NOLA History Guy December (10) – Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S. C.

NOLA History Guy December (10) – Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S. C.

Our tenth installment of NOLA History Guy December features Brother Nicholas, SC – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans (BOSH)

nola history guy december

NOLA History Guy December – Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S.C.

Brother Nicholas, SC, was a long-time Maths teacher the BOSH Schools. I had the privilege of taking “Senior Math” with Brother as a Junior, in 1974-75. If you’re wondering how that worked, I attended Brother Martin High School as an eighth grader. My maths skills weren’t top/honors, so, I was routed to “regular” Geometry class as a ninth-grader. The honors guys took “Geometry A” with Brother Neal, SC. The “A” track finished Trigonometry in Algebra IIA, as tenth-graders. They took Calculus as eleventh-graders, and went on to UNO for Calc I as seniors. Not me! I took Trig, “Senior Math” in the old terminology. Brother Nicholas (never “Brother Nick” to his face) was a serious teacher who brooked no nonsense in his class. He objected to the number of Fridays I was away from class because of Debate and Quiz Bowl, and regularly chided me about that.

Outside of class, Brother was a nice man. He chaperoned the school trips to Europe in the summers. Brother studied German with Ms. Palmisano. I would say a few words to him, “auf Deutsch” as he left German II and I came in for German I as a sophomore.

nola history guy december

Brother Nicholas, S. C., throwing out the first pitch at a Crusader baseball game.

As we’re doing with all our images for NOLA History Guy December, here’s the caption for the two photos of Brother Nicholas in the book:

“Brother Nick.” Brother Nicholas Geisenberg, S.C., beloved teacher of generations of St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, and BMHS students. In addition to teaching Math, Brother Nicholas served as assistant principal at Cor Jesu in 1969. After retiring from the classroom, Brother Nicholas remained active on campus, managing the school’s bookstore and as a dedicated fan of BMHS sports, particularly baseball. Above, Brother Nicholas on duty in the bookstore in the late 1990’s. Below, the BMHS baseball team honored Brother Nicholas by asking him to throw out the first pitch of the final game of the 2003 season. (Lower photo courtesy of Mr. Danny Ford, father of Jeremy (’03) and Braeden (’09))

 

The Book

nola history guy december

Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans by Edward J. Branley

From the back cover:

When New Orleanians ask “Where did you go to school?” they aren’t asking what university you attended but what high school. That tells a native a lot about you. For over 150 years, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart have educated the young men of New Orleans, giving them the opportunity to answer the question proudly by replying St. Stanislaus, St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, or Brother Martin. Images of America: Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans showcases photographs, illustrations, and maps tracing the role of the institute in making New Orleans a vibrant and dynamic city, able to overcome even the worst of adversity. From their roots in the French Quarter, moving to Faubourg Marigny, and finally settling in Gentilly, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart continue to make a major contribution to metro New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

NOLA History Guy December (4) – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans

NOLA History Guy December (4) – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans

Our fourth installment of NOLA History Guy December features the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans (BOSH)

nola history guy december

NOLA History Guy December – BOSH – Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans

When my CPA kiddo attended Brother Martin High School, it was time for another book. My original idea was for a book on the Gentilly neighborhood overall. Unfortunately, Brother Henry
Gaither, S.C., nailed it when said, “So much in the neighborhood drowned.” Fortunately, though, the school didn’t drown. While it sustained some damage on the first floor, the Gentilly Ridge protected the campus. It took some time to get approval from the Institute, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Once I received the green light, however, things rolled. Brother Ronald Talbot S.C., Provincial at the time, and Mr. Tommy Mitchell (Class of 1979), Assistant to the President and Director of Development, gave me access to a ton of archival material. Brother Ronald also graciously wrote the book’s foreword. Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans begins with origins of the BOSH ministry on the Gulf Coast and continues right up to the book’s publication.

St. Aloysius College, 1869

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart came to the Gulf Coast in 1847. The Institute (they’re an “Institute” rather than an “Order”) authorized a school for Mobile, Alabama. The BOSH moved West along the coast. They opened St. Stanislaus College in 1854. They deemed the trip from New Orleans to the Bay too dangerous when hostilities broke out. So, some of the faculty traveled to New Orleans, setting up shop at Annunciation Parish in Faubourg Marigny. They continued the education of the boys there.

Impressed with the quality of the teachers, Archbishop John Mary Odin, invited the Institute to establish a presence in the city. The Brothers purchased a building on Barracks and Chartres Streets, opening St. Aloysius Academy in 1869.

Officer’s Quarters

The Spanish army out of Havana maintained a garrison in New Orleans when Spain took control of New France. The officers lived in a house at the corner of Barracks and Chartres Streets in the French Quarter. The archdiocese sold that house to the Institute. To record the sale, a “plan book” was created. This was similar to an modern appraisal report. Since there was no color photography, architectural illustrators drew sketches of homes and buildings, along with diagrams of the property to be sold. I found the plan book for St. Aloysius in the Notarial Archives. Here’s the caption for the plan book:

St. Aloysius Academy. Architectural drawing depicting the building located at the corner of Barracks and Chartres Street in the French Quarter, at the time of its purchase by the Institute in 1869. Prior to photography, sales of property in New Orleans would be accompanied by a “plan book plan,” which usually included a description of the property, a map of the city block in which it was located, and an artist’s illustration of the building(s). The building was originally built as officers’ quarters for the Spanish garrison of the city. This is the only known illustration of the “first St. Aloysius.”

The Institute operated the school here until 1892. They moved to Esplanade and N. Rampart Streets that year, taking over the mansion formerly used by the Ursuline nuns for their school.

While the book is a wonderful trip down memory lane for members of the Brother Martin faith community, it’s also a great resource for folks interested in the history of the Third District and Gentilly.

The Book

nola history guy december

Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans by Edward J. Branley

From the back cover:

When New Orleanians ask “Where did you go to school?” they aren’t asking what university you attended but what high school. That tells a native a lot about you. For over 150 years, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart have educated the young men of New Orleans, giving them the opportunity to answer the question proudly by replying St. Stanislaus, St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, or Brother Martin. Images of America: Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans showcases photographs, illustrations, and maps tracing the role of the institute in making New Orleans a vibrant and dynamic city, able to overcome even the worst of adversity. From their roots in the French Quarter, moving to Faubourg Marigny, and finally settling in Gentilly, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart continue to make a major contribution to metro New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana.

Available at local bookstores, Walgreens stores, other local shops, Bookshop, and other online outlets. Give history! Support NOLA History Guy December.

Brother Martin State Championship 1971

Brother Martin State Championship 1971

The Brother Martin State Championship football game comes 51 years and a day later.

brother martin state championship post game 10-December-1971

Brother Brice, SC, Coach Bobby Conlin, and an unidentified news reporter stand by as the 1971 Brother Martin High School Football Team accept the state championship trophy, 10-December-1971

Brother Martin State Championship

There’s lots of hype out there on the current Crusader football team, in the run-up to tonight’s championship game in Da Dome. While the team played in the 1989 state championship, they lost that year. So, the one and only football state championship in the school’s history was 51 years and one day ago. Brother Martin defeated neighborhood rival St. Augustine, 23-0, on 10-December-1971. The teams met at Tad Gormley Stadium that evening. Here’s Brother Neal’s summary of the game:

25,000 filled the horseshoe in City Park for the rematch with the Big Purple. The game wasn’t as close as the regular season finale. Senior end Steve Mallerich set the tone on the first series by sacking QB Keith Pete. Later in the period, Farnet picked off a Pete aerial to set up a [Steve] Treuting TD plunge for a 7-0 lead. [Darryl] Brue kicked a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the half. The second half belonged to the Crimson and Gold as well.
Blindsided by [Ken] Bordelon as he threw, Pete saw another pass picked off, this time by Brue. Seven plays later Treuting scored again for a 17-0 lead. Junior Marc Robert recovered a fumble at the Knight 11 which set up a [Joe] Mattingly four-yard run to complete the eighth shutout of the season, 23-0.

While most of the champion starters graduated in 1972, Juniors Joe Mattingly, Darryl Brue, and Marc Robert returned, leading the 1972 team to a Catholic League district championship.

Coaches

brother martin state championship football coaches 1971

Head Football Coach Bobby Conlin (center), Dan Conlin, (left), and Emile “Chubby” Marks, 1971.

Head Coach Bobby Conlin, his brother Dan, and Emile “Chubby” Marks shepherded the team through the regular season and playoffs. The offense ran a Bama-style wishbone, and Coach Marks’ defense was simply a brick wall. If you’re ever wondering why the school’s gym is named after the coach who won the school’s only football state championship, it’s because he didn’t start out as the football coach. When Cor Jesu started its football program in 1965, Principal Brother Roland, SC, hired Andy Bourgeois (SA 1956) as the head coach. Bourgeois played on the LSU team that won the national championship in 1958. He was one of the “Chinese Bandits,” immortalized by the Golden Band from Tiger Land. Brother Roland named Bobby Conlin as the Kingsmen’s first basketball coach that year.

When Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius merged in the fall of 1969, Bourgeois moved on. Bobby Conlin moved from head basketball coach and assistant football coach to head football coach. Andy Russo, basketball coach at St. Aloysius, moved to Elysian Fields.

Crusader Band

brother martin state championship football game 1971 - crusader band halftime performance

Brother Martin Crusader Band performs at halftime of the state championship football game, 10-December-1971.

Fall of 1971 was the days of the Naval Junior Officer’s Training Corps (NJROTC) band. While Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius both had classic, corps-style uniforms for their respective bands, Brother Mark, SC, opted for the Navy blues for BMHS. NJROTC was a required class for 10-12 grades. So, the band upperclassmen all had the uniform already. It was easy to outfit the freshmen. At halftime for the state game in 1971, Crusader Band took the field in the double-breasted blue coats, trousers, and white combination caps of NJROTC cadets. While the band had a crisp, disciplined presence, they were stiff compared to the high-stepping Purple Knights of the Marching 100.

Then the drum major blew the whistle to start the Crusader Band program. The band opened with a stutter-step march, the kind of thing you’d expect from the Marching 100 or the Human Jukebox. In Navy uniforms. Even eighth-grade me, sitting up there with my gold BMHS sweatshirt and spirit ribbons, was stunned. Now, the band were good musicians, but this was so totally different. Brother Virgil, SC, had us all talking more about the band than the team for a while. The reception from the Purple Knights was mixed. They were both laughing and flattered, knowing that, even though they lost the game, they won halftime.

Prof Taverna and the St. Aloysius Band

Prof Taverna and the St. Aloysius Band

St. Aloysius Band in 1946 was led by Prof Taverna.

prof taverna

St. Aloysius Band

Photo of the St. Aloysius High School Band, 1946. The band wears a classic corps-style uniform, with grey tunics, white trousers, and Sam Browne belts. The belt design was for military officers and NCOs who carried pistols. The shoulder strap supported the weight of the pistol on the belt. Fortunately, the BOSH didn’t issue pistols to the band, but the look was nonetheless sharpe. The band director, to the left is Joseph “Prof” Taverna. The students in white in the center were the color guard. The two young men on the right held the banner for parades. The drum majors wear bearskins on the left.

One of the distinctions about this photo from earlier years is the drumhead on the bass drum. After the war, high schools transitioned from calling themselves “colleges.” As young people came home from World War II, they took advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the “G. I. Bill.” One of the program’s benefits was financial assistance for college tuition. The high schools dropped “college” in their names to avoid confusion.

So, the band reflected this change. The drum head says, “St. Aloysius High School – New Orleans, La.” The large, vertical “SAC” is a shout-out to “St. Aloysius College.” The BOSH didn’t want to upset decades of alumni with a major name change. The band smoothed things over a bit.

Prof Taverna

prof taverna

Joseph “Prof” Taverna in 1931.

The school hired a new band director in 1931, Joseph Taverna. Here’s Brother Neal’s bio of “Prof,” in his History of Crusader Football:

One of the laymen was the new band director: Professor Joseph Taverna. He hailed from Turin, Italy, where he studied at the conservatory. His father was a celebrated composer who was once organist at St. Peter’s in Rome under Pope Leo XIII. Shortly after securing his degree in Turin, young Taverna came to America and settled in New Orleans. Here, “he organized the first boys’ band ever to play in the Crescent City.”

Later he became professor of music at Marion Military Institute in Alabama where he remained until the World War broke out. He led various army bands during the war. After the war, he returned to Marion. “His remarkable success drew the attention of the authorities of Alabama University. Professor Taverna accepted Alabama’s offer to head their music department. Here he trained both the Concert Band and the Military Band, taking the latter twice to the Rose Bowl.”

All that before 1931! While it may seem that taking up the baton at Aloysius was a step down for Prof, it’s not without precedent. Sometimes talented teachers need a step away from the rat race. Since he actually a professor, the honorific stuck. The reference to “laymen” BNG makes is an important one. In 1931, there were only four lay faculty at the school. All the other teachers were brothers. This expanded as the school entered the 1950s, particularly in the athletic department. While there were a lot of well-trained brothers teaching academic subjects, they didn’t coach. So, alumni joined the faculty in those roles. Band was a on-off situation. Prof took care of it for decades. By the late 1960s, Brother Virgil Harris, SC, ran the band program. Brother Virgil retired in 1973, and BMHS has had lay band directors ever since.

Military Style

Prof Taverna directed a corps-style, Souza-style band. The uniforms matched the style. When Cor Jesu opened, that school opted for a less-military look for their band. Aloysius followed suit, after Prof retired in 1961. The band adopted the Navy uniform when St. Aloysius added an NJROTC unit in 1968.

Legacy

Prof Taverna had a strong influence on the school’s music program, and the lives of many musicians. To honor his contribution to St. Aloysius and the BOSH, the BMHS band room in the Ridgely Arts Center is named for Prof.

NOTE: Thanks as always to Brother Neal Golden, SC, for his wonderful work documenting the history of the BOSH schools!

Camp Stanislaus 1947

Camp Stanislaus 1947 continues today.

camp stanislaus 1947

Camp Stanislaus 1947

Ad for Camp Stanislaus 1947 in the Times-Picayune, 19-April-1947:

SAINT STANISLAUS — Not merely a school — BUT A WAY OF LIFE

CAMP STANISLAUS

BAY ST. LOUIS, MISSISSIPPI

Announces its

19th SEASON – FIVE WEEKS

June 15th to July 19th

Registration Now Open

Number Limited

WRITE FOR FOLDER — BROTHER PETER, CAMP DIRECTOR

New Orleans Representative:

MR. GERNON BROWN – GALVEZ 1530

St. Stanislaus College

We’ve featured Camp Stanislaus before, since it’s an integral part of the BOSH experience in New Orleans. St. Stanislaus is where it began:

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart founded St. Stanislaus College in 1854. The concept of a boarding school for boys appealed to families in New Orleans and Mobile. The school grew rapidly, and was well-established by the Civil War. The Institute closed the school to boarders at start of the war. They sent several brothers to New Orleans. They taught their students from the city in Annunciation Parish in Faubourg Marigny. After the war, the Archbishop of New Orleans invited the Institute to set up a permanent school in the French Quarter. He gave the brother a house on Chartres and Barracks Streets. This was the first location of St. Aloysius College. Even though the BOSH taught in New Orleans through the war, we date the involvement of the Institute in the city from 1869, and St. Aloysius.

Philosophy

Brother Martin Hernandez, SC, was fond of saying of the Institute, “We are not here to teach boys how to make a living but how to make a life.” This ad starts with a variant of that statement. In a modern context, this philosophy offers a stark comparison to another local Catholic high school. While the BOSH cherish the notion of academic excellence, the Institute and its schools recognize education is more than “book learning.” It’s an excellent response to recruiting blitzes featuring statistics like National Merit Scholarship Semi-finalist lists. Rather than saying, oh, well, all they do is teach the test, BOSH schools emphasize what really matters.

Camp Stanislaus 2022

camp stanislaus 1947

There were a lot more Brothers in 1928, but Camp Stanislaus is still strong. Check the program out on their website and on Facebook.

Marching Festival, 2007

Marching Festival, 2007

LMEA Marching Festival brings local bands together to perform.

LMEA Marching Festival

Each year, District 6 of the Louisiana Music Educators Association (LMEA) holds a “Marching Assessment” in the Fall. Crusader Band (along with other local bands) call it “Marching Festival.” At the end, when the scores are announced, the officers of the participating bands gather on the field to accept their awards.  For the 2007 Festival, Crusader Band’s Drum Major and two Band Captains, along with the co-Captains of the Dominican Debs wait for wait for their scores. I don’t have names for these young men and women at this time. If you know them, let me know. (I sent the photo to my class of 2012 kiddo, who was Brass Captain in his senior year, but he’s in Palo Alto and not awake yet).

Football Season for Crusader Band

In the Fall, Crusader Band is a football band.Going back to the beginning, the band turned out to perform in the stands at games. While some band programs place football as a second priority, behind band competitions, the Crusader Band’s mission was to support the team. The school and the Athletic Department recognized this, and funded a good bit of the program’s expenses. So, as a five-year band dad, I remained silent when parents whose kids attended other schools fussed about money. They were going out of pocket for trips to competitions. I paid a $50 uniform cleaning fee.

The late Mr. Marty Hurley, long-time Band Director, had a solid strategy for preparing for Festival. The festival program called for performance of three tunes and a percussion performance. Hurley chose a theme, picked three tunes, then worked up the drum routine. One of the tunes always featured the auxiliary unit. Crusader Band partners with the “Debs” of Dominican High School.

The band wore the NJROTC service dress blues in those early years. When NJROTC became an elective course track, Crusader Band switched to a classic-style uniform. The style changed over the years. They wore this set of uniforms through my son’s senior year (2011-2012).