Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Trip on the “WABAC” Machine

Do you remember Peabody and Sherman? “Mr. Peabody is a fictional dog who appeared in the late 1950s and early 1960s television animated series Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show…Peabody appeared in the Peabody's Improbable History segments…Each episode of Peabody's Improbable History begins with the dog's greeting, ‘Peabody, here.’ The premise each week was to introduce Sherman (Ed Note: Peabody’s pet boy) to real history.
For that purpose, Peabody has constructed the WABAC (pro-nounced
‘wayback’) machine. The WABAC is a take-off on early computer acronyms such as UNIVAC and ENIAC. The WABAC is a time machine used by Peabody and Sherman to travel back in time…” ( “The duo would venture into their time machine…and visit historic places and events only to discover that their assistance was necessary to make history turn out according to the history books” (

Entering Napoleon House in New Orleans is like traveling on the
WABAC. The walls haven’t seen paint in eons unknown. Along St. Louis Street, wide doors open to the outside. Ceiling fans move the often hot and heavy air. An antique bar (photo #1) is the predominant feature along one wall. And along the back wall (Ignore that modern invention – the pay phone.) is a small alcove that would provide a discrete location to hatch nefarious plots. This is my favorite place in all New Orleans.

“Few places capture the essence of New Orleans like the Napoleon House: A 200-year-old landmark that's as casual and unique as its French Quarter surroundings. The building's first occupant, Nicholas Girod, was mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck, and since then, the Napoleon House has become one of the most famous bars in America, a haunt for artists and writers throughout most of the 20th century” (

“A great story, isn’t it? But Frommers debunks the story:
“Folklore has it that the name of this place derives from a bit of wishful thinking: Around the time of Napoleon's death, a plot was hatched here to snatch the Little Corporal from his island exile and bring him to live in New Orleans. The third floor was added expressly for the purpose of providing him with a home. Alas, it probably isn't true: The building dates from a couple of years after Napoleon's
death. But let's not let the truth get in the way of a good story, or a good hangout, which this is at any time of day, but particularly late at night, when it's dark enough to hatch your own secret plans” (

“In 1914, Joseph Impastato started renting the building for $20 a month. He ran a grocery store on the bottom floor, while living with his brothers and sisters in the upstairs quarters. In 1920, Joseph bought the property for $14,000. Along with the grocery store, Joseph opened a tavern, which seemed to be favorable to the river workers and local businessmen, serving drinks and playing opera and classical music from his Victrola...when Peter Impastato, Joseph's son, came back to New Orleans after serving in the United States Army, Joseph offered him the business…With the Girod House gaining reputability, the vision of Joseph providing a stylish service to the French Quarter, and Peter being a humble and compassionate host, the Napoleon House cultivated an environment of welcome and peace, making it a representation of the laid back culture of New Orleanians” (

But, alas, all good things must come to an end, and it is time to take WABAC back to the future. And Chuck and I find ourselves in Twenty-first Century New Orleans and looking for an afternoon break. And what better way than with a Pimm’s Cup – or two.

‘Nothing beats a glass of Pimms on a summer’s day. The British beverage is almost as much a tradition as the cup of tea, and the British down the gin-based drink by the gallon during the summer months….Rewind back to a London oyster bar in the 1840s where owner James Pimm invented the thirst-quencher. Using gin, quinine and a secret mixture of herbs, good old Pimm served up the brew as an aid to digestion, dishing it out in a small tankard and the No. 1 Cup moniker was born” (

The menu posted on Napoleon House’s web site gives their
recipe—with the proviso that it will never taste as good as that you drank there. “Fill a tall 12 oz glass with ice and add 1-1/4 oz. Pimm's #1 and 3 oz lemonade. Then top off with 7up. Garnish with cucumber.” Sit back. Relax. Enjoy.

Here we are. Drinking a British concoction in a city with its Spanish and French history and in a building (I still believe) that was to have housed a French emperor.

Now this happened to be the same day that I threw three-quarters of THE WORST POOR BOY
EVER into the trash and I was hungry. A mid-afternoon snack was in order and I happily munched on the Café Charcuterie—a selection of two sausages, two patès, two mustards, olives, gherkins, and warm bread.

It’s time to catch the shuttle back to the RV park, but first we took a moment to pay homage to the bust of Napoleon behind the bar. As I said back on December 19, 2011, I really love this 5.0 Addie spot.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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