From the 1800’s until 2005 people lived on the lake
in wooden camps built on pilings over the water. Some camps were small and spare; others large and finely appointed. The
original Southern Yacht club could be considered the grandest camp ever built on Lake Pontchartrain while a small fisherman’s
shack in Bucktown might have been the simplest but all were treasured because to live on the lake was a unique and rare experience.
camps were so beloved that their owners bestowed names upon them; some grand, some fanciful, most unique. They included Two
R's, PEE & RRR Cottage, Jolly Roger,
My Sons, Lulaine, The Barge, Playtime, DatsaMaCamp, E's & B's, Dukes Camp, Chick-A-Dees,
Red Mike, Zanca's Old Glory, Camp-a-Nella, Six Little Fishes, Louis-A, Petticoat Junction, Anadelle, Sportsman Paradise, All
in the Family, Suits Us, Two Crabs, Gloria, Smiley & Fritz, Gris Gris, LaLa's Full House, Emdee, Doll House, Our Camp,
M & R Place, B & L, Three Sons and A Daughter, Blues, Lil Billy's Men Cottage, Sunny Susan, Pops, Bohemia, Tony &
Kathy, Linus Pleasure Cottage, My Happiness, Walter's Camp, Miss Bee, Three Little Sisters, Champs Camp, Setting Sun, Sands
of Pleasure, Our Palace, Far Out, Two Bees, High Hopes, Royal Flush, La Marque, Alma Cottage, Shultz's Happy Hour, Dude's
Rest, MJM, The Pavillion, Bill's Place, Three Daughters, Ra-Ron, Frick & Frack, Mama Lou’s, and White's Castle.
Over the years “progress”,
nature, and changing lifestyles took their toll on the camps. The Milneburg camps were demolished during the 1920’s
and 1930’s to make way for lakeshore land reclamation. The “famous” hurricanes (Audrey in 1957, Betsy in
1965, and Camille in 1969) as well as assorted minor storms damaged or destroyed many Hayne Boulevard and Little Woods camps.
In 1998 Hurricane Georges badly damaged Fitzgerald’s and Bruning’s (the last remaining over water restaurants)
at West End, wiped out an estimated sixty five Hayne Boulevard camps, and destroyed five camps in Little Woods.
In the early summer
of 2005 Sid-Mar’s restaurant served seafood to visitors in Bucktown. Approximately twenty five camps stood in Little
Woods with five remaining along Hayne Boulevard. In late August of that same year all were gone but one solitary camp in
In this chapter we take a look at one family’s camp as it relates to the others that came before it
in the long history of New Orleanians living on the lake. It is fitting, I think, that the final image depicts the family
(my family) leaving the camp for the last time on August 27, 2005. Two days later it was lost, as were so many other well
loved structures, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.