Twelfth Night Reveling in New Orleans #Podcast

Twelfth Night Reveling in New Orleans #Podcast

Twelfth Night Reveling!

Twelfth Night Reveling

Invitation to the 1884 bal masque of the Twelfth Night Revelers. (Public domain image courtesy the Louisiana State Museum)

Twelfth Night Reveling!

It’s Carnival Time! We’re starting off the season talking about Twelfth Night, the Feast of the Epiphany, King’s Day. There are three segments to this week’s pod. In the first segment, we discuss the history of Twelfth Night, from its pre-Christian origins to how we celebrate Epiphany in the modern world.

King Cake

Our second segment is about the part of King’s Day that matters most, King Cake. The tradition of the king cake goes back centuries. Celtic peoples practiced the notion of the “sacred king”. The village or tribe would choose one of their own, a man, to be the sacred king. He would be sacrificed. The sacred king’s blood would flow into the land, an offering to the gods to ensure a good harvest.

When Christianity came to Europe, the concept of human sacrifice as stopped. The “sacred king” became a “Lord of Misrule” who led the celebrations. The selection process for both roles was basically the same. The women of the village would bake bread or a cake, and put a bean into the cake. When the cake was cut up and served, the man who got the bean became the sacred king. In Christian times, the tale was changed, so that the bean represented the Christ child. That’s where the modern concept of “getting the baby” originated.

The modern, commercial king cake came about in the 1930s. Haydel’s Bakery began to include a porcelain “baby” in each cake in the 1960s. The baby became plastic not soon after that.

Buying King Cakes

You can buy Dong Phuong king cakes at the bakery, or at Pizza NOLA in Lakeview

Haydel’s Bakery

Twelfth Night Reveling in New Orleans

Twelfth Night Reveling

The Twelfth Night room at Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter

Our third segment walks through Carnival celebrations in early New Orleans, to the first parade, Comus, in 1857. Parading on January 6th began in 1870, with the Twelfth Night Revelers. The krewe paraded in the streets until 1878. After that, they limited their celebration to just a bal masque. Tonight, there will be three parades: The Phunny Phorty Phellows, the Société Des Champs Elysée, and the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc.

 

Finding photos in unlikely places

Finding photos in unlikely places

Finding photos in unlikely places

(this article is cross-posted from ArcadiaCoach.com)

finding photos

Carver House Terrace Restaurant at Lincoln Beach, New Orleans, 1956 (courtesy NOLA.com)

Finding photos in unlikely places – it’s fun!

Checking our Facebook group, “Ain’t There No More” (the title is an homage to a popular New Orleans song) this morning, I saw Todd Price of NOLA.com posted another of his “lost restaurant” articles. Todd’s one of the food-and-drink writers for the Times-Picayune newspaper. You’ll see me refer to the T-P as “Da Paper” occasionally. Da Paper has an extensive photo database. Todd makes wonderful use of it. Not really sure how he gets his job done, some days. One day, I’ll get Da Paper to hire me in some capacity. Then, access to all those images and articles is mine! 🙂

Most of Todd’s old restaurant photos engage readers, However, today’s article had a neat find. The photo up top is Carver House Terrace Restaurant. This was the “nice” place at Lincoln Beach, the old Jim Crow amusement park. Here’s Todd’s caption:

CARVER HOUSE TERRACE
The restaurant was part of Lincoln Beach, the lakefront amusement for black New Orleanians. When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the previously whites-only amusement park Pontchartrain Beach was integrated. Lincoln Beach closed that same year. (1956 photo)

This is a particularly nice find, because it’s hard to come up with good photos of Lincoln Beach. Since it was the segregated park. Therefore, you didn’t have photo-bug white folks with disposable income walking around, like one would see at Pontchartrain Beach, the whites-only amusement park. Newspaper reporters didn’t go out there as much for slice-of-life segments, or people-having-fun stories. Most of the photos that are easily viewed are from after it closed, or of musicians and other entertainment acts that played to the African-American audience.

Be creative when you search

That doesn’t mean photos of Lincoln Beach don’t exist. It’s a question of refining search fields and digging in the right offline collections. In this case, Todd found Carver House in Da Paper’s restaurant files. It’s likely that the photo wasn’t tagged with a keyword for the park.

Jim Crow-era research is problematic in general, because so many of the “separate but equal” facilities were anything but. So, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law, those facilities were rendered redundant. White-only facilities were far better, so black folks integrated into those. The other big problem is that Jim Crow-style segregation was outlawed 53 years ago. This photo of Carver House is from 1956. It’s over 60 years old. While archivists will save everything they get their hands on, government agencies were quick to box up segregation and put it on the shelf. Sometimes the “shelf” was the dumpster out back.

Finding photos on African-American subjects

Researching Jim Crow-era subjects? Your best bet for finding photos is family photo collections. Maybe grandpa and grandma saw Fats Domino out there. Possibly they ate at Carver House. So, ask around. Somebody’s got a box of old photos in the attic.

Go dig around!

Maison Blanche Department Stores
by Edward J. Branley

mb book

On October 30, 1897, S.J. Shwartz, Gus Schullhoefer, and Hartwig D. Newman with financial backing from banker Isidore Newman opened the Maison Blanche at the corner of Canal Street and Rue Dauphine in New Orleans. Converting Shwartz’s dry goods store into the city’s first department store, the trio created a retail brand whose name lasted over a century. In 1908, Shwartz tore his store down and built what was the city’s largest building 13 stories, with his Maison Blanche occupying the first five floors.

The MB Building became, and still is, a New Orleans icon, and Maison Blanche was a retail leader in the city, attracting some of the best and brightest people in the business. One of those employees, display manager Emile Alline, created the store’s second icon, the Christmas character Mr. Bingle, in 1947. Mr. Bingle continues to spark the imagination of New Orleans children of all ages. Even though Maison Blanche has become part of New Orleans’s past, the landmark Canal Street store lives on as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

New Orleans History Books for Christmas – Part 3

New Orleans History Books for Christmas – Part 3

New Orleans History books make great gifts!

New Orleans History Books for Christmas – Part 3

Third part of a series. Part 1 here, Part 2 here.

Three more books you can run out to local stores or the usual online suspects to get before Christmas.

Baseball in New Orleans by S. Derby Gisclair

New Orleans History Books

Baseball in New Orleans by S. Derby Sinclair

Catchers and pitchers in The Show report on February 13, 2018. Know your New Orleans baseball history before it warms up! From the description:

In 1887, local businessmen and promoters secured a minor league franchise for the city of New Orleans in the newly formed Southern League, beginning the city’s 73-year love affair with the New Orleans Pelicans. From Shoeless Joe Jackson, to Hall of Famers Dazzy Vance, Joe Sewell, Bob Lemon, and Earl Weaver, to today’s stars such as Jeff Cirillo and Lance Berkman, the road to the majors brought many notable players through New Orleans. From these early beginnings to the present-day New Orleans Zephyrs of the AAA Pacific Coast League, local fans have continued the tradition of baseball in New Orleans.

Yeah, the “Babycakes” is an awful name, but it’s still baseball.

Crescent City Snow: The Ultimate Guide to New Orleans Snowball Stands (Paperback) by Megan Braden-Perry

new orleans history books

Crescent City Snow by Megan Braden-Perry

It’s chilly enough outside that you’re likely not thinking about snowballs right now. It’s still a great time to give this book to someone, to be prepared for the summer! From the description:

Crescent City Snow is part guidebook, part diary, and part biography of fifty snowball stands and their customers in the greater New Orleans area. Keep a copy of Crescent City Snow in the car for when you want to try a new place, and use the table in the back to record your own observations.

I was at a pop-up with Mz Megan last weekend. She’s looking really good, in spite of becoming a snowball expert! 🙂

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line by Edward J. Branley

New Orleans History Books

New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line by Edward J. Branley

My first history book! I wrote this book in 2003-2004, and it marked the return of streetcars to Canal Street. From the description:

New Orleans was one of the first cities to embrace street railways, and the city’s love affair with streetcars has never ceased. New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line showcases photographs, diagrams, and maps that detail the rail line from its origin and golden years, its decline and disappearance for almost 40 years, and its return to operation. From the French Quarter to the cemeteries, the Canal Line ran through the heart of the city and linked the Creole Faubourgs with the new neighborhoods that stretched to Lake Pontchartrain.

So much fun to write, and it’s a great introduction to the city’s Main Street.

Links are to Octavia Books on Laurel and Octavia, uptown. You can find these books at all the usual suspects.

 

Krauss – The New Orleans Value Store

by Edward J. Branley

For almost one hundred years, generations of New Orleans shoppers flocked to Krauss. The Canal Street store was hailed for its vast merchandise selection and quality customer service. In its early days, it sold lace and fabric to the ladies of the notorious red-light district of Storyville. The store’s renowned lunch counter, Eddie’s at Krauss, served Eddie Baquet’s authentic New Orleans cuisine to customers and celebrities such as Julia Child. Although the beloved store finally closed its doors in 1997, Krauss is still fondly remembered as a retail haven. With vintage photographs, interviews with store insiders and a wealth of research, historian Edward J. Branley brings the story of New Orleans’ Creole department store back to life.

Seafood at West End

Seafood at West End

Fitzgerald's Restaurant at West End, New Orleans, 1995 (Edward Branley photo)

Fitzgerald’s Restaurant at West End, New Orleans, 1995 (Edward Branley photo)

The craziest day at West End was always Good Friday! After the solemn aspects of Good Friday were observed, many New Orleans families headed out to West End for seafood. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t exactly as solemn as perhaps the Church wanted, but the food was good. Two of the popular restaurants were Brunings (top) and Fitzgerald’s. Both of these photos are from 1995. My family always preferred Brunings; their whole stuffed flounder is still the standard by which that dish is judged.

The Bucktown Bridge, connecting Orpheum Street in Metairie to West End in New Orleans, 1995 (Edward Branley photo)

The Bucktown Bridge, connecting Orpheum Street in Metairie to West End in New Orleans, 1995 (Edward Branley photo)

We would come from the Metairie side of West End, crossing the old Bucktown Bridge, which, alas, ATNM, between storms and the enhanced flood protection/controls on the 17th Street Canal.

Hurricanes during the 1990s all but obliterated the restaurants, bars, and nightclubs at West End. Even before Katrina, it was impossible for the property owners to re-build, because of wind and flood issues. No insurance company would underwrite reconstruction or new development.

West End for dining and entertainment is a thing of the past, but many folks still have fond memories of fun evenings looking out on the water.

 

 

Antebellum New Orleans – Restaurant L. Boudro

Antebellum New Orleans – Restaurant L. Boudro

Restaurant L. Boudro in Milneburg (Public Domain image courtesy HNOC)

Restaurant L. Boudro in Milneburg (Public Domain image courtesy HNOC)

Lucien Boudro opened a seafood restaurant in Milneburg, in 1842. He passed away in 1867, and the restaurant closed a few years later. The restaurant was in a charming house with a gated garden. The train tracks in front of the restaurant were for the Orleans and Pontchartrain RR, known as the “Smokey Mary”. Milneburg was an active port area in Antebellum New Orleans. Ships could bypass the river passes by coming from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Borgne, through the Chef Menteur Pass or the Rigolets, then into Lake Pontchartrain, docking at Milneburg. They’d get back to Faubourg Marigny by taking the train down Elysian Fields Avenue.

I haven’t found any restaurant reviews for Boudro’s, but surely they had access to a lot of good lake seafood.

Image is a watercolor on linen. Artist is unknown.

West End, 1892

Dinner at West End

West End 1892

Bird’s eye view of Mannessier’s and West End Restaurant at West End, New Orleans, Louisiana. (LSM Collection, in the Public Domain)

Fridays in Lent usually bring out all the memories of going to Bruning’s, Fitzgerald’s, and other seafood places out at West End. Here’s a photo from an earlier vintage of West End, 1892. The restaurant on the left is Mannessier’s, on the right, West End Restaurant.

Mannessier's Pavilion at West End, 1900s. (NOPL collection in the Public Domain)

Mannessier’s Pavilion at West End, 1900s. (NOPL collection in the Public Domain)

Mannessier’s Restaurant was owned/operated by the same family that owned Mannessier’s Confectionary at 705 Royal Street, in the French Quarter. They opened the West End location in the late 1880s. They added a pavilion to the property in 1899, which was taken down in 1911.

At this time, West End was more of a day trip from downtown/uptown. You made your way to Canal Street and took the West End streetcar line out to the lakefront.

(h/t WebsitesNewOrleans.com for the pavilion photo)