Friday, July 5, 2013

French Market Tourist Brochure, 1916

I am in a bit of a quandry and have thought long and hard about posting this.  Here's the deal:
Among the things I collect are vintage tourist brochures.  It's fun (and very interesting) to see tourism in New Orleans evolve from highly romanticized moonlit Creole jasmine to the Cajun myth the world has turned us into and from there to booze and beads, booze and food, booze and music, booze and booze...
This booklet from 1916 paints a very poetic picture of the French Market when it was still open-air and very much a place where butchers, poulterers, fishmongers, etc., etc had their shops, stalls and stands.  It was published by The New Orleans Coffee Company - makers of French Market Coffee. (As a matter of fact, the name of their product is peppered all over the booklet and the last page is their advertisement.  Furthermore, they are still around today!)  I think this is an important booklet because the city was marketing the unique history and romance and using it to attract visitors.  Much of this had to do with the threat of tearing down the French Quarter - which effort resulted in the Supreme Court Building, among others.  Publishing these French Quarter pamphlets and guide books was as much about raising awareness of the importance of the Vieux Carre as a world historical site as it was about courting the tourist dollar.
The booklet is also important because it reminds us (as if we need to be reminded) that New Orleans is, was and always will be a coffee capital of North America. (Sorry, Seattle - ours is older and better!!!)
But, here's the thing...
The "N" word rears its ugly head.
We have to remember that this booklet was written in an age when this vile word was in common usage.  So here's my dilemma - do I post this fascinating little document and share with everyone a romantic, early 20th Century look at New Orleans tourism - or do I censor it and *bleep* out the unpleasant parts - or do I just put it under the carpet and pretend that the mindset never existed?
After much painstaking consideration, I decided to go for it.  Whether we like it or not, this is the way it was back then and we cannot change it.  History isn't always pleasant and I don't like "buffet history" - meaning that we fill our plates with macaroni and cheese and don't take the creamed brussels sprouts.  If we're going to walk through the past we have to fight our way through a few thorny weeds.  So brace yourself - this particular weed stinks.
HOWEVER - the rest of the booklet is worth the read.  I hope, despite the use of a hateful racial epithet, you enjoy this look at New Orleans Tourism of 100 years ago...

French Market Coffee Brochure 1916

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