Skip to content


Have I mentioned Lamar? He’s Justin’s younger brother. He’s about 13 but you might guess he’s ten. A sweet kid, but I worry about him.

He reminds me of myself at his age, kind of quiet and a little bit shy. I was very quiet and painfully shy.

I found refuge in books, and I’ve tried to interest Lamar, but he doesn’t seem to have acquired the reading habit. His current goal in life is to be a bus-driver, and he watches in fascination as the streetcar rolls past on Canal Street.

We played Frisbee in the street for a while yesterday. He’s got no father in his life, and I sometimes find myself seeming to play a stand-in for that role. Sometimes I help him with his math homework, when the instructions are oblique enough to stump his mother. As a student in the local public schools, he’s not allowed to take any textbooks home.

He often helps us with our groceries. He knows all our cats by name and likes to say hi to them when he comes in the house. Sometimes Xy gives him a little treat, like ice cream. Today when Lamar was eating his ice cream he suggested Xy might want to make Halloween cookies. “You know,” he suggested, in his thick and slightly slurred New Orleans accent, almost incomprehensible to me, “black cats, pumpkins… You could make them tomorrow!”

He’s a walking weather report, and he can always tell you the forecast. He’s excited about Halloween. 20% chance of rain. He’s planning to dress as a clown. Xy and I have both tried to interest him a godawful velvet clown painting I plucked from a local debris pile, but Lamar has proved a tough customer.

Published inHoly DazeNeighborsNew Orleans


  1. Martha Martha

    My son attends a middle school in B. R. He has a set of books for home and school. I’m sorry Lamar can’t use his books when he needs them.

    Will he get Halloween Cookies?


  2. When we evacuated the Public Schol in Austin had a Book Police Unit. It took us 2 months to get book released to her to use.

    So New Orleans is not alone in the screwed up book policy.

  3. Jenny Rieth Jenny Rieth

    Schools now require books that aren’t included with their textbooks, which are not often available in the library–since _everyone’s_ trying to read them before the assignment is due.
    I always had materials I needed, just as part of the textbook fee at school, primary, that is..

  4. Anonymous Anonymous

    Karen’s comment interests me. Based on my experience (two children in the Austin public schools) I wouldn’t say that Austin has a strange policy regarding text books. But knowing the supply is often tight, my guess would be that the district didn’t have enough on hand to immediately supply the evacuees, and it probably took a while to get them.

    School’s hard enough already. It’s too bad when events conspire to make it even more difficult.

    Bart, it’s heart warming the way you look out for your young neighbors.

  5. stacey stacey

    I’m a teacher in Austin, and my policy is that homework is independent practice, reinforcement. I wouldn’t send it home if a kid couldn’t explain what to do or didn’t understand it. If kids are taking home heavy textbooks or spending more than 30 minutes on their work then it is time for me to reevaluate my homework plan! Textbooks are pretty boring anyway, I teach special ed… for most of my students it’s the most dry way to learn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *