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R. I. P. Mr. Okra

A NOLA icon.

By Ann Maloney

NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Arthur J. "Mr. Okra" Robinson, the so-called last of the New Orleans street vendors, died Thursday (Feb. 15). He was 75.

Mr. Robinson's death was confirmed late Thursday by his stepson, Teddy Stansberry. His family said he died of natural causes at his house.

Mr. Robinson was a beloved figure in New Orleans, where he was known for driving his brightly painted Ford F-150 loaded with fruits and vegetables through Uptown, Bywater, Bayou St. John and French Quarter streets six days a week.

He would beckon folks from their houses with cries listing which fresh produce he had that day.

The second-generation produce man has been the subject of a short documentary, a children's book and numerous articles in local and national publications. There was even a "Mr. Okra In Your Pocket,"which allows one to hear six chants and sayings, such as "I have blueberries. I have peaches. I have plums. I have the mango."

In 2017, the New Orleans vegetable vendor was named one of "Southern Living" magazine's list of Southerners of the Year.

"Mr. Okra has been bringing fresh produce to the city since he was 15 years old, originally going out with his father, who traveled by horse and buggy," according to "Southern Living." "Now 75, Mr. Okra has experienced health issues over the past year, but his loyal customers rallied to pay his bills and repair his truck. A GoFundMe page raised over $12,000 in two months to keep this New Orleans personality rolling."

In 2010, Mr. Robinson's truck had to be towed to the Fair Grounds, so he could sell his fruits and vegetables to those attending the second weekend of New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. By the middle of May, supporters who had seen him at Jazz Fest were raising money to buy him a new truck. And, by that May 21, he had one.

Mr. Robinson, who was known as "Li'l Okra" when he worked with his dad, "Okra Man," who also sold produce, had a personality that drew writers and filmmakers to him.

Also in 2010, he was the subject of the 12-minute film, "Mr. Okra,"which shot by director T.G. Herrington over four days in the winter of 2008.

""For me, his sound is sort of a fixture, his voice and his shtick," Herrington said at the time. "It's like a sensory trigger for me. It brings up a lot of good feelings, a lot of good memories. It's very nostalgic for me, and I always thought, 'It would be great to get him on film. There's got to be a story there.'"

In 2016, the children's book, "Mr. Okra Sells Fresh Fruit and Vegetables" (2016, Pelican Publishing, $16.99), written by Lashon Daley and illustrated by Emile Henriquez, was published.

"The picture book is completely charming, drawing parallels between his truck and New Orleans life: 'His blueberries are the color of the big blue doors at the Louisiana Children's Museum,' and the items he sells are 'as different as the animals at Audubon Zoo,'" former Times-Picayune food editor Judy Walker wrote about the children's book in 2016.

Mr Okra has peaches mangoes and a new childrens book



______________________________________________
This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

Comments

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,699


    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,699



    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • lkapigianlkapigian Posts: 3,002
    Didn't know him but always sad to lose a City Icon, prayers to the family 
    Visalia, Ca
  • Ozzie_IsaacOzzie_Isaac Posts: 8,798
    In NO is acute lead poisoning considered "natural causes" ?
    If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.

    XL, Medium, Minimax, Blackstone Griddle
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,699
    In NO is acute lead poisoning considered "natural causes" ?
    yes
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • Hans61Hans61 Posts: 3,412
    Lots of things I would never know but for the egghead forum. Seems like a great personality and local icon, sure he will be missed by many 
    “There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body.”
    Coach Finstock Teen Wolf
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,699
    Yeah, a character.  I bought produce from him a few times over the years.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • GulfcoastguyGulfcoastguy Posts: 1,667
    That is a big loss.
  • HeavyGHeavyG Posts: 4,942
    Thanks for sharing that. RIP Mr. Okra!

    I doubt there are many cities left that have many (or any) independent vendors/characters/icons like him that have served their city/customers for many decades.
    Camped out in the (757/804)
  • DoubleEggerDoubleEgger Posts: 11,976
    edited February 17
    He’s helped countless numbers of elderly people who might not have the mobility to go to the store. RIP Mr. Okra. “I got the mango”

    @HeavyG Here in metro Atlanta during the recession, a lot of the construction site food trucks (aka roach coaches) swapped over to fruits and veggies and began hitting up all of the senior living facilities. Business was so good that some never went to construction. 
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,699
    I put this in the Vegetable forum, thought it apropos.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • Ozzie_IsaacOzzie_Isaac Posts: 8,798
    I put this in the Vegetable forum, thought it apropos.
    We have a veggie forum?
    If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.

    XL, Medium, Minimax, Blackstone Griddle
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,699
    I put this in the Vegetable forum, thought it apropos.
    We have a veggie forum?
    Yep:  http://eggheadforum.com/categories/vegtables


    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 14,013
    This reminds me of Arabbers in Baltimore. Sad to hear about this.
  • Ozzie_IsaacOzzie_Isaac Posts: 8,798
    Here in town we had the "Dancing Cowboy" panhandler.  Always happy, always dancing, made everyone smile for years and years.  Then one day some lowlife shot him for his boots.
    If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.

    XL, Medium, Minimax, Blackstone Griddle
  • Ozzie_IsaacOzzie_Isaac Posts: 8,798
    I put this in the Vegetable forum, thought it apropos.
    We have a veggie forum?
    Yep:  http://eggheadforum.com/categories/vegtables


    We need a vegan forum.
    If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.

    XL, Medium, Minimax, Blackstone Griddle
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,699
    I put this in the Vegetable forum, thought it apropos.
    We have a veggie forum?
    Yep:  http://eggheadforum.com/categories/vegtables


    We need a vegan forum.
    There is also a "Vegetarian" forum.  No vegan.
    ______________________________________________
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • HeavyGHeavyG Posts: 4,942
    I put this in the Vegetable forum, thought it apropos.
    We have a veggie forum?
    Yep:  http://eggheadforum.com/categories/vegtables


    What are Veg tables?

    The misspelling of vegetables in the URL file directory is triggering me.
    Camped out in the (757/804)
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