Sunday, April 30, 2006
This Article appeared in the Times-Picayune’s Readers’ Recollections in the Lagniappe Dining Guide.
New Orleans: ‘My old Gentilly home’
Upon returning home to Kenner after the storm, I set out to explore my old neighborhood, Gentilly. Tears flowed as mile after mile of memories passed my car windows: my grammar school, my high school, the places I played, the places I ate so many good meals.
Water must have been to the roof of The Bakery on Franklin Avenue. I looked at the upstairs apartment of my good friend, Gary “Koz” Gruenig, and wondered where he was. Did he and his family get out? On subsequent trips to the old neighborhood, I still saw no signs of life. Then one glorious day, there was a car in the lot and the upstairs door was open. Sheetrock was flying out.
I called out for Koz, and his lovely wife, Shawn, answered. My name never sounded so good. She told me the Gruenigs were all OK and that Koz had opened a shop in Harahan.
He never looked so good as when I walked in that sandwich shop on Wilson Street. The place was filled with people telling storm tales and remembering old times. Gary might as well call the place “My Old Gentilly Home.”
Koz was holding court behind a counter. Smiling and moving with a speed that denies his size, my old friend saw me, called my name, and hugged the devil out of me. Then he looked at me and asked, “Roast beef, lettuce and mayo with a potato salad on the side?” I was home. We were home. We were back. Thank the Lord.
And, of course, the sandwich was the same as the one I have had all my, our, life.
Kenner, owner of the Port of Call