Listen to my latest recording titled "Give It Up Or Let me Go" This song has a Bourbon Street Dixieland style to it. I hope you like it.
Your dad, Harry Hillensbeck was a great guy and a good friend. I think about him often.....sometimes he'd wake me up in the middle of the night (I lived at the Hummingbird Hotel) and we'd ride around New Orleans in his Caddy. Of course, that was before he and Bertha married. I believe the told me once that he had worked for the DAs office years earlier. He introduced me to Jim Garrison.....when I needed to collect on some bad checks someone had given me. I got all my money, minus Big Jim's cut.
He'd tell me stories of the days when he was a state representative. He had some good ones.
Harry always dressed classy, he wore a suit most of the time. And, he behaved classy too, I never knew him to tell anyone a lie, lose his temper, or hurt anyone in any way. He wasn't a push over, but he'd help anyone who was in a bind if they needed a few bucks.
I worked for the Army Corps of Engineers back them and Harry (without me asking) would drive me to meet the ship on which I worked as chief machinist.
I'll never forget , those days. We had some pretty good pool games in that back room at the Hummingbird Lounge. Harry used to back me, (put up the money) and we'd split the winnings..Back in those days almost everybody gambled and the La.governor said..the gambling laws in the sate would not be enforced. So, there were poker games in back rooms, pay off pinball machines, and police officers betting on every sport. It was great! I don't believe I ever lost when Harry was my backer. We had people come from all over the country to play pool. Harry loved it, though he never played himself, enjoyed watching a good game.
Harry had friends all over town, and it didn't make any difference to him if you were a big shot or a guy like me.........he treated all of his friends the same...with respect. Harry was one of a kind.
My name is Ray Hensley and I lived at the Hummingbird Hotel when I was in my 20s from 1969 to 1972 and spent a lot of time at the Hummingbird Lounge when I wasn't working offshore. The owner, the late Harry Hillensbeck, was a very good friend and a great guy. I remember my times there fondly and wish I could get back into contact with some of the friends I knew back then. It was a place where both cops and cons hung out. I remember two of each in particular because one had sent the other to prison years before, but now they were both sitting in the same bar there on Saint Charles Street, eventually becoming friends.
I doubt the Hummingbird will ever reopen, and even if it did, it could never compare to the was it was back in the late 60s and early 70s. Man, if those walls could talk, they could tell you hundreds of very interesting stories. I have a few dozen I could tell you myself about my experiences at the Hummingbird Lounge. I even sat at the bar next to the famous bank robber Willie Sutton without know who he was until the FBI came around looking for him. Seems he was paroled late in life but decided he didn't want to spend his last few days staying where they told him to and the Hummingbird Lounge was one of his stops.
New Orleans was one of the best cities in the country back then and the Hummingbird hotel and lounge was nothing short of something out of the movies.
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