Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
I miss it both night and day
I know that it’s wrong… this feeling’s gettin’ stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines…the tall sugar pines
Where mockin’ birds used to sing
And I’d like to see that lazy Mississippi…hurryin’ into spring
That is a song by Louis Armstrong which was always (likely still) played at Tulane’s graduation. I am pleased to report that the entire group (minus only Dr. S who will join us later today) made it safely to NOLA yesterday. The trip was pleasantly uneventful and it is good to be back in New Orleans. If you will allow a bit of reminiscing…
My wife and I moved here in 1997 because Tulane offered me a visiting assistant professorship. Jobs then as now are tough to find in my field. My wife was 6 months pregnant with the very mature and beautiful young lady who is with me on this trip. I went from a visiting position, to tenure track, to tenured associate professor while here. I was the director of the Jewish Studies Program and then the Director of the Honors Program. We lived in three places and had two children. And we made lots of friends some of whom our students (y’all) will meet this week.
Today we will be in Joseph Merrick Jones Hall, the place where my professional academic career began. It is hard not to be nostalgic and by writing it here I hope to spare you the blather in class today (but don’t hold me to that). We will hear from faculty about the history of New Orleans, its politics and its music. We will also hear from a Penn State Scholar alumna Karen Swensen who is a TV news anchor and covered and survived Katrina. It will be a full day.
For all of the people and the personal history I have to be honest and say that I do not miss New Orleans as much as many would expect. It was a wonderful place and time for us and Tulane and President Scott Cowen gave me incredible opportunities to work with wonderful students. But as I tell prospective students that are considering Penn State (and I said the same thing to potential Tulanians), it is really all about the fit. We are originally from the DC area and we missed the rolling hills, the changing of the leaves, and even the snow that, so far, has always been followed by beautiful spring.
But today I am so very pleased to be with my daughter and nearly 40 wonderful people to share with them a city that I love and that showed us real love at a key time in our young lives. I hope that y’all enjoy it. Now, where y’at?
Waiting for the street car to head back up St. Charles Ave. to our hotel.