Chapter 9 First Post-College Occupation – New Orleans, Louisiana
I drove from the San Antonio home of my parents to New Orleans on Saturday, June 2, for 540 miles, taking about 10 hours. Arriving about 5:00 PM, I located the office at 2640 Canal Street. It was on the southeast quadrant of Canal Street and S. Broadway. Then I looked around the residential area nearby for rental property.
I found a rooming house at 201 S. Gayoso Street, about four blocks from my office! It was a room rental where you walked down the hall for a community bathroom and shower facilities. The structure was old seemingly in need of maintenance. The house today in the photo here obviously since then has been renovated and painted nicely.
I was pleased to find cost-effective housing, versus having to lodge in a more expensive hotel. After all, it’s be a couple of weeks before my first paycheck!
I arrived at 8:00 AM on Monday morning, June 4, 1962 to report to my new Sales Manager, Mr. Fred A. Brewer. His welcome was warm and friendly. There was another new Salesman coming on board that day, Mr. Larry F. Hatfield, freshly graduated from Mississippi State University.
Soon we were in a Sales Representatives meeting that morning, being introduced to the four existing Salesmen: James Basham, C. J. Bellow, Lee Aggerton, and Jim Sanders. Larry’s positon was a new positon and my position was replacing a recently departed Salesman, Mr. Fred Tarver. We learned how Larry and I would be in training classes in the beginning weeks, as well as going out with the Salesmen as they called on offices of customers and prospects, to see them operate. All of what we experienced endorsed the conclusion of how high of a class IBM was as an employer, and how excellent were its goods and services.
The IBM Electric Typewriters were the best and most expensive on the market. The models we sold ranged in price from about $500 to $800, whereas most of the competing brands (Royal, Smith-Corona, Underwood, etc.) sold for about half those amounts. The most popular models at that time were like this one above. The carriage would go back and forth as the typist stroked the keys. The middle photo shows the type bars that were propelled to the paper in response to the character being pressed. The photo on the right shows the type face that stuck the paper, affixing an image. You can note that the upper portions were all in capital letters, and those below were lower case. That design generally in typewriters of all kinds gave rise to the terms of Upper Case and Lower Case in lettering.
In those days, the use of electric typewriters was growing, but still most offices had manual typewriters. I some aspects, our sales competition was not necessarily another brand of electric typewriter, but rather trying to get the typewriter purchaser to buy our electric, versus spending a lot less money on a manual typewriter.
In the overall typewriter market, the growing percentage of sales for electric typewriters was about 50% of the market. Of that overall 50%, IBM’s share of that was something like 70% (or about 35% of the overall typewriter market).
Just the year before, at the July annual 100% Percent Club of IBM Salesmen, an entirely new concept in electric typewriters was introduced. It was the IBM Selectric!
The moving carriage was eliminated, as well as all the 88 type bars. Instead, a golf ball size Typing Element was interchangeable in the typewriters. In the former typewriters, the user was confined to only one type style. With this new model, the user could select a large supply of type styles! That is the source of the name, “Selectric.” Typists could “Select” whatever type style wanted.
However, this new “ball” kind of typewriter had a lot of reluctance among the buying public. This is illustrated by looking at the sales quota assigned to us. In my first year, we were expected to sell 12 of the carriage typewriters, but only were expected to sell two of the Selectrics! I’ll always remember the most spectacular sale ever seen in our local office. Jim Sanders’ sales territory was along the nearby Mississippi Gulf Coast. He had been working long and hard on a large school system in the latter part of 1962. Finally, the purchase decisions were made by the School Board, and the order placed the first week in January for something like 150 IBM Electric Typewriters! Jim not only achieved his entire year’s quota in the first week of the year, he ended up being the first IBM Salesman nationally achieving the whole year’s quota!
Of course, Salesmen always continued selling after whenever they passed their annual quota. It just was a goal to represent a minimum expected. About 2/3’s of the sales force nationally earned a trip to the annual 100% club.
My sales territory covered much of what is described as uptown New Orleans, meaning the mostly residential area on the lakeside (north) of the Mississippi River and running upstream to the Jefferson Parish line. My one big customer was Tulane University, from where perhaps half of my earned income (commissions) came. Later, after our marriage, I was assigned the Tulane Medical School in the central business district of New Orleans. That was nice, because, by the, Suzanne had acquired a position in a research laboratory there as a medical technologist.
During that first week in New Orleans, my thoughts ran to wondering who in my new city was anyone among my friends? My recollection went to James Walls, whom I’d known back at my Austin College Days. I’d heard he was working in his first post-college employment at J. P. Penney Stores there. Being older than me, he’d already been there a year. After contacting him, I asked him to introduce me to people.
The whole story about him introducing me to Suzanne Boggess in told in Chapter 10, the next chapter in this autobiography! We met on Sunday evening, June 17, 1962. Our meeting and first date was certainly a whirlwind experience which introduced me to the woman of my life! As this autobiography is being composed in 2017, we are celebrating our 55th anniversary of such a wonderful and outstanding marriage!
My whole orientation about family and the future was such that my assumption was to become married and to raise a family. It’s just that such events were off in the “distant” future for the time being. Suddenly, this acquaintance with Suzanne welled up in my mind to believe I’d met the partner intended for our lives together! Though I’d had social relationships and felt romantic occasionally, this was a real feeling I’d never experienced! This Suzanne Margaret Boggess young lady was the most attractive person to me that I’ve ever known, not only in the beauty of her appearance, but in the beauty of her person and as a woman of genuine quality to the best known to me in all my experience, either previously, and proven later now for over 55 years!
Suzanne was a Georgia-born and Mississippi-raised southern girl, whose college major in biology brought her to New Orleans for her first post college professional work as a Medical Technologist at Mercy Hospital.
Here she is in a high school photo.
Suzanne had already placed her membership in Canal Street Presbyterian Church (CSPC). Though raised in the Southern Baptist Church, she’d joined the Presbyterian Church while a student at Mississippi Southern University. The Baptist Student Union there would not accept her if she danced, a social activity she wished to pursue. Additionally, a friend she’d known at Southern was Kenneth Owens, a boy who’d grown up in his family at CSPC. Ken was active in the CSPC College & Career fellowship group, in which Suzanne also enjoyed. Other friends in the group Suzanne met were Judy, who later married Ken. There was Larry Jones, Edwin Nelson, Jerry Brooks and Raul Biscuccia (a Cuban refugee) members there. There was a girl whose name passes me that dated Jerry and who later married him. The solo pastor there was the Rev. Mr. Robert A. Pitman (who later earned a PhD).
Here is her apartment dwelling at 813 N. Alexander Street.
Suzanne had been dating a Tulane Medical School student (whose name I’m leaving unknown on purpose). Though she did not have an engagement ring when I met her, the general decision had been made by them to be married. He was an unusual young man, having emigrated to the United States as a refugee, fleeing from Communist persecution in Europe, since he’d been a leader in the protesting youth movement and his father was a military officer opposing Communism. He’s grown up in the Roman Catholic environs, but did not proves a belief in God. He was willing to join a church with Suzanne, but she was to know that he did not support the assumed beliefs.
Rev. Pitman had advised Suzanne not to marry the young man, based upon the Biblical exhortation not to be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). My appearance on the New Orleans scene took place shortly after the unbelieving intended for marriage medical student departed town for a summer employment. The whole story of my meeting Suzanne and our unusual first date is the subject of Chapter 10 in this autobiography. I am forever thankful to Rev. Pitman’s favor on my behalf toward Suzanne.
Rev. Pitman was not acquainted with me, but was with my father, whose Presbyterian pastorates mainly were in Texas. Rev. Pitman had graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas, and served his first call to ministry as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Lufkin, Texas. The biographical story about my father is the subject of Chapter 33 in this autobiography. With Rev. Pitman knowing my Presbyterian background and knowing of my romantic pursuit of Suzanne, began to encourage the development of our relationship.
The College and Career Group at CSPC was sponsored and guided by one of the elders on the Session of the church, and his wife. They were Ted (probably a nickname for Theodore) and Marylyn McFarland. He was an engineer in the petroleum industry, which was a strong element in the Louisiana economy. Besides the regular Sunday evening gatherings, the McFarland’s took our group to various social outings on Saturdays, such as picnicking on the Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches, etc.
The geography in which all these new relationships were blossoming was tightly defined in what was called the Mid-City of New Orleans.
My rooming house, 201 S. Gayoso, was 4/10th of a mile from my office, 2640 Canal Street. The CSPC, 4202 Canal Street, was 1.1 mile from my rooming house. The CSPC was _’s mile from Suzanne’s apartment, 813 N. Alexander. She lived about a mile from Mercy Hospital where she worked. Mercy was on Bienville, between N. Jefferson Parkway and N. Telemachus Street.
Canal Street was the main street of New Orleans, running from the Mississippi River docks at the central business district, on out toward Lake Pontchartrain Lake. The other main street of New Orleans was St. Charles Avenue, which ran from the downtown district, winding upriver.
Another characteristic of the city to which I’d not previously been accustomed was the very well organized and frequently running public transit system of buses and street cars.
The downtown district ran along the Mississippi River flow. Here’s a view from the west side of the River.
Of course, New Orleans is known for its famous Mardi Gras celebrations annually. That celebration is a period of several weeks, with parades going through various parts of the City, sponsored by parade organizations known as Krews. One popular parade with us at CSPC was the Mid-City Krew Parade which came by the church around 1:00 PM on a Sunday. Worshippers that day knew to bring their picnic lunches and lawn blankets/chairs to greet the parade. Mese Falcon, the “manager” of our Children’s Sunday School Department had a husband who was a member of that Krewe, Mr. Johnny Falcon. He made sure he and his fellow revelers were extra general in throwing out the parade favors at our location! Our first child, Taylor, attended his first Mardi Gras Parade when he was only three weeks old!
The crowds of people downtown were exceptionally crowded, as illustrated in this photo.
And who remembers phones on the walls of public buildings outdoors, on the sidewalks, operated with nickels, dimes or quarters?
Here are some more normal photos of downtown New Orleans from years ago.
Here’s a photo entering the French Quarter. And here is the famous Café Du Monde, where delicious donuts, covered in powdered sugar and Cajun coffee were served. This is where quite many my dates with Suzanne included.
Not wanting to remain very long in the rooming house of my residence on S. Gayoso, Jerry Brooks and Raul Biscuccia teamed up with me to rent a two-bedroom furnished house out in Jefferson Parish, near Oschner Clinic. My recollection of the address is 605 Jefferson Park Avenue. The widower landlady lived in the third bedroom, which had a private bath and exterior exit. That was about 5.5 miles to the church, and 6.25 miles to my IBM Office.
Suzanne had come to New Orleans to complete her senior year in college for qualification as a Medical Technologist at the world-renowned Oschner Clinic. Notice that Oschner Clinic where Suzanne’s education was completed, is nearby in the map on the previous page. She met Murley Gaudreaux and Waynette Norman as students in that program, and they shared an apartment together. At the completion of their degrees in the Spring of 1961, they each took positons at New Orleans Hospital laboratories, Suzanne going to the Roman Catholic Mercy Hospital on Bienville, at N. Jefferson Davis Parkway. My taking five years to complete my college degree is the explanation of why she completed hers a year earlier. She’d been working at Mercy Hospital a year when I met her.
Part of the spirit of adventure I think in her was the fact that she owned a 1960 red Fiat Spider Convertible sports car! Here’s an image I found of that model recently. Unfortunately, I never saw it. She had continual auto repair needs for it, so it was sold shortly before my meeting her.
My infatuation grew as my encouragement grew that Suzanne was giving me serious heed as our relationship matured. My experience at giving heed to God’s directions in my life was not practiced nearly as much as it should have. However, this new-found friend and partner was blossoming in such a way that I was recognizing God’s hand in selecting important decisions in my life.
There had been a recent occasion when Suzanne traveled with her intended husband to her grandfather’s farm near Macon, Mississippi, Thomas Shelton Boggess. Her father, Thomas Shelton (T. S.) and Alice Boggess then resided in Griffin, Georgia, came over to the family farm to meet the young man Suzanne wanted to present to her family. The sense that I gathered later was that his somewhat unorthodox experience coming from Europe did not sit well with her family. With his now being out of the scene, and with my coming into the scene, it came time for Suzanne to take me to the family farm to meet them. This was late July or early August 1962.
I found it to be a genuinely welcoming and friendly reception that Suzanne’s family gave me. Immediately, there was comfort in my spirit with these future in-laws. Here’s a photo of Suzanne and her mother back around 1939.
Suzanne’s grandfather had arranged for horses to be brought to the farm for the two of us to go riding. My being from Texas, I’m sure, brought confidence in her grandfather’s view that I would know what I was doing in riding horses. What he didn’t know was that the only horseback riding I’d ever done mostly was rental ponies at local carnivals. Here’s a photo showing Suzanne’s early horseback riding experiences, in 1952, being handed a trophy she’d won in the West Point (MS) County Fair horse competitions!
What I didn’t know was that these were two spirited quarter horses, full of vim and vigor! Suzanne had grown up in the agricultural setting with horses. She even rode racing ponies in their county fairs! At least, I knew from which side to approach the horse for mounting! Before my foot was in the stirrup on the other side, my horse bolted off into a fast gallop for about 30 yards. Then he kicked his rear hooves up into the air, while twisting around completely!
Through some miracle of God’s Grace, I came down straddling the horse in the saddle, and managed not to fall! Finally, as I gathered my senses about myself, Suzanne’s grandfather could be seen walking back to the farm house, looking down at the ground and shaking his head! Obviously, he was not impressed!
However, the rest of the weekend transpired wonderfully well, and it was a joy and delight for me to meet my future in-laws. The rest of the weekend provided for still more unusual twists.
We had driven to the farm in my car. IBM had me scheduled for a week of training sessions in New York City, beginning Monday. We drove to Jackson, Mississippi from where I would fly to NYC. Suzanne was to drive my car back to New Orleans and keep it for the week. Before driving out of Mississippi, a State Highway Patrolman pulled her over for exceeding the speed limit.
He asked for her driver’s license. Her home during college years was her parents’ home in Griffin, Georgia. She had not renewed it as a Louisiana License, even though being there a year or more. She still thought of home residency as with her parents. He asked where she lived, which was reported as New Orleans. He asked why the car had Texas license plates? She said the car belonged to someone else. Does that car owner live in Texas? No, he’d just moved to New Orleans a few weeks ago, and had not yet changed titles. Was the car owner a relative or family member? Well, no, he’s just a friend. Why are you driving his car today?
She explained about my having to fly to New York City for work. The Highway patrolman began to shake his head. Finally, Suzanne asked if he knew Mississippi Highway Patrolman Charles L. Staten who lived in Macon on Chancellor’s Court, the town where her grandfather lived? Acknowledging that he did know of him, she asked him to call him to verify that Suzanne Boggess was OK. Apparently in exasperation, he let her go and said just to slow down! All that’s too much to make up!
I joined CSPC by transferring my membership by letter from the Highland Park Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, Texas, where my father was Pastor. Our whirl wind courtship progressed quickly, as a marriage date was set for September 30, 1962, a mere 105 days after we met! In retrospect, Suzanne and I agree that more time should have been provided before the wedding for our respective family members could get to know each other. We did not have sufficient time for family bonding to take place.
Suzanne never saw my parents face-to-face until the day before the wedding. That also was the first day that her parents met my parents. None of our siblings had seen each other either. God has blessed our marriage with exceptionally good things. We do recommend a better time elapse for family bonding for couples desiring to be married!
We decided to have the wedding on Sunday at 1:00 PM, following the weekly worship service. Not having much in the way of acquaintances in the congregation, and knowing that only a few relatives were coming from out of town, the only wedding invitation expressed was an announcement in the church worship bulletin that morning for any of the congregation who wished to stay over for our wedding ceremony.
Suzanne’s grandmotherly friend at CSPC, Mese Falcon, learned of the wedding and that there were no special decoration plans. She took it upon herself to bring in arrangements of flowers to place around the sanctuary during the hour between the end of worship and the wedding! What a special surprise for us. We have always been so grateful for her generosity, her love and her thoughtfulness.
Preparation had not been made for photographic capturing of our wedding, so we are without such documentation. There is one photo of us exited the front door of the church. We’re uncertain who took it, but think it may have been my friend, Richard Hall (Dick) White.
The inscription over the church doors was a scripture citation that has always been meaningful to Suzanne and me. It’s a quote from a portion of Isaiah 56:7, “… for my house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” Here is a closer photograph of that inscription.
On the day of our wedding, Suzanne demonstrated her talents at multi-tasking. As usual, she sang in the church choir for the 11:00 AM worship service. Then, she went quickly to her apartment, changed into her wedding dress, and returned to the church in time for the 1:00 PM wedding! WOW!
Instead of having the traditional wedding reception, we planned a dinner for the family and out of town relatives, about 30 of us, in the garden of a famous New Orleans restaurant, Commander’s Palace. It has been a long-established place of seafood culinary excellence continuously since 1893 at that location! It was a delightful experience, and we are grateful to Suzanne’s parents who underwrote the whole affair.
Commander’s Palace is an award-winning Haute Creole restaurant owned by a family whose current matriarch is Ms. Ella Brennan, born in 1925. She received the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, and in 2002 she received the Southern Foodways Alliance. In the April 2017 issue of Southern Living Magazine (page 88), her Commander’s Palace was listed as #1 of the top 10 restaurants in the southeast quadrant of the United States. Our wedding reception dinner was at this marvelous place of culinary excellence.
Since my employment at IBM had only been since June 4, only three days of vacation were earned at the time of our marriage. We drive Sunday afternoon to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and lodged at a shoreline motel selected at random! Wednesday afternoon, we headed back to New Orleans to attend work on Thursday! Not a very event filled trip, but we enjoyed ourselves very much for those precious three days!
Our initial place of residence was the furnished rental home at 605 Jefferson Park Avenue, the home previously shared by me with Jerry Brooks and Raul Biscuccia. Our social life immediately centered in and around the people of Canal Street Presbyterian Church. A good bond was formed soon in the Young Couples Sunday School Class. It included Jim and Carol Walls, the couple whose marriage provided such an unusual venue for the first date of Suzanne and myself. It also included Charlotte Snead. Her husband, Joe, did not attend, as he was a Surgery Resident at Charity Hospital, the large central public hospital in New Orleans.
By early 1963, Suzanne and I sensed the need to be closer to church, to her work and to my work. So, we rented an unfurnished apartment on the 2nd floor at 4307 Baudin Street, just three blocks uptown from the church. That’s when we began purchasing our first furniture. Our bed came from the railroad salvage center! We weren’t investing a lot of money in furniture!
Training by IBM for me took place in New York City in July 1962, where I graduated from a highly professional 28-member Marketing Class #16208, documented via the class photograph on the wall in my office now at home. To me, the quality of that class was like a high-class advanced graduate course! It was amazing what all I learned.
Shortly thereafter, my IBM supervision had some of our sales force, including me, to take the famous Dale Carnegie Course as it came to New Orleans. Carnegie was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills. There was a lot of valuable insights for we sales representatives to know and to learn.
Our three children, all born in New Orleans, are Taylor Marcus (January 26, 1965); Tiffany Lenn (August 4, 1966) and Todd Wittman (January 26, 1969). These Presbyterian children were delivered by a Roman Catholic physician (Dr. George Frank Sustendal, Jr., born May 18, 1917) at a Jewish Hospital, Touro Infirmary! Today, the hospital is located at 1401 Foucher Street, but in our day there, it fronted on the other street at 3500 Prytania Street.
I worked for IBM corporation in New Orleans for 1962-69, serving in sales, training, and later in administrative positions. At the end of 1966, my assignment was changed to an administrative position. Between then and my resignation in the September 1969, my office was in three different locations in New Orleans.
I was elected a Deacon December 16, 1962, then an Elder in 1963, soon becoming the Clerk of Session at the Canal Street Presbyterian Church, located at 4302 Canal Street. We had experiences about being in debt and having occasion to reside in a slum area of New Orleans. Here is that story!
In 1969, full-time Christian work began for me as Administrator of the Trinity Christian Community, an inner-city ministry originated by Canal Street Church, which later became a New Orleans Presbytery outreach, then finally an interdenominational work that still exists in 2011. That Presbytery name became the Presbytery of South Louisiana.
God's hand was moving in the lives of Suzanne and me, particularly in those days, and we sought to find His meaning and directions for our lives. It was then that our participation and interest in the inner-city ministry of Canal Street Presbyterian Church drew us to the conviction that we should buy a home and move into that neighborhood. It was a five-year experience, which included my leaving my work at IBM after a couple of years living there, and thus began my career in Christian ministry. We purchased the home with another couple, Dr. Joseph A. and Charlotte Snead. Sharing home ownership is a very interesting experience. One that often was challenging, but which we remember fondly. We have kept in touch with the Snead's over the years, their living most of their lives since then in West Virginia, though they did live a while in Georgia. Today, in 2017, Charlotte maintains a website of commentary on living life.
As I recalled, we purchased the home together for the asking price of $20,000. I see in 2017, it’s valued at about $320,000! The photo here was taken in 2016, by our friend Michelle Cohen, and the house looks pretty much the same as when we lived there!
We had many fine and blessed experiences in New Orleans as we built our family and focused our Christian life on Canal Street Presbyterian Church and the ministries to which it reached in its ministry.
Our first pastor there was the Rev. Dr. Robert A. Pitman. He and my father conducted the marriage ceremony for Suzanne and me on September 30, 1962. He took a call to ministry at Casa Linda Presbyterian Church in Dallas in 1965. The Rev. Dr. Matthew McGowan was our next pastor. In fact, I was on the church’s Pulpit Committee (the search committee) that brought Matt to us. Next was the Rev. Mr. Robert T. Henderson, who was present when we moved to St. Louis in 1972.
By age 30, I had served in the Presbyterian Church as a Deacon, Elder, Clerk of Session, was moderator of a major standing committee of New Orleans Presbytery (now named the Presbytery of South Louisiana), and was a member of its Presbytery's Council. I was elected an alternate in the Fall of 1971 to the 1972 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U.S. That representative role did not take place, because of how our lives changed where we lived in the intervening months. We moved to St. Louis!
The first honor of service was the election as a Deacon in the Canal Street Presbyterian Church on Sunday, December 2, 1962, and installed on Sunday, January 20, 1963 for a three-year term. However, God’s providence turned differently, and my first election as an Elder was the following December, and installation was January 19, 1964. Partly because of my profession being a sales representative for IBM Corporation, selling typewriters, my assignment among the Elders was to become their Clerk of Session, the person to record the events and decisions taking place in the Session Meetings, which was the guidance to be administrated for the whole church. It also included generating written communications on behalf of the Session when that was needed.
Suzanne sang in the church choir, and occasionally did I. I was mentored by a couple of men, John Rolland Krogsgard and Jules Wogam (Ted) Hillary. Our choir director was Mr. W. Monroe Stephenson, born in 1935, a New Orleans attorney directing the choir and playing the organ part time. He’d graduated from Alcee Fortier High School in New Orleans, and was a 1958 graduate of Tulane University School of Law. Monroe also was a French horn player in the New Orleans Symphony. He married a young woman named Pamela, but later they divorced. Rolland and his wife, Betty, were married June 10, 1950. Rolland died about 2000, and Betty died October 25, 2008. Ted Hillery was born about 1929, and he married a woman from Germany, Irmagard (Irma). After we moved from New Orleans, they moved to Slidell, Louisiana, perhaps 50 miles east of New Orleans. Their address was 34649 W. Dubuisson Road, Slidell, 70460. They adopted a daughter, Heidi A. Hillery, a child born in the 1960s.
Another family with whom we grew close was Dan and Jane Sikes. They had a daughter, Dawn, and a son, Danny. We have been able to make occasional contact with this family over the years, and are Facebook friends with some of them. They live over on the West Bank of the Mississippi in a town named Gretna.
We were good friends with Larry Jones, whom Suzanne knew at Canal Street Church even before she and I met. While we were there, Larry married Jacquelyne (Jackie). Later, they divorced. Jackie died March 25, 2017. Larry suffered some ill health in recent years, but I’ve lost how to contact him. His name is too common to be easy to research in a metropolitan area.
One experience for me while living in New Orleans and employed at IBM had to do with my relationship to tobacco! Read this story about “Making an Ash of One’s Self.”
There was a Southern Baptist Seminary Professor who, with his wife, frequented our Canal Street Presbyterian Church. Here’s a fun story about them, “Pay Attention to Who Sits at our Feet.”
My relationship with IBM continued for a while, as that local office wanted to reach out to an inner-city neighborhood such as where we were working. It was a blessing that my former employer wanted to involve themselves in the new work to which I had felt called. You will see in the end of this chapter how my brother-in-law, Andy Jumper, was involved in that.
We assumed this was a temporary work in Christian ministry, and that we would return to regular secular work in a few short years. That was wrong! That temporary tenure in Christian work lasted through 37 more years and in three different Christian ministries before my 2004 retirement.
Another ministry activity in which we were involved at Canal Street Church was with our Associate Pastor, the Rev. Mr. William Joseph Brown, who was starting an Inner-City Ministry for our church to reach people in what was called the Irish Channel, an area that could be described a New Orleans slum. The constituency of that ministry evolved mostly African American teenagers (trending toward getting into trouble) and to white adults with criminal records or backgrounds, or even in current criminal activity. At one point, Suzanne and I developed a leading that we were to reside in the Irish Chanel to be among the people.
There was another young couple at Canal Street Church who also had interests in the ministry. We found a 16-room Classic Greek Revival architrave home constructed in 1866! In May of 1966, Dr. Joseph A. Snead and his lovely bride, Charlotte, purchased that home at 1619 Prytania Street, and proceeded to convert it into a duplex! Not long after that, Pastor Brown and his family (Mark Lou and their three children) rented a similar large old home in which to reside. We were beginning to build a community there. Soon, two single men joined the staff of Trinity Christian Community (the new name of this ministry), and they resided down there as well.
This evolvement and development spiritually in our lives had a main element to be the conviction to be out of debt! We lived and worked down there till 1972, when we moved to Saint Louis. My full time Christian work on the TCC staff began in January 1970.
At that time, our Pastor at Canal Street Church was Matthew McGowan, a Godly man who brought much blessing to our lives. During the transition from resigning my secular occupation, living in the inner-city slum area with no income for a few months, Matt exhorted the Session of Elders at our church to provide some monthly income till the new salary began at Trinity Christian Community.
I re-established contact with Matt & Louise on Facebook in 2009. As I write this in 2018, they both are alive and kicking! They are ages 90 and 92! They live in Gainesville, Georgia.
In addition to that help Matt motivated from the church, one day I came home to find Pastor Matt on a step ladder, installing the new hanging ceiling we needed replaced in one of our rooms! He was such a dear man and friend in so many ways!
This neighborhood around 1619 Prytania Street was a crime-ridden area with five bars within a block our house, and there were five instances of gun fire or gun fights in our immediate block in the five years of our residence. After a while, we became known as residents there who sought to for the benefit of the neighborhood, and acceptance by the neighbors enable our Christian witness to grow. We learned much through the experiences God led us and allowed us to have. Our church, Canal Street Presbyterian, called onto its staff the Rev. Mr. William (Bill) J. Brown, part of whose duties were to work in the neighborhood there we were. Finally, through Bill's vision, the ministry became Trinity Christian Community.
Our part of Prytania Street was just down river from the prestigious New Orleans Garden District, which ranged all the way up river to the Audubon Park and Tulane University Campus. It was a sight to behold in old New Orleans culture and living.
We did learn that the thing in life that mattered most was to be in God's will. If we would be in His will, we would have nothing to fear, and that appropriate provision and protection would always be made for us. And, we do affirm that. We also had the Biblical principal of tithing confirmed in our experience. We had begun to give 10% of our income to God in his causes and even more before coming down to that neighborhood. But living there in poverty and changing work to the Christian ministry meant living on an economic shoestring. Even so, we always pulled out our 10% of everything to give to God's Kingdom, no matter how little we had. It never failed! We always were enabled to live on the remainder. It just works out that way in God's kingdom.
When moving into this 101-year old home at 1619 Prytania, there was a certain amount of repair and upgrading work needing to be done.
When our ministry pastor, Bill Brown, had a Sunday outreach to incarcerated young girls at 7:00 AM on Sundays, he recruited Suzanne to help him. What that meant for me was it became my task to ready our two toddlers (Todd hadn’t yet been born) for our going to Canal Street Church. Bill and Suzanne would meet us at Church. Those was our days without owning an automobile, so the pattern was my taking the two children walking to the Street Car stop on St. Charles Avenue. During those days, an elderly woman member of our Church resided in a retirees’ residence nearby. Meriam Newhouse was her name. She rode the same street car from the same stop as did we! Therefore, we became acquainted with Meriam, who became a special friend for us.
Meriam was the only daughter in a family of some half dozen sons, all of whom became attorneys. Meriam also graduated from Law School. However, in her young years, women were not welcomed in the legal profession. She was such an intelligent friend for us. It was a shame she did not manage to pursue a legal career.
Much of our spiritual growth took place as Suzanne and I became the adult volunteer ministers for the church’s ministry to high school age students. Though we felt our recruitment was because someone thought we were spiritually wise, in retrospect, we have seen how we just were ripe for beginning to learn what marvelous things God had in our lives, as experienced through what we did and through the kids in the group. One of the girls in that group was Mary Alice Arseneaux
Later in life, she married James (Jim) O. Idiaquez, and her nick name became Pinky. They resided near Houston, Texas and we crossed paths about 2015 to become Facebook Friends! This photo is from her recent Facebook photos. Likewise, a couple of kids in the group that dated each other were Douglas Boylan and Sandra (Sandy) Waddell. They became married, he acquired a PhD degree as an engineer and was on the research staff at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. We hooked up on Facebook in 2017.
Another friend we knew from when Suzanne was in the Singles group at Canal Street Church was Charles Lincoln. I crossed paths with him on Facebook in 2018.
During a week of spiritual renewal at our church, a contingent of lay Christians came from across the South to share their testimonies. The group was headed by Delores (Mrs. Robert G.) Fenn. She and her husband were members of the Casa Linda Presbyterian Church in Dallas. One couple was from Lubbock, Texas, Jack and Shelly Hall. a Methodist Church couple, who'd come to know my Presbyterian Pastor brother-in-law, the Rev. Dr. Andrew A. Jumper. Andy was the guest preacher for the services. It was in a meeting in our home after one of the services that we were with them and my brother-in-law, who was their friend, that they taught us more about the Holy Spirit, and they prayed for our filling, with speaking in tongues. That was in October 1965.
Dr. Andrew (Andy) A. Jumper, husband of my sister, Elizabeth, was serving as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Lubbock, Texas, about a 1,200-member congregation. In 1970, he responded to a call to be Pastor of the 2,500-member Central Presbyterian Church of Clayton, St. Louis County, Missouri. In January 1972, he invited me and Suzanne to come to St. Louis to talk to him about coming to work as the Executive Administrator of the newly formed Covenant Fellowship of Presbyterians. It was a group of Presbyterian pastors and church members representing a conservative, evangelical perspective of understanding the Bible, and which was concerned by the perceived liberal trends forming in the leadership of the Presbyterian denomination.
Our immediate reply was that we felt fulfilled and committed to the continued work we were doing in New Orleans, and had no interest in looking for work elsewhere. Andy insisted on our coming to talk. We said we’d come if he understood we’d enjoy the visit with our family, and that we had no interest in moving. Such agreement was made, and we went to St. Louis for a few days.
It’s an unusual feeling to walk through the paces of being shown and beckoned to come to something for which you have no intention of accepting. However, it was a pleasant experience, and we did enjoy being with Elizabeth, Andy and their four children.
Andy had arranged for a woman in their church, a realtor, to show us some prospective home for purchase. It really is interesting looking at homes shown by a realtor when you “knew” you weren’t coming!
An additional factor was present, which I think did not affect our thinking about the new work position. Elizabeth had recently been diagnosed as having cancer, and was going through treatments. Of course, we were praying for her healing, but did not know what the future held for her.
After four or five days in and around St. Louis, we were to return home to New Orleans on a Monday morning. Sunday night, Suzanne and I were talking about and praying about the recent few days and our resolve to continue in our New Orleans Calling. We were delving through Scriptures when we came across Romans 12:2, “Do not be confirmed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (RSV)
It dawned on both of our thoughts simultaneously that our minds were to be changed and RENEWED by accepting Andy’s call, which was to be considered a call of God’s plan and providence for our lives! We departed happily the next morning, telling Andy and Elizabeth and Andy that we would come! We even told him on which house the realtor should place our offer! It’s address was 7044 Northmoor Drive in University City, and the offer was to be something like $27,000. Without telling us, Andy had the offer put in at $25,000, and it was accepted! I see that in 2017, the house is valued at $350,000! Wish we stilled owned it! Ha Ha!
Joe and Charlotte Snead decided they wanted to buy our 50% interest in our New Orleans home, and they offered that, based on a market value of $25,000, its appreciated value after being there five years. That equity us provided the down payment we needed to purchase the St. Louis home.
A side note is that our realtor, Mrs. Paul (Charlotte) Dicken, was the mother of Sydney Kay Dicken Armistead. Elizabeth, my sister, died in 1973. On November 20, 1974, Andy remarried, and it was to Sydney, our realtor’s daughter! So, we had an advance introduction to Andy’s second family, without realizing it!
As we leave this chapter of New Orleans in our lives, the next chapter is the detailed story of Suzanne and me meeting and our prolonged first date. Chapter 11 takes up with our life in St. Louis area.