Maison Blanche World War I

Maison Blanche World War I

Advertising for Maison Blanche World War I focused on readiness.

maison blanche world war I

Maison Blanche World War I

Two ads in the Times-Picayune, 24-August-1917, illustrate the targeting of Maison Blanche World War I. The smaller ad ran on page two, whereas the large ad ran on the back page of the fourteen-page edition. The smaller ad suggests buying your man a sweater, as he packs to leave for boot camp at Leon Springs in Texas. The larger ad offers the shopper discounts on a wide spectrum of items, from note paper to women’s shoes to various men’s items.

Entering the War

maison blanche world war I

By the time of Maison Blanche World War I, Europe entered its third year of total war. The United States joined the war, on the side of France and the United Kingdom, on April 6, 1917. Money, goods,, and supplies traveled across the Atlantic almost immediately. American troops arrived in Europe in the summer of 1918. The summer of 1917 was that wartime period where excited young men joined up to defend their families. They went off to boot camp, returning home on leave in spiffy uniforms. Anxiety over trench warfare and the horrid conditions on the Western Front were distant.

Wives and mothers prepared for war with two approaches. First, they purchased clothing and supplies for the menfolk. While the Army provided the basics, there were always things soldiers needed and wanted. Second, the women prepared for rationing and other belt-tightening moves. Maison Blanche World War I recognized this. Instead of tantalizing the shopper with a new dress, fancy shoes, or furniture upgrades, we see a lot of practical items on sale.The department stores focused on page one and page two of the newspaper. With only fourteen pages in the edition, there was no full-page ad for MB in one section, Holmes in the next. Readers caught the latest news, turned the page, then spotted store ads. More extravagant sales and shopping came to New Orleans in the aftermath of the war.

Podcast 27 –  22-June-2019 – WWI, Voudou

Podcast 27 – 22-June-2019 – WWI, Voudou

Two short segments on NOLA History Guy Podcast 22-June-2019

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

Exhibit from the WWI Museum

NOLA History Guy Podcast 22-June-2019

We’re back after a week off, while we celebrated LT Firstborn’s master’s degree! The submariner earned a master’s in Military History from the US Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He spent the year as a student living in Kansas City, MO. So, we went up to see him graduate and have him show us around.

On the last day of the adventure, last Monday, we went to the National WWI Museum and Memorial. While it’s natural for New Orleanians in particular to compare the museum here with the one in KC, they’re quite different.

St. John’s Eve

NOLA History Guy Podcast 22-June-2019

Clip from the New Orleans Times, 25-June-1870

Our pick of the week from Today in New Orleans History is a bit of a cheat. We picked Sunday, 23-June, because it’s St. John’s Eve. Pre-Christian religions celebrated the Summer Solstice for thousands of years. When Christianity moved into Northern Europe, the priests integrated pre-Christian celebrations into the church’s liturgical calendar. Mid-summer, the solstice, became the Feast of St. John. The night before offered pagans a chance to hold their rituals.

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

St. John’s Eve on Magnolia Bridge

In New Orleans, those “pagans” were Afro-Caribbeans, free and enslaved. They worked their spirits, their Loa, into the Christian framework.Those who respect the spirits of Voudon go out to Magnolia Bridge over Bayou St. John to celebrate the solstice on St. John’s Eve.

WWI Museum

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

WWI Memorial in Kansas City

The  memorial part of the WWI Museum and Memorial is over seventy years older than the museum. The foundation created to make the memorial broke ground in 1926. Generals, Admirals, politicians, and 60,000 members of the American Legion witnessed the event. The LibertyTower and adjacent buildings opened in 1926.

nola history guy podcast 22-june-2019

Exhibit from the WWI Museum

Until 2002, the museum portion operated from the two Beaux Arts buildings on either side of Liberty Tower. Kansas City followed New Orleans’ D-Day Museum, along with others, in upgrading. While the museum in KC isn’t as large as the WWII Museum, it’s comprehensive.

Link to my lecture from last week at the National World War II Museum.


Canal Street 1918 – Armistice Day – November 11, 1918

Canal Street 1918 – Armistice Day – November 11, 1918

Canal Street 1918 – Armistice Day in New Orleans was a day of celebration.

canal street 1918

Men and boys of New Orleans’ Italian community join soldiers in the 900 block of Canal Street on 11-Nov-1918 (Franck Studios photo via HNOC)

Canal Street 1918

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month. The End of World War I was marked with celebration in New Orleans. There’s a seven hour difference between New Orleans and Paris. So, New Orleans woke up to the end of the war. One of the first gathering points was the 900 block of Canal Street, in front of the Audubon Building, S. H. Kress, and Maison Blanche.

canal street 1918

New Orleans celebrates the end of WWI, 11-Nov-1918 (courtesy HNOC)

As the news spread, people gathered on Canal Street. The worst war the world had known was over.

canal street 1918

Sailors and New Orleanians parade around, celebrating the Armistice, 11-Nov-1918 (HNOC photo)

By the afternoon, impromptu parades popped up around the city. Because New Orleans.

New Orleans – 1900-1915

New Orleans enjoyed an incredible growth spurt in the 1900s-1910s. The Sicilian community expanded out from the French Quarter and Treme, into Mid-City. By 1915, they established their own Catholic parish, St. Anthony of Padua, on Canal Street. The Irish and Germans continued growing in the Irish Channel. The city (well, with the exception of the African-American community) was on a roll. They city built new schools. Streetcar routes expanded. Canal Street evolved into a department store nexus.

World War One

Canal Street 1918

Liberty Bond parade, 1917 (Franck Studios photo)

World War I in New Orleans was different from the Second World War. The war started in 1914. The United States didn’t enter the war until 1917. The commitment of the United States to the European war was quite different than twenty-five years later. The US sent an “Expeditionary Force” to Europe. While the battlefields were horrific places, the “total war” of the 1940s didn’t yet exist. So, the biggest issue for New Orleans was the closure of the Storyville District. The Southern Railway brought thousands of troops to New Orleans. They ended their journey at Canal and Basin Streets, right next to Storyville. The military commanders didn’t want their troops in brothels before boarding ships to Europe. Therefore, City Hall closed down the district, after twenty years. Canal Street 1918 was all about supporting the troops.

The Home Front

canal street 1918

WWI tank rolls down Canal Street as part of a Liberty Bond parade in 1917. (HNOC photo)

Aside from sending the boys to the war, New Orleans didn’t play a large role in the war effort. The city’s German community fell victim to a great deal of xenophobia. Berlin Street changed to General Pershing Street, for example. New Orleans, for all of our French/Spanish/African roots, could not separate itself from its German connections, though. The Germans made it clear they were Americans first. The most important role in the war for New Orleans was buying Liberty Bonds. Financing the war effort required cash. Bonds paid the bills. Even though buying war bonds was a sacrifice, New Orleans, like the rest of the nation, stepped up.

War Memorials

Canal Street 1918

WWI Monument on Canal Street, 1919 (courtesy Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans)

Canal Street displayed war memorials starting in 1919.

Canal Street 1918

Victory Arch in the Bywater (HNOC photo)

The Ninth Ward’s Victory Arch was the first permanent WWI monument in the country. The arch is controversial, because the names of New Orleans’ WWI dead are segregated on the monument.

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0 on the Riverfront, 1930s #TrainThursday

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0 on the Riverfront, 1930s #TrainThursday

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0 on the riverfront.

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0

SS West Hobomac at New Orleans, late 1930s. (WPA photo in the public domain)

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0

This 0-6-0 switching engine is working the docks on the New Orleans riverfront in the late 1930s. American Locomotive Company (ALCO) built this engine in 1907. At the time of this photo, it ran on the Missouri-Pacific/Texas Pacific Terminal Railroad in New Orleans.

The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB RR) ran tracks along the waterfront at number of the wharves. While longshoremen unloaded ships carrying bananas and other perishables to warehouses, then onto trains, many cargoes went directly into railroad cars on the dock. Switch engines placed the appropriate type of cars next to the ship. So, they filled the cars and the switch engine pulled them off the dock. The railroad assembled a short trains just off the dock. They ran those trains to their yards. From there, the railroad organized longer consists to get the goods away from New Orleans.

The USS West Hobomac

The ship in this photo was the USS West Hobomac. It was the thirteenth in a series of twenty-four cargo ships built by Skinner and Edy in Seattle, Washington. The shipyard launched West Hobomac after only sixty-six days. The ship traveled to Europe, hauling cargo during WWI. The ship made two trips before the end of the war.

After WWI, the US Navy decommissioned West Hobomac. It became SS West Hobomac. The Navy transferred it to the United States Shipping Board. USSB leased the ship to several operators. Lykes Steamship operated the ship from 1933 until the beginning of World War II. Lykes had extensive operations in New Orleans. So, it’s logical that SS West Hobomac visited the city regularly.

This photo is part of a WPA collection, which dates it at 1939-1940.

TP-MP Terminal 0-6-0 #2

MP-TP Terminal 0-6-0

TP-MPT #2 is now owned by the Louisiana Steam Train Association.

The Trinity and Brazos Valley ordered this engine from Alco in 1907. Alco built delivered it from their Richmond Works. T&BV assigned it #76. T&BV went bankrupt in 1914, and Barry Equipment acquired it in 1917. Barry sold #76 to TP-MPT. That railroad renumbered the engine to #2.

After TP-MPT folded, Bisso Towboat bought the engine. The engine remained with that company for over thirty years.

The Louisiana Steam Train Association now owns this engine. Thanks to Tony Howe and Gregory Beadle for info on the 0-6-0.

Southern Belle – Kansas City Southern service – New Orleans to KC

Southern Belle – Kansas City Southern service – New Orleans to KC

Southern Belle

southern belle

1940s postcard promoting the KCS Southern Belle.

Southern Belle – New Orleans to Kansas City

southern belle

Southern Belle ad, 1940s

The Southern Belle was the best-known named train operated by the Kansas City Southern railroad. The train ran from New Orleans to Kansas City. The Southern Belle route:

  • Kansas City
  • Joplin
  • Texarkana
  • Shreveport
  • Alexandria
  • Baton Rouge
  • New Orleans

Here’s the full timetable.

The distance of the trip was 861.1 miles, and the trip took 21.5 hours. The Southern Belle was listed as trains #1 and #2 for KCS. The train’s inaugural run was on September 2, 1940. Here’s some footage of one of its first runs:

The train left Kansas City for its final run on November 3, 1969.

KCS in New Orleans

southern belle

Louisiana and Arkansas/KCS Station, 705 S. Rampart (NOPL)

Kansas City Southern passenger service operated out of the The Louisiana and Arkansas-Kansas City Southern station. The station opened in 1923, at 705 St. Rampart Street. Kansas City Southern acquired Louisiana and Arkansas in 1939. This motivated the railroad to operate New Orleans-KC service.

The city opened Union Passenger Terminal in 1954. So, the train operated from there. The original station became a NOFD fire station. The city demolished it in the 1960s. The 700 block of S. Rampart consists now of surface parking lots.

The Kansas City Southern Railroad

The KCS originated in 1887, with the formation of the Kansas City Suburban Belt Railroad. Consolidations and bankruptcy created the Kansas City Southern Railroad on April 1, 1900.

KCS is the smallest Class 1 railroad in the United States. It connects New Orleans and Kansas City. Therefore, size isn’t everything. Therefore, the area serviced is lucrative.

Southern Belle consist

southern belle

Southern Belle ad

EMD E3 locomotives powered the train.

KCS entered the “streamliner” market late. The train’s initial consist combined old and new equipment. The 1940 consist:

  • Baggage-RPO-Dorm
  • Coach
  • Heavyweight Pullman Sleeper
  • Heavyweight Pullman Sleeper
  • Dining/Observation

KCS painted the sleeper cars to match the newer equipment.

1949 Upgrades

southern belle

Pullman Standard ad featuring the Southern Belle, 1950s

The railroad upgraded the equipment on the Southern Belle in 1949:

  • Baggage-RPO-Dormitory
  • 62-seat Coach
  • 60-seat Coach (2)
  • 36-seat Diner
  • 14-roomette, 4-double bedroom sleepers (4)

Sleeper service ran only from Shreveport to New Orleans. This consist ran basically unchanged, from 1949 to 1968. Meal service in observation cars replaced diner cars in the mid-1960s. KCS dropped sleeper service in 1968.

The face of the Southern Belle

Southern Belle

Margaret Landry on the Southern Belle, 1940

KCS put a “face” to their new train. They created “Miss Southern Belle”. The railroad chose 18-year old Margaret Landry for the job, at contest in New Orleans on August 24, 1940. She toured with the train for a few weeks.

The train featured her photo as the drumhead.

End of KCS passenger trains

Southern belle

1966 Southern Belle timetable.

Passenger service was lucrative for KCS. The railroad continued to order new cars into the 1960s. This was the 1965 consist, from the train’s Wikipedia entry:

  • Baggage (Kansas City to Texarkana)
  • Baggage (Kansas City to Shreveport)
  • Box Express (Alexandria to West Yard)
  • Box Express (Shreveport to West Yard)
  • Baggage (Shreveport to New Orleans)
  • RPO-Baggage-Dormitory
  • 60-seat Coach
  • 72-seat Coach
  • Diner
  • 14-4 Sleeper
  • 60-seat Coach (Kansas City to Neosho)

While the railroad publicly committed to its passenger trains, things changed in 1967. The US Postal Service cancelled mail transportation contracts with the railroads. Without that income stream, The railroad reconsidered service. KCS discontinued the Southern Belle two years later, in 1969.

Southern Belle business train

KCS created a business train in 1995. They acquired two FP9As and a F9B unit from CN. The railroad sold the original cars in 1969. So, KCS bought cars from Canada. They painted them in the original train’s livery. Here’s a video from 2017 of the business train:


Carnival, 1919

John Mendes photo - Maskers in the 800 block of Canal, 4-Mar-1919

John Mendes photo – Maskers in the 800 block of Canal, 4-Mar-1919

There were no parades for Carnival, 1919. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, so the krewes did not plan to parade in 1919. The happy circumstance of the war ending brought out maskers and revelers, though. This John Mendes photo shows an interesting group of maskers and others in the 800 block of Canal Street.

A couple of items of note here:

The streetcar is a “Palace” car, from American Car Company. The “Palace” cars were generally considered to be the most comfortable that ran in New Orleans, including the arch roofs. The operating company in 1919 was New Orleans Railway and Light. It would be four years before the big purchase of arch-roofs from Perley Thomas.

There is a “ghost ad” for “Trianon” on the building behind the streetcar. The actual name of the palace in Versailles, France, where a number of treaties were negotiated over time, is “La Grand Trianon”. The treaty that formally ended WWI wasn’t signed until June 4, 1920. Interesting coincidence.

If anyone know what the product/place “Trianon” referenced here would be, let me know. Here’s a zoom of the ad:

Zoom of Mendes photo from 4-Mar-1919, showing "Trianon" ad.

Zoom of Mendes photo from 4-Mar-1919, showing “Trianon” ad.

Parades resumed the following year, 1920.