New Orleans day 3, Willie Mae

the MassWednesday. Today started out unique, because there’s a priest here with a different group, and he says Mass at 6:30 each morning. So I went to Mass today. It was pretty nice. It was just in the back room behind the stage; the altar was one of those desk chairs with a table cloth over it. Didn’t matter what the place looked like, or what we were all wearing. We all celebrated the Eucharist together, many of us strangers, and it made me feel like more of an overall team of Christians here to do God’s work. Father told a groaner of a joke about Tom Jones. I wrote it down because it’s a groaner I’ve got to tell again.

the houseWe started work on a different house today (map). We were treated though by having the owner there with us this time. Her name is Willie Mae and she’s a sweet old lady. She’s been living in Baton Rouge since the hurricane, and hadn’t been back to the house since. So, we had a lot of work on our hands. We had to remove furniture, dressers, beds, appliances, carpets, tile floors, walls, ceilings, etc. Willie Mae handled it all quite well. The garage had been converted into a sewing room, where she had many bolts of material along with a file cabinet full of patterns. She ended up saving a small pile of things. This house had about 4 feet of water, so everything had to go.

a damaged room a damaged room
a damaged room a damaged room

We had been previously warned that if we came across a refrigerator, don’t get curious and open it. Just duct tape it shut and haul it out. That we did. I can’t imagine what must have been moving around in there after 17 months.

JaredOne of the harder tasks is to remove tile floors. Jared Recker seemed to have his own method pretty-well mastered. So we just gave him two hammers and backed away. This video also shows Erin and Courtney working on removing the walls in the back bedroom. We also used Erin and Courtney as our link to Willie Mae in case we found any personal items that we thought she might want to keep. Definitely a great duo to have on our crew!

Willie Mae was a pleasure to work for today. Look close at this group shot in front of her house, and notice her smile. That’s what we had to look at all day. What a treat. Her first sign of emotion was when she had to leave to go to work. She hugged each of us with a tear in her eye. We weren’t done with the house yet, but we weren’t going to see her anymore, so we stopped to get a few photos with her.

the crew with Willie May me with Willie May

the pileHere’s a video showing the trash pile. We worked right up to 4:00 today. We still have a couple of hours worth of work yet so we’ll be back tomorrow to add a bit more to the pile. But what’s out on the curb now gives you a good idea of what we did. When we were done, we had a couple of beers there in the driveway before heading back. That was nice, because we’re not allowed to have beer back at the school where we were staying. This evening, most people in our group went out to the French Quarter. A few of us stayed back; just too tired. I enjoyed playing cards with Dennis VandenHeuvel and Joe Maar.

Dennis and I got a craving for a McDonalds ice cream cone, but unfortunately everyone who went out for dinner took all the cars. So we’ll have to see if we can get some some tomorrow.

the jumpAlmost forgot. I gotta show you this video from when Pat Hopkins’ car battery was dead. It was kinda funny. We seem to have a lot of fun giving each other a hard time this week. So when a guy’s battery goes dead, man rules prevent me from ignoring it.

Earlier this morning, not long after we arrived at the house, John Mueller had to pay a locksmith $55 to come and unlock his car. He had locked his keys in it. What an idiot. Of course it was Carol’s fault (wink wink). So when John jump started Pat’s car, he tried to collect a $55 fee. I don’t think that worked too well.

It seems somewhat cold in the gym tonight, but I’ve got a pretty warm sleeping bag. It’s 9:30 now. I’m heading to bed.