Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Friday, February 3, 2012

Jambalaya, Codfish Pie, Filly Gumbo… and Sugar Cane

* Some people stopped reading the previous blog after the photo of the combo.  Always be sure to click on read more to continue reading the full article.

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I have to admit that I planted a “teaser” in my last blog by mentioning a beautiful dancer I met on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  That was to keep you reading. Actually there’s not much to that story, but I have to admit that I still remember “Sugar Cane.” With a name like that, you know she’s not a ballet dancer.

True - she wasn’t a ballet dancer by any stretch, but she was gorgeous and I was still a teenager. “Miss Cane” would spot me in the club and come over and dance just for me, although I think the audience was enjoying it too. If I was sitting at the bar, she would climb up on the bar and dance for me there. Although I was embarrassed, I enjoyed it and thought I was in love. I became a regular at the club despite my buddy Steve’s efforts to divert my attention to some good jambalaya in a Creole restaurant.

There was also a famous dancer named “Lilly Saint Claire (I think),” who blessed me with her attention and a signed photo of her that I didn’t want my parents to see. I’m not sure of the name, but she was known as “The Cat Lady.” All of that sounds exciting, but it didn’t amount to anything more than what I’ve described. Sad, but true.

I was a bashful kid when it came to women. That trait kept me out of trouble on many occasions in New Orleans. I would leave Sugar Cane to dance for someone else and I’d find some good old fashioned Dixieland Jazz to wash over me like a cold shower. That always brought me back to my first love - music.

The food was great in New Orleans.  I remember eating tons of fresh oysters in oyster bars all over the French Quarter and tasting some delicious Creole dishes in small restaurants off the main drag. Steve and I rented a place a short distance from the action and took a trolley car most places. Riding that trolley past those southern homes and the unique architecture with the French influence was exhilarating.

I could describe the trip Steve and I made across the country, finally arriving home, but frankly, with the exception of a few high points, it was not particularly exciting from what I remember. I do remember driving forever across Texas after three days without sleep. The manager of one of the casinos in Vegas picked us up in a very fancy car and was too tired to drive the whole way, so I drove. I fought falling asleep at the wheel and basically aimed the car between nods, while Steve and the manager slept.

My next trip to New Orleans was for a Super Bowl many years later and that was much different.

By the way, I wonder what pretty “Little Miss Sugar Cane” looks like now. That’s a scary thought!
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- The New Orleans series will be found in the archives under “When I Was a Kid”-


  1. Be careful what you wish for. Someone reading this Blog may well know where she is.

    And you're right it might be very scary!

    But, fun reading about your wild days. Seems like I remember Carol Doda, in San Francisco, doing what I thought also was dancing just for me. I was about 19.

  2. I don't think I was as wild as I was intent on seeking adventure. I guess it's normal for old guys to reflect on their youthful exploits.

    Thanks for commenting, Malcolm.

  3. And, of course, to enlarge them. If you read my thoughts I was the best athlete that ever played and I WASN'T even on a school team!

    The only "cat lady" in my life was old when I met her and I guess no worry that she will show up!!!

  4. U are gettin old. You forgot the name of Lily St. Cyr? Sad.

  5. Ed - I can't believe you question the veracity of my recollections. You hurt my feelings, Bro.

    I re-read what I wrote and, if anything, when it comes to some of these stories, I understate events.

    Oh well . . . If you doubt that blog, wait until you read the next one.

  6. Rog - It's true that I'm getting old, but I didn't think many people would know who I was really talking about. Ed, for example, would have thought I was blowing smoke.

    Gayle picked up on her name too. Now how would she know Lilly St. Cyr? I was curious as to who would put the pieces together and you won!

  7. Ralph, I question not! I would love to hear the "Rest of the Story"!

    I was referring to Malcom's final sentence, not anything you wrote!!!!

    I am sure you were the New Orleans version of the Pied Piper being followed by thousands of young lads and lasses!

    Play on!!!!!!! Write on!!!!!!

  8. Ed -

    I was joking with you, Ed, but thanks for clarifying. Malcolm's comments about Carol Doda brought back memories. You may remember her from the late '50s I think. Malcolm and I had a classmate who became a well-known "dancer" during that time frame. That was when the topless thing just started in San Francisco. Of course, being innocent kids, we only heard rumors...

    1. OK, WHO, Who, who? I don't even remember the rumors?
      C'mon Ralph at let let me dream of the past!
      You may have been innocent but I sure imagined I was not. Like Ed, I was a serious Jock. Or was that a Joke?

  9. Malcolm -

    I'll send you an email.

    I know you were a jock. I remember the pass you intercepted and ran back for a TD on our Thanksgiving game against Campbell. I also remember that the only reason you made it was because Ed stopped chasing you and tackled a cheerleader instead.

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