French Quarter Mini-bus #StreetcarSaturday

French Quarter Mini-bus #StreetcarSaturday

French Quarter mini-bus offered an alternative to standard-size buses.

french quarter mini-bus

French Quarter mini-bus

NOPSI 1002, a “Flxette” from the Flxible Company, going down Chartres Street in 1980. NOPSI operated a “French Quarter” line, replacing standard buses with these minis. They re-routed regular bus lines to Decatur and N. Rampart Streets. This lessened the impact of larger buses on the interior streets of the Quarter. While the route changes for standard buses remain, the mini-bus line was not successful. In this photo, NOPSI 1002 passes the side of the Royal Orleans Hotel.

Quarter transit

Streetcar lines regularly transited the interior of the French Quarter, dating back to the days of mule-drawn operation. Streetcars traveled inbound on Royal Street. They reached Canal Street, turned right, then right again on Bourbon Street. Bourbon served as the outlet for the outbound leg of a number of lines.

As NOPSI discontinued streetcar operations on all but St. Charles and Canal, buses took over on the same routes. Diesel and gas exhaust fumes flooded the streets. The weight of the buses shook the streets and the buildings lining them. As the city became more conscious of long-term damage to historic buildings, buses moved up on their radar.

Bus moratorium

The Landrieu administration and the City Council studied the problem of buses in the Quarter in the late 1970s. Concerns related to preservation moved up the agendas. They concluded it was time to pull buses out of the Quarter.

NOPSI buses weren’t the only problem, though. Tour buses from a number of companies, along with motor coaches from commercial companies, transporting convention attendees and other visitors to Quarter hotels. So, the rumble-bumble of big vehicles had to go.

Mini-bus

The city implemented French Quarter mini-bus use in 1978. NOPSI acquired the “Flxette’ vehicles for use on the “French Quarter” transit line. The city banned large buses of all kinds outright. Private transportation companies complained, but they adopted.

Thanks to Aaron Handy, III for this photo!

 

Brother Leo Godin, SC #BOSHSunday

Brother Leo Godin, SC #BOSHSunday

Brother Leo Godin in the “Bursar’s Office,” in the late 1970s.

brother leo godin

Brother Leo, SC

Working the Brother Martin High School bookstore was Brother Leo Godin, SC’s job in the late 1970s. Note the all-khaki uniform of the time. I can’t identify the student in this photo. If you can, please drop me a line or mention it in comments!

The “Bursar’s Office”

At a college or university, the Bursar was the school’s financial manager. While the financial and accounting operations at BMHS were in the “Business Office,” at the beginning of the Administration hallway, the bookstore stood in the Mall, next to the (original) Library and behind the Auditorium. The Bursar’s Office serviced students. The Business Office didn’t want to deal with students, beyond accepting tuition payments from home.

Since a college bursar’s office interfaced directly with students, I suspect this is why the Brothers labelled the bookstore this way. In reality, it wasn’t a financial office. It was where you grabbed a candy bar or a new t-shirt for P.E. class.

The selection of crimson-and-gold merchandise increased dramatically after my time (1971-1976) at school. We were just getting team- and club-specific shirts and sweatshirts by my junior and senior year. By the late 70s and into the 80s, parents were more willing to open up their wallets to buy their sons that spirit tee, or that Crusader cap.

Managing the bookstore

Responsibility for the bookstore fell upon a more-or-less “retired” Brother. There were more of those men around, back in the day. The older brothers lived in the residence next to the original Cor Jesu building. Even though these brothers weren’t in the classroom, they still helped out. Brother Marion in the downstairs resource center, Brother Eugene in the upstairs resource center, and Brother Leo in the bookstore.

Brother Leo taught me Algebra I in 8th grade. The whole four-courses-in-three-years for Math was in place since the start of the school, but all three 8th grade sections, A, B, and C in 1971-72 got “regular” Algebra I. Brother Leo was an old-school teacher. While I moved on to “regular” Geometry, rather than Brother Neal’s Geometry A, the foundation Brother Leo gave us was solid.

It doesn’t surprise me that Brother Leo was one of the teachers who didn’t want to let go of the school experience. Teaching can be a grind. Spending some time talking to the boys, even over the counter and that glass barrier was a great way to keep going.

Desire Line 1978

Desire Line 1978

The Desire line operated as bus service in 1978.

desire line

Desire Line

Photo of a NOPSI bus on the Desire line in 1978. Here’s Aaron’s caption from Vintage New Orleans Transit:

Inbound NOPSI Flxible New Look bus 325, a Streetbus Named Desire-Florida, crosses Saint Ann Street on Decatur Street. Notice the standee window with a billboard promoting WDSU-TV. May 1978.

New Look buses operated across the city in the 1970s. Their air-conditioning was fantastic. The buses skirted the French Quarter, connecting back-of-town neighborhoods with Canal Street, via N. Rampart and Decatur Streets.

Mid-70s bus rides

I rode a lot of NOPSI buses in the mid-1970s. Living in Metairie and attending high school in Gentilly meant several transfers to get home. As a rule, my bus travel went East to West.

Exam days at Brother Martin High School offered opportunities for exploration. Afternoon or early evening bus rides involved getting to Canal Street and City Park Avenue as quickly as possible. Fisnished at 10am? Different story.

Travel to the CBD

Rides home started at either Gentilly Blvd. or Mirabeau Ave. Carrollton to Esplanade to the Veterans started on Gentilly. Cartier to Lake Vista to Lakeshore started on Mirabeau. Those weren’t the only options, though. With some free time, why not pick up the Canal bus closer to the start of its outbound run?

French Quarter Periphery

Step into one of those New Look buses running on the Elysian Fields line. Drop in a quarter, and ride it in. The bus ran down Elysian Fields Avenue to N. Peters Street. From there, a right-turn onto N. Peters. Then that street merged into Decatur Street, than back out to N. Peters again. End of the line at Canal.

Elysian Fields, Desire, and Franklin, along with a few other lines, skirted the Quarter in the 1970s. This is because the City Council declared that full-sized buses operating in the interior of the Quarter were a bad idea. For generations, streetcars rolled inbound on Royal Street, outbound on Bourbon. Buses followed that route after NOPSI discontinued streetcar operation on all but St. Charles and Canal. While streetcars were noisy and slowed down traffic, they didn’t emit diesel fumes. Buses literally gassed out the neighborhood.

There were other arguments for the restrictions, most notably from the Fire Department. Big vehicles in the Quarter make getting to the scene of a fire all that more difficult. So, when the proposal to alter the routes came up, it seemed reasonable to most. After all, most riders of those lines hung on until Canal, anyway.

 

Basketball Championships #BOSHSunday

Basketball Championships #BOSHSunday

Brother Martin High School has a rich history of basketball championships.

basketball championships

Basketball Championships

Crusader forward Leroy Oliver (1975) goes up over Felton Young of Holy Cross in second-round district play, 1974. Center Rick Robey (1974) looks on, hoping he doesn’t have to go for a rebound. (photo courtesy Brother Martin High School)

I was reminded of the 1973-74 season yesterday because of the current story of St. Augustine defeating Scotlandville High School yesterday (13-March-2021) to win the state championship.

This year’s story is of a team that wouldn’t be denied three years in a row. St. Augustine lost to Scotlandville in the championship game in 2019 and 2020. The story in 1974 was of two teams that played each other five times in the same season.

Brother Martin vs. Holy Cross

Two top-flight teams in the Catholic League make for a grueling season. Brother Martin, state champions in 1970 and 1971, returned as a contender in 1973-74. Coach Tom Kolb returned to coach the Crusaders after running the Jesuit program. Four letterman, Leroy Oliver, Rodney Montgomery, Jimmy McCulla and Rick Robey, along with Donald “Duck” Newman, started.

The Crusaders defeated the Holy Cross Tigers in their first district game, at Holy Cross. Both teams ended the first round with 6-1 records. They played for the first round championship at Tulane. Holy Cross won. They met in their very next game, at Brother Martin. The Crusaders defeated the Tigers. They went on to win the round undefeated.

So, the teams met a fourth time, again at Tulane, to decide the district champion. The Tigers lost, 57-58. The teams advanced to the playoffs. Each team won four games on the road to the championship showdown in Alexandria, LA. The Crusaders won that fifth meeting of the season, 67-56.

As Brother Neal Golden, SC, wrote about that year:

Robey completed an outstanding senior year.

  • He made All-District, All-City, and All-State and was selected the best player in the Top Twenty tournament.
  • Rated as one of the top four seniors in America, he signed with Kentucky where he played four years before going to the NBA.

That was three state championships in the first four years since Brother Martin opened. Crusader basketball continued to bring hope district and state titles.

Brother Martin vs St. Augustine

So, the big basketball rivalry wasn’t always with St. Augustine. Like many successful runs (like the Scotlandville run that just came to an end), a school gets that one (or maybe two) players who stand out. The Crusaders experienced this in 2002-2003, when DJ Augustin came to Elysian Fields. The Crusaders were state runner-up that season. They won the championship in 2004 and 2005. Augustin and his teammates were odds-on favorites to win a third championship, but Hurricane Katrina had other ideas.

2009-2010

My band kiddo’s sophomore year was an exciting, albeit grueling one for Crusader basketball. The team played St. Augustine four times that season, losing to the Purple Knights three times. Fourth time was lucky, as they defeated their Catholic League rivals in the state semi-finals, going on to win the championship.

Distaff New Orleans First Issue

Distaff New Orleans First Issue

Distaff New Orleans dropped their first issue in February, 1973.

distaff new orleans

Distaff New Orleans

In December of 1972, a group of women journalists, writers, and others came together to produce a feminist publication. They dropped the “preview edition” of Distaff, a journal for women. The preview generated sufficient interest (and subscriptions) that the team published their first issue the following February. This issue’s editorial describes Distaff New Orleans as a “feminist newspaper collective.” The newspaper covered local, national, and international stories. Additionally, Distaff New Orleans offered the reader art and verse.

Journal for Women

We discussed the history and background of Distaff in our post of 20-Jan-2021. This initial issue rolled out to initial acclaim and thoughtful discussion. While producing a print newspaper (later generations would likely call this publication a “zine”) presented challenges, the staff published for over a year. They ran out of funds in 1974.

Abortion and Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade and the larger issue of abortion rights in the United States occupied the thoughts of many in the early 1970s. While the actual Roe case hits the federal courts in 1970, its journey to the Supreme Court progresses to the final decision in 1973. Distaff embraced reproductive rights fully in February, 1973. The issue included several articles covering abortion from both local and national perspectives.

Drawing and verse

So, Distaff New Orleans opened true to the spirit of its preview edition. While the collective presented the heavy national topic of the time, they also offered local stories, along with art, written and drawn. This combination of verse and illustration appears on page 4:

I am a woman
lost in the maze
of myself.
Women
be my mother
help me
build my wings
and fly.

(the verse and angelic drawing are signed with initials,)

Additionally, there’s art throughout the issue.

Local Takes

Mary Gehman’s article on page two discusses maternity leave for teachers in Orleans Parish Public Schools. Almost fifty years later, the convoluted mess that entangled tenured teachers in 1973 is settled law, with the Family and Medical Leave Act. While Catholic teachers agree to “morality” clauses, federal law shuts much of this down in public schools. Gehman’s 1973 take demonstrates the evolution at its origins.

 

Terry in a Tender Mood – #MBMonday

Terry in a Tender Mood – #MBMonday

Terry in a Tender Mood – T-P Leisure section ad, 28-Jan-1979.

terry in a tender mood

Terry in a Tender Mood

Maison Blanche’s ad on the front page of the Metro Section of the Times-Picayune on 28-January-1979 promotes “Terry in a Tender Mood.” While ads from earlier decades featured drawings from the store’s Art Department, MB used photographs by 1979. I don’t know when this change happened, so if you do, let me know in comments!

Maison Blanche in 1979

Late January often brings chilly weather to New Orleans. This ad presents the feelings we find when marking Imbolc/Canndlemas. We look to warmer weather in many places. Retail therapy brings the promise of fewer layers of clothing! From the ad:

Revealing an unexpected taste for the romantic in dresses, softly subtly feminine. Today’s supple fashion terry takes beautifully to full-blown sleeves, slightly wider tops, gracefully moving skirts, goes to dinner, informal parties, remains cool, calm, collected, all summer. From Melissa Lane, off-white, accented in a new manner with camel, underscores new sleeve interest; sizes 8 to 18. 40.00. Miss MB, all stores. Penny Young uses terry with slenderizing fullness–both top and bottom–refreshing colors: celery or mauve. Sizes 14 1/2 to 24 1/2. 45.00. Better half-sizes, all stores.

You can tell this copy hit the public long before Twitter!

 

MB Stores in 1979

Maison Blanche operated five stores in 1979. Canal Street remained the flagship. Two stores served Metairie/Jefferson, Airline Village and Clearview Shopping Center. Westside in Gretna enabled west bankers to avoid the bridge, and The Plaza in Lake Forest served Da East.

MB offered parking validation for Canal Street shoppers. While the malls appealed to suburban residents, Canal Street presented a number of shopping opportunities. The store’s buyers placed new merchandise and product lines at Canal. So, they walked out of their offices to the retail floor and watched how those products performed. if a line worked at Canal, move it out to the other stores. I’m sure “Terry in a Tender Mood” didn’t stay at Canal Street only for long.