When I returned from the war you could not buy a new automobile. They had just begun to convert the car factories back from tanks, airplanes and jeeps. I found a 1931 Model A Ford down on a lot south of town and bought it for $350.00. This was the car we called the “Jet Job”. It was, however, not suitable for a honeymoon trip, so my brother and sister-in law loaned us their 1941 Buick. It was a great car; ten years had made a lot of difference in the design of automobiles.
On Sunday morning, January 12th, we left for New Orleans. That night we stayed in the Rice Hotel in Houston. It was constructed in 1912 on the site of the former Capitol building of the Republic of Texas, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Presidents and other dignitaries stayed there while in Houston. I found out recently that in 1998 the hotel was renovated and turned into apartments.
In New Orleans, we had reservations at the Monteleone. Built in 1886, this hotel is a historic landmark and is still owned and operated by the Monteleone family. The hotel figures in the works of so many southern authors that it has been designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. The only other hotels in the United States that share this honor are two in New York City.
We were anxious to get to New Orleans, so we drove all the way there the next day, getting there after dark. We checked into the Montelone. Dad Sawtelle had a friend who was the manager there, and when we got to our room, there were flowers, a fruit basket and a bottle of champagne. We were there for five days and the total bill at the hotel was $44.20, which included five meals as well as the room charge. That is an average of $8.40 per day.
We were there five days and saw all the sights and tried all the best restaurants. Our hotel was in the French Quarter and we spent most of our time there. It was not as rowdy in the Quarter back then as it is now. Charlotte and I shopped the antique stores, and we bought a lamp table with a marble top, and I bought an antique sword and a gun. After five days, we headed back home with a stop to see Charlotte’s grandparents in Liberty, Texas.
Photo of Rice Hotel found here.