New Orleans hospitality, circa 1975


A reader who prefers to remain anonymous emails the following colorful anecdote:

The anarchy within the city of New Orleans has not surprised me one bit. 
Back in the wild days of my youth, the Spring of 1975, I spent about six weeks in parts of New Orleans the tourists never see.  One night we visited some friends of my male companion, a working class family in a mixed race neighborhood which I seem to recall was on the downstream side of the French Quarter.   We had dropped in to go crabbing with them on a local bayou, but I got the chills from too much sun and asked to stay behind.  My host showed me a loaded shotgun with the instructions to shoot if anyone tried to come into the house unannounced while they were gone. They would call my name loudly before returning. 
That was Southern hospitality working class New Orleans style circa 1975— providing a loaded weapon for one's houseguest. 
The impression I got during those weeks was that the police operated like private security force for the city's power brokers and for the all important tourist industry.  The rest of its citizens, black and white alike, could fend for themselves. No New Orleans cop would risk his skin for, to use that wonderful phrase from Chicago politics "anybody who wasn't somebody".   
The next time I visited the city was under far different circumstances.  I tagged along with the Illinois Delegation to the 1988 Republican National Convention.   Talking to many of the owners of the small antique shops and art galleries in the Quarter and the Garden District, I got the impression that, if anything, things have only deteriorated as the white middle and upper classes had left the city during the 70's and 80's.