| Carrollton Avenue runs almost four miles, so I decided to divide its street scenes into four sections: South Carrollton from Riverbend to Oak Street; South Carrollton from the Carrollton Shopping Center area to Tulane Avenue; North Carrollton Avenue, from Canal Street to City Park; and this section - which I'll do first - the area I affectionately call "Nancy's old neighborhood." Even though I'm indulging in my own sentimental journey, I hope some of you will find something of interest here, too.
From the time I was 11 years old, through my school years, through the first years of my marriage and until my son was about 5 years old, I lived in the neighborhood near S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues. My parents' house was on Belfast Street, between Dublin and Dante Streets, a block from Lafayette Elementary School After I was married, I lived on Dante Street.
Growing up, my friends and I spent our time at the Carrollton Shopping Center, the stores on Oak Street, the soda fountain at K & B on Carrollton & Claiborne or movies at the neighborhood theater. Sometimes we'd hop on the bus and go to Mid-City Bowling, or catch the streetcar to Audubon Zoo. Very often, we could be found sitting on the floor, cross-legged, reading movie magazines in Gravois Pharmacy at Carrollton and Apricot Street. Our parents were all customers, so Mrs. Gravois patiently endured our visits to the magazine stand, where we read, but rarely bought. She'd smile and offer us soft drinks and ask how our parents' sinus or sciatica problems were.
When we were younger, we'd climb on top of the lions that guard Pritchard Place and watch the world go by on Carrollton Avenue. We went to Nix Library or on to the Milton Latter Library on St. Charles. Our parents would take us to dinner on Friday nights at Ye Olde College Inn or to the neighborhood restaurant on the corner of Apple & Dublin - to this day, I've never tasted a better seafood platter than Mr. Johnny & Mr. Leo offered (later on, Mr. Leo opened Ponsaa's Mid-City Restaurant on Canal). When the Saints won, Charlie's Saints Marching Club would start out from Mr. Charlie's bar on Apple Street and parade around the neighborhood, car horns blowing, singing "When the Saints Go Marching In" with gusto. Everyone would come out on their porches and applaud - or join the parade.
As kids, in the neighborhood, we could never get away with anything - somebody's parent was always close at hand. And, if not, then other neighbors took up the slack and protected us (or, in some cases, snitched on us to our folks. :-) We grew up in a city, but, looking back, it seems more like an Andy & Opie Mayberry kind of childhood. Wouldn't have traded it for the world.