I'm a stickler for historic accuracy. This is a fact that either makes people love me or hate me. As I root around through history and learn how to research I start looking at things that are held close to our history-loving hearts and to my utter surprise I frequently find that facts dispute the tale. I'm not trying to prove or disprove anything; I'm just taking a walk though history and, as I do, I find myself becoming something of a myth buster.
Not that I ever mean to, it just happens.
But where was it?
In not one, but two tour guiding classes we were told that the other one stood out in the field in the direction of the entrance to City Park. As I was learning the City Tour I also heard this from the tour guide, who probably got it from the same teachers in the same classes. Having been told this by two sources whom I believed to be accurately trained in such matters (one of them being old enough to remember just where the other one was) and one tour guide, I have been identifying this as the location of the other oak tree for as long as I have been giving tours through City Park. But recently I found a photograph taken in 1901 that suggested a different location. From the angle of the shot it appeared as though the other tree was behind the New Orleans Museum Of Art (NOMA).
So, now we're two for two.
Finally I found a third photo that shows the trees from yet a different angle and this now proves that the tree was to the rear of NOMA and not out in front. Sadly, this reveals that people who are charged with the passing on of our history may not be so very qualified to do so.
None of this makes a lick of difference to the visitor who simply wants to revel in the stereoptype of television travel and history programs or to the tour guides who cling so tightly to the legends that we'll have to pry them from their cold, dead fingers. But to the historian, to the educator and to the tour guide who is dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans history (and also to the archaeologist, long after we are gone and forgotten) it makes an enormous difference. My personal dedication to historic accuracy brings out the Virgo in me as the obssession with detail takes hold. For me, it makes for a richer and more fascinating tour when we get these little details right and each one is another piece of the puzzle that tells us who we are and how we came to be.