Christmas in the Pass
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Historian resurrects story of ‘La Madonna’

La Madonna – Pass Christian, a new publication by Dan Ellis, is a “brought-back” novel from the public domain as originally written in 1891 by George Ormsby entitled The Madonna of Pass Christian – A Tale of the Resurrection.

This new release, Part One – is about a Victorian Age damsel who is impressed by her suitor who beguiles the young miss – much in the manner of the serpent upon Eve.

The story begins in New Orleans a few decades after the Civil War when some of the former well-to-do class had opened their homes to boarders in order to sustain their heritage. We find our heroine and her mother staying at an elegant home on St. Charles Avenue.

During a stormy night, the mistress of the house related an enthralling tale that she called the “Legend of Pass Christian.” This tale is told in one chapter of the book, describing a young Spanish wife who became enamored with the ship’s captain and together they killed her husband while sailing to the Gulf shores of Mississippi. Not long afterward, the captain slew the young wife and landed at Pass Christian where he buried the stolen treasures. On hearing the tale, our heroine stated that when she visited the Pass she would eagerly seek out the site of the Legend.

This was the Carnival season of 1888, and having arrived from the north, this was the visitors’ first engagement with Mardi Gras, its heraldry, the parades, the many decorative floats, and the masks and masquerade balls. Two chapters and many archaic photographs unfold the mystic scenery of revelry at Lee Circle and Canal Street.

The story moves from New Orleans and the Mardi Gras to Pass Christian when steam-ships and trains brought Orleanians and upstate planters to enjoy the relaxed entertain-ment provided at Gulf Coast hotels.

The Mexican Gulf Hotel that was formerly established on Davis Avenue is the setting for our heroine and her chaperoning mother in meeting with the betrothed consort.

While the consort (it doesn’t take long to find that he is the Bad Guy) had a meeting in Biloxi, our heroine goes out to the Old Oak Tree to seek the treasures that were mentioned during the telling of the Legend of Pass Christian during her stay in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, the Hero of the story is also from a northern state. He too, had visited the New Orleans Mardi Gras and was also staying at the Mexican Gulf Hotel. During his first evening at the Pass, he explored the town and decided to walk into the empty Catholic church. While seated in a pew below a picture of the Holy Mary, he fell asleep and had vision of a young lady that came to him. That vision continued to linger with him.

On another evening while taking a stroll along Beach Boulevard, he heard a commotion taking place beneath a mammoth oak tree. He hastened to the rescue of our heroine who was being accosted by a villain. He slashed out with his walking cane causing the scoundrel to run off. He then realized that this young lady is the likeness to the apparition that had come to him while he meditated in St. Paul Church.

Ellis regards the novel as a Treatise on Life in the Old South. The redone book maintains and captures much of the original prose for its richness that was the literary standard of an era gone by. The original author of the novel, George Ormsby, was well traveled in the late 1800s along the L&N railroad line. His detailed descriptions of Pass Christian, the depot, the Mexican Gulf Hotel, the Mammoth Giant Oak and his descriptions of New Orleans, the St. Charles Hotel and the in-depth detail of Mardi Gras and its majestic Krewes are artfully captured.

In accordance with Ellis’s prolific writings about community heritage, this new novel includes photographs from the late 1800s and early 1900s that are offered to enhance the Reader’s interest as each chapter unfolds.

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