Literary Ties

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Literary Ties

New Orleans is a city in a swamp, miles and miles of trackless swamp. It sits and stews in its own juices, half forgotten by most and so like a dream to others. It has been the lure of many a lost soul. Some come to forget, swimming in the river Lethe that runs through every dive bar in the city. Some come to hide, running from accusations of wrongdoing and so it was with William Sydney Porter, aka O. Henry.

In 1896 he fled to New Orleans to escape embezzlement charges
in Texas. He wrote four stories with New Orleans as the setting. “Blind Man’s Holiday,” “Cherchez La Femme,” “Renaissance at Charleroi,” and “Whistling Dick’s Christmas Stocking.” To be truthful, the last one sounds like a porn movie. Porter stayed at a rooming house at 241 Bourbon street before moving on to Honduras. While in Honduras, he wrote “Cabbages and Kings” in which he coined the phrase “Banana Republic” after the wealthy white banana men who manipulated the politics of Central American countries. Many of the banana men, such as Samuel Zemurray of Cuyamel Fruit Company had ties to New Orleans. As a matter of fact, Zemurray once met with former Honduran president Manuel Bonilla to plot a coup of Honduras!

-Sandy
Crescent City Historic Tours