Moving to da’ East (Part 4): Oyster pool party

Summer (left) sitting next to Kayla as she is about to blow out her birthday candles. Photograph courtesy of the Fletcher family.

Summer was another person in McKendall Estates that I would’ve considered my best friend. Her house was even closer than Malachi’s. Summer and I would swim in her pool in the morning, then mine in the afternoon. That was our routine during the warmer months. She was quiet, and her voice was soft. She talked to me, though. We always played computer games together, like The Sims.

Summer had an older brother, Tyrone Jr., who liked my older sister. Both of Summer’s parents were successful black people as well. Unfortunately, they didn’t return after Katrina.

Summer’s dad was Mr. Tyrone, and he always threw parties during the summer. They all seemed to be quite random. Summer would tell me about the party, or Mrs. Brenda and Mr. Tyrone would tell my parents. My mom loved that about the neighborhood as well. She said they threw the best parties, and she loved the oysters that Mr. Tyrone grilled.

I remember the time I tried oysters for the first time.

We were all in the backyard. Alicia Keys, Beyonce, and Usher were always playing. I could probably sing all of the words to those albums by heart because I heard it so much at their house. Anyways, Mr. Tyrone had a tray of raw oysters. Those were his favorites. He threw one to the back of his mouth and smiled at everyone as he tossed the shell in the trashcan.

Before he grilled the oysters, he asked me and Summer if we wanted to try them. Summer and I jumped out the pool. She grabbed one, and ate it happily. I looked at the tray, and wanted to throw up.

“Why’s it so slimy?” I asked while examining every oyster on the silver tray.

“It’s good, girl,” Mr. Tyrone laughed. “Just eat one!” His voice boomed over the music.

I shook my head. Refusing to eat it. I may have bent down to smell it because that’s something I always do when trying new food. He smiled at me some more and called my parents over.

“She’s not going to eat that,” my dad laughed.

“She’s picky,” my mom echoed as they both picked up a raw oyster and ate it.

Part 5: Denise, ‘Just do right’

Editor’s Note: This story is one of a series reprinted from the book A Guide to South Louisiana: Stories of Uncommon Culture. Each author was a student in Rachel Breunlin’s “Storytelling and Culture” course for the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans in the Spring of 2017. The Neighborhood Story Project sponsored the project as part of its mission to publish collaborative ethnography in high quality books in which the authors receive royalties for their creative labor.


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