking in New Orleans, Mississippi and a whole lot of relatives (rellies). It had been exactly thirty years since my sister, Camille, and I had been down to that part of the world, and what a phenomenal time we had together! Our second-cousins Joe and David picked us up from the airport. The minute we got outside we could feel the hotter, stickier air.



But I knew without a doubt we were in the South when we rolled into the driveway of our cousins’ home. Here our rental car and the rusty rig bearing an abundant amount of Southern charm meet up.



Not to worry, though. The owners of old “Rusty” are a class act, truly charming and characteristically hospitable.


If the front of their home is any indication…



Here’s the front room where we spent quite a bit of time sipping cool drinks and catching up.




The magnolia and banana trees out back were another reminder I wasn’t in North Dakota any longer:



It’s these folks right here, Pat and Charlie, or…Charlie and Pat (depending on whom you want to please, right Charlie?), who wooed us to the part of the country where cicadas sing.



Pat is my mom’s cousin, which makes her four children our second cousins, and all our kids third cousins with each other. Fifty years ago, these two lovebirds, who met on a blind date, celebrated the Sacrament of marriage.



My mom (second to right) was a bridesmaid. Sadly, she was supposed to go with us on this trip (rather, we were to accompany her) but she was kept back due to a health scare of my father. (He is holding his own at the moment…)



Pat’s mother is my Grandpa Joe’s sister, my great-aunt Jane (after whom my mother was named). Though she left us quite a few years ago, I remember her well. She was one classy lady; she always wore high heels and drove a red convertible. Here’s a photo of her and her hubby, my great-uncle, Jimmy Guthrie.



Camille and I stayed in Charlie’s and Pat’s home two of our four nights there. Our family has a history of Japanese connections. On the paternal side, our father spent time in Japan in the service, as did our Uncle Jimmy on the maternal side:



So the room where we slept was filled with pieces of this history:



Our second night was spent at the Riverwalk Hilton in Downtown New Orleans.



In the lobby, we began meeting more of the extended family, including our second-cousins-once-removed (there’s a lot of curly hair on this side of the family — these two aren’t brothers but first cousins):



Camille and I were 23 floors up:



Thus began the “event” part of the trip — the 50th wedding celebration and reunion, which focused on a dinner cruise aboard the Creole Queen with 50-some relatives from England, Florida, Texas, other parts of Louisiana.



There was a little time for schmoozing and snapping family photos before boarding.




Camille and I were the lone representatives of North Dakota, the state where roots of the Byrne side of the family run deep. Great-Aunt Rae was the oldest of the group at age 90. Here she is with her boarding pass!


Finally it was time to board…



The band (including a singer who sounded just like Louis Armstrong himself)…



After a dinner of tilapia, beef brisket, shrimp pasta and bread pudding, a lot of us found ourselves wandering out on the deck…



Where more cousinly reunions took place.



We began closing out the evening by gathering at the hotel, where a group of us decided to continue the night with a jaunt along Bourbon Street to experience the French Quarter at night.



That’s all I can muster for now, after a long and wonderful adventure and 430 photos in all, but stay tuned for the next installment of my Southern adventures in the coming days. Until then, all y’all have a good day, k?


Q4U: Where did you last celebrate, and what?