Monday, February 1, 2021

Festival Fireworks

 The Olde Town Festival premiered in Covington in 1984, a week-long series of events, concerts, contests, and  demonstrations of old-fashioned arts and skills. The festival organizers needed a kick-off ceremony to start the week, so I pitched in by building a "time machine," setting the clock hands back 80 years, then having some kind of mishap that prevented the town from coming back to the present time for an entire week. 

Mayor Ernest Cooper played along with the gag, and I proceeded to create a makeshift time machine out of an old television cabinet, line the inside with hundreds of matches head to head, and when the appointed moment came, I lit the first match and the whole time machine/television cabinet disappeared into a cloud of flame and smoke. It worked perfectly. It looked just like the machine had malfunctioned bigtime.

I had a fire extinguisher on hand, of course, and out of an abundance of caution and/or dramatic effect, I hit the time machine with a burst of fire extinguisher. That was the first time I had actually used a fire extinguisher, however, and it spewed out a cloud of powder that not only covered and extinguished any flames, it also covered the mayor, myself, and anyone standing within several feet with a dusting of powder. I supposed it would have been a good idea to test that part of it ahead of time. 

Here are some pictures...

 
From left, Rick Webb of WARB Radio, Pat Clanton, Ron Barthet and Mayor Ernest Cooper 

 
I get ready to turn on the time machine after setting the dial for 1904.

 
The time machine starts up and takes us all back 80 years.

 
The time machine malfunctions, and we are all stuck in the past. George Boudreaux at left. 

 
But don't worry, the dancers are waiting in the wings to come out and save the day. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

Signs By Bart

 My dad Lamar Barthet was a sign painter. He was part-time at first, doing signs after his work hours at his real job. He real job was, at first, a special delivery mailman for the post office. Then he learned drafting and got a certificate from the International Correspondence School. With that he  got a job as a draftsman at American Cyanamid in Ama, Louisiana. 

While there he took another correspondence course by mail, this time in sign painting, to brush up on his skills. Then his part-time job of painting signs became his full time occupation. 


Painting an antiques shop sign


He painted a lot of signs in New Orleans. There were sidewalk signs, overhanging awning signs, and gold-leaf lettering on office doors. There were many truck door signs, a few billboards, and even small placards for indoor settings such as restaurants. He and some friends put up a huge billboard on Gentilly Road, and that turned out to be a major project. 

His sign work became his day job, and he started a part-time night job of selling hot tamales, just to make some extra money. When he started making more money selling hot tamales than painting signs, it taught him (and me) an interesting lesson. People are willing to pay money for something good to eat, but they are not willing to pay money for the artistic design skills and sign painting artistic skills that go into laying out and painting a sign. All he could get for painting a sign was just enough money to pay for the materials (wood, paint, turpentine) and maybe a little more. He was never paid for his artistic talent and design work.




When he moved to Talisheek and opened a sign shop in Slidell, he was always busy painting signs, but there again, he could barely make enough to pay for the materials. Often he didn't even charge for his time. If it took him 40 hours to paint a big sign, he charged the same amount for a sign it only took him three hours to paint. To the customer, a sign was judged by how it looks, not its size, not by how long it took to paint, nor by its intricate design.



Not Charged by the Hour

 
The Slidell Sign Shop  on Short Cut Road


The sign shop when it was behind a business on Military Road

That was a lesson for me as well. As I came to know more artists over the years, I heard the same complaint. The design skills, the countless false starts, the hand-in-brush talents (knowing what not to paint as well as what to paint) and the hardware and materials for the artwork structure, whether it be plywood, canvas, or poster board... all of that didn't count for much. All the customer saw was the finished product and its value was judged by that.

 
Dad chalking in the lettering on a truck fender
Painting a sign on a curved surface was always a challenge

 So it is the life of an artist, and a sign painter, and a musician, poet, or writer. The countless hours put into the work of art aren't visible in the finished product, and that's what makes art different than, say, building a dog house. 

Anyway, my dad's sign shop in Slidell, Victory Signs, put out some pretty good product: door signs, truck lettering, big billboards, small directional signs and what-not. Good thing dad had a background in drafting, because when the City of Slidell decided to pass a sign ordinance that required engineering calculations for wind load and support structural information, he was able to provide that without hiring someone else to do it. 

 
Layout and design sketch

 
Dad and one of his larger signboards


Nowadays, most signs are produced by computers cutting out pieces of vinyl that are then peeled off and stuck on the prepared surface. Someone tried to sell dad a computerized sign-making set up in the latter days of his sign-painting career, but he wasn't ready for that and couldn't afford the computer in the first place. 

Computers speed up the process considerably, especially the graphic design and lettering part, but if the surface isn't prepared right, the letters tend to curl up after time. Then there's the continuing problem of sunlight bleaching out the color red.

Dad had always wanted me to join in the sign business, and I tried once or twice to paint a sign, but my hand lettering was not good, and I never met a brush that wanted to do what I wanted it to do. I ran a few silk screen signs, and while that was okay and relatively easy to do, it still required design skills and screen production techniques that I was not familiar with. 

When the price of signboard plywood went up significantly, he decided to retire from sign work, still doing one or two when requested as favors to friends or church groups. When he died, I inherited his extension ladders and scaffolding. But picking up and extending an extension ladder and setting it in place is getting too much for me. I can barely climb to the top of a six foot A-frame ladder to fill the bird feeder. 

 
Lamar Barthet in his mail carrier job


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Search for Joe

Deep in the outer reaches of outer space, the Starship Miramon silently sped through the darkness. At the bridge of the 22nd century technological marvel stood Captain James T. Lurk. He began speaking into the intercom, and his voice swelled throughout the ship.

"Cast and crew, this is your Captain speaking. This is our 493rd day in space, nearly a zillion miles from Earth, and our mission has not yet met with success. We look, almost with utter desperation, for a new planet, a place with the right atmosphere, the right soil, and the water we so urgently need.

"Our loved ones whom we left so many months ago are counting on us." The Captain paused for a moment, overcome with emotion. Then he resumed. "We must succeed, we must find the planet for which we have been searching. The future of all mankind depends on us."

The Captain switched off the intercom, then looked down at his reports. They had come across many planets in their travels, but none of them had the right combination of all the necessary elements. The First Mate entered the bridge from the lifter and approached the Captain.

"Sir, the crew is disheartened. We've come so far, and...." his voice trailed off.

The Captain glared at him. "We will succeed," he said sternly. "We will find a new planet, one with the just the right climate and just the right dirt to grow what we need to make coffee. When the Earth ran out of coffee, it was chaos. Surely somewhere in this universe, we can find a good cup of coffee," he declared.


 


Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Riding The Rails

 Between 1963 and 1967 I lived in Bay St. Louis, Miss., but my dentist was in New Orleans. So every few months I would need to go to the dentist to have my braces checked, and I, beginning at the age of thirteen, would get on board the New Orleans Gulf Coast commuter train at the Bay St. Louis train depot and ride the rails down to New Orleans. It was an interesting trip.

The train would arrive, come to a stop, and I would climb up onto the platform between cars, enter the passenger compartment and find a seat among the many business commuters. Looking out the window was a great adventure, because of the wildly different terrain that the trip would provide.

We would roll southwestward past Waveland, Clermont Harbor and Lakeshore, onward into the marshes of Ansley and the hundreds of fishing camps perched on the bayou banks of southwest Hancock County. Then across the Pearl River bridge, through the Honey Island Swamp and across Pearl River Island. 


Another bridge carried us across the Rigolets, and it was an amazing sight to be sitting in the train car looking out over the marshes and suddenly there is nothing but water. You couldn't see the edge of the trestle beneath you, so for all intents and purposes, it just looked like the train had taken flight and was soaring over the waterway. 

Then came more marshes, the eastern shore of Lake Catherine, and eventually Chef Menteur Pass. The fishing camps became closer to each other, and the fishermen heading back from the early morning fishing expeditions would wave at the train passengers. 

Then, as the train entered New Orleans East, things really got interesting. Rolling through the train yards of Gentilly, where dozens of parallel tracks held dozens of stationary freight cars awaiting their sorting out and hitching up. It was the manufacturing and industrial area around the Industrial Canal. The train brought you through the middle of it all, with each half mile another fascinating array of cranes, fork lifts, and shipping containers.

Once over the canal, the train track right of way suddenly rose considerably higher than the surrounding landscape, and you found yourself looking down on the tops of houses, following alongside the newly-built interstate. I don't remember going through City Park, but maps showing the train tracks going to Union Passenger Station hint that part of the journey followed the interstate through the park, then taking a southward turn along the ancient New Orleans Cemeteries and on the way past where the Superdome would be built. 

Finally the train would ease into Union Passenger Station and come to a rest. But my journey wasn't over yet. I would walk from the station to Lee Circle, which is about four blocks, then catch a St. Charles Avenue street car and head over to Canal Street, where my dentist office was located in the Maison Blanche building (tenth floor to be exact). 

After a ten minute exam to see how my braces were doing, I would be released and then I'd go exploring on Canal Street. First, the electronic stores with all the latest radio gadgets, including a crystal radio set (red and white) that looked like a rocket ship.

Then to Katz and Besthoff for a hamburger and/or hot fudge sundae, and finally to Holmes Department Store where I checked out the camera section (where my sister Bonnie worked) and the television department. 

It was there in the television department of D. H. Holmes that one day in 1963 on my visit to the dentist I came across a group of people all crowded around a television set, sad-faced, and staring at the news broadcast.

It was Walter Cronkite, talking about President Kennedy getting shot in Dallas, TX. People were in a state of shock, I was in a state of shock. President Kennedy had guided us through some pretty tough times, particularly with the Cuban Bay of Pigs invasion, when everyone huddled in their homes thinking that World War III was about to erupt. Now he was dead, shot while riding in his convertible on the streets of Dallas.

 
 
Walter Cronkite, November 22, 1963
 

And I was standing with a group of strangers on the third floor of D.H.Holmes watching the drama unfold. I finally went downstairs, got on the streetcar, and rode to my grandmother's house on Carondelet st., to await my dad getting off work at the Cyanamid Chemical Plant in Luling. 

When he arrived, we would immediately get ready to go pick up two pots full of hot tamales from Manuel's Hot Tamales on Carrollton Avenue and head on out to dad's corner at Broad and St. Bernard Avenues.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

College Collision

 While attending Southeastern Louisiana University back in the early 1970's, I almost made a movie. It was to be a short film, shot on a street intersection west of campus, the intersection of Ned McGehee Drive and North General Pershing St.

The plot was simple: a motorcyclist in his early 20's runs a red light at the intersection and hits a car passing by in front of him. He is injured, and the entire movie consists of the people and the "witnesses" at the scene waiting for the police and ambulance to arrive.

But it is a tense wait, for different people saw different circumstances. The driver of the car was an elderly man who said he had the green light, but the man in the house at the intersection said the motorcyclist had the green light. A car with two young people, also in their early twenties, was approaching the intersection from the south when the accident occurred, and they agreed with the elderly driver, that he had the green light.

The motorcyclist is lying on the side of the road injured, and he insists that he had the green light.

So it is youth against age, but with young witnesses siding with the elderly, and the elderly witness siding with the younger person. The title of the film was to be "Collision," for obvious reasons.

That was the plan, at least.

I had made numerous films on silent 8mm film in my high school days, but this one was going to be done on black and white film with sound, so that right there was a challenge.

I had a couple of meetings with potential actors and crew, spelled out what would have to be done. I contacted the Hammond Police Department and they said they would cooperate with traffic control during the filming. I spoke with the people who lived at the house at the intersection and they said it was okay to use their house. I don't remember if they agreed to be a part of the film and act as the owner of the house. The local ambulance company agreed to supply an ambulance.

This was when I learned that going from silent 8mm movies to sound 16mm movies complicated things exponentially. There was the need for lighting and reflector panels, lighting required lights, extension cords and permission to use a power outlet somewhere in the vicinity.

There were sound requirements, a boom mike perhaps, someone to hold the boom mike. Retakes to get the sound right if extraneous noise interrupts a scene. This was before digital editing so everything had to be done in camera, no post production (maybe some editing) There had to be a script and actors who could learn their lines and act at the same time while repeating those lines.

As the thousands of details and loose ends continued to pile up, I finally came to the realization that I didn't have the time, the money, or the desire to actually go on with the project, and it was dropped in favor of more productive pursuits, such as actually going to college, studying for tests, and working on weekends to pay the bills. 

"Collision" was a good experience, just the same. I appreciate everyone who encouraged me and worked with me on the initial preparations, and I came to appreciate the work and creativity that goes into the making of a major motion picture. Sure, the finished product on the big screen offers some entertainment for an hour and a half to two hours. But the millions of seemingly insignificant creative decisions, personal choices, professional skills, and most of all, a steadfastness and drive to pull it all together and make a few bucks in the process, well.... that's just the gigantic creative effort that the modern movie audience doesn't see (or care about).

Working on "Collision" did teach me one thing, when a project starts getting too big, too complicated, and too expensive in comparison with the rewards it may bring at the end, sometimes it's better for you to quit while you are ahead, learn the lessons it offered, and try something different. 

The film, much like many situations in real life, didn't really have an ending. The motorcyclist is hauled off in an ambulance, the nearby resident goes back into his house, the two car drivers go on their way.  Is a ticket issued, is the traffic light defective, will the debate among witnesses be resolved? Sounds like a perfect set up for a sequel.....

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Vehicles I Have Owned

 Here is a list of the vehicles I have owned over the years, some with photographs. 

 
1959 Chevy Truck with flat bed
 
 
1972 American Motors Gremlin
 


 Plymouth Arrow 
 
 
Plymouth Satellite
 
 
 
Isuzu diesel pick up truck
 
 
Geo Metro
 
 
Ford 150 pick up truck
 

Nissan Frontier pick up truck

Hyundai Accent
 
 
 
 


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Memories of Computers Past

Just thinking about things from a computer past:

Windows 3.1
Alta Vista
Prodigy
America Online
    (Thanks for all the free 3.5 inch floppies that I reformatted for other uses)
"You've Got Mail"  (which became a major motion picture.)
Filemaker 2.0
Texas Instruments
Vic 20
Commodore 64
Radio Shack Tandy Computer Model 4
Deskmate GUI
Macintosh 512K



Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Sam's Quantum Switch

Every so often I write a science fiction short story. I've  written a bunch of them over the years. Here is the latest one. It's called

Sam's Quantum Switch

John Laraporte is one of the big names in high technology. I have no idea what he does, and I doubt I would understand it if I did know what he does. I only met him once, but this isn't about him.

It's about Sam.

Sam is a guy I have known since college, and although he gets a little dense at times, we always got along okay. He was a theoretical physics grad, and I received a  degree in English. We played chess sometimes, and sometimes we had a beer or two, but that would usually bring out the obsession that Sam has with quantum switches.

To say that Sam was fascinated with quantum switches would be an understatement. He always really wanted me to understand what quantum switches were, what they did and why they were important, but that was always way over my head. I never was really sure whether quantum switches are actually real. They could be real things, or imaginary things or theoretical things. Sam never really made it clear.

I didn't really care, but Sam often tried to explain them to me so that I would care. Those discussions would more than likely result in a mutual putting it off to another time.

As best as I could figure out, quantum switches were important because they had something to do with the progression of time. According to Sam, they were the gatekeepers of the "what comes next." At least, that's what I got out of Sam's numerous attempts to explain them to me.

They were important to Sam, and far be it from me to question that importance.

So it was that one day  Sam and I were finishing up lunch in the cafeteria in the McCullum Building in downtown Sacramento. He had an office there up on the third floor, and we had lunch together three or four times a month. 

 "Have you seen the new article on quantum switches in this month's Science Magazine?" he asked as we walked out of the cafeteria on the ground floor. 

"No, I must have missed it," I laughed. 

"Well you should read it," he said, "important stuff going on. I have a copy of it in my office, if you want to borrow it."

I said sure. So we both got into the elevator to go up to his office, and at the last moment John Laraporte got into the elevator also and pressed the top floor button.

I could see Sam react when he realized that he was in the same elevator as John Laraporte, who just happened to be Sam's Most Admired Person on the Planet.  Apparently Laraporte was going up to the top floor to meet with some big wig in the super high tech world.

The elevator came to a stop on Sam's floor, the doors opened, and just before Sam stepped out, he paused, turned to Laraporte and said, "Quantum switches are flaky across their axis." Then he turned and went out the door, and I followed him.

Laraporte's face expressed a kind of shocked-look as the elevator doors closed.

"What was that?" I asked Sam, and he laughed and shrugged it off. "Just wanted to give him something to think about," he said.

We went into the reception area at his office, and he went inside to go get the magazine. Sam came back out and handed me the magazine. "It starts on page 47," he said.

"Does it have pictures?" I asked.
 
Just then, John Laraporte cautiously opened the door to the office, scanned the faces of those in it, and when he saw Sam, he entered and came right up to us.

"What you said on the elevator...." Laraporte told Sam, "Quantum switches aren't flaky. No one's ever found flakes."

"No one's ever looked for dimensional signature residue," Sam told him in response.

Laraporte stood silent for a moment, thinking over what Sam had said.

"Can I talk to you for a moment?" he asked.

"Sure," Sam said.

Laraporte pointed upward, "Up in my office with some of my engineers?"

Sam looked at me. "That'll be great," he said to Laraporte, standing up and heading for the door.

I tagged along with them as they rode the elevator up to Laraporte's Sacramento office, an expansive set of huge desks facing huge windows. Laraporte took Sam back into the private offices, and I saw Laraporte speak to his secretary.

Then they went into what looked like a conference room, and moments later four or five engineer-looking types converged on the door of the conference room and went in.

That left me standing in the front reception room with the receptionist looking at me. "Would you like some water?" she asked.

"No thanks," I said.

"Coffee?"

"Sure."

She pointed me to the coffee room and then went back to answering phones. I poured myself a cup and sat down. Even in the coffee room there was a chalkboard with mysterious scientific markings on it, a bunch of numbers and mathematical symbols that I had seen in various science fiction movies over the years. I got my phone out and started checking my Twitter feed.

About a half hour later, Laraporte and Sam came out of the conference room, with Laraporte heading one way and Sam seeing me in the coffee room. He came over and apologized.

"Damn, Chris, I didn't mean to leave you like that. You should have gone on home. I'm sorry but I kind of got caught up on this quantum switch stuff."

"No problem," I replied. "You okay? Looks like things are starting to happen."

The four or five engineers came out of the conference room with stacks of paper under their arms. They headed for their desks, some of them getting on their computers and the others getting on their phones.

"Yeah," Sam said. "We're flying up to Los Palomas to his main office to talk with some of his hyper-dimension experts. They want to draw up some charts and diagrams and that sort of stuff."

"So the quantum switches are real, then," I said.

He smiled. "Hope so. We're wasting a lot of computer time if they aren't." He paused. "I'll be all right, don't know when I'll get back, though. I'll give  you a call."

"Okay," I said.

He went back into the office area and started talking to one of the engineers sitting at his computer, and I headed slowly back out to the reception area.

"Thanks for the coffee," I said. The receptionist smiled and waved good-bye, and I walked into the elevator.

That was the last time I saw Sam.

The next day his landlady called me. "Hey, are you Chris? You know Sam? He left me your phone number as an emergency contact." she said.

"Yes, I am a friend of his. Is anything wrong?" I asked, concerned.

"No, well, maybe," she answered. "Some guys came by his apartment to pick up some stuff. They had the key to his apartment, told me he would be moving out at the end of the month, going to work for one of those big technology companies upstate."

"Yeah, that's not really surprising," I told her. "He was talking to one of the big wheels yesterday."

"Well they filled up two boxes of personal stuff and headed out, said somebody else would be coming to get the rest of the stuff in a couple of days," she said. "You know anybody who needs an apartment?"

I said no, then hung up the phone. It looked like Sam had found himself a new job talking about his favorite subject.

A few days later, Sam left a message on my voice mail.

"Chris, wow, things are really going great here. I'm living on campus, got my own office and lab, and the  time-manip crew is already treating me like one of the guys. Maybe you can visit me sometime... if you can pass the security clearance. Ha! I'm joking. Well, maybe not. I'll check. Call you in a few days."

That was the last time I heard from Sam.

The next day a rather important looking dude knocked on my door. He was carrying a briefcase and had a very stern look on his face.

"Can I help you?" I asked as I opened the door.

"You Chris Bryant?"

I said yes.

"You know a Sam Clarke?"

I nodded.

He entered my apartment, sat down on the sofa and proceeded to open his briefcase.
"I've got some papers here for you to sign, Mr. Bryant."

"What about?" I asked.

"This is a non-disclosure statement regarding any conversations or information you have shared with Mr. Clarke regarding his scientific inquiries."

"You mean his thing with quantum switches?" I ventured.
 
The gentlemen frowned. "Precisely that," he said. "And any other statements he may have made regarding any other technological matters in the presence of John Laraporte of Laraporte Research Inc."

"Like in the elevator," I laughed.

The gentlemen frowned again. "This is no laughing matter. Statements you may or may not have overheard are of high critical importance to national security. We need you to sign these documents contractually binding you to never discuss or mention anything regarding Mr. Clarke and Mr. Laraporte."

"No thanks. Don't think I want to sign anything like that, at least until I talk to Sam," I said.

That didn't sit well with him at all. "You won't be talking to Mr. Clarke again about these matters," the gentleman said. "You really need to sign these documents to protect yourself."

I looked at him strangely. "Look, I don't know anything about quantum switches or flaky axles or any of that stuff."

He looked alarmed. "Look, Mr. Bryant, we will pay you $50,000 to sign this non-disclosure agreement to protect us and yourself both. This matter is extremely important and a high security concern."

I thought about that for a moment. Then I politely suggested that he close his briefcase, go to the door and exit before I called the police. He did so. "Next time I talk to Sam I will tell him about you and your stupid non-disclosure agreement," I said, closing the door.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not sure that was a good idea to do that.

A few weeks later I called the main office of Laraporte Research and asked to talk to Sam, but the call didn't go through. He was busy or away from his desk. I did do an online search of his name last month, and he was listed as the Director of Level One Research with the company, so it looked like he became a very valuable employee. 

This month, though, things are different. His name is no longer on the company website, there's nothing coming up on any online search of his name, and even our old university has scrubbed any mention of him from their online records and alumni database. It's almost as if he never existed.

Sure miss those chess games and beers.




Friday, July 24, 2020

When Up Became Down

Every once in a while a civic club would request that I would come and speak to them. Since I was the local newspaper editor, they must have thought I would have something enlightening to share with them.

That was not usually the case. It had been drilled into me in journalism school to give the facts, stay objective, and don't show any favoritism. So that made a pretty dull talk whenever a group asked me to share my thoughts on things going on.

There was an opportunity that arose when the local businessmen's group asked me to address them, and instead of giving them a serious talk, I thought I would give them a humorous talk, something to make them laugh and have a better day than what all the serious information would afford them.

That, as it turned out, was not a good idea. They expected a serious talk, and when I gave them my "upside down" talk, they didn't quite know what to think of it.

The "upside down talk" had two major components.

First, it was explained that the latest scientific discoveries had revealed that up is down.

Anyone knows that when a light image passes through a convex lends, it turns the image upside down. Looking through a magnifying glass at a distant view proves that. Well, if that's the case, then the image on the back of your eyeball is upside down. Scientists had always assumed that the brain always turns the images rightside up while you are looking at it, but further research could not verify that was actually the case.

So everything we are looking at is actually upside down. That makes up, down. It also makes left, right. This means that gravity makes things fall upward.

The second component was that the direction north was actually south. When we look at a compass to see what direction we are facing, the north end of the compass needle points north. But every high school science student knows that the north end of a magnet repels the north end of another magnet, and the south end of one magnet is the one that is attracted to the north end of another magnet. So every compass on Earth has a needle where the north end points..... south.

That means the north pole is actually the south pole and that North Dakota is below South Dakota. That also flips the directions of East and West. So all those cowboy movies are actually "easterns" instead of "westerns," that the northeast United States is actually the Southwest United States and the words to the song "Buttons and Bows" are really messed up ("East is East and West is West, and the wrong ones I have chose....")

Fortunately when those two components are combined, some of the inconsistencies are made right again. But not all of them. The world in many respects is indeed upside down and we don't have to look far to realize that.




Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Northlake Welcome Center

In a never ending quest to provide people with information about St. Tammany Parish, a few friends and I opened the Northlake Welcome Center on North Causeway Approach in the mid-1980's. It was located in a small tan brick building on the east side of the major roadway, just a few blocks from Lake Pontchartrain.

We filled it with brochure racks offering brochures and business cards of a wide variety of businesses, motels, tourist attractions, real estate agents and other items of interest to people driving off the north end of the Causeway.

The Northlake Welcome Center staff included Karen Hays, myself, and a couple of others, but as time went on, those volunteers had others things to do than wait for people to walk in the door. 

It was successful at the beginning, but as time wore on, it became seasonal and the traffic dwindled. We were asking local community supporters and businesses to advertise on a monthly basis, but it wasn't enough, so we had to close the doors on the operation. 

A few years later the St. Tammany Tourist and Convention Commission opened up a tourist information center over on La. 59 north of Interstate 12, spending a lot of money on a building of considerable architectural presence, basically a backwoods camp style structure on pilings over a swamp near Koop Drive. 

It helps if tourist welcome centers have some sort of government funding in the form of a dedicated tax base, I guess. The Northlake Welcome Center did not have that and although it was fun to do and we met a lot of great people, it was just ahead of its time.