Today Wayne and I are in New Orleans. Just for one night as we transition from cruise mode back to regular life mode. Tomorrow we’ll return home.
New Orleans holds a special fascination for me. When I was little my grandma would tell me stories of her life growing up there. Apparently it was someplace near the French Quarter.
She never spoke much about her father. I don’t know if he died when she was young or if her parents were divorced or if he split on them. She only spoke of her mother, whom she called Ma Mere, and her beloved sister, Laura, who she called La La.
I remember her telling me how she loved to dance. Every weekend she and La La went to some pavillon where a band played and they could dance the night away.
That’s where she met my grandfather. Ferdinand was a student attending the university. He was from Mexico. I don’t know if Ma Mere disapproved or what, but for some reason my grandma and grandpa decided to elope.
Funny, now that I think about it like that, I’ve sort of been tracing my heritage on my mom’s side this whole trip. Our cruise took us to Mexico. Not actually the parts where my grandpa was from or where he and my grandma lived, but maybe once upon a time they visited the same areas too? I wish she was around for me to ask.
I also wish she was around for me to ask about Pearl. That might be a painful memory, though.
I was ten before I even learned my mom had had a sister named Pearl. Who I later learned preferred to be called Lisa.
I call her Pearl, because when my mom and grandma did start speaking of her in front of me, that’s how they referred to her. And when they spoke of her the one thing that always came up was how beautiful she was. That’s what everyone I’ve ever asked who knew her would remark about first and foremost.
“What a beauty, Courtney. She had the kind of beauty Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor were known for. She was always classy and dressed to the nines.”
If she hadn’t been murdered I might have gotten to see her beauty for myself. Sadly, someone shot her in the head in the parking lot of a hospital.
I don’t know when exactly. Some say it was before I was born. Some say it was just right after I was born.
And no one knows why. The first version I heard had it that Pearl was mistaken for her daughter, Gary, who’s husband had been fooling around with a cop’s wife. The cop caught them in the act and shot Gary’s husband in his head. He actually ended up surviving. Pearl was bringing Gary a change of clothes, because she stayed by his side at the hospital. (Later, after he recovered, they did divorce, though.)
Another story has it she was involved with the mafia. Either she had threatened to bust someone on something, or she was trying to game someone on something. Either way she messed with the wrong people and they took her out.
I might never know the truth. There’s only two parts of the story everyone agrees on.
- It wasn’t a mugging gone wrong. No one stole anything from her. Not the jewelry she was wearing or her purse. They just shot her in the head and left her for dead.
- That her case was sealed.
I’d like to verify that second part some day. How can you seal a cold case? As far as I know no one was ever charged in her murder, so why would they seal it?
I’d also like to visit the hospital where she was shot, if it still exists. And her resting place. Trouble is, I don’t have much contact with all the people I can ask. They’d find it odd I was contacting them at all, and then to ask about Pearl’s death…that’s always been a touchy topic.
Yet I’ve always wanted to know more about her. She’s always been such a mystery. Perhaps while we’re in New Orleans my ancestors will find a way to lead me to some of the answers I’ve so desperately longed to have.