There are images that you fight for, and others that give themselves to you as a gift. When I saw him I immediately knew I had the signature image of my entire collection of nearly 600 photographs. I remember the feeling of perfect satisfaction when capturing this shot. He was so peaceful and self-assured, and gave me just enough time to capture him before moving along. I wish I knew who he was so I could send him a copy.
We had to get up early, and I’d be preparing food for Carnival. Like my beans, I take and I put that on the night before and let `em soak. Cut up my seasonings and everything. And everybody said, “Joyce, I don’t know how you could do all you do.” But I just got in the habit of doing that. I used to have a lot of food, a lot of drinks and sew. I used to sew in the kitchen. But then we had so many people that was comin to sew, they’d all be at the dining room table, so I’d sew up front with them, unless I was back in the kitchen cooking. I’d be back there cooking and making trips going back and forth. But it was fun, cause you always had a lot of company, and, oh honey, people would be so happy to be here with Tootie comin out that Tuesday. Everybody wanted to be out here with him.
The above quote was taken from an interview conducted by the Tulane City Center Cornerstones project. Joyce Montana and her husband, the late Big Cheif Tootie Montana, created a unique home which holds 50+ years of memories for the community of gathering together to prepare for the big day: Mardi Gras.
“I had a brother that passed away three years ago and he enticed me to be a Mardi Gras Indian and keep the tradition in the family going. So it means a lot. It’s sentimental. And one of my uncles just recently passed away - Bo Dollis Sr. It’s in the blood line. Now we try to involve more kids in it so they can grow into the culture, so they won’t be afraid of the Mardi Gras Indians and so they can see that it’s real culture.”