My pencil drawings of New Orleans represent familiar venues and activities that play important roles in Emo Talmadge and Tyler Monroe's lives. The dynamic challenges of these two teenage boys unfold in the heart of New Orleans' fabled French Quarter and throughout the city, an unfolding that speaks of the past and yet it also compounds the present.
Bourbon Street in the heart of the Vieux Carré, the old square, is a street that Tyler Monroe practically calls home. For him, Rue Bourbon becomes more than just a pathway for tourists and sightseers to emerge into the decadence and bawdiness of the street. Rather it is Tyler's new life, carved out of a need for survival and sanity. Tyler sees not the bright, flashing neons but rather the light of hope and salvation
The Garden District with its beautiful old antebellum homes reminds both Emo and Tyler of the ways of the old south. Although admired for its beauty and charm, this section of New Orleans represents to them the disparity between the peoples that exist in the south at the time; a separation that had ironically formed their unique and lasting bonding in the first place.
Jackson Square, in the heart of the Vieux Carré is the major gathering place for French Quarter residents and tourists alike. It is here that Tyler Monroe begins his new life in the Quarter after a tumultuous struggle to survive. It is here on the streets surrounding the square where Tyler quickly learns the vital lessons of life. And it is here where Miss Essy changes his life that eventually leads to the revolutionary conversion of this young, frightened and confused teen into a man, thrown into the role too early and too late.
A French Quarter Courtyard reflects some of the more beautiful and unique aspects of the old square. It is in a courtyard similar to this one where Emo Talmidge achieves the pure victory over adversity. But within time he comes to find his meaningful life suddenly transformed into a pattern of confusion, panic and heartbreak. However, the courtyard eventually helps to serve as a tenuous guiding path toward normalcy although there is always lurking that element of darkness.
The Second Line, a dixieland marching band that leads the mourners to the cemetery with a sorrowful tune, but then upon burial reverses the mood with lively jazz songs to help celebrate the soul of the departed's rise into heaven. Tyler Monroe admires the band members and their talents. He too envisions being in such a band and yet that dream becomes entangled with reality and the second line becomes but a forgotten escape.
The Mississippi Steamboat is a magical view into New Orelans' past. The paddle boats brought goods and visitors to the Queen City of the South. Emo and Tyler would enjoy sitting on the banks of the big river and dream the dreams of youth as steamboats cruised past taking riverboat guest on their journey up and down the mighty Mississippi.
The St. Charles Streetcar, a fixture in New Orleans since 1884, is one of Emo's favorite things to do. With the window open, the breeze from the moving streetcar would ruffle his hair and bring in the aromas of the Garden District, Audubon Park and the many restaurants along the way. Emo treasures these moments as a form of escapism; moments that remain in his mind through troubled times.
The Bridge in City Park is the one landmark Emo and Tyler favor, as it reminds them of their beloved Yorkley Bayou back in Frampton. This and Audubon Park are the two venues Emo seeks when outings are offered, for the parks provide the joys and pleasures so desperately needed in his life.