Flixible buses ended the Canal streetcar line

Flixible buses ended the Canal streetcar line

Flixible buses that ended the Canal Streetcar.

flixible buses

Flixible buses

Aaron Handy III posted this photo a while back:

“Inbound NOPSI Flxible New Look 194, assigned to Canal-Cemeteries, and a piggybacking colleague, both of the 1964 F2D6V-401-1 fleet (194 was next-to-last of the batch), waits at the corner of Canal and Carondelet Streets. May 1975.”

Those green buses are how NOPSI convinced transit riders to give up on the Canal Streetcar. In the late 1950s/early 60s, to get to downtown from Lakeview, you rode the West End bus to City Park Avenue. From there, you transferred to the Canal Streetcar. Hot or cold, rain or shine, you had to switch. In 1962-1963, NOPSI pitched the city and the public with running air-conditioned buses on West End and Canal Blvd. The commuter could board a bus near home and ride in a/c until their downtown stop. No transfer in Mid-City. No sweaty, crowded streetcar. Men in suits and women in stockings arrived ready for work. While there were activists in May of 1964 who tried to stop the conversion, they were way too late to the game. The city approved the plan, most of the ridership agreed, and all the activists could do was sacrifice the Canal line to save St. Charles (their primary goal anyway).

Going home from school

As stated in Aaron’s caption, the 1964 Flixibles were still operating in 1975. That’s when I was at Brother Martin High, 1971-1976. One of the options for getting home was connecting with the Canal Street lines. NOPSI offered the choice of taking the Carrollton line to Canal Street. The other choice was the Broad line to Canal. So, from Broad and Canal or Carrollton and Canal (next to the Manuel’s Hot Tamales stand), we connected outbound.

NOPSI operated three Canal Street lines at the time:

  • Cemeteries, which terminated at City Park Avenue.
  • Lake Vista (via Canal Blvd), which went up Canal Blvd, along Lakeshore Drive, and terminated at Spanish Fort.
  • Lakeshore (via Pontchartrain Blvd), which went up West End Blvd outbound, returning via Pontchartrain Blvd, inbound.

We chose any of the three, since they all passed the connecting corners.

JC Restaurant in #TheMetrys – #FlashbackFriday

JC Restaurant in #TheMetrys – #FlashbackFriday

JC Restaurant and Bar, 601 Veterans in #themetrys (x-posted to YatCuisine)

JC Restaurant

JC Restaurant, 601 Veterans in Metairie, 1960. Franck Studios photo.

JC Restaurant

This restaurant was located at 601 Veterans Boulevard, in Metairie. This Franck Studios photo, shot on 9-January-1960, shows how this main drag of Metairie was still sparsely-developed. The appeal to a businessman like J.C. Landry (the namesake of JC Restaurant) was inexpensive property that was still close to Lakeview. Dorignac’s and Zuppardo’s supermarkets were still empty lots on Vets.

Getting to Metairie from Mid-City wasn’t all that hard, either, since one could hop onto the Pontchartrain Expressway at City Park Avenue.

Underground!

JC Restaurant

YatCuisine’s copy of the New Orleans Underground Gormet by Dr. Richard H. Collin

I posted this photo as part of my regular social media sharing earlier this week. I remember eating at this place once or twice as a kid, but those fifty-year old memories are fuzzy. So, I pulled out The New Orleans Underground Gourmet, written in 1970 by Dr. Richard Collin of UNO. This restaurant guide was our bible as high school and college students in the mid-late 1970s. Dr. Collin followed up this book with his New Orleans Restaurant Guide, written with his wife, Dr. Rima Drell Reck (Professor of Comparative Literature at UNO), in 1977. A second edition was published in 1982.

Collin on JC Restaurant

Here’s Dr. Collin’s entry for JC Restaurant in The New Orleans Underground Gourmet:

One would never think upon seeing the JC Restaurant and Lounge from a crowded suburban shopping highway that this was anything but an ordinary tawry hash house with a large bar. Yet some of the best and cheapest food in the city is served at the JC in comfortable if far from elegant surroundings. The prices at the JC for quality food are remarkable, especially on the bargain nights, Wednesday for Family Chicken Night and Thursday for Beef Night. On Wednesday, five superb chicken dinners are featured at $1.85 each ($1.10 for children). This is not simple fried chicken but chicken Clemenceau, chicken Valentino (with shredded ham), chicken Chasseur (a brown sauce with garlic), chicken Marengo, and chicken Bordelaise, an old garlicky New Orleans favorite (all recommended).

J.C. Lambert, the JC of the restaurant’s name, has been serving quality food for ten years and his place seems to get better with age. The dinners are accompanied by an original Mexican coleslaw and excellent vegetables such as black-eyed peas and fried eggplant. The most impressive thing about the JC is its consistency. the a la carte menu is very good and old New Orleans favorites like shrimp remoulade (recommended) and stuffed shrimp (recommended) are excellent.

There is, every weekday except Tuesday, when the restaurant closes, a businessman’s lunch with the same good food and low prices. A recent lunch of chicken livers en brochette (recommended) was first-rate. JC manages to turn out very good versions of the local specialties, both of the less exalted nature and also dinners of a grander style. There is a good bar from the adjoining cocktail lounge and the usual short orders of hamburgers, fried chicken, and sandwiches. Parking is no problem as the restaurant has plenty of free parking. JC is a good example of a restaurant without frills or fanfare serving distinctive and distinguished food at very low prices.

I need to make those chicken dishes!

 

 

 

Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket – From Economical to Metairie

Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket – From Economical to Metairie

Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket opens new, expanded store in #themetrys!

(x-posted to YatCuisine)

Zupardo's Family Supermarket

Economical Supermarket, on Elysian Fields and Gentilly, in the 1950s. (Zuppardo’s photo)

Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket – My grocery

I’ve been going to Zuppardo’s  Supermarket, either the old store on Elysian Fields and Gentilly, or the Metairie store at Veterans and Transcontinental, since I was a kid. That’s going back to the days when the Gentilly neighborhood had an incredible number of groceries and supermarkets.

Economical!

Zuppardo's Family Supermarket

Replica of Anthony Leo Zuppardo’s banana cart from the early 1900s at the new Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket. (Edward Branley photo)

Peter Zuppardo came to New Orleans from Sicily in 1895. He took a job in the wholesale banana business. His son, Anthony Leo, saw an opportunity with over-ripe bananas. Anthony took those bananas around in a donkey cart. By 1930, the Zuppardo’s parked a truck at Gentilly Road at Elysian Fields. At that time, Elysian Fields Avenue was just a dirt road. The Pontchartrain Railroad closed in 1931, and Elysian Fields wasn’t paved until the end of the decade.

The Zuppardo’s bought the lot on that corner, establishing a permanent presence. The fruit truck expanded into a store in 1937. Those were the waning days of the city’s public market system. That system gave way to private stores after the war. The family made a good decision, as the neighborhood grew. After World War II, Gentilly’s population exploded, as men returning from the war looked to start their own families.Those strong ties helped Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket in later years, in their expansion to Metairie.

Bell Supermarkets

Zuppardo's Family Supermarket

Bell Supermarkets newspaper ad from the 1950s (courtesy NOLA.com)

Economical became part of the Bell supermarket co-op. The idea was for independent grocers to join together to better advertise their stores. This was important, because John Schwegmann’s “giant” supermarkets became incredibly popular in the 1950s. Stores such as Economical, Dorignac’s uptown, and Pap’s in the Ninth Ward all sported the Bell logo.

Economical continued its popularity into the 1960s. That was my first personal experience with the store. My momma grew up in Gentilly, on Lavender Street, just off of Franklin Avenue. She and her grandmother made groceries at Economical. Even though my parents moved out to #themetrys when they came back from Boston in 1960, we’d still go out to see my grandma regularly, and I’d tag along for grocery runs.

Expansion and Re-location

zuppardo's family supermarket

Aerial view of Elysian Fields and Gentilly, 1961. Hebrew Rest Cemetery is middle-left. Cor Jesu High is across from the cemetery. Economical Supermarket is to the right edge, below Gentilly Blvd. (NOPL photo)

The Bell supermarkets expanded and re-located as population shifted. The Papania’s opened a “Pap’s” store on Mirabeau and St. Anthony in Gentilly. Dorignac’s and Zuppardo’s opened stores on Veterans Blvd. in Metairie. Dorignac’s built a store in the 700 block of Vets, near Martin Behrman, while the Zuppardo’s opened their Metairie location at Vets and Transcontinental. My family lived closer to Dorignac’s and Schwegmann’s in the late 1960s, so we shopped there.

I renewed my acquaintance with Economical when started at Brother Martin High School, just up Elysian Fields from the supermarket, in 1971. While we mostly stopped at the local convenience store, d’Mart, we occasionally walked down to Economical for things, particularly when d’Mart employees got annoyed with all of the students coming in. I met one of the current owners, Joey Zuppardo at that time. Joey was Class of 1973, I was 1976, so he was a senior when I was a freshman. (For a full run-down of the Zuppardo family tree, check this 2018 Ann Maloney article on the new supermarket in the Picayune.)

UNO and Redeemer Days

I took many a trip down to Economical with my Lambda Chi Alpha brothers from our house on Elysian Fields near Robert E. Lee in the late 1970s. Even though Ferrara’s was just a two-block walk, the prices were much better for guys on tight budgets, working their way through UNO. After I graduated in 1980, I taught at Redeemer High School on Crescent Street, near St. Frances Xavier Cabrini church. Even though Pap’s was closer to the half-double we rented at the time, I found myself heading back down to Gentilly Boulevard for various items.

Life in St. Ann Parish and Zuppardo’s Supermarket

Zuppardo's Family Supermarket

Scenes from the original store on Vets and Transcontinental (courtesy Zuppardo’s)

In 1986, we moved out to #themetrys, near Clearview and Veterans. While my daddy had soured on Dorignac’s over the years and shopped at Schwegmann’s, Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket  at Transcontinental was so close, it became our grocery. My boys grew up coming with me to Zuppardo’s all the time. As they got older, cashiers would ask after them. I’d show photos of them as Brother Martin students and they’d sigh at how time passed. That little boy who pushed a Little Tykes shopping cart, loading it up with things important to him (cookies and fruit roll-ups) is now a Naval officer and submariner.

I’m not sure when they dropped the “Economical” from the name, becoming “Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket.” The original store closed in 2005, as Katrina left the store and all of Gentilly in pretty bad shape. To this day, my wife still says “Economical,” which I attribute to her growing up in Lake Oaks and transferring from the Broad bus line to Elysian Fields, on her way home from Dominican.

The New Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket

Two Saturdays ago, Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket closed. They knocked a hole into the side of the old store and moved everything into the new one. I’ve been an almost-daily grocery shopper for years. When your store is as close (about a mile) as Zuppardo’s is to us, it’s easy to blow off extended menu planning. Most of my “test kitchen” ideas start at Zuppardo’s Supermarket. The new store opened last Wednesday. Those four days drove me crazy, as I ended up at three different supermarkets to get things we usually pick up at Zuppardo’s!

Downtown Signs – 500 Block Baronne is a treasure trove #FadingSigns

Downtown Signs – 500 Block Baronne is a treasure trove #FadingSigns

Downtown signs tell stories of families and their businesses

Downtown Signs

I’m still in the gathering phase for Fading Signs of New Orleans. Last week, I requested locations of electric signs from businesses gone by. They count as “faded” for the book. The response was incredible! Y’all gave me some great suggestions.

Ryan Bordenave of the Downtown Development District commented on the “Ain’t There No More” group on Facebook with a photo of downtown signs. The photo includes wall advertising and electric!

500 Block Baronne

Baronne Street attracted businesses in the CBD because of the streetcars. The St. Charles Avenue line originally used Baronne to access Canal. Both inbound and outbound streetcars on the line passed up and down Baronne.

The 500 block contained a movie theater and furniture store. The theater opened in 1906 as the Shubert The location declined in the 1940s and 1950s. The Shubert offered vaudeville and burlesque, rather than films. New owners renovated the Shubert in 1950. They renamed the theater. It operated until the late 1960s. The location re-opened as a disco in the 1970s . The theater changed ownership in 2012 and reopened as live entertainment venue.

Signs advertising “air conditioning” hearken back to times when the average house in New Orleans didn’t include that feature. Department stores and movie theaters enabled folks to escape the summer heat for a little while. Not every theater offered air conditioning.

Mintz Furniture

downtown signs

Mintz Furniture, 501 Baronne, 1950 (Franck Studios photo)

The Mintz family has operated furniture stores in New Orleans for generations. Their stores included the Baronne Street location, as well as a store in the French Quarter. The current incarnation of the family business, Hurtwitz Mintz, operates on Airline Highway in Metairie.

The height difference between the Mintz building and its neighbor offered the opportunity to place a wall sign on the side. While the electric sign was removed, the painted sign remains. We’ll tie in both to tell the story in the book.

NOPSI 921 Arch Roof – Nighttime on St. Charles Avenue, 1971 #NOLAstreetcars #StreetcarMonday

NOPSI 921 Arch Roof – Nighttime on St. Charles Avenue, 1971 #NOLAstreetcars #StreetcarMonday

NOPSI 921 was one of 35 arch roofs that survived.

NOPSI 921

Arch roof streetcar NOPSI 921 on St. Charles Avenue. Roger Puta photo.

NOPSI 921

St. Charles Avenue at night. This photo, by Roger Puta, shows NOPSI 921 as it’s just made the turn from Canal Street, onto St. Charles, for its outbound run on that line. NOPSI 921 survived the massive cutback in streetcar service NOPSI implemented in 1964. They discontinued streetcar service at the end of May that year. All but thirty-five of the 900-series streetcars were either demolished or donated to museums.

The Route

The route of the St. Charles Line changed a number of times to get to the present configuration. In 1950, NOPSI discontinued “belt” service on St. Charles and Tulane. That change set the current route used by NORTA.

Outbound

  • Start at Carondelet and Canal Streets
  • Right-turn onto Canal from Carondelet, on the “third” track
  • Immediate right-turn onto St. Charles Avenue from Canal Street
  • First stop: pick up riders at St. Charles Avenue and Common Street
  • Head outbound on St. Charles to Tivoli (Formerly Lee) Circle
  • Half-circle around, entering the neutral ground on St. Charles, just before Calliope.
  • Outbound on the St. Charles neutral ground to Riverbend.
  • Right-turn from St. Charles Avenue onto S. Carrollton Avenue
  • Up S. Carrollton Avenue to S. Claiborne Avenue
  • Terminate at Carrollton and Claiborne

Return

  • Depart S. Claiborne Terminal
  • Down S. Carrollton Avenue to St. Charles Avenue
  • Down St. Charles Avenue to Tivoli Circle.
  • Three-quarters around the circle, to Howard Avenue
  • Up Howard Avenue one block
  • Right-turn onto Carondelet Street
  • Down Carondelet Street to Canal, where the run terminates.

ATNM

There are a number of signs in this photo, marking the locations of “ain’t there no more” businesses. The Holiday Inn is now a Wyndham, for example. The Musee’ Conti Wax Museum is closed. The sign on Canal and Royal Streets grabbed drivers’ attention, to entice them to turn into the Quarter and go to the museum.

What other ATNM things do you see?

Fading Signs

I found this photo in the Commons while looking for images for my next book project. The History Press considers old electric signs for businesses that are no longer around to be “fading signs,” so Kolb’s Restaurant (the sign is visible on the left) counts.

 

Typing Class 1979 – Brother Martin High School

Typing Class 1979 – Brother Martin High School

Typing Class, 1979

Typing Class 1979

Brother Lloyd LeBlanc, SC, observes Typing students in 1979.

Typing Class 1979

Brother Lloyd LeBlanc, SC, observes his students in Typing class 1979. The “typing room” you see here was located on the inside side (further away from Elysian Fields) of the old building. You could access this classroom from either the CJ side, or from the second floor resource center.

Typing in the 1970s

Rolling a sheet of paper into a typewriter, then tapping on the keys was still how documents were produced in 1979. Personal computer usage grew dramatically at this time. Still, when I submitted a paper to one of my professors at UNO in 1979, it was typewritten, on the little Smith-Corona we owned at home. I learned how to type in the room in this photo, in 1972-73. The scene wasn’t much different from the photo.

Selectric

We used IBM Selectric typewriters at Brother Martin in the 1970s. The Selectric used the same keyboard as the first IBM electric typewriters of the 1930s. Those typewriters looked quite similar to the original commercial typewriters of the 1890s. The Selectric was A Big Deal in the 1970s.

Typing class, 1979

“Elements” for IBM Selectric Typewriters. (IBM photo)

The element, the ball with the letters on it, was interchangeable. Well, not at Brother Martin, though, since we used just the basic element. Students typing chemical formulas, however, could switch out the basic element with one with, say, chemical symbols, or the Greek alphabet. IBM made a lot of money on this concept. The student of Russian history needed only one machine. She switched from one alphabet to another with ease.

Brother Martin freshmen failed to see the significance of this in the 1970s. That’s OK, we sorted it out quick enough in the real world.

Brother Lloyd

Brother Lloyd LeBlanc, SC, was a wonderful man and teacher. He attended Loyola in the 1950s, with my mom. I’ve told the story before of how my mom knew many of the Brothers from teaching them at Loyola, or, like Brother Lloyd, as classmates there. Loyola is a Jesuit college, of course. She appreciated the skill of the Jesuits. While Brother Jean Sobert, SC, was the front man for the school in those days, men like Brother Lloyd projected a quiet impression.

The typing room’s volume setting was up there. Your typical classroom was a quiet place. All those typewriters hummed, whirred, and clacked. Brother Lloyd sat in the back of the room, supervising it all. He carried a stick, a pointer, one of those wooden ones with the rubber tip. On the first day of class he held up that pointer. Brother announced he never hit students with that pointer. It was a tool for correcting our posture. The first time the pointer poked me was a bit unnerving. Brother wanted me to adjust my hands as I typed. After the first experience, the pointer helped improve your typing.

Brother Lloyd adopted an all-business teaching style. You came in, sat down, and got to work. Outside of class, however, he lightened up. Talking to Brother Lloyd, between classes, passing by the typing room, or catching him downstairs occasionally, was fun. He lived in one of the houses around the corner from the school. Just a quick walk home meant he was around more than a teacher heading for the car after class.

Other Typing Teachers

Brother Lloyd led the Typing staff. Others taught the class, most notably, the Conlin Brothers, Bob and Dan. Coaches taught Typing, since it wasn’t an “academic” subject. The course material was laid out in the book and in the recordings used to keep rhythm. With more coaches than Physical Education classes, coaches needed class assignments. I never heard anything bad about either Conlin with respect to Typing. The noise level of the room made the usual distract-the-coach banter difficult.

Transition to Computer

As the 70s morphed into the 80s, those Selectric typewriters hit ten-plus years in the classroom. Brother Martin retired the typewriters. “Keyboarding” became the subject. The State of Louisiana required students take a class in basic computer skills. Typing simplified the transition. The spot in the freshman schedule changed names.

Identifying the students

This photo is from the 1978-1979 school year. I graduated in 1976, so I don’t recognize any of these guys. If you do, please comment or drop me a line!