John Kennedy Toole’s mum plays piano and sings

And talks New Orleans in excerpts from Confederacy of Dunces

Rota fortunae at the Christmas market in the German town of Hückeswagen.

Rota fortunae at the Christmas market in the German town of Hückeswagen. Image: Frank Vincentz.

Nowadays Irwin Chusid would have Thelma Toole on a multi-million naivetract:

Her 3:25 is obviously the source of Duke Ellington’s hook for Take the A-Train:

Can you spot the references in her New Orleans song?

Her lilt and cadence echo Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe’s commentaries in the Library of Congress recordings:

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a southern American Anglophone use a diphthong in “Orleans”, but I don’t get around much anymore.

I once took a delegation from one of the Mardi Gras crews to inspect various European processional customs. However, it was all a bit stuffed-suit corporate – Thelma was the kind of person I was dying to meet. Very belated thanks to Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker for capturing her in time – she died shortly after this 1983 recording.


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