Thursday, December 26, 2019

the last book I ever read (The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom, excerpt three)

from National Book Award winner The Yellow House: A Memoir by Sarah M. Broom:

From the beginning, no one could agree on what to call the place. But namelessness is a form of naming. It was a vast swath of land, more than 40,000 acres. Some people called it Gentilly East, others plain Gentilly. Show-offs called it Chantilly, supposedly after French-speaking city founders. It was called the area “east of the Industrial Canal,” “Orleans East,” or just “eastern New Orleans.” Some people called it by their neighborhood names, what used to be: Orangedale or Citrus. Pines Village, Little Woods, or Plum Orchard. My generation would call it the East.

Big Texas money bought a single name that stuck: its vast cypress swamps were acquired by a single firm, New Orleans East Inc., formed by Texas millionaires Toddie Lee Wynne and Clint “Midas Touch” Murchison, one of whom owned the Dallas Cowboys, both of whom owned oil companies. Everything, they felt, could be drained. “Like the early explorers, New Orleans now gazes out over its remaining underdeveloped acreage to the east,” Ray Samuel, a local advertising man hired by New Orleans East Inc., wrote in a promotional pamphlet. “Here lies the opportunity for the city’s further expansion, toward the complete realization of its destiny.” That was the dream.

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