Maison Blanche Halloween #MB Monday

Maison Blanche Halloween #MB Monday

Maison Blanche Halloween wasn’t a big deal. Christmas was the big deal.

maison blanche halloween

Atrium at Maison Blanche, Lake Forest, mid-1970s. T-P photo.

Maison Blanche Halloween

Interior shot of the Maison Blanche store in The Plaza at Lake Forest. The store opened in 1974. The store incorporated many of the design features of the one in Clearview Shopping Center in Metairie. This photo features the open-air center atrium. The escalators stood on either side, with the Fine Jewelry department on the ground floor. The mall-side entrance to the store stood to the photographer’s left. First floor departments included cosmetics, jewelry, candy, juniors and menswear. Retailers always believed menswear should be easily accessible, on the ground floor.

Halloween

maison blanche halloween

“You’ll be a sleeping beauty in dreamy sleepwear by Gilead…short waltz length nylon tricot gowns with matching coats…” – women’s sleepwear, items a husband or boyfriend find difficult to buy as gifts. So, appeal to the ladies directly, before the Christmas ad onslaught.

This ad, from the Times-Picayune, on 31-October-1978, is a great example of how seriously Halloween was a part of the chain’s Fall marketing. Yes, there’s nothing in the ad for spooky season. That’s because Halloween is merely a blip on the radar. The focus for department stores like MB was always the post-Thanksgiving shopping season. While stores like Spirit Halloween, Party City, discounters like K-Mart, and the old five-and-dimes offered what you needed for Halloween, MB and its competitors didn’t bother. Setting up for Halloween required taking space from multiple departments. The managers of those departments and the buyers they worked for balked at disrupting the holiday mojo. September heralded the “Pre-Christmas” promotions. Those sales carried on through November. The day after Thanksgiving marked the formal start of the Christmas season. To set up displays for special merchandise at the end of October, only to break them down days later made no sense.

Halloween in Men’s Suits

So, Maison Blanche Halloween wasn’t a thing. In fact, I took the day off when this ad ran in 1978. The “Haunted House” we held at the Lambda Chi Alpha (University of New Orleans) house in Gentilly needed more help than the Men’s department at MB Clearview. Since we worked on commission, my colleagues certainly didn’t miss me on a slow night.

Hope your Halloween was a good one! This post goes up a day late, but that’s OK, because we’re still in the middle of All Hallows Eve, All Saints, and All Souls.

Express 80 Sunk the Canal Streetcar

Express 80 Sunk the Canal Streetcar

Express 80 bus service made it easy to discontinue streetcar service.

express 80

Express 80 bus in Lakeview (NOPSI photo)

NOPSI’s Express 80

From the late-1960s, riders board a NOPSI bus on the Express 80 route. NOPSI operated this line as an “express” option to its Canal – Lake Vista via Canal Blvd line. The bus, NOPSI 251, is a General Motors “New Looks” bus. They, along with buses from Flxable, replaced the maroon and cream GM “Old Looks” buses, and similar designs from White. The sign at the top front advertises color televisions. The amber lights on either side of the roll board (the route designator) flashed, informing riders this was an express bus rather than the local.

The route

The Canal-Lake Vista and Express 80 lines shared the same basic route:

Outbound

  • Canal Street at Liberty Place
  • Lakebound on Canal Street to City Park Avenue
  • Right on City Park Avenue
  • Immediate left onto Canal Boulevard to Toussaint
  • Right on Allen Toussaint Boulevard to Marconi
  • Left on Marconi Boulevard to Lakeshore Drive
  • Right onto Lakeshore Drive to Beauregard
  • Right on Beauregard Avenue to Toussaint. (Spanish Fort Terminal)

Inbound

  • Right onto Toussaint, heading west to Canal Blvd
  • Left on Canal Blvd to City Park Avenue
  • Right, then left, onto Canal Street
  • Canal Street to Liberty Place

The difference between the local route and Express 80 was that Canal-Lake Vista made every stop along the way. When the outbound Express 80 reached Canal Street and Claiborne Avenue, it didn’t stop again until City Park Avenue. The bus resumed stops from there.

Fares

Riders paid fifteen cents for local bus service at this time. Transfers were free. NOPSI charged an additional nickel for the express lines. When I was a student at Brother Martin High, 1971-1976, I often rode home via Gentilly and Lakeview. We took the Cartier Line (Mirabeau to St. Bernard to Spanish Fort), then Canal-Lake Vista, up to City Park Avenue. I caught the Veterans bus there. Or, if the connections worked. I transferred to the Canal-Lakeshore bus at Canal Blvd and Toussaint. I rode that bus up to the old State Police Troop B station (now the OMV) on Veterans. That’s where I would pick up the Vets bus. When catching either Express 80 or Express 81 (the Lakeshore express), the drivers let me slide on the extra nickel. They knew I was getting off before they went into express service.

Fares in the 1970s went up from fifteen cents to a quarter, with the extra five cents for express.

Sinking the steetcars

How did the express lines help NOPSI discontinue streetcar service on Canal? The Lakeview and West End buses went to the Cemeteries, then turned around. Riders transferred to the green, 1923-vintage arch roof streetcars there. Look at the men in this photo, dressed in business suits. They switched from air-conditioned buses to hot, humid, open-window streetcars. There was no romance of “A Streetcar Named Desire!” So, NOPSI offered them one a/c bus from, say, Harrison Avenue and Canal (or Pontchartrain) into town. That sealed the fate of the Canal line.

Westside Shopping Center #MBMonday

Westside Shopping Center #MBMonday

Westside Shopping Center was anchored by MB’s fourth location.

westside shopping center

Architectural rendering of the re-vamped MB Westside, 1970.

Westside Shopping Center

A re-vamped Maison Blanche Westside was featured in the store’s employee magazine, “Shop Talk,” on 1-February-1970. The store, opened in 1958, as the shopping center’s anchor. After ten years of operation, MB upgraded the two-story location, bringing it into the 1970s. Westside was MB’s only location on the West Bank. The shopping center stood at the corner of Stumpf Boulevard and West Bank Expressway. The open-air strip mall extended out on either side of MB.

Growing Gretna

The Stumpf family acquired an extensive parcel of land in Gretna in 1901. It stood undeveloped for the first half of the 20th Century. In the 1950s, Dr. John F. Stumpf, a dentist planned a shopping center development. The center would front the new West Bank Expressway. The expressway was built to connect Gretna with the anticipated “new” bridge crossing the Mississippi River.

Unfortunately, Dr. Stumpf passed away before Westside’s completion. Other family members, notably his father, Archie C. Stumpf and uncle, State Senator Alvin T. Stumpf.

Grand Opening

westside shopping center

Full-page ad for the grand opening of “West Side Shopping Center,” 31-January-1958. Times-Picayune.

Westside Shopping Center opened on January 31, 1958. Dr. Stumpf’s daughter, Susan, dedicated the center. Governor Earl K. Long and Gretna Mayor William J. White spoke. After a flyover of jets from Naval Air Station New Orleans in Belle Chasse, shoppers filled the new stores.

westside shopping center

Maison Blanche ad for Westside in the Times-Picayune, 31-Jan-1958.

Maison Blanche welcomed old and new patrons. Additionally, three shoe stores, Rexall Drugs, F. W. Woolworth, Labiche’s Lerner’s, Stein’s, and Western Auto, among others, opened for business. A&G Cafeteria, McKenzie’s Pastry Shoppe, and National Food Store offered various foods, and a Gulf Oil Service Station stood ready to gas up the packed parking lot.

Westside versus Oakwood

westside shopping center

The Record Department at MB Westside, 1970

The Greater New Orleans Mississippi River Bridge opened on April 15, 1958. As the west bank grew, a second shopping center opened in Gretna. Oakwood Shopping Center, anchored by D. H. Holmes, offered indoor, air-conditioned connections to its stores in 1966.

westside shopping center

Sign for Maison Blanche in the parking lot of Westside, August, 1958. Sonny Randon Photography via the West Bank Beacon.

In many ways, Westside and Oakwood operated similarly to Lakeside and Clearview in Metairie. It wasn’t difficult for shoppers to hop from MB in one to Holmes in the other. After ten years of operation, MB decided Westside needed a facelift. Oakwood presented a newer, more modern location. So, Maison Blanche upgraded Westside. The company touted those upgrades to employees, generating pride and excitement.

Thanks to the Gretna Historical Society for their article on Westside and the Stumpfs.

 

 

Maison Blanche Clearview #MB Monday

Maison Blanche Clearview #MB Monday

Maison Blanche Clearview was a huge department store.

maison blanche clearview

Architectural rendering of Maison Blanche’s store at Clearview Shopping Center, 1968

Maison Blanche Clearview

Architectural rendering of Maison Blanche Clearview, 1968. This is essentially what the store looked like when it opened a year later. This perspective is what you saw as you exited I-10 at Clearview Parkway (North), and drove towards Veterans Blvd. So, this is the western edge of Clearview Shopping Center. Sears, the mall’s other anchor, was on the opposite end. The three-story location had north and south entrances to the parking lots. The entrance on the east opened up into the mall. Clearview was Maison Blanche’s second store in Metairie, the first being at Airline Village.

Westward progression

In 1947, MB expanded beyond 901 Canal Street. The store opened a location in Gentilly, at Frenchmen and Gentilly Boulevard. They also opened a store in a new strip mall located at S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues. This point was the Southern terminus of US Highway 61, known as Airline Highway here. That highway originated in Wyoming, Mississippi. Before the construction of I-10, East Jefferson residents used Airline Highway to get into town. As Metairie developed after WWII, MB moved west. The store opened a location at Airline Village. By 1969, with I-10 nearing completion in Metairie, MB moved further west, to the corner of Clearview Parkway and Veterans Blvd.

While Clearview Shopping Center fronted Veterans, the mall, extended back to the interstate’s service road. MB recognized the incredible growth in the “Above Causeway” real estate market. The Clearview store would be three-stories, larger than any of the existing suburban stores.

Into the Mall

maison blanche clearview

Shot of the mall entrance to Maison Blanche Clearview, 1971. via the Times-Picayune.

This photo shows the mall-side entrance of Maison Blanche Clearview. As the shopper walked west from Sears, they crossed a central atrium, then walked up to the MB entrance. They encountered the cosmetics counters, as was typical of many suburban department stores. After cosmetics was a central rotunda, with the escalators climbing to the second and third floors on either side. Fine Jewelery operated in the rotunda. Continue the walk west, and the Candy Department tempted you. Then came Men’s Sportswear on the right and Junior dresses on the left.

The store’s angle put the exit from the Men’s department in the back, leading to the parking lot behind the mall. There was a four-story office building separating the mall from the interstate’s service road by the early 1970s. That building housed WRNO-FM radio. Remind me to tell you some stories about that another time.

Intiial design

maison blanche clearview

Early architectural rendering of Maison Blanche Clearview

This rendering was an earlier concept for Clearview. The dark panels on the exterior were similar to the Gentilly Woods store. MB dropped that idea, giving us the look at the top.

Veterans Bus Memories

Veterans Bus Memories

My Veterans Bus memories go back over fifty years.

Jefferson Transit bus operating on the E1 line 16-Aug-2022 Veterans Bus Memories

Veterans Bus Memories

Jefferson Transit bus operating on the E1 line 16-Aug-2022 Veterans Bus Memories

Old and new photos of buses operating on the Veterans Blvd. line. The line, originally operated by Louisiana Transit Company, now Jefferson Transit (JeT), originally ran from Canal Blvd. and City Park Avenue, out to Veterans Blvd. and Loyola Avenue in Kenner. The photos from the 1970s (courtesy of Mike Strauch, the man behind streetcarmike.com) are of General Motors “New Looks” buses operated by Louisiana Transit in the 70s. The newer buses are from 16-August-2022, shot at the Cemeteries Transit Terminal. The Veterans line (now known as the “E1” line services the “new” terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).

Cartier-Lake Vista-Lakeshore-Vets

MC 320 on the Veterans Memorial line eastbound east of Oaklawn Dr. in the late 1970s. veterans bus memories

MC 320 on the Veterans Memorial line eastbound east of Oaklawn Dr. in the late 1970s. (Courtesy streetcarmike.com)

When I attended Brother Martin High School in the mid-1970s, I had two basic options for getting home in the afternoon. One was to take either the then-NOPSI Broad or Carrollton bus lines to Canal Street, transfer to one of the outbound Canal lines, then catch the Veterans line at City Park Avenue. The other option was the “Lakeview” run. We’d take the then-NOPSI Cartier Line, which ran on Mirabeau to Spanish Fort, then transfer to the Canal (Lake Vista via Canal Blvd) line heading inbound. When that bus got to Canal Blvd, we’d transfer to the Canal (Lakeshore via Pontchartrain Blvd) line, and ride that to Pontchartrain and Veterans Boulevards. Then out to Metairie on the Veterans. The buses were GM “New Looks,” and occasionally, the air conditioning actually worked.

The Modern Veterans Line

map of the veterans E1 line, via JeT Veterans Bus Memories

Map of the Veterans E1 line, via JeT.

Da Airport’s “new” terminal opened in 2019. That changed access to the airport dramatically. Instead of approaching the original terminal from Airline Drive (US 61), flyers exit I-10 at Loyola Avenue, cross Veterans Blvd, and enter the terminal from there. So, instead of the old “Airport Express” and “Kenner Local” bus lines, access to the airport via public transit is by the E1 – Veterans (Airport) line. The E1 now goes all the way into the CBD, on Canal Street. It picks up passengers at limited stops along Canal. When the line reaches the end of Canal, at City Park Avenue, it returns to its traditional route. The line enters I-10 at City Park Avenue, then immediately exits at West End Blvd. It runs onto Veterans Blvd, where it heads west to Loyola Ave. The E1 then turns into the airport. It terminates at the airport and returns for the inbound trip. While there is no “express” service to the airport, the price ($2 one way from the CBD) is right.

JeT

rear view of JeT E1 bus Veterans Bus Memories

Rear view of JeT E1 bus. at the Cemeteries Terminal.

Jefferson Transit (JeT) was created in 1982. Prior to that, Louisiana Transit operated buses on the East Bank, and Westside Transit on the West Bank. When the state created the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority in 1984 to assume operations of transit lines in Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish chose to operate buses in the suburbs independently. (The City of Kenner did join NORTA at that time). JeT purchased buses from the two legacy companies and contracted with them to operate the lines. In 2006, JeT consolidated operations under a single contract, awarded to Veolia Transportation, Inc. They assumed control of operations in 2008.

 

Dining, Dancing, Entertainment 1978

Dining, Dancing, Entertainment 1978

New Orleans offered great options for Dining, Dancing, Entertainment in 1978.

dining, dancing, entertainment

Dining, Dancing, Entertainment.

Summertime in New Orleans in the 1970s offered a wide variety of going-out options, from dining to live music, to a night at Da Beach. Begue’s at the Royal Sonesta Hotel offered a different spread on the lunch buffet daily. We would go on Thursdays, when it was the big seafood buffet (above).

dining, dancing, entertainment

Vincenzo’s, 3000 Severn, in #themetrys tempted folks into their world “of Good Food, of Good Drinks, of Great Entertainment.” Creole-Italian food, a solid bar and a good wine list, and a piano man for live music, five days a week. The location is the strip mall next to Breaux Mart on Severn. It’s now boutiques and a Hallmark store.

dining, dancing, entertainment

The Monteleone Hotel on Royal Street presented “Steaks Unlimited” as one of their restaurants. The Sunday Brunch at the hotel featured breakfast food and Creole classics. While some brunch spreads provided the bare minimum for guests who didn’t want to venture out, The Monteleone competed for locals coming into town for a day of sightseeing.

Dancing and Live Music

Disco Dancing at Da Beach (top)! A night out riding the Zephyr and the “Ragin Cajun” roller coasters required fashion choices other than nice clubbing clothes. Still, 1978 was peak disco. So, the amusement park turned the main stage (more-or-less in the center of the midway) into an outdoor disco, Monday thru Friday nights. On Saturdays and Sundays, Da Beach held a “Gong Show.” Local radio DJs emceed these crazy talent shows.

dining, dancing, entertainment

For a show/club experience, The Front Page featured a classic two-shows-a-night band/review. Tommy Cook and the Platters entertained at the Fat City club the week of 13-18 June, 1978. No cover, weeknights and Sundays.

Entertainment

dining, dancing, entertainment

Not interested in sweating out at Da Beach? Tulane’s Summer Lyric Theater presented three musicals in the Summer of 1978. Theater enthusiasts turned out at Dixon Hall on the Uptown campus for “Girl Crazy,” “Die Fledermaus,” and “Camelot.” Tulane’s Summer Lyric Theater is still going strong in 2022.

New Orleans entertained itself nicely during the Oil Boom of the late 1970s. As Boom turned into Bust, we began to re-invent ourselves, offering tourist-oriented attractions on a larger scale.