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Date:10/30/2014 11:39:06 PM
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Depending upon location, your nose could detect the smells of sugar cane & peanuts cooked in the huge vats of confectioneries, or the malts of ale houses, or the sweetness of vegetables & fruits in the open-air markets, or fish from the wharves, or the sharpness of French coffee houses, or the thousand spices from the import warehouses. Street merchants with pushcarts yodeled their wares & Haitian princesses jangling huge earrings sang out for their voodoo trinkets & incenses: "Sisters, get your chaaarms! Your good luck chaaarms!"

Under the shade of piazzas the diversity of life passed: trim-cut ladies under plumed bonnet, & the dusty pirate, the padre with his round brim hat & rounder belly, the gentleman in bay rum & cutaway coat, the tradesman in gingham, the merchant in apron, & the prostitute in next to nothing. They spoke French, mostly, & English was quickly catching up; but they also spoke Portuguese, Italian. Greek & Spanish. No one understood the Creoles but the Creoles themselves. Central to town was the Place D'Armes, the "town square" that edged the river front levee. In contrast to the nearby wharves, with their squat, dirty warehouses & ramshackle fisheries, the park square was beautified by oaks & natural blossoms. Lining cypress boardwalks were tiny storefronts of every kind imaginable. Saturday morning, market time, the encircling walks creaked under pedestrian traffic. Shoppers bundling groceries paused to admire the works of local landscape artists come to preserve in oil the magnetic aura around them. Favorite subject for these artistes were the St. Louis Cathedral whose ten-column facade rose as if in a state of grace at the entrance to the plaza, and the city-council Cabildo Building & the architecturally matching Presbytere (home of the church wardens), flanking the cathedral.

These places Governor Claibourne could tolerate. But the next place made him bristle at the arrogance of it all. It was one of the busiest cobblestone walkways just adjacent to the square. It was where Lafitte's marketers brazenly barked their wares over rustic tables & from hastily erected booths. Although not intended as a sacrilege, this "Pirate's Alley," as it became known, occupied an open walkway beside the cathedral through which pedestrians would short-cut from the Place D'Armes to the Rue de Royale. Some church-goers complained that the din of the pirate market would sometimes interfere with the Rite of Mass, the Domine vobiscums drowned under the Come One-Come Alls of the peddlers. Goods on sale here were usually carted early those mornings from nearby Rue de Chartres where, in Maspero's Exchange, a warehouse/auction block/gin mill, Lafitte retained large quantities of popular contraband in its rear chambers.
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