Law Street Work and BBQ – Friday, May 7, 2010   Leave a comment

Nancy started us out on Friday morning with buckwheat pancakes and bananas. We worked again at the Law Street house. This time we felt more organized. Nancy and Bonnie put the first coat of polyurethane on the kitchen cabinets and doors. Kelly kept working on the closet, where the owner will install an air cooling unit. Dan and Serban hung another door. Jeanette and Sylvia continued to paint trim. On one side of the double shotgun house, they set up the back room as the "exhibit room" with the finished product laid to dry on sawhorses. The second room contained their partially finished work. And the room closest to the street was the work room. Eliot decided to check on the work across the street. He helped the Ohio folks lay a hardwood floor in one room. So now he has another new skill.
 
The home owner, Bobby Parker, treated us to a BBQ at lunchtime. His friend Bingo was the grill master and another friend, James, kept them both company sitting in a chair in the shade. Bingo served us falling-off-the-bone-tender ribs, along with spicy or mild sausages, hamburgers, smoked turkey, home-made baked beans, and a light and tasty potato salad. Wow! It was a generous meal, and they sent all the left-overs home with us for our dinner. After lunch we celebrated with a photo opportunity with the cooks.
 
Bobby told us a little of his story. Some years ago, when he was setting tile and turned just so while lifting a heavy box, he hurt his back. He lay on the floor three hours without being able to get up. His co-workers returned and took him to the hospital. Later he found he was unable to walk – one leg would just give out. He had to undergo two surgies. That helped, but he was unable to do the kind of work he had done before. He was out of work and somehow not allowed to be on disability for three years. When Katrina came, his house (the one we were working on), was ruined. With the insurance money, and since he was out of work, he paid off his mortgage. With the money he received for furnishings, he gave to his mother, as she had to move to a home where she needed to furnish her own room. So Bobby owned the house, but had little cash to repair it. He hired some work done by a contractor, and that person did a poor job of it. Bobby was grateful for the work that UCC Disaster Recovery is doing on his house. Before we came, other UCC volunteers had to tear down and redo part of the work because it had not been done right.
 
Bonnie did some more sponging to texturize patched places on the walls. Nancy scrapped and painted the two ceiling beams in the kitchen. Serban roller painted the dry, texturized walls so that the patched places would not show. I think we got done with most of the work that Tim had set out for us.
 
At the end of the day, as is our custom, we gathered together in the front room with Bobby and James to bless the house and the people who will live in it. (Bobby plans to live on one side, and his niece and her child will live on the other side.) We sang "When the Saints Go Marching In." James was especially pleased to hear that song. He said he had not heard it in a long time. It reminded him of his days on a farm, when people converted an empty house into a church meeting place, and they would sing. He knew all the words.
 
We packed the tools back up into the UCC pickup truck, and packed the leftovers from the BBQ into our van. By the way, here’s Bingo’s contact info. He does parties, picnics, catering, and special events: (504) 301-3260 or (504) 251-3025. Nancy asked him if he knew of a place to get pralines and yes – there was a place nearby: Loretta’s Authentic Pralines at 2101 N. Rampart in New Orleans  http://www.lorettaspralines.com . It was only a few blocks away!
 
We met Loretta herself at her restaurant and bought boxes of individually packaged pralines to take home as presents. She had chocolate ones, run, coconut, and original. It was a hot afternoon so we stayed awhile there to talk and eat snow cones. She told us there had been no water damage at this place – but there were no customers. After the storm, people did not need candy. And she had another store as well in a different place. That store was looted. She closed shop for four years, then re-opened the place where we were as both a praline store and a restaurant. All we needed to complete our dinner was a salad so I asked if she had any lettuce we could buy. She gave us a large box of salad and also a big container of three-bean salad. The guys (who had stayed in the van, resting in the air conditioning), were happy to learn that we wouldn’t need to stop at the grocery store on the way home.
 
So we washed up back at church and ate our delicious dinner, along with some yummy desserts we had bought at Loretta’s. I really liked her sweet potato pie. While the guys washed the linoleum floors in the large social hall and the hallways, we women settled into some couches to watch a DVD called "Katrina’s Children" that we had brought with us from home. It told the story of Katrina and the aftermath from the point of view of 19 children – their lives before and after, their stories, their artwork. We were really impressed. Another movie that we had seen a few years ago is called "When the Leeves Broke" and we recommend that one also.
 
Rev. Alan Coe gave us our graduation "diploma" to take home. He said he had held it until we had finished the job. He appreciates our faithfulness in returning again and again. We’ve heard that March is a bit cooler than May. Anyone want to join us for a week in March 2011?
–Bonnie
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Posted May 9, 2010 by NOLA-er in Uncategorized

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