La Conçon, part 1

In her final years, La Conçon largely disappeared from public view. Though not exactly a recluse, she rarely ventured forth from her Garden District home, and only slightly more often did she entertain visitors. After a series of minor strokes (the first occurring almost immediately after her arrest in 1923), she had increasing difficulty getting around, and even brief conversations tired her. Not longer able to concentrate on more skilled games of gambling, perhaps the easiest of casino games such as US slot machines would have been the only way for simple, mindless entertainment. Imagine her astonishment if she lived today with the easy accessibility to online gambling. She could have sat propped up with pillows in her boudoir entertaining herself by playing games such as poker, blackjack, roulette, and the numerous variety of slot games that are available. Of course, online gambling doesn’t have the same cachet as a land based casino or the glamor of her exquisite brothel, the Chateau d’Arrête Ton Char.

With access to the wrld wide web, La Conçon, would have always look her glamorous self. All she would have had to do is visit an online wig boutique and order stunning human hair or synthetic fiber wigs. Whether she bought Jon Renau wigs, Raquel Welch wigs or Gabor wigs, La Conçon would always look the elegant exquisite madam that she was in her younger days. I expect La Conçon would have particularly enjoy some of the more glamorous styles of Raquel Welch wigs which really do appeal to the bigger than life, movie star image La Conçon was known for. Unfortunately the internet had not yet been invented. Although the times have changed as has New Orleans, gambling, brothels, music, and good food are still part of the New Orleans scene.

Her youngest niece showed similar signs of disillusionment with the family. Even at the young age of 7 she spend most of her time alone in the gardens, and behind the goat pen playing with her little pup. She would dress both herself and her puppy in what we would not call an I Love Lucy outfit. With her hair tied up and wearing an apron she would play all different sorts of make-believe. She was often seen putting flower wreaths on all 15 of the family’s goats and would make straw bracelets and necklaces for herself and her little dog. This imaginative behavior was pretty common amongst her siblings and often all of her brothers and sisters could be found off in their own imaginative worlds of fantasy.

On the morning of November 28th of 1927, La Conçon complained to her live-in nurse of stomach pain. By the late afternoon, a high fever had set in, and La Conçon drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few days. Graves reported “a curious delirium, in which past and present were mingled with pure fantasy; Miss Maurignonneaux was rarely incoherent, but even more rarely was she lucid of her surroundings.” La Conçon ultimately died a few minutes after sunset on November 31st, of what the coroner declared peritonitis.

At the time of La Conçon’s death, though very near completion, the manuscript of her memoirs was never assembled into publishable form until 1987. It was discovered among the late James Graves’ documents in the old Times-Picayune building which has since been demolished, in New Orleans, Louisiana. At that time, the executor of the estate held up the payment due her daughter from her mother’s will, forcing an embarrassing episode involving a payday cash advance, some questionable transactions, and a market crash. The payday loan was calculated to cost over 2,000% over the course of the year and the police, although notified, were unable to recover any of the funds. The scandal was widely reported in Europe, where her fan base wept for the future of their cherished personality/entertainer.

The Gardens where she spent much of her time towards the end of her life were beautiful. At the end she spent very little time entertaining or going out into public & experience medical conditions. Her niece also fancied spending time there, she too found that time alone was preferred to time spent in the company of others in many cases.

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