The French Quarter’s Jackson Square is named after Old Hickory — Major General (and later President) Andrew Jackson. Jackson is forever linked to New Orleans because of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, where American forces defeated the British — even though the War of 1812 had officially ended with the signing of treaty weeks beforehand.
The square is a beautiful piece of ground, close to the Mississippi River and adjacent to St. Louis Cathedral. It features a suitably heroic statue of Old Hickory on horseback.
You see the cheap, colorful beads of Mardi Gras everywhere in the French Quarter. The third floor balcony of my hotel is stocked with bags of them to toss to drunken Bourbon Street revelers below. Tourists proudly wear them. They’re seen in odd and inaccessible locations — like perched on top of a sign or snagged on a tree limb — after having been inartfully tossed from above.
This enterprising bicycle owner decided to use the beads to make their chosen mode of transportation a bit more festive.
Today I turn 55. I’ve reached the mid-point of my sixth decade on the planet. As Dad would have said, it beats the alternative.
55 is not a bad number. It’s a speed limit, sure, but other than that it’s a number I’ve always liked. It’s a good round number that looks good on a sign. It has the benefit of alliteration and fricatives. It’s fun to say.
It’s the number Russell wore when he played high school football, and I enjoyed watching number 55 out on the gridiron for the Vikings, making his blocks and leading runners downfield.
It’s also the number that features prominently in Ol’ 55, a song written by Tom Waits that, as performed by the Eagles, is one of my favorites. And, in fact, the lyrics to that tune are apt today:
Well, my time went so quickly
I went lickety-splitly out to my ol’ fifty-five
As I pulled away slowly, feeling so holy
God knows I was feeling alive
Bob’s birthday is today so Hip Hip Hooray
He’s got more wrinkles and hair that’s turned grey,
But who really cares, oh man can he write
His daily blogs to his readers delight
So I’d love to give Bob a birthday wish,
But then why would he need that
He has his wife Kish !
Bob (left) and I taken in December 1959 – he was two and I was three !