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…
LOG RIDE”

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.

Evolution

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 Pontchartrain-Beach.com

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.

Elysian Fields 1938

Elysian Fields 1938

Before Elysian Fields took you to UNO, there was the Pontchartrain Railroad.

ford truck at elysian fields and gentilly 1938

Elysian Fields in 1938

Photo of Gentilly Road at Elysian Fields, 1938. A Ford Model T truck heads westbound on Gentilly, Behind the truck is a dirt road which later becomes Elysian Fields Avenue. Prior to this, this Gentilly Road was the half-way point for the Pontchartrain Railroad (PRR). The PRR ran from Chartres Street in the Marigny up to Milneburg. The Louisville & Nashville discontinued the PRR in 1931. So, by 1938, the street had yet to replace the train tracks.

Hebrew Rest Cemetery is visible on the left. A consortium of Jewish congregations bought land on the Gentilly Ridge. The high ground of the ridge facilitated in-ground burials.

Railroad versus canal

The first link between the city and the lake was the combination of the Carondelet Canal and Bayou St. John. The Creoles built the canal in 1795. They leveraged the bayou to complete a waterway. The Anglo-Irish community built the second connection, the New Basin Canal. So, by the 1840s, both sides of Canal Street had a link to the lake.

Businessmen in Gentilly went in a different direction. While developers did consider a canal to the east of the city, linking Faubourg Marigny with the lake, they scrapped the plan. Instead, investors built a railroad from the established neighborhood and the lake. The PRR opened in 1831. Ships docked at Port Pontchartrain and trains took goods down to the riverfront. As Milneburg developed, passengers used the six-mile route to go to the lake for day trips.

L&N takes over

The PRR sold out to the New Orleans, Mobile and Texas Railroad in 1871. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad leased the PRR route in 1880. They bought it outright in 1881. The L&N bought the PRR to extend their system to the port of New Orleans. So, they didn’t really care much about Port Pontchartrain. So, the full run to Lake Pontchartrain became more passenger than cargo. Milneburg offered hotels, restaurants, and fishing camps to New Orleanians. By 1930, L&N lost interest in keeping up the full PRR route. The final trains to Milneburg ran in 1932.

Works Progress Administration

By the late 1930s, the tracks vanished. A dirt/shell road replaced the right-of-way. The neighborhood expanded at this time, laying the foundation for the Gentilly subdivisions that popped up after World War II. When the Works Progress Administration (WPA) came to New Orleans in 1939, paving roads in Gentilly ranked high on the project list. WPA created the grid of Gentilly streets as we know them in 1939-1940. Elysian Fields Avenue linked Gentilly Road to the new bath house facility built at Milneburg. They accepted Harry Batt, Jr.’s bid to move his amusement park from Bayou St. John and the lake to the end of Elysian Fields. NOPSI set up bus service from downtown to the new “Pontchartrain Beach” amusement area.

Sixteen years after this photo, post-war growth in Gentilly included the opening of Cor Jesu High School. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart built the school on Elysian Fields, in what was the land to the right of this photo.

The truck

I like to think the truck in this photo was one of the ones used by the Zuppardo family at this time. The Zuppardo’s started with a mule-drawn wagon, bringing over-ripe bananas from the port up into Gentilly. The business became profitable, and the family built a roadside stand on Gentilly Road. They replaced the wagons with trucks. Eventually the business became Zuppardo’s Supermarket. The family operated the store on the corner of Elysian Fields and Gentilly until Hurricane Katrina.

Norfolk Southern Back Belt map 1918

Norfolk Southern Back Belt map 1918

The current Norfolk Southern Back Belt dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.

norfolk southern back belt

Norfolk Southern Back Belt in 1918

Map of New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) trackage as of 30-June-1918. This path across Orleans Parish became known as the “Back Belt,” in comparison to the “Public Belt” route that hugs the river and services the wharves. The NOTC acquired the land for the Back Belt in the early 1900s. While I don’t have documentation, it’s likely no coincidence that merchant and developer Leon Fellman bought the 1201 block of Canal Street. Did he know about the plans of the railroad men? NOTC later merged with the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad, which in turn merged into the Southern Railway system in 1916. That’s how the route became part of the current Norfolk Southern System.

City bypass

The idea behind the Back Belt was to bypass most of the populated areas of Orleans Parish. The Back Belt originates in Jefferson Parish. It splits off of the former Illinois Central (now Canadian National) main line at Causeway Blvd. That’s the “Shrewsbury” reference on the map. It crossed the New Canal via a bascule bridge just north of Metairie Road. From there, the route crosses the city, then turns towards the river in St. Bernard Parish.

The city naturally developed in succeeding years. Lakeview and Gentilly caught up with the Back Belt by the 1920s. The Levee Board’s land reclamation projects in the 1920s opened up the area. As part of the Works Progress Administration projects of the Great Depression Era, the Back Belt expanded. WPA constructed underpasses at grade crossings throughout the city. So, once the route clears Carrollton Avenue in Metairie, there are no grade crossings for trains until they cross Lake Pontchartrain and reach Slidell.

The Terminal

The last Southern Railway train,

Terminal Station, late 1910s

NOTC connected the Back Belt to downtown in 1908. They built Terminal Station at Canal and Basin Streets. The route ran adjacent to St. Louis Street through Mid-City. It linked up with the Back Belt at Greenwood Cemetery. Southern Railway used this connection for their “Bernadotte Yard,” so named because the yard started just below the connection point, at Bernadotte and St. Louis Streets.

Terminal Station operated from 1908 to 1954. The city constructed Union Passenger Terminal, shifting all passenger rail operations to the new station. The city demolished Terminal Station in 1956. The link to the Back Belt re-routed to follow the Pontchartrain Expressway. Today, Amtrak’s Crescent route uses that connection. The Back Belt continues to be incredibly busy, used by Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, CSX, Canadian National/KCS and Amtrak.

Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Brother Martin High School’s spring fundraising campaign is “Martin Madness”

martin madness

Martin Madness

Sharing some history, reflections, and thoughts on the influence of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, from the Civil War to the present.


Here’s the PDF

Go support Brother Martin High!

Podcast 40 – New Orleans King Cakes

Podcast 40 – New Orleans King Cakes

New Orleans King Cakes date back centuries, with exciting times ahead.

a carnival primer, new orleans king cake

King Cake from Adrian’s Bakery in Gentilly

New Orleans King Cakes

From Twelfth Night to the start of parades, the public face of Carnival is the King Cake. Let’s run down some of the background on this wonderful tradition. Note that this is background, history. Your preferred modern king cake is up to you!

Here’s the YouTube version of the pod. As we’ve mentioned previously, I record the pod using Zoom. It’s wonderful, because Zoom generates audio and video. I like to think the audio version of the pod is more fun, but what the heck.

Show notes

Here’s the PDF of the images, so you can follow along with the audio.

new orleans king cake

The Clay Monument. On 31-December-1869, the Twelfth Night Revelers invited New Orleans to see them pass by the Clay Monument on January 6, 1870. As mentioned in the pod, we’re going to have to do a full episode on the monument’s history. The reason TNR used this landmark as a gathering point was its size. The original monument dominated the three-way corner of Canal, Royal, and St. Charles Streets. Can you imagine this beast of a monument in the middle of modern Canal Street? Perfect place to tell the city, “come see us.” This is a Theodore Lilienthal photo.

new orleans king cakes

Restaurant Antoine: New Orleans’ oldest restaurant, on St. Louis Street, between Royal and Bourbon. Several of the dining rooms at the restaurant are named after Carnival organizations. This is the Twelfth Night Revelers room.

Bakeries

Tastee-McKenzie

Adrian’s Bakery in Gentilly

Blue Dot Donuts

Bywater Bakery

King Cake Hub

King Cake Hub, located at Zony Mash Brewery, 1464 S. Broad, is a great option for one-stop king cake shopping. You’re looking to have a king cake tasting at the house, or at work? No better way to get a sampling of different styles than here.

CORRECTION: I said North Broad for the location of King Cake Hub at Zony Mash when it should be SOUTH Broad!