Saturday, August 29, 2009

Uncle Smitty and Mardi Gras

Uncle Smitty was the coolest man I ever knew.

In an earlier blog I mentioned that he owned Smith's Records on St. Charles Avenue. It was down the street from my grandmother's apartment, so when I took the streetcar to see her, I always dropped in to Uncle Smitty's store to listen to the records.

He also had a recording studio ... Instant Records (later called Minute Records). He recorded all the greats in New Orleans: Irma Thomas, Benny Spellman, Ernie (Mother-In-Law)K. Doe, Robert (Barefootin)Parker, The Nevilles ... even the early Kings (Benny and B.B). I got to meet many of them and even was backstage later in high school at a concert that Uncle Smitty produced for Janis Joplin.

Pretty cool, huh?

As cool as Uncle Smitty was in the record industry, he was as dorky as my dad was at home. His daughter Leslie and I used to have to get dressed up in these awful Mardi Gras costumes for the parades. One year we were bunnies ... I was blue and she was pink. Another year it was some kinda Chinese clown costumes ... got movies to prove it. And we weren't three years old ... more like seven.

Parades were great ... even dressed as dorks. Aaron Mintz was one of my parent's friends. I was never sure how he did it every year ... but he always rode a great big horse to lead off the Rex parade ... dressed as a Krewe knight. He would save me a big bag of beads that he'd hand off to me when I'd run up to his horse.

He rode in every parade I remember when I was growing up ... until he murdered his wife. Then they wouldn't let him ride any more.

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