“…All the Savoir Faire of the Old School…”

I was cleaning up my cube today and ran across a stack of papers left over from some genealogy research I did a few years ago.  I took a look at an obituary, my great-great grandfather’s brother (great-great grand uncle?), Paul ______, from 1898.

I guess I hadn’t paid much attention to it after I had copied it. Reading it now, it strikes me that they sure knew how to write an obit back then. I knew very little about him, as I had concentrated my research only on my direct line of ancestors on my father’s side.  But I learned a few things, and hope someone writes as well about me when the time comes.

The deceased at the time of his death was 65 years and 8 months old, and had been a resident of the city of New Orleans for over half a century. Born in the city of Paris, France, the deceased came to the Crescent City when quite a youth and soon entered the cotton business.

In all his business associations, the deceased was proven to be a man of the strictest commercial integrity, and as his experiences were grounded on close personal relations at home and abroad, it is not surprising that his work was always marked by gratifying  conclusions.

He was living at 1726 Carondolet at the time. Looking at the Google street view, that address is now a parking lot at the downtown riverside corner of Polymnia, surrounded by empty lots and abandoned buildings, your basic Central City shithole of an area.

That’s too bad; for he must have had a fine home. The obit notes:

The deceased’s home existence was particularly delightful. Himself a man of high artistic tastes, the deceased surrounded himself with all those elements that render domestic living additionally charming. Mr. _____ came from a distinguished ancestry, one of his uncles being a gallant soldier, a colonel in the French army, who died on the field of battle, and another an artist of note, whose works have frequently adorned the walls of the Louvre.

Some of the above information is incorrect. His father (my great-great-great grandfather), not his uncle—although there may have been an uncle in the military as well, there were many siblings—was a colonel in the French Army. He died not on the field of battle, but in Piraeus, Greece, of typhus en route to the Crimea in 1855.  There was an uncle, Amedee _____ who was an artist. Whether his work hung in the Louvre or not I don’t know, it’s quite possible. We do know some of his work is in the collection at Versailles, though, and we own a portrait he painted of who we believe to be either my great-great or great-great-great grandfather, in complete military regalia.

Which brings us to the title of today’s post. As if all of this very complimentery prose was not enough, the obituary writer added:

The deceased was personally a gentleman of the most charming character. He had all of the savoir faire of the old school about him, and was highly thought of socially.

Which leads me to a difficult conclusion. I’m going to have to write my own obituary, and adopt a lot of my great-great grand uncle Paul’s. Either that, or write something along the lines of Royal Tenenbaum’s fictional eptitaph:

Died Tragically Rescuing His Family From The Remains Of A Destroyed Sinking Battleship.

Any suggestions?

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One Response to “…All the Savoir Faire of the Old School…”

  1. rcs on January 9, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    … that address is now a parking lot at the downtown riverside corner of Polymnia, surrounded by empty lots and abandoned buildings, your basic Central City shithole of an area.

    Those lots are used for parking by (politically-connected and parasitic) New Hope Ministries in the 1600 block, who most probably razed the houses standing there (including your ancestor’s.) They’re filled during Wednesday and Sunday services.

    Other buildings on that side of Carondelet were razed for parking by restaurants on St. Charles in the late 90s. A shame that the area is so poorly used; that section of Central City was a densely-packed mixed-use district until the 60s.

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