Trombonist Santo Pecora

Trombonist Santo Pecora

“Mr. Tailgate,” Trombonist Santo Pecora, was a mainstay in the NOLA Jazz scene.

trombonist santo pecora

Trombonist Santo Pecora

Born Santo Joseph Pecoraro, trombonist Santo Pecora played with a number of bands in the 1920s. He changed his last name because his cousin, also Santo Pecoraro, was already playing professionally as a drummer. The two occasionally played together, in large ensemble gigs.

Santo, born March 21, 1902 in New Orleans, played in orchestras for silent movies in the early  1920s. He joined the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in Chicago, in 1925. Pecora’s discography began at this time, recording with the NORK. He also recorded with Jelly Roll Morton, the Wingy Manone Orchestra, Wynn’s Creole Jazz Band, and The Orleanians.

By the 1930s, Santo was a regular in the Chicago scene. He toured with Sharkey Bonano, then later moved to Los Angeles, touring with Wingy Manone. While playing with Manone, he also did studio work for the movie studios.

Mr. Tailgate

Trombonist Santo Pecora’s early career in New Orleans was typical of many jazz musicians. He earned the nickname, “Mr. Tailgate,” because he played daytime gigs off the back of a horse-drawn wagon. Jazz Bands usually played night gigs, at places like fraternal/masonic halls, dance clubs, even baseball parks. To promote those gigs, the bands would ride around town on a wagon. They would play, promote the paid gig that evening, and busk for tips.

Playing on a wagon presented a complication for the trombonist. While the other musicians could stand on either side of a wagon, the trombone stuck out too far. It could hit someone/something, and injure them. Worse yet, from the musician’s perspective, the trombone could be damaged. So, they lowered the wagon’s tailgate. The trombonist sat, legs dangling off the back. Santo joined these bands to pick up tips.

Later career

Pecora returned to New Orleans with Sharkey Bonano’s band in the after World War II. He played regular gigs in local clubs and the riverboats through the 1950s, leading a couple of bands into the 1960s. He then stepped back from full-time work in the 1970s. He passed on May 29, 1984.


 

Shushan’s Monuments

Shushan’s Monuments

Abraham Shushan’s monuments marked Lakefront milestones.

shushan's monuments

New Basin Canal Lock monument, 1930

Shushan’s Monuments

Two 1930 photos of lakefront monuments. The late 1920s were a time of major improvements to the lakefront. Lake Pontchartrain seawall improved flood protection. So, the Levee Board* erected monuments to the “New Basin Canal Lock” and the “Lake Pontchartrain Sea-Wall.” Board president Abraham “Abe” Shushan supervised their placement.

Seawall

sushan's monuments

Abe Shushan inspects the seawall monument, 1930

The “Lake Pontchartrain Sea-Wall” was the finishing touch of a years-long series of land reclamation projects along the Orleans Parish lakefront. In 1915, the south shore of the lake went right up to Adams Street (now Allen Toussaint Boulevard). The Levee Board planned to drain the swampy ground and create new subdivisions. By 1930, the reclamation projects were completed.

The Levee Board built the finishing touch in 1929. Along with the stepped, concrete wall, they created Lakeshore Drive for access to recreational areas along the lakefront. Previous generations traveled out to the lakefront resorts at West End, Spanish Fort, and Milneburg via train/streetcar. With the completion of Lakeshore Drive, driving along the lake became a pleasant experience.

The monuments

Both of Shushan’s monuments contain the same text, with the name as the only change:

Constructed During the Administration of
HUEY P. LONG, Governor
by the
Board of Levee Commissioners
of the
Orleans Levee District
1930

The stones then list the members of the board and the various people who worked the projects. While John Riess built the lock, Orleans Dredging Company built the seawall.

Vanished

Shushan’s Monuments display Abe’s name, as president of the board. Shushan is seen in the seawall photo, inspecting the massive tablet. Abe got his start in his family’s business, Shushan Brothers. Shushan Brothers sold dry goods wholesale. Additionally, they operated retail toy stores. Abe left the business founded by his father and uncle, entering government as a strong supporter of Huey P. Long. He moved up in the Long organization. They arranged his appointment to the Levee Board.. Accordingly, the board named New Orleans Lakefront Airport (NOL) for Shushan. In 1935, the government indicted and tried him for tax fraud. Furthermore, they charged him with money laundering. While Shushan was acquitted, the Longs cut him loose. Although he was cleared, the trial exposed massive corruption. So, his name was removed from just about everything it was visible on, including these monuments.

 

 

Railroad Enticements

Railroad Enticements

Railroad enticements in 1924 included Asheville, NC and Cincinnati.

railroad enticements

Railroad enticements

A few ads from the Times-Picayune, 13-August-1924. These railroad enticements appealed to New Orleanians wrestling with the dog days of summer. The Louisville and Nashville advertised sleeper service to Asheville, NC, and the Southern Railway System ran trains to Cincinnati. The L&N trains departed New Orleans from their depot at Canal Street by the river. Southern Railway trains operated from Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets. Both railroads (as well as most of the others) maintained ticket offices on the ground floor of the St. Charles Hotel. The photo is of the L&N’s “Pan American” train, which ran from New Orleans to Cincinnati.

Asheville

railroad enticements

“The temperature at this famous vacation land is delightfully cool and invigorating. Get some mountain air into your lungs, and come back to the South benefited by your vacation.”

L&N offered sleeper car service from New Orleans to Asheville. The trains left New Orleans at 8:30am, arriving the next morning.

Rising Rates

railroad enticements

“Are Railroad Rates Too High?” – L&N addressed the concerns of the various businesses they serviced. The railroads moved goods across the country in the 1920s. The dominance of trucking and the Interstate highway system did not come until the 1950s. “Cold facts and not wild fancies are shown by the figures here presented.”

Southern Railway

railroad enticements

While the L&N’s railroad enticements were to the cool mountain air, Southern advertised service to the cities. Two drains daily in 1924, leaving New Orleans at 8:30am and 8:10pm. The day train reached Birmingham, AL, by 6:55pm that evening, and Cincinnati at 9:30am the next morning. The evening train reached Birmingham for breakfast, terminating at Cincinnati at 8:55pm.

Unlike the Pan American’s all-sleeper service on the L&N, Southern Railway offered service via Pullman Sleeping Cars and standard coaches. That enabled the railroad to offer comfort as well as economy fares. Trains included dining cars.

 

 

Pontchartrain Beach 1934

Pontchartrain Beach 1934

Harry Batt, Jr., promoted Pontchartrain Beach 1934 in the local paper.

pontchartrain beach

Pontchartrain Beach 1934

pontchartrain beach 1934

A full-page advertisement in the Times-Picayune, 1-July-1934, offered readers prizes at Pontchartrain Beach 1934. Participating stores included White Bros. jewelers, Cary and Helwick Hardware, Oliver H. Van Horn, Arrow Family Outfitters, and The Pants Store.

Pontchartrain Beach on the Bayou

Pontchartrain Beach 1934

Entrance to Pontchartrain Beach, when it was located along Bayou St. John.

Harry Batt, Jr., opened Pontchartrain Beach in 1929. He placed his amusement park on the east side of Bayou St. John at the lake. The Spanish Fort amusement area occupied the west side of the bayou for decades. Those attractions declined in the 1920s. So, Batt leased the land on the other side and opened a new attraction. Additionally, Batt’s experience selling ice to Spanish Fort attractions gave him knowledge of the area. He promoted the park with ads in the daily newspapers.

Co-op advertising

The concept of “co-operative” advertising benefits small businesses. On their own, a business may not be able to afford a full-page ad. So, if they pooled their funds with other businesses, the all received better visibility. Notice that the advertisers here don’t really overlap in terms of products. The most common co-op ads were from a manufacturer, who then listed the stores selling their products. Here, Pontchartrain Beach worked with stores to offer prizes for events and contests at the amusement park.

Getting to the Beach

pontchartrain beach 1934

ad for New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated, 1-June-1934

The route to Pontchartrain Beach at this time was the Spanish Fort streetcar line. Initially, folks traveled to the Bayou via rail service. When electric streetcars came on the scene in the 1890s, the amusement area at Spanish Fort was in decline.

That changed in 1911. New Orleans Railway and Light Company, NOPSI’s predecessor, offered electric streetcar service back to the bayou. The line followed the route of the West End line. When it reached Adams Street in Lakeview (now Allen Toussaint Blvd.), the line turned right, ending at the Bayou. When Batt opened his park, all folks had to do was cross the bridge and go ride the rides.

Milneburg

lake pontchartrain 1934

Pontchartrain Beach moved from the bayou to Milneburg in 1939. That’s another story, but Batt continued to promote the park regularly in the newspaper. For more history on Da Beach and Lake Pontchartrain, check out Catherine Campanella’s books on the subject.

Bridge Administration Building, Jefferson #TrainThursday

The Huey P. Long Bridge Administration Building, on the east bank.

bridge administration building

Bridge Administration Building

The State of Louisiana built the Huey P. Long Bridge in 1934-35. They included a Bridge Administration Building in the project. So, they located the building on the East Bank side. It stood in what is now Elmwood, Louisiana. From the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) survey summary:

Significance: The Huey P. Long Bridge, Administration was built as part of the Huey P. Long Bridge project and designated as Contract No. 10. It was built to house the administrative offices of the Louisiana Highway and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Commission. Also the control room for the bridge operations. The simple Modern/Beaux-Arts style building was designed by renowned Lousiana Architects; Weiss, Dreyfous & Seiferth of New Orleans who also designed the new nationally significant 1932 Modern/Beaux-Arts style Louisiana State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

bridge administration building

Building floor plan

HAER surveys, along with Historic American Building Surveys (HABS) are done by the Department of the Interior to preserve detailed records of historic structures which may end up demolished at some point. For example, there’s a HABS survey of old Canal Station (now the location of the A. Phillip Randolph bus facility, operated by NORTA) at Canal and N. White Streets in Mid-City. While the best result for these buildings would be preservation, at least we have these records.

Crossing the river

bridge administration building

Plaque marking the construction of the Huey.

The Huey P. Long Bridge provided New Orleans with its first overhead river crossing, Prior to its opening, people and goods crossed via ferries. A number of companies operated passenger ferries. Morgan Steamship (Southern Pacific Railroad) operated a ferry in the Marigny. It moved railcars from Esplanade Avenue to Algiers. From there, trains traveled to Houston and points West. SP later constructed ferry landings in Jefferson and Avondale. They used that crossing until the Huey opened.

Control room?

bridge administration building

Phone box used by the Huey P. Long Bridge staff in the Bridge Administration Building

The building housed the Louisiana Highway Commision and the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad.  Additionally, it included a “control room” for the bridge. The Public Belt staff monitored railroad traffic on the approaches. Automobile traffic was secondary to rail for decades. (Anyone driving the original auto lanes on the Huey appreciates this.) The control room maintained communications with the switch towers. Supervisors manned the control room. Phones routed through the switchboard room.

Bridge Administration Building

Switchboard room

Fate of the building

NPS published this HAER in 1968. The Public Belt demolished it after the survey. Additionally, a self-storage facility now stands on the site.

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922 had a rose theme.

Proteus 1922

Proteus 1922

Krewe of Proteus chose “The Romance of the Rose” for their theme in 1922. Thanks to the Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, for maintaining the krewe’s archives. Those archives include design sketches of their floats throughout the years. This post features three floats from that parade, “The Painted Wall,” “Love Conquers All,” and “Sir Mirth’s Garden.”

Proteus first paraded in 1882. They took a hiatus from 1993 to 2004, because of the controversial “Mardi Gras Ordinance” of 1993. Proteus returned to the streets in 2004. The krewe quarantined in 2021, but plan to parade on Lundi Gras 2022.

Le Roman de la Rose

Proteus 1922

Title float, Proteus, 1922

Like the other “old line,” debutante krewes, Proteus often chose themes from literature and history. “The Romance of the Rose” is a typical choice. From Wikipedia:

Le Roman de la Rose (The Romance of the Rose) is a medieval poem written in Old French and presented as an allegorical dream vision. As poetry, The Romance of the Rose is a notable instance of courtly literature, purporting to provide a “mirror of love” in which the whole art of romantic love is disclosed. Its two authors conceived it as a psychological allegory; throughout the Lover’s quest, the word Rose is used both as the name of the titular lady and as an abstract symbol of female sexuality.

To put this in Carnival terms, the poem offered the krewe a fertile ground for beautiful costumes and floats. Even if most of the parade-goers in 1922 had no idea about the poem, red! roses! costumes! The float designs lived up to the ambition.

“The Painted Wall”

Proteus 1922

“The Painted Wall”

Standing between “The Lover,” and the object of his desire, “The Rose,” was “The Painted Wall.” To reach his desire, the wall required our protagonist to overcome the trials of Poverty, Villainy, and Hate, among others. This float creates positions for six riders a side, with The Lover up front.

“Sir Mirth’s Garden”

"Sir Mirth's Garden" Proteus 1922

“Sir Mirth’s Garden” Proteus 1922

Once he passes The Painted Wall, The Lover approaches the walled garden of Sir Mirth. Inside, he encounters couples dancing, led by Sir Mirth Lady Gladness.

Love Conquers All

proteus 1922

“Omnia Vincit Amor”

This float bears the saying, “Omnia Vincit Amor” on the side. “Love Comquers All.” At the front of the float stands The Lover. The Rose, an artistic blending of a lovely flower with a woman at the center, highlights the float.

Floats then and now

Proteus 1922 floats sit atop old wooden wagons. The krewe use these same wagons to this day (well, to be sure, they’re regularly maintained/rebuilt). Proteus limits its size, so mega-floats are unnecessary. Additionally, a number of the members of Proteus also belong to other “old-line” krewes. It’s important to remember, these organizations present their daughters and granddaughters to society at their respective balls. Before the growth of parading organizations, the actual old-line parades served as glorified transportation to the bal masque.