I was browsing here: http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-orleans/543703-difference-between-uptown-downtown-n-o.html when I ran across some interesting information. Reading some posts, I gathered that people from the 'uptown' portion of New Orleans don't visit the 'downtown' portion all that often. One poster was of interest to me because he says he grew up in Gentilly, where I was thinking of having my 18-year-old character come from. He said:
I grew up Downtown (Upper Ninth Ward/St. Roch) and about the only times we'd venture Uptown was for Mardi Gras parades (and that was usually only as far as a few blocks before Lee Circle) and school trips to the Zoo. It's not like we were living an isolated existence or anything...we'd spend plenty of time in just about every other part of our locality--the Quarter, of course, CBD, Lakefront, Westbank, Metairie, St. Bernard, the East. There just never seemed to be any reason to go Uptown. I will say that the feel that I and most of my friends agreed that we'd get when visiting Uptown was that it was much more "American" than where we lived. I think by that I mean that to us the people we'd interact with and just the physical surroundings of Uptown more closely meshed with what network TV (which is where we as kids got our ideas of what "America" was) was showing on nighttime series to be "normal" America. We'd leave the Quarter, go a matter of 10-11 blocks downtown and be back in the neighborhood...so to us, Downtown (which included the Quarter and Canal Street to us) was "New Orleans"...funky, dirty, old and somewhat in disrepair, not particularly wealthy, and at the time mostly-but-not-overwhelmingly full of African-Americans and Caucasians with some non-WASPy ethnicity in their background. Uptown was where all of the really white folks (and I'm a white dude myself...but not THAT white..LOL) whose families came to New Orleans from Kentucky or Alabama or some other US state rather than from Central America or Spain or Italy or the Indies or, well, Africa.
I still live on the Downtown side of Canal now, in Gentilly, and I have to say that I still rarely go to Uptown New Orleans. My wife and I did recently traverse the length of Magazine looking for a particular piece of furniture, but most of what we saw was either antique, retro, or trendy. We don't have the design taste needed for any of those...LOL. It's just that there is no quick and easy way to get from another part of town to Uptown, and there's no quick and easy way to get from Uptown to any place other than some other part of Uptown.
I'm not sure how accurate the information above still is and it also raised the question of how someone would commonly *get* from Uptown to Downtown and vice-versa, especially if they're still too young to drive. My character doesn't live in New Orleans anymore (or even in America), but I assume he would have used use a streetcar or similar?
I also wondered how being under Napoleonic law would affect getting into trouble for things like drinking underage and using light drugs. My character was in a gang until he was caught for being an accessory to what I'm thinking at the moment to be arson. Since he came clean about what happened and what his (minor) involvement in that was (think chickening out before the worst of it transpired), he ended up having his older sister become his legal guardian, but this would have been after things like counseling, community service, etc. From what I've read of Napoleonic law, there are some small differences like the laws needing to be read over before they're passed, and just because one judge ruled on a similar case differently, doesn't mean another judge will use that to set a precedent. Is it also true that each parish has its own way of handling legal disputes and problems?
And a few more small linguistic questions:
I read that 'y'all' refers to a group of two or more people, but it's pronounced without a drawl or twang found in other parts of the south. Here, we say 'you guys' so, I was wondering how that was pronounced in New Orleans?
Also, is it more common to hear a particular piece of furniture referred to as a 'sofa' or 'couch' in that area? There are small differences between the two from what I saw (like a couch always has three cushions or something to that effect), but I've heard it being used interchangeably in other areas.
Thanks again for everyone's help. :)
Edit the First: Mostly resolved, but with a couple more questions:
Two last food questions: Are the little candy ice cream toppings generally called 'jimmies' or 'sprinkles' there? It's another one of those interchangeable things here. Also, we refer to what I believe most other people call 'Italian ice' as 'water ice.' If I had my guess I'd say it's called the former almost everywhere else, but I wanted to be sure.
Also, are summer shoes referred to as 'flip flops,' 'thongs' or 'sandals' there?