UNO Spring Commencement 1977 @UofNO

UNO Spring Commencement 1977 @UofNO

Brother Martin High played a role in the UNO Spring Commencement in 1977.

uno spring commencement

UNO Spring Commencement in the old gym

Photo from the University of New Orleans in 1977. Caption on the rear:

 “Chancellor Homer L. Hitt, left, and Brother Donnan Berry, S.C., Principal of Brother Martin High School at the UNO Afternoon Spring Commencement program, May 20, 1977, with honor graduates Mrs. Sharon Ann Brown, second from left, who received her degree with magna cum laude honors; and Miss Janice A. Goodspeed, who graduated cum laude.”

uno spring commencement

Brother Martin High School had such a tight connection with the University of New Orleans in the 1970s. It’s no surprise that the university invited Brother Donnan to deliver a commencement address. UNO had only been “UNO” for three years at this time, having changed over from LSUNO in 1974.

Dr. Homer L. Hitt was the first Chancellor of the university. At the time, UNO was part of the Louisiana State University system of schools. The system had a President, and each individual university was administered by a Chancellor and their respective Vice-Chancellors. That changed when the university moved to the University of Louisiana system of schools, and the CEO assumed the title of President. The campus Alumni Center bears Chancellor Hitt’s name. Affectionally referred to as “The Smoke Stack,” the Alumni Center is the last remaining structure from the original NAS New Orleans that stood on the site during World War II. My dad’s first Electronics Shop for the College of Science was in a building just down from the incinerator building (the smokestack).

At this time, commencement ceremonies took place in the Health and Physical Education Center. The gym wasn’t large enough to accommodate a combined commencement, so there were two, morning and afternoon. The UNO Lakefront Arena resolved that issue in the 1980s. The “Old Gym” is still there more. UNO re-named the building the “Human Performance Center/The Athletic Center.”

Brother Donnan was the third principal of BMHS, after Brothers Mark Thornton and Brice Hendrick. He was succeeded by Brother Ivy Leblanc.

Brother Martin Band Summer Camp 1973

Brother Martin Band Summer Camp 1973

The BMHS band directors ran a summer camp back in the 1970s.

summer band camp

Band Summer Camp

Mr. Joseph Keller and Mr. Arthur Hardy, on opposite ends of the bottom row, offered a summer music program at Brother Martin High School in the 1970s. They opened this summer camp to both boys and girls. The students were quite diverse.The group stands at the doors to the “old band room.” At the time, you the band room stood separate from the rest of the school. To get to band class, musicians exited via the mall or the gym and walked around to the far side.

That meant there wasn’t a lot of activity behind the band room, once the class period started. Back in the 70s, when more students smoked, behind the band room became one of the spots to ease the nicotine fit. Band kids tell stories of one of the teachers randomly opening the doors to freak out visitors.

This was the summer before Mr. Keller’s last year at Brother Martin. Mr. Hardy took over as director in the 1974-75 school year. That’s when he brought in his friend, Mr. Marty Hurley. Mr. Hardy later moved on, becoming “Mister Mardi Gras,” as he produced “Arthur Hardy’s Mardi Gras Guide” full time.

The Joseph Taverna Band Hall

The school demolished the old band hall to make way for the Thomas F. and Elaine P. Ridgley Fine Arts and Athletic Center. This gorgeous facility includes the new band hall. It bears the name of Joseph “Prof” Taverna. Taverna directed the St. Aloysius Band from 1931 to 1961. Additionally, the Ridgley Center contains fine arts classrooms, the Chorus practice room, and the St. Aloysius Class of 1944 gym.

Archives update

The project moves along! We’ve got the scanner set up. So, documents and other ephemera assume a digital form. We’re also finding some great old photos and other documents that you’ll see here and on the book’s facebook page.


Passenger Station Locations

Passenger Station Locations

There’s often confusion over passenger station locations on S. Rampart Street.

passenger station locations

Passenger Station Locations

Prior to the opening of Union Passenger Terminal (the current Amtrak station) on Loyola Avenue, five passenger depots operated in New Orleans. Two of those stood on S. Rampart Street. When passenger stations locations are in close proximity, it’s natural for confusion to develop. Union Station (Illinois Central and Southern Pacific) stood on the west side of the New Basin Canal, and the Louisiana and Arkansas station stood on the eastern side of the canal. Since the city demolished both stations in the 1950s, let’s pinpoint both with Sanborn Insurance Maps (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Union Station

passenger station locations

The Illinois Central Railroad re-located to S. Rampart Street in the 1890s. So, this was the first depot near the canal. Southern Pacific, originally operating at Esplanade and the river, later joined IC in Union Station. The map section above (Sanborn, 1908) shows the station (also shown at the top of this post), between Euphrosine Street and Howard Avenue on S. Rampart. The water on the other side of Howard is the tuning basin for the New Canal. (Note: the only part of the canal that remains is out at Lake Pontchartrain. If you go up West End or down Pontchartrain Boulevards in Lakeview, that wide grassy area separating the streets where the canal flowed.

So, building a train depot next to a navigation canal made perfect sense. Therefore, when the city filled in the canal in the 1940s, the location was a logical choice for the unified station.

Louisiana and Arkansas

passenger station locations

Zoom-in on the L&A Terminal, Sanborn Maps, 1940 (via LOC)

The Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad built a passenger terminal on the eastern side of the New Canal in 1923. This map section (Sanborn, 1940) shows S. Rampart passenger station locations. This terminal stood at 705 S. Rampart Street. L&A merged/acquired Kansas City Southern in 1938. Since KCS was the better-known brand, the station changed to their name and signage. While the map still says “Louisiana and Arkansas,” the depot morphed into KCS until it closed in 1954.

What happened to the canal?

passenger station locations

Zoom-in on Union Station, Sanborn Maps, 1940

The New Canal’s turning basin vanishes in the 1940 map. Sanborn labels the area there as “WPA Offices and Storage Yard.” One of the many Works Progress Administration’s projects in New Orleans was filling in the New Canal. The Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (Industrial Canal) rendered the New Canal redundant. WPA identified potential construction projects and threw federal funds at them. So, the canal basin morphed into storage area immediately after closure.

Buy my books!

I don’t normally mention this on every post, but I do appreciate it when y’all buy my books. My “author” page on the ‘Zon is the quickest way to see them all. Of course, supporting your local bookstore, or even picking up my books at Walgreens, or places like Radosta’s in Old Metairie is wonderful. Also, please consider supporting us here via Patreon. One of the ways I show my appreciation for your support is you’re most welcome to ping me ( with questions about this stuff. As a former History teacher, I’m always willing to lend a hand.

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 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.

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…

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.


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

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.