42nd Massachusetts New Orleans

42nd Massachusetts New Orleans

New Orleans became a base for regiments like the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry.

42nd Massachusetts Infantry Headquarters in Gentilly.

42nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment

Illustration of the New Orleans headquarters of the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry, 1863. The regiment set up shop in Gentilly. They staged here for actions outside of New Orleans, most notably Port Hudson and Bayou Teche.

Description from The Historic New Orleans Collection:

View of a wood and log military building during the Civil War. In front of it are Union soldiers in military uniforms and horses. The building is located in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. It was headquarters of the 42nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers during the occupation of New Orleans.

So, at this time, Gentilly was well outside the city proper.

Bayou Gentilly

The 42nd Massachusetts operated out of the swampy mess that was the merge of bayous in what is now Mid-City New Orleans. Bayou Metairie fizzled out when it merged with Bayou St. John. The waterway continued east, but as Bayou Gentilly. The regiment chose high ground we refer to as the Gentilly Ridge. along the water.

The Union forces recognized the importance of Bayou St. John. The combination of the bayou and the Carondelet Canal provided a navigable waterway linking Faubourg Treme and the French Quarter to Lake Pontchartrain. That waterway concerned the US Army greatly during the War of 1812. While the overall situation was different in the 1860s, the Union forces did due diligence. In the first half of 1863, the 42nd Massachusetts performed picket duties along Bayou St. John, up to the lake.

Successes of the 42nd

The 42nd provided engineering and support services to Union forces moving north and west from New Orleans. Their success in this regard demonstrates the utter failure of the CSA Army and Navy in the Gulf. New Orleans provided the Union with a well-supplied staging area. They engaged the CSA from both directions in the West.

Additionally, the 42nd contributed to the formation of the 1st Louisiana Engineers, a USCT unit.

The 42nd left Louisiana on 8-August-1863.

Cor Jesu Penance Hall

Cor Jesu’s detention was called Penance Hall.

crusader archives penance hall

Penance Hall on Elysian Fields

Another quick one from the archives. This is the Student Handbook for Cor Jesu High School, the predecessor school to Brother Martin High School on Elysian Fields. It’s a full rulebook, a breakdown of expectations the school had for students. Every school has one, including St. Aloysius and BMHS.

A quick flip through this handbook confirmed that it was indeed your basic set of rules. Then I came across Penance Hall:

Students who violate school regulations are usually assigned to Penance Hall, which begins at ten minutes after dismissal bell.

crusader archives penance hall

Section of the Cor Jesu Student Handbook on “Penance Hall”

Nothing says “Catholic School” quite like institutions like “Penance Hall.” Let’s face it, other schools have detention. “The Breakfast Club” is an entire movie set during a weekend detention session. But penance is so wonderfully Catholic.

I did find a St. Aloysius student handbook, but a quick glance of that booklet didn’t list a detention/penance hall setup. I’ll put it to you Crimson-and-White Crusaders. What did y’all call it?

Evolution to BMHS

The Cor Jesu Penance Hall continued into Brother Martin, but not by that name. It was simply “detention,” when I got there in the fall of 1971. Mr. Louis Levy was Vice Principal and Disciplinarian. Now, even though I never received official school detention, we usually held practice for the Debate team in the “old” hallway, the original Cor Jesu building. That’s also where Mr. Levy held detention. So, we learned the details of the process.

Mr. Levy came in the room (and mind you, I’m paraphrasing) and explained how the hour worked. “Gentlemen, you are going to learn to dance. You will dance by my numbers and by my steps…”

Naturally, detention period became known as “Mr. Levy’s Ninth Period Dance Class.”

I’m not sure what sort of busy work Dance Class attendees did during ninth period. I encourage any alums of Dance Class to share some details!

Archives Update

This booklet is typical of a lot of the things I’ve found in only two weeks of digging in the archival storage rooms. So far, it’s been a blast. I found this first copy in with a bunch of Cor Jesu football programs. Since that first copy, I’ve turned up two more. I took quick photos of the cover and Penance Hall with the phone. By tomorrow, we should have the workspace set up with laptop and scanner, to make full copies of these memories.

BOSH Purple Heart

BOSH Purple Heart

There’s a Purple Heart in the BOSH Alumni archives.

Purple Heart awarded to Richard Warr

BOSH Purple Heart medal

Richard Warr's dog tags, inside a Purple Heart medal box.

I started a project to better organize the Brother Martin High School Alumni archives. Right at the start, I found a box containing a Purple Heart. The box is like the one my dad kept his brother’s medals in. While some folks engrave a name on the rear of a decoration, this one was unidentified. Whomever donated the medal to the school included a set of dog tags. So, it’s on the list of rabbit holes for me to fall into at some point.

The dog tags belong Richard Warr. All I have is the name at this point. D-Day makes a good day to present this, even if Mr. Warr was younger.

“Being wounded or killed…”

The Purple Heart began as the Badge of Military Merit. Washington authorized it on 7-August-1782. He awarded three of the medals. While the Badge of Military Merit wasn’t abolished, it was never awarded again. The military revived the decoration in 1927. MacArthur received the first medal in 1932. The Purple Heart is awarded for. “Being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.” The earliest eligibility date for the award was originally set at 5-April-1917. Congress later authorized its award to earlier conflicts dating back to the Civil War.

Given that St. Aloysius opened its doors in 1869, there are a lot of Crusaders and Kingsmen who are eligible for the Purple Heart.

BOSH Honor Roll

I’ve yet to find a list of BOSH alumni who received the Purple Heart, so it’s time we get that started. If you or a relative attended one of the three Brothers of the Sacred Heart schools here in New Orleans and received the decoration, let us know, in a comment, or email me at edward@ebranley.com. Tell us the recipient’s name, which school he graduated from, when he graduated, and any other notes you’d like to add.

Pontchartrain Beach 1974

Pontchartrain Beach 1974

“At the Beach, at the beach, at the Pontchartrain Beach…”

ad for pontchartrain beach in the times-picayune, 4-June-1974.

Pontchartrain Beach in 1974

“Fresh family fun…
New ride sensation!
Shoot the rapids…
LOG RIDE”

Ad for Pontchartrain Beach in the Times-Picayune, 4-June-1974. Da Beach, Lakeshore Drive and Elysian Fields, in the old Milneburg neighborhood. By June, schools were closed across the metro area. So, Da Beach was open daily, 12 Noon on weekends, 5PM on weekdays. After all, just because the kids were off, parents still had to work.

Evolution

Harry Batt, Jr., opened his amusement park at Bayou St. John and the lake in 1929. When the WPA boosted the sand beach at Elysian Fields and the lake in 1940, they built a bath house facility. They leased the land and the bath house to Batt. So, Harry moved his park to Milneburg. He grew the park, adding rides, attractions, and concessions. Additionally, Batt added a public pool facility, for folks who didn’t want to venture into the lake.

To meet the requirements of Jim Crow, WPA built a bath house facility along the lake in New Orleans East. That facility became the Lincoln Beach amusement park. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lincoln Beach closed, as Batt could no longer refuse entry to Black folks.

Pay One Price

The Haunted House at Pontchartrain Beach

The Haunted House, via Pontchartrain-Beach.com

Until the 1970s, admission to Da Beach was free. You parked and walked in. Attractions, rides, and the bath house required admission fees. Still, folks could just go out and walk the midway without paying anything. This was good for all the military personnel from NAS New Orleans and the Army facilities along the lakefront. By the 1970s, larger amusement parks in other cities charged a single admission. So, all the rides in those parks were included. Da Beach began “P.O.P. – Pay One Price.” You could ride the Zephyr, Wild Maus and the Haunted House as many times as you pleased.

Personal Memory

Going through today’s ads, this one brought back a particular memory for me. I was a rising junior at Brother Martin High School in 1974. One week, I got a call from a friend who said some of his cousins were coming into town from Lafayette that weekend. He needed to get dates from two of the girls, and I was tapped to take one of them out.

So, we pile into my friend’s car and off to Da Beach we go. This is P.O.P. time. I worked at Breaux Mart on Severn in Metairie that summer, so I had couple of dollars in my wallet. We get up to the ticket booth. I said, “two, please,” and slid across a ten-dollar bill. The lady behind the glass dropped back a dime.

A dime.

The P.O.P. admission at the time was $4,95, so the math was right. Still, it was a shock to my system. My hourly wage at the supermarket was $2. That ten bucks was, almost a day’s wages, and I got back a dime in change. We had a blast, though, riding the Zephyr all night. Now, it’s a fond memory and an economic milestone.

Perpetual Care at Hope Mausoleum

Perpetual Care at Hope Mausoleum

Cemeteries rely on Perpetual Care to maintain the properties.

ad for Hope Mausoleum discussing perpetual care

Perpetual Care preserves grave sites

Ad for Hope Mausoleum in the Times-Picayune, 23-May-1935, for Hope Mausoleum, 4801 Canal Street. This ad emphasizes the importance of perpetual care fees:

Hope Mausoleum is the only burial place in New Orleans which includes Perpetual Care in the original purchase price, a practice almost universal in modern cemeteries across the United States. Faithfully laid aside at the consummation of each sale of crypt space, this fun is steadily growing. Invested in sound securities, the income from the Perpetual Care Fund will be used to maintain Hope Mausoleum after all space has been sold. Assured Perpetual Care is but one of several factors which have influenced a wide public acceptance of Hope Mausoleum as “The Modern Way of Burial.”

While Hope included the service in the purchase price, just about every cemetery in New Orleans offered this funding. Other cemeteries sold it as an add-on. Most buyers added the service to their purchase. The cemetery owners reminded buyers of the consequences of not having it. So, cemeteries maintain tombs and copings with perpetual care. Without it, the owners of the tomb repair their plots. If a family dies out, the cemetery may choose to demolish a tomb in disrepair. Therefore, memories vanish.

Consequences of no perpetual funding

The biggest example of the consequences of no perpetual fund is the Girod Street Cemetery. Located where Champions Square (by the Superdome) stands now (no, the Saints don’t play on top of a graveyard), Girod Street was the first Protestant Cemetery in the city. The chapter of Christ Episcopal Church (now Cathedral) built the cemetery. They didn’t set up perpetual care funding. So, by the 20th century, much of the cemetery fell into serious disrepair. By the 1950s, Girod Street had to be deconsecrated and demolished. Many of the unclaimed remains at the time of demolition were re-interred in Hope Mausoleum.