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NOLA Life Stories: JoAnn Clevenger, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The French Quarter

JoAnn Clevenger grew up in a strong Baptist community in northern Louisiana and eventually found her way to New Orleans.
Historic New Orleans Collection
JoAnn Clevenger grew up in a strong Baptist community in northern Louisiana and eventually found her way to New Orleans.

JoAnn Clevenger had never even heard of Mardi Gras until she moved to New Orleans in the late 1950’s. She dropped out of Tulane to care for her mother and then moved to the French Quarter shortly thereafter. At that point in her life the jazz clubs, restaurants and literary circles she hung around weren’t like anything she’d seen.

Clevenger lived downtown for years until her children needed to attend school. She opened a bar called The Abbey and later, a restaurant called Upperline. She remains an advocate for small businesses and the French Quarter. 

This interview was conducted by Mark Cave for the Historic New Orleans Collectionand produced for WWNO by Thomas Walsh.

Thomas Walsh is an independent radio producer and audio engineer who lives in New Orleans. You'll see him around town recording music, podcasts, short films, live events and radio features. He's practically glued to his headphones. A movie geek to his core, he's seen every film listed on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies and would love to talk to you about them.