A Bitch, A Bastard and A Bar

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Posted Tue, Apr 27, 2010

NEW ORLEANS – In the golden age of New Orleans, Bourbon Street was tinged with the silver service of fancy restaurants and the jubilant melodies of brass instruments resonating down the alleys, easily seducing many couples to its vivacious heart. The tourists, the sailors, the locals and common folk strolled from bar to bar, cat house to cat house, or jazz lounge to jazz lounge, smearing their presence amongst New Orleans’ streets. 

 Slipping into the present, the Mardi-Gras infused sex charade most know New Orleans for, replaces the grandeur of the past, now reminisced by old locals with casual exchanges of pleasantries and framed photos on bar walls.

 Walking down Chartres Street, away from the Bourbon Street melee, a loud voice rumbles into the street; a yell really. Entering the door, stepping into New Orleans past, and hoping to quench your curiosity, you will know why New Orleans has many masks, or at least many characters.

 Remembering the old days, Frank, the Old Bastard, tells tales of history converged with the present. You would not know his happiness by the look on his crumbled and crinkled face until he told you a story. Thoughts of a curmudgeon come to mind first. However, his character is as charming as the bar he maintains now for his love, Francis Evelyn Redman.

 “When the boys got off the ship, they needed a place to kick it,” Old Bastard said.

 Sailors would come in off the ocean, tired from duty and needing some discharge, and frequent establishments they could relate to, like Evelyn’s Place.

 “They had different bars for different languages,” Old Bastard said. “They had Greek bars, they had French bars, Italian bars. We got stuck with the English. So in order for them to identify it, they named it Stonehenge, after the rock formation in England.”

 But such stories about Evelyn’s Place and its’ patrons are merely history. A sweet and touching story about Old Bastard and Redman, aka the Old Bitch, rarely is spoken of to outsiders due to Old Bastards ways. However, it is a quirky one.

 Running away from her home in Tennessee, Redman found work at a bar called “TV Lounge,” the first bar in New Orleans with a television which happened to be across the street from Old Bastards restaurant. The story goes, Old Bastards employees were taking breaks over at “TV Lounge,” coming back buzzed, late or both, and he wanted to know why. Like any honest restaurant owner concerned for his own customers, Old Bastard crossed the street to check on his wait staff where Redman was working, hopefully corralling them back to his restaurant. Redman, noticing Old Bastards’ actions, became lippy, saying he was stealing her customers and tried to throw him out. Instead, an on-and-off-again 40 year relationship ensued.

 “Mostly bickering…they were like two of the same people,” Kristine the bartender said. “That’s why she’s the Old Bitch and he’s the Old Bastard.”

 As the new romance grew with great pulchritude, so did Redman’s desire to have her own place. The seedy selection that Redman made is the location now residing on Chartres Street. Her being 20 plus years his junior, Redman was persistent with her desires.

 “How to hook a young lady, buy her a business,” Kristine said.

 The then 40-year-old Bastard was talked into, by Redman, buying her a place of her own. She did not want to work for anyone any more.

 But as the years came and went, and Redman and Old Bastard grew older, time caught up to Redman in February, 2007. She died at the age of 59.

 Not to be under minded by the local press, Old Bastard had some last words about her death.

 “I told people that the obituary had to read that the Old Bitch died,” Old Bastard said. “But they wouldn’t run the word ‘bitch’ in the obituary. I told them that if they didn’t run the word ‘bitch’ then no one would know who I was talking about.”

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