Q. How long have you been a member of the City Park Tennis Club?
A. Since about 1972
Q. How did you hear about the club?
A. Well, it was like this. Jack Fox said, “ give me $35 dollars,” on the corner of Gravier and Carondelet. I said “why,” and he said that is your dues for the City Park Tennis Club. And, if you do not give me the money you will have to pass a “grounds test” and God knows you can’t pass it. Jack Fox was my mentor. At the time I was playing tennis at the Vista Shores with him and Chris Larson.
Q. Where were you born?
A. Right here in New Orleans at the Touro Infirmary on 9-20-32.
Q. When did you start playing tennis?
A. Here at City Park on the old courts. I played, not well, mainly with Jack Ciolino. We were running buddies back then. I really started playing when I was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was a Second Lt. in the Military Police. At that time Ft. Bragg was an elite military base. In fact, it was the Second Pentagon—in case the Pentagon was disabled. The base was very large, and the Officer’s Club had a huge swimming pool, a golf course, and soft tennis courts. It was the first time I saw light poles on a golf course with mirrors on them. This was because the course had so many hills on it. I was told you had to look into the mirror before hitting over the hill to make sure you did not hit somebody. I started playing golf there but it took so long to play, so I started playing tennis. They had a tennis pro there named Herm Fagel. I took lessons from him. I remember he wore long white flannel pants, even in the summer time.
Q. What was your first racquet?
A. A Davis and then a Wilson. I had a totally white racquet, which I called the “White Tornado.”
Q. Have you been called by your first name?
A. I did not know August was my given name until I was up in years. I was always called A. J. and then Gus or Augie as I got into college.
Q. What is your favorite tennis story?
A. That is easy! It was my “Claim to Fame.” One year Jack Fox was playing in a tournament in Las Vegas and I went along on the trip. The morning he was to play we were out at the courts early and we saw a man hitting tennis balls with his young son. It drew a large crowd around the fence. Jack grabbed me around the neck and asked the older man to let me hit with the boy. The boy was not as tall as his racquet. I ended up hitting balls with the young boy. Only years later when I saw a tennis match on television did I realize it was Andre Agassi. It was a tournament in Indian Wells when he was in his first major tournament, which he won at about 16 years old.
Q. Where did you attend school?
A. Here in New Orleans. Jesuit High School, Loyola for a B.A. and then after the military a Law Degree from Loyola.
Q. What has being a member of the CPTC meant to you?
A. “A good part of my life!” almost religiously I played for years every Tuesday and Thursday. The group included Larry Gilbert, Wayne Wooley, Chester Drenning, Mickey Burkhart, Bernard Aranstan, Keith Gowler and occasionally others. Oh, yes, Alfredo Cortez. What a character! He was the self-confessed “King of the Lob.”
Q. What were/are your favorite restaurants and “watering holes?”
A. BK (before Katrinia) Christians just off Canal and Masson, at 7200 Pontchartrain; for years I was a Lawyer downtown and would eat at Galatoire’s. Also, Bob Roth’s on Canal Blvd. As an attorney I represented many restaurants and the Restaurant Association for a short time.
Q. Favorite movies?
A. Battle of the Bulge, Casablanca, Caine Mutiny
Q. Do you play a regular game now?
A. Yes, after Katrinia I came back to New Orleans and I joined the Hilton River Center Club that was open, so I started back there. I play three times a week with the same three friends. No phone calls are needed.
Come rain, shine, heat, cold or rain we play. I still have fond memories of all my friends at the CPTC, playing from 1974 until the Thursday before Katrinia.