lovely paper

I have been roaming the FQ over the last few days, off from work for a week and with a car at my disposal. Car rented from the nice Hertz people at the Omni Hotel at Royal and St. Louis-well in the garage on the Chartres side. (It’s the only car rental counter in the FQ, and has nice staff who chat about all types of things with you although I DO wish Mr. Hertz would staff it everyday and stop being forgetful about taking the gas up fee off, but other than that, hurrah for all of the Hertz family and that does include little Hal Hertz and even Minnie Hertz who is still a bit whiny.) The car means Maddie the Cartoon Dog gets to come along and take a perambulation along her streets, happily poking her head in shops and smelling people’s shoes.
Between parking successfully and taking advantage of Golden Lantern’s drink prices, one of the things I have indulged in recently-while on my 2-3 trips to FQ-is paper.
Oh I love paper. I love to write notes or to send letters or to drop a card with some satsumas to someone’s door before they come home, so they can find it after (maybe) a bad day or just a ho-hum day.
This may be the only true manner that my Southern mother drilled in me. Well, I do say yes ma’am to older women and could curtsey still but since I haven’t had a dress on since the 1990s, it’s a lost art in my repertoire.
And you would think I had lovely penmanship they way I go on, but no, I lost that early in life and substituted nothing in its place. Maybe the beautiful paper is to make up for that loss.
So, paper. I almost always buy some beautiful cards at Nadine Blake’s on Royal. Her store is lovely, she and her “staff” both. And to have a store that takes serious care and delight with their window displays is a treat to those of us who remember the days of many of those type of store owners throughout the Quarter. There I buy greenery tropical cards, drinking quote cards, single funny birthday cards and the last time I bought a silver crescent moon that I when I returned home I immediately hung on the end of my ceiling fan pull chain.
After spending hour(s) there, I usually walk 2 blocks to the corner of Dumaine and Royal to my Florentine paper supply place, Papier Plume. Yes, Italian paper. I went to Florence in 2008 and was dazzled by the many, many things that Italian artisans still make. Paper, leather goods, textiles, cars, scooters, coffee makers, long underwear- the list goes on and on.
I bought paper while there and used it so sparingly because when would I be able to return for more? Then one day, I saw the same design through a window in my hometown and walked inside this magic place. Papier Plume also does calligraphy and wedding invitations and has lovely pens and (my latest addition) sealing wax and stampers. If you see an envelope with a blue owl or a red sun on the flap in your door, do know where it came from. Especially if food comes with..
The third is the dynamic sister store Ragin Daisy on Dumaine and Chartres. These two ladies are destined to be legends with their charming personalities and dry wit. They have such cool stuff; this is where I get journals and sometimes find boxes of vintage-styled postcards.
(I also use the tourist store at the corner of Camp and Magazine for cheap FQ postcards when I want to send a bunch of news out, like for a party. I think they are 10 for 100 there, don’t pore over the clichés too much; it’s better to just embrace the tacky once in a while.)
And you can stop by Historic New Orleans Collection’s gift shop on Royal, past Toulouse. You can get some oyster cards or maybe a lovely map. And view the collection and talk to the nice docent and gift shop ladies who are of a type, it’s true but still part of our gumbo. Just maybe not part of the dirty rice.
And finally, I will always give you a heads up to go see Gnome on Barracks and Decatur for many, many inspired finds. They will surely have moleskin journals and plain ol paper journals and probably some pens and you will be absolutely be fortified by the sense that good design is an important part of any ordered life.
Then go home and practice your penmanship.

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About DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

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