Maybe it’s true you can’t go home again

Published 8:06 pm Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I had planned to do this week’s column on the thrill of returning to Tiger Stadium after a 10-year absence, but the fortunes of the gridiron are fickle, and my original plans for this week’s monologue fell through.

However, the shuttle bus to the game was a good move, our seats in the upper deck in the western corner of the south end zone were great, and the elevator ride to the top was a welcome treat for old joints.

Ten years is a long time to be gone from an area where I spent part of my youth, and I was amazed at the changes to the stadium since I last watched a game there.

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The north and south ends have been expanded. When I last attended a game, the menu was hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn and peanuts. Now, the menu includes jambalaya, chicken, nachos and other items. The south end is home to the Skyline Club, where certain foods and beverages are included in the price of the ticket.

I keep hearing rumors that next year beer will be available, which is interesting, since many of the folks attending the game are already well-lubricated when they walk in the stadium.

I knew escalators had been installed to help people reach what I refer to as the “nose bleed section,” but the elevator was a surprise.

The changes at Tiger Stadium were the first of many I saw over the weekend, and not all were good.

We caught our shuttle to the stadium at the L’Auberge Casino on the River Road south of the campus. At one time, you could take the River Road from Baton Rouge to St. Gabriel, La., and see nothing but cattle and scattered houses. The only notable structure on the road was the old St. Gabriel Catholic Church, which is state landmark. Now, there’s this high-rise building — an island in the country — towering over the levee.

All of South Baton Rouge, where I spent my childhood, is growing to the point that many of the old landmarks I remember are slowly vanishing.

Third Street downtown, once the center of shopping before the introduction of shopping malls, is now populated by restaurants and bars (clubs, if you’re PC). Latil Stationery, a downtown business where I worked while in college, is no more.

North Baton Rouge, where my wife grew up and was once a strong, vibrant business district, is now almost a ghost town, the result of white flight south and lack of investment.

My wife and I went to Baton Rouge to watch a football game, took a tour of the city, and I came back wondering if that quote attributed to author Thomas Wolfe was right, that “you can never go home again.”

The city of my childhood, which was once a sleepy university town despite being the capital city, is growing up, and some ways the past dying along the way.

But then I’ll always have my memories with me.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may email him at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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