World War II Museum

It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog post. I haven’t written since the 1st of the year! Life’s been pretty boring, and I haven’t been doing anything too exciting. But today, I visited the National World War II museum in New Orleans for the first time.

I have heard for years about what a great museum it is. It is actually the number 1 rated tourist attraction in New Orleans on Trip Advisor. But I had never visited until today. The museum is very well done with lots of exhibits. I learned a lot, but could go back and learn so much more. Because I was visiting with my family (including my seven year old daughter), I did not have the time to read all the information or watch all of the videos. A history buff could easily spend a whole day there.

I took a lot of pictures.

At the start of the museum, you can get a dog tag card. You board the train and are able to scan your card to learn one particular person’s story during the war. Each card is unique, so if your family gets multiple cards, you can follow the stories of multiple people. Throughout the museum, there are places where you can scan your dog tag and learn more about that person’s journey. My daughter enjoyed this interactive feature. The museum also provides each person with their own stylus to use on the touch screen displays instead of your finger!

While I was well aware of the United States’ extreme reluctance to join the war (prior to Pearl Harbor), I had no idea how small our army was compared to other countries at the time. The U.S. was 18th in the world in terms of armed forces during the 1930’s.

Throughout the museum, the stories and artifacts from particular soldiers was shared. Personal anecdotes, a copy of a journal, a uniform, etc. give a real view of how the war affected individuals. I liked seeing this poem written by a high school senior from the Westbank (where I grew up).

It is so interesting to learn about how everyone in the U.S. contributed to the war effort. Women took over the factory jobs for men to make the supplies needed. And of course, women served overseas also.

The museum did not shy away from the discussion of racism in America and how it was during wartime. There were definitely inconsistencies in our nation’s own practices and the fight to stop the evils associated with extreme racism by the enemy. But it took all of our nation (black, white, Latino, Chinese, Native American, etc.) to win this war. The Japanese interment camps are a particularly sad part of our history at that time.

The Four Freedoms

I learned that the Merchant Marines suffered the highest casualty rate of any branch of the armed forces.

The museum spans across several buildings and several floors. The buildings are connected by walkways that go over the street below. In one of the buildings, there are two separate immersive exhibits – The Road to Tokyo and The Road to Berlin. Each one gave detailed information about the battles fought on the two different fronts (in the East and in the West). I call them immersive, because the exhibits were designed to showcase the unique landscape of each battle.

There is a huge gallery (four stories high) that houses planes and other vehicles used during the war. You can climb all the way to the top to look down at the planes, also, but we didn’t do that for two reasons. 1) a museum employee warned us that it can be quite scary up there for those scared of heights and 2) the elevator was not working, so we would have had to take the stairs!

An interesting interactive exhibit gave you ethical dilemmas that had to be made during the war. First, you watch a video explaining the pros and cons of making the decision. Then you vote with what you would do. The statistics are put up on the screen of how your group and visitors in general voted. Next, you watch another video telling you what actually happened and how it turned out. My daughter and I are definitely not cut out to make those difficult wartime decisions.

We also watched the 4-D movie, Beyond All Boundaries, narrated by Tom Hanks. You buy tickets for this when you purchase admission. It is an immersive theater experience with props on stage with the screens. There are also special effects, such as gun shots, your seat shaking, snow, etc. There is a warning before you enter that it may be a difficult experience for those with sensory issues or post traumatic stress. The movie was very powerful, but a bit much for my daughter, who had to cover her eyes several times. It is an emotional journey through the war, bringing to life some aspects in a way that can’t be seen just through the exhibits. I definitely recommend attending the show if you visit the museum.

We also had lunch at The American Sector, the restaurant located in the museum. I needed a fork and knife to tackle this po-boy, but it was quite tasty.

Peach BBQ pulled pork po-boy.

We did not go to the main museum store across the street, which in addition to souvenirs and World War II memorabilia had super-cute vintage style clothing. We did pass by the two stores located in the museum, however. Among all of the Rosie the Riveter merchandise, I found this awesome shirt and had to take a picture.

After leaving the museum, we headed down the street to the Higgins Hotel, where my brother-in-law works. The hotel is World War II themed and very nice.

Playing General Patton’s piano

I hope you enjoyed my pictures from the National World War II museum in New Orleans. It is an excellent museum, and I definitely recommend that you visit!

LSU Rural Life Museum

On Sunday, I visited the LSU Rural Life Museum for the first time. I’ve been to other things on the property such as the corn maze at Burden and Arbor Day celebrations, but I had never went to the museum before. It was the perfect place to visit during the pandemic because most of the museum is out in the open air. There were few visitors and it was really easy to spread out. Most of the time, it felt like we were the only ones there.

There were several rooms inside that we explored first. They were full of all kinds of objects from southern Louisiana that show what life was like in the past.

There was a lot of historical information on slavery and plantation life.

There was clothing and art.

Model T with Mike the Tiger on the side

There is lots to see if you are interested in historical artifacts. It’s fun to see local history also.

After exploring the indoor rooms, you go outside. The majority of the museum consists of many historical buildings which have been relocated here. They come from various parts of the state, but represent many different parts of rural life. There are slave cabins, a post office, a school, country houses, barns, and more.

If you love history and southern Louisiana culture, I definitely recommend a visit to the Rural Life Museum when visiting Baton Rouge. There are also other things to see on the property, including gardens and trails. We finished our visit with a stop at the playground towards the front of the property.

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

I spent the past three days in New Orleans attending a conference. Yesterday, I had some extra time between sessions during my lunch break and decided to walk into the French Quarter to visit the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, since I had never been there.

It is the perfect size museum for a short, lunch break visit. It is located on two floors, so not accessible to those who can’t climb a big flight of stairs. There are lots of interesting exhibits and plenty of fascinating information.

There were many tools used by both pharmacists and doctors, illustrating the evolution of medicine.

It was interesting to read about the use of certain substances for medicinal purposes that are now considered illicit or still being studied, such as marijuana and heroin. It was especially interesting reading about the problems with prescription opiod addiction in the 19th century, in light of the current crisis our nation is facing.

There was an even an exhibit on alcohol and spirits used medicinally. Pictured below is a prescription for alcohol written during prohibition.

The shelves were filled with all different sorts of medicines, arranged by the type of ailments they treated.

Here is a leech jar. Thankfully, there were no leeches in the museum. I have always had quite the irrational fear of leeches.

Pharmacies also used to be soda fountains.

The museum is full of interesting facts and history.

There was even a section on voodoo medicine, which of course has a strong history in New Orleans.

The topics covered in the small museum are quite thorough.

I feel like I learned a lot with all of the exhibits.

There is even a nice little courtyard located at the back of the museum.

If you are visiting the French Quarter, I definitely think it is an interesting place to spend an hour or so, if you like museums. It costs only $5 for general admission, which is worth it for all the cool things you get to see.

Elsie’s Plate and Pie Review

Elsie’s Plate and Pie is one of the best restaurants in Baton Rouge. If you haven’t been yet, do yourself a favor and go. Especially if you like pie. And who doesn’t like pie?

Last night, I went with my husband and daughter. I ordered a seasonal special which was pork tenderloin with a blueberry pepper jelly sauce and some roasted Brussels sprouts. I swear, they were the tastiest Brussels sprouts I have ever had. The house salad dressing is a pepper jelly vinaigrette. Yum.

Portions are generous. I saved half of my entree for leftovers (and so I could eat some pie)! They accidentally brought an adult size catfish entree to my daughter instead of the kid version. There were five whole fillets of catfish on a plate of fries. My daughter still put a pretty big dent in that plate of food.

And then, of course, there is the pie! They serve an assortment of savory and sweet pies. My husband’s entree was a Louisiana seasoned chicken pot pie that he loved. The tomato pie is a favorite of mine. They also have meat and seafood pies.

Last night, we had two sweet pies – a s’mores pies and a cherry hand pie. Both were delicious. In fact, everything that I have ever ordered at Elsie’s has been delicious. You can get lemon meringue, coconut cream, and even pie nachos!

Elsie’s Plate and Pie is a great casual mid-city dining destination. It is worth the drive, even if you are not normally in that neighborhood. The menu is diverse with far more than pie available. If you haven’t already, check it out!

Adventures with Snowballs

Snowballs. The quintessential New Orleans summertime treat. If you are from somewhere else in the country and think that a snow cone or shave ice is the same thing as a snowball, you are sadly mistaken. Snowball ice is fine, fluffy, delicious and uniquely New Orleans. My absolute favorite snowball flavor is nectar or nectar cream. I don’t know what is in it, but it is delicious. My second go-to is an ice cream or ice cream cream flavored snowball. The cream flavors are the best because they are extra creamy!

I’ve always wanted to work my way through every snowball flavor on the list at my local snowball stand, but I don’t go often enough and can’t resist falling back on my favorite flavors. Maybe one day I will get around to it. Last month, I did decide, however, to try a few different specialty snowballs to see what the fuss was about. You can get snowballs with toppings or stuffed with ice cream or cheesecake. The closest stand to my house in Baton Rouge is Snoman Snowballs. It is the blue building pictured above with my favorite flavors. I recently tried one of their unique flavors, Snoman’s cream, and added sprinkles on top! The flavor was sweet, similar to wedding cake. The sprinkles were a fun touch. Next time, I may try gummy bears.

Another snowball stand that I frequent is Cool Tiger Ice Snowballs in Baton Rouge. They are open year-round as long as the weather is above 70 degrees. They have a drive thru line, although it can get long at popular times. If you follow them on Facebook, you will see some of the specials and unique things they offer. I’ve had a snowball in a pineapple, which is a decadent treat. I also recently had a pineapple upside down cake snowball, which was drizzled with a homemade sauce and fresh pineapple. I also tried my first cheesecake stuffed snowball from Cool Tiger Ice. They use a special homemade cheesecake, and it was very good. When looking for a cheap and tasty treat to cool off during the hot Louisiana days, however, nothing beats a plain old nectar snowball. If you are visiting south Louisiana, you have got to try one!