City celebrates life of Fats with jubilant parade
Eli’s coming and the damncats will be hiding more than just their hearts.
It has been a busy week. Preparing for a visit from grandson Eli, his mom and dad has triggered top-to-bottom deep fall cleaning at our house. Our daughter told us not to worry, that they will be happy for a respite from the cold, gray windy weather that arrived days ago in Milwaukee. My wife did not hear it.
The time in New Orleans has coincided with the celebration of Fats Domino’s life. Since his death October 24, WWOZ, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage station, has been awash with his music as have other public and corporate stations hereabouts.
There was a huge second line parade celebrating Domino on Wednesday, starting in the Bywater neighborhood near the French Quarter and walking to Domino’s home in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward.
It was the home where he was rescued after Katrina after several days’ speculation that he had been drowned by the rushing wall of water that poured through the wall breached in the nearby industrial canal. He was brought out by a Coast Guard helicopter whose crew had helped him from the home’s second floor where he and family members found successful refuge from the rising waters.
During the initial deadly aftermath of the hurricane, news that Fats Domino had survived became at the time a cause for celebration among city residents scattered in distant cities and clinging to every scrap of news about their hometown, desperate to hear something good. There was a measure of comfort in knowing that the man, whose constant, beaming and infectious smile seemed to emanate simply from his own pleasure at seeing people enjoy hearing him so much, would sing and smile again.
Fats Domino was a beloved figure for many reasons but none moreso in New Orleans than his choice to remain in the city and in the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood where he was born and raised. He was so New Orleans that he was not happy any time he had to leave the city, though his tremendously successful career would have allowed him to live wherever he chose.
“He stayed right there in the hood, ya know what I mean?” — Wednesday second line parader interviewed by NPR.