NOLA History Guy December (10) – Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S. C.

NOLA History Guy December (10) – Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S. C.

Our tenth installment of NOLA History Guy December features Brother Nicholas, SC – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans (BOSH)

nola history guy december

NOLA History Guy December – Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S.C.

Brother Nicholas, SC, was a long-time Maths teacher the BOSH Schools. I had the privilege of taking “Senior Math” with Brother as a Junior, in 1974-75. If you’re wondering how that worked, I attended Brother Martin High School as an eighth grader. My maths skills weren’t top/honors, so, I was routed to “regular” Geometry class as a ninth-grader. The honors guys took “Geometry A” with Brother Neal, SC. The “A” track finished Trigonometry in Algebra IIA, as tenth-graders. They took Calculus as eleventh-graders, and went on to UNO for Calc I as seniors. Not me! I took Trig, “Senior Math” in the old terminology. Brother Nicholas (never “Brother Nick” to his face) was a serious teacher who brooked no nonsense in his class. He objected to the number of Fridays I was away from class because of Debate and Quiz Bowl, and regularly chided me about that.

Outside of class, Brother was a nice man. He chaperoned the school trips to Europe in the summers. Brother studied German with Ms. Palmisano. I would say a few words to him, “auf Deutsch” as he left German II and I came in for German I as a sophomore.

nola history guy december

Brother Nicholas, S. C., throwing out the first pitch at a Crusader baseball game.

As we’re doing with all our images for NOLA History Guy December, here’s the caption for the two photos of Brother Nicholas in the book:

“Brother Nick.” Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S.C., beloved teacher of generations of St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, and BMHS students. In addition to teaching Math, Brother Nicholas served as assistant principal at Cor Jesu in 1969. After retiring from the classroom, Brother Nicholas remained active on campus, managing the school’s bookstore and as a dedicated fan of BMHS sports, particularly baseball. Above, Brother Nicholas on duty in the bookstore in the late 1990’s. Below, the BMHS baseball team honored Brother Nicholas by asking him to throw out the first pitch of the final game of the 2003 season. (Lower photo courtesy of Mr. Danny Ford, father of Jeremy (’03) and Braeden (’09))


The Book

nola history guy december

Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans by Edward J. Branley

From the back cover:

When New Orleanians ask “Where did you go to school?” they aren’t asking what university you attended but what high school. That tells a native a lot about you. For over 150 years, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart have educated the young men of New Orleans, giving them the opportunity to answer the question proudly by replying St. Stanislaus, St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, or Brother Martin. Images of America: Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans showcases photographs, illustrations, and maps tracing the role of the institute in making New Orleans a vibrant and dynamic city, able to overcome even the worst of adversity. From their roots in the French Quarter, moving to Faubourg Marigny, and finally settling in Gentilly, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart continue to make a major contribution to metro New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

NOLA History Guy December (7) – Canal Street, 1906

NOLA History Guy December (7) – Canal Street, 1906

NOLA History Guy December continues with a Canal Streetcar image.

nola history guy december

Ford, Bacon, and Davis

Alexander Allison captured four New Orleans Railway and Light (NORwy&Lt) streetcars in this image of the 801 and 901 blocks of Canal Street. The stores display red,white, and blue bunting and banners, marking Independence Day, 1906. There are several Allison images in New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line.

Three single-truck cars designed by Ford, Bacon, and Davis (FBD) roll up and down Canal Street. The streetcar on the left rolls on the outside inbound (towards the river) track. The two outside tracks on Canal enabled the lines converging on the main street to turn around. For example, a car coming up Royal Street would turn onto Canal for a block, then turn onto Bourbon Street. While the modern St. Charles line does something similar with Carondelet Street and St. Charles Avenue, St. Charles operated in “belt” service with Tulane at the time of this photograph.

The car on the left-center track also travels to the river. It will circle around Liberty Place, then proceed on its outbound run.

The third single-truck rolls outbound (towards the lake) on the outside track. It will turn either on Dauphine (by the Mercier Building), or go up to N. Rampart Street.

The fourth streetcar in the photo is a double-truck “Palace” car. It’s running on the Canal/Esplanade belt. If it’s running on Esplanade (the roll board displaying the route isn’t visible), the motorman will steer the car to N. Rampart. If the car operates on Canal or West End, it’s heading towards the cemeteries.

The buildings

Most of the 801 block buildings remain the  same today. The Mercier Building looms in the background, at 901 Canal Street. It’s the home of Maison Blanche Department Store. The company will replace this building with the 13-story one we all know well in a year.

The photographer

Alexander Allison was an engineer for the New Orleans Sewage and Water Board. He was also a prolific photographer, taking photos all around the city. His job took him to every corner of Orleans Parish. His photo collection is maintained by the New Orleans Public Library.

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line

The clanging of a streetcar’s bell conjures images of a time when street railways were a normal part of life in the city. Historic Canal Street represents the common ground between old and new with buses driving alongside steel rails and electric wires that once guided streetcars.

New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets.

NOLA Books as Gifts (1) – New History!

NOLA Books as Gifts (1) – New History!

NOLA books aren’t just gifts. They’re investments.

nola books nola books

Give NOLA Books

I’d like to suggest two books recently released for your consideration as gifts. This is the first of several posts to give you some ideas on something New Orleans you can buy friends and family that doesn’t involve rum or powdered sugar (not that there’s anything wrong with those, mind you).

KIngfish U

Bob Mann’s book, Kingfish U – Huey Long and LSU is a wonderful story of the relationship between Louisiana’s best-known politician and the state’s flagship university. From the back cover:

No political leader is more closely identified with Louisiana State University than the flamboyant governor and U.S. senator Huey P. Long, who devoted his last years to turning a small, undistinguished state school into an academic and football powerhouse. From 1931, when Long declared himself the “official thief” for LSU, to his death in 1935, the school’s budget mushroomed, its physical plant burgeoned, its faculty flourished, and its enrollment tripled.

Along with improving LSU’s academic reputation, Long believed the school’s football program and band were crucial to its success. Taking an intense interest in the team, Long delivered pregame and halftime pep talks, devised plays, stalked the sidelines during games, and fired two coaches. He poured money into a larger, flashier band, supervised the hiring of two directors, and, with the second one, wrote a new fight song, “Touchdown for LSU.”

While he rarely meddled in academic affairs, Long insisted that no faculty member criticize him publicly. When students or faculty from “his school” opposed him, retribution was swift. Long’s support for LSU did not come without consequences. His unrelenting involvement almost cost the university its accreditation. And after his death, several of his allies—including his handpicked university president—went to prison in a scandal that almost destroyed LSU.

Rollicking and revealing, Robert Mann’s Kingfish U is the definitive story of Long’s embrace of LSU.

As a graduate of the University of New Orleans, a book about Louisiana State University would usually leave me nonplussed. However, every other book of Bob’s I’ve read has been fantastic. Additionally, I’m the dad of an alum of the Golden Band From Tigerland, and the stories of Long and the band are fantastic. While the book is, at face value, not about New Orleans, Long and the city are intertwined.

Check it out:



Rollin’ on the River

nola books

Derby Gisclair’s sixth book, New Orleans Steamboat Stories: The Brief Lives of Mississippi Riverboats, presents the history of steam on the Mississippi. Locals know the stories of flatboats making their way down from as far north as Ohio. Those early travelers to New Orleans got here, but couldn’t return home as easily. Their boats relied on the river’s current. They lacked the power to fight that current. Until the steamboats, that is. From the early days of Fulton’s steamboat to early commerce along the river, to the post-rebellion boom in the cotton trade, Derby offers lots of detail on why New Orleans was so important to shipping and industry in 19th Century America.

From the back cover:

Great civilizations throughout history have been established along the major rivers of the world. In Africa, the Egyptians had the Nile. The Babylonians had the Tigris and Euphrates. In Europe, they had the Danube, the Rhine, the Tiber, and the Seine. And it was no different in America where the Missouri River, the Ohio River, and scores of other tributaries combine to form the Mississippi River as it twists its sinuous way south from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

Steamboats shaped America’s future, its economy, and its culture while expanding trade and expanding the country’s footprint into new territories. This economic expansion was not limited to New Orleans, but also to Cincinnati, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Louisville, Nashville, St. Paul, Kansas City, and Chattanooga. A round trip voyage from Pittsburgh to New Orleans that once took six months could now be accomplished in forty-five days. At the same time steamboats made it possible to circulate and disseminate the news and the mail, to spread the various immigrant cultures, food, and music.

Refinements in steamboat design and mechanical enhancements quickly followed, with the majority of these taking shape above the waterline. As if incorporating the massive paddlewheels either on the side or the stern of the boat with the towering smokestacks above deck with ever more powerful engines and boilers below deck were not challenging enough, increased passenger traffic required further enhancements and improvements to the amenities that came along with the popularity of travel by riverboat.

The steamboat continued to be the primary form of long-range transportation even as the railroads continued to expand their influence into freight transportation. Newer, bigger steamboats were built and by the end of the 1860s the cotton trade had recovered and had surpassed their output from a decade earlier.

New Orleans Steamboat Stories contains just a fraction of the stories of a handful of the different steamboats and the people who lived and worked on the Western rivers. They are brief in nature as the average life of a steamboat was generally short. But their impact culturally and commercially, esthetically and economically, made a lasting impact on the development of America.

One of the things that really struck me was the stories of riverboat races. We think of a race as a simple point-to-point contest. Steamboats fighting to be the fastest from New Orleans to St. Louis were anything but simple. If you enjoy the city’s history, you’ll want to know how cotton truly was king, and that means reading the Steamboat Stories.

Check it out:

Amazon (hardcover and Kindle)

More to come

Fiction, poetry, and more history to come as we explore what’s out there this holiday season. And no, you’re not exempt from hearing about my books. 🙂


History Books for Christmas

History Books for Christmas

History books (NOLA subjects) for Christmas.

New Orleans History Books

Baseball in New Orleans by S. Derby Sinclair

History books!

From 2017, a three-part blog post on New Orleans history books that make great gifts:

history books The Joy of Yat Catholicism by Earl J. Higgins.

The Joy of Yat Catholicism by Earl J. Higgins.

Part one.

New Orleans History Books

New Orleans Radio by Dominic Massa

Part two

new orleans history books

Crescent City Snow by Megan Braden-Perry

Part three 

All these books are available from your local shops, IndieBound, and the usual online suspects.

NOLA Book Club July is TOMORROW (27-July, 7pm CDT)

NOLA Book Club July is TOMORROW (27-July, 7pm CDT)

NOLA Book Club July is TOMORROW!

nola book club july

NOLA Book Club July

We’re gathering TOMORROW, 27-July-2021, via Zoom, to discuss Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood, by Fatima Shaik. Here’s the Zoom Info:

Hi there,

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Jul 27, 2021 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Yes, we’ve gone to requiring registration, to combat Zoom-bombing. See you tomorrow!

NOLA Book Club features @MauriceRuffin’s novel THURSDAY

NOLA Book Club features @MauriceRuffin’s novel THURSDAY

NOLA Book Club!

nola book club


NOLA Book Club – Thursday at 6pm!

We’re approaching the time for our first book discussion! Thursday evening at 6pm CST, we’ll talk about We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Ruffin. Here’s the ZOOM info:

Edward Branley is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: NOLA Book Club – We Cast A Shadow
Time: Jan 21, 2021 06:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 504 383 5087
Passcode: shadow
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Let’s get Unc and VP Harris inaugurated tomorrow, then see you for book talk on Thursday!