Ways of Dying – 2nd Line for Tee Eva, New Orleans
I found Tee Eva’s a couple of weeks after arriving in New Orleans last September. In a small corner shop off Magazine Street, Tee Eva [Eva Louis Perry] of New Orleans Baby Doll fame, made her large and small praline pies and other local specialities for the sweet of tooth.
Her grandmother taught her to cook the sweet potato pies, pralines and pecan pies that would eventually be the foundation of her business, Tee-Eva’s Authentic New Orleans Pralines. The shop still operates on Magazine Street, although Mrs. Perry’s granddaughter, Keonna Thornton, now owns the business.
In her own words…….
“I’m very proud to walk the streets with my basket. I strut when I walk the streets with my basket,” Mrs. Perry said in 1992, “because I’m part of a long tradition of black women who made a living and kept their independence selling pralines this way”.
“I’ve lived the life of a sharecropper, I’ve lived in the projects, I’ve tasted the good life,” Mrs. Perry said in 1995. “Sometimes I make my living, pay my bills, sometimes not. But I keep going. I always knew I could be anything I wanted to be, but it takes more than that. You gotta want to be somebody inside.” [nola.com]
On Thursday 7th June, Tee Eva, in the words of her friends, “made pies on Wednesday and on Thursday took the stairway to heaven”. In the black diaspora known as New Orleans, where blackness insists and persists, Miss Tee Eva was celebrated by family, friends, neighbors, lovers of pies, baby dolls and the streets with music, song and dance. She was 83.