Friday, October 2, 2015

Louisiana: Neutral Ground and Buggies

Rustavi, Caucasus Georgia. View from the boulevard. September 2011.

Neutral ground

A couple of weeks ago, two acquaintances talked about Crowley and the wide expanse of its Main Street, mentioning the neutral ground. I smiled inside, feeling pleased that I actually knew what they meant when they said "neutral ground."

This is only because, back when I first moved here, a native North Louisianan had told me that the "neutral ground" is what South Louisianans (really, more specifically, perhaps folks in New Orleans) call medians. Which is what Midwesterners like me call that (often) grassy strip of grass that divides a highway or thoroughfare.

Some New Orleans people attempt to explain the history of the neutral ground below:


By the way, here's an old movie of downtown Crowley from 1915:

And here's what downtown looked like after a 1940 flood:


Horse-drawn or baby-carrying, right? Or vehicles you drive over sandy hills?

True enough. But in South Louisiana, a buggy is what Midwesterners call a grocery cart or shopping cart. I didn't know anything about this until I was checking out at a Champagne's (shawm-pines) grocery store, and the cashier asked me if I needed help with my buggy.

Perplexed, I asked, "What?"

She repeated her question.

While my brain gears slowly rotated in search for meaning, she realized I wasn't from here and translated for me.

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