The Sheraton Charles Hotel was the last incarnation of the venerable hotel.
Sheraton Charles Hotel
Ad for the Sheraton Charles Hotel, May 7, 1973. The Sheraton chain bought the hotel in 1965. They re-branded the property, “Sheraton-Charles,” enticing tourists with its proximity to the French Quarter:
Sheraton Gives you modern comfort in an Old World atmosphere, one block from the famous French Quarter
And check those prices! Single rooms $18-$22.
The ad shows an illustration of the third incarnation of the hotel. The summer of 1973 was its last tourist season. The owner, Louis J. Roussel, Jr., demolished the building in 1974. the location became the Place St. Charles office building in 1984.
St. Charles the third
The St. Charles Hotel’s third incarnation, 1940s
Over the decades, the ground-floor storefront shops of the St. Charles Hotel housed ticket offices for railroad and steamboat companies. While some companies operated their own services. others engaged ticket agents. These were the predecessors of travel agencies. All a traveler staying at the St. Charles had to do was go downstairs to the street, find the, say, L&N or Southern Pacific office, and make any changes necessary to their itinerary. Over time, the airlines opened ticket offices, as the railroads migrated over to Union Passenger Terminal, when it opened in 1954. The offices morphed into pick-up points over time. Travelers used the telephone to call, then come get the physical tickets when they were ready. By the time of this 1973 ad, a concierge in the hotel lobby booked travel for guests. Travel agents acquired access to airline and railroad computer systems. They booked and printed out documents for almost all carriers.
The first incarnation of the St. Charles Hotel opened in the 200 block of St. Charles Street in 1837. That building burned in 1851. The second incarnation opened in 1853. It too burned, in 1894. This building dates from 1896. So, while many New Orleanians mourned the loss of the St. Charles/Sheraton-Charles, Sheraton moved to Canal Street. Their 49-story hotel at 500 Canal Street opened in 1982.
Sheraton, as part of the Starwood Group, later merged with Mariott Hotels. So, the ownership of the two towering hotels on either side of Canal Street are essentially the same.
Coach Bob Conlin puzzles over a problem during a hot practice. In the foreground is Assistant Coach Emile Fair. The Crusaders finished 8-2 that year, but missed the playoffs because the second-place tiebreaker went to Rummel, which beat BM 21-14 in week six after capitalizing on a fumble at the 11.
This was one of those days when the team didn’t dress out in full pads. While I can’t speak to the football practice conditions, I remember days like this when I was on the NJROTC Drill Team.
Multi-purpose activity area
Prior to the acquisition of the E. A. Farley Florist property, next to the school, all the outdoor activities, from football practice to NJROTC regimental reviews took place in the grassy area. This created scheduling challenges, as you can imagine. Football and band required space for practice in the Fall. The Drill Team usually took to the streets for marching practice, and we would go out to the parking lot at Pontchartrain Beach to work on routines. The backyard was initially large enough to fit a full-size football field.
Things improved a bit as football gave way to wrestling and basketball. While the two squads separated in the Conlin gym, basketball needed space for both varsity and JV teams. Band retreated to their space in the back of the school after football season.
More green space
After the closure of E.A. Farley florist, the school negotiated with the family to buy the land. The florist shop was a storefront facing Gentilly Blvd. The nursery area bounded Gentilly Blvd, Marigny St., Stephen Girard St., and Mandeville St. It’s now part of the campus. The school converted the northeast corner of the property into a full baseball diamond, with bleachers. It’s named E. A. Farley Field. When my younger son (Class of 2012) was in Crusader Band, they continued to practice behind the school, leaving the new space to athletic teams.
Do you have stories about summer football practice in the backyard? Please share them!
1982 athletic fashions
Brother Neal mentions the length of the shorts worn by the students and coaches. He calls them “pre-Michael Jordan” length. I prefer to think of them as “Magic-versus-Bird” length. At least they helped everyone stay cool for summer football practice.
Governor Elect Buddy Roemer at NOCCA, for an event in 1988.
Governor Elect Buddy Roemer
Buddy Roemer made an appearance and spoke at an event at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, on January 18, 1988. At the time, Romer held the Fourth District seat (Shreveport/NW Louisiana), from 1981 to March of 1988. In the Fall of 1987, he chose to challenge Edwin W. Edwards for governor. He won, and became the state’s fifty-second governor, on March 14, 1988.
Roemer as Congressman
While Roemer later switched parties later in his career, he was a Democrat in 1987. In the House of Representatives, Roemer was a “boll weevil.” He embraced much of the agenda of President Ronald Reagan. Additionally, he was openly hostile towards Speaker Tip O’Neil. So, the Democratic caucus denied Roemer choice committee assignments. Congress became a dead end for the ambitious Roemer.
The 1987 governor’s race
Edwin Edwards wound down his third term in the fall of 1987. He declared his intention to run for a fourth term. This was unprecedented in Louisiana. Prior to the re-write of the state constitution, the governor could not succeed himself. Through all of the “Long/Anti-Long” years, the factions traded the governor’s mansion back and fourth every four years. Edwards occupied the office from 1972 to 1980. The new constitution prohibited him from seeking three in a row. So, he sat out the 1979 race, but came back in 1983. By 1987, a number of politicians lined up to take on Edwards, including three Congressmen: Bob Livingston, Billy Tauzin, and Roemer. Roemer emerged from the pack, Edwards realized there was no way he could win the runoff. So, Edwards conceded on election night, leaving Roemer unopposed.
Roemer toured the state as governor-elect in the winter of 1988. One of those stops was at NOCCA, that January.
NOCCA initially operated as an adjunct to a student’s chosen high school. While students completed their basic requirements for high school at their regular school, they divided their time with NOCCA for arts classes. Eventually NOCCA became a fully-accredited high school. The school’s first campus was in Uptown New Orleans. This is where Roemer spoke. In 2000, the school moved to Faubourg Marigny.
BMHS Pep Rally 1982 in the gym on the Elysian Fields Campus
BMHS Pep Rally 1892
Brother Martin High School was into its second decade when this BMHS Pep Rally 1982 photo was taken. As you walked into the gym (it would be some time before “the gym” received a formal name, seniors and juniors sat on the right, sophomores, freshmen and eighth grade on the left. The band and football team sat in chairs on the floor. Cheerleaders alternated between the two sides. The banner, “WE WANT H.C.” on the back wall indicates the team’s next opponent was Holy Cross.
The Brothers of the Sacred Heart designated Cor Jesu High School as a college preparatory school. So, the school didn’t have a gymnasium in the 1950s (the school opened in 1954).. The Brothers changed this philosophy/plan for the school. They planned for a gymnasium in the early 1960s. The provincial at the time, Brother Martin Hernandez, SC, discussed his plan with then-Archbishop Joseph Rummel. Rummel offered to help with the financing of the project. What was the catch, you ask? Of course there had to be one, but it wasn’t unreasonable. The archdiocese put up money to finance the new gym, if Hernandez and the Brothers increased the building’s size. The Cor Jesu gym became the largest high school gym in the city. Rummel wanted the big gym for Catholic functions, such as the CYO Basketball Tournament. Since the school got the better end of this deal, Hernandez agreed.
The gym didn’t change much after the merger of Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius merged into Brother Martin in the fall of 1969. The back wall featured a “Kingsman” which morphed into a “Crusader.” The front side wall, closer to The Mall, sported a “Crazy Crusader” drawing.
After Coach Bob Conlin passed away in 1997, the gym was re-named the Robert M. “Bob” Conlin Gymnasium. This was fitting on multiple levels. Conlin was Cor Jesu’s first basketball coach. He led the BMHS football team for 27 years.
Amtrak Northbound Advertisement 1984 in the Loyola Maroon
Ad in the Loyola University student newspaper, 3-February-1984
Amtrak Northbound Advertisement 1984
Ad in the Loyola Maroon, 3-February-1984, promoting travel to Jackson, MS and Memphis, TN, by train. The route isn’t mentioned in the ad, but one travels to Jackson and Memphis on the “City of New Orleans.” Amtrak acquired the route from the Illinois Central Railroad when passenger travel was nationalized in 1971. The route continues on to this day.
$45 Round-trip to Jackson
Amtrak to Jackson is an easy afternoon trip from New Orleans. Memphis is a late-arrival, but same day. The full trip to Chicago is an overnight run. Currently, the City departs at 1:45pm from Union Passenger Terminal (NOL) in downtown New Orleans. The train arrives at Jackson (after stops at Hammond, LA, then McComb, Brookhaven and Hazelhurst, MS) at 5:28pm. Prior to the pandemic, the City ran every day of the week. Now, the train departs NOL on Wednesday/Friday/Sunday. This is train #58, northbound. Train #59, southbound, departs Chicago at 8:05pm Monday/Thursday/Saturday. So, my choice, had I been motivated in 1984 to go on an adventure–New Orleans to Memphis. Get there and to a hotel by 11pm-ish. Do The Things for a day and a night. Head home early the third day of the adventure.
Spreading out on the train
When Amtrak began operations in 1971, the railroad used “heritage” equipment from the various railroads operating passenger trains. In 1975, Bombardier delivered the first generation of two-level, “Superliner” cars. So, 1984 train travel meant sitting in a coach car, two seats, a center aisle, then two seats on the other side. You ate in the “Amdinette” car. Now, Amtrak operates “lounge” cars, with lots of windows on the sides and overhead, and snack bar service. Covid restrictions are tight on dining. Passengers order food via a mobile app. When it’s ready for pickup, they receive a notification, and bring it back to their seats. \
Superliners to/from Chicago
Amtrak #58 reaches Central Avenue in Jefferson around 2pm. I caught the northbound train on 30-September:
Not long after #58 passed Central Avenue, the southbound train, #59, went by:
Talking baseball! Derby Gisclair conversation on NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019
NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019
We have a LONG “long-form” podcast today! It’s our second conversation with S. Derby Gisclair, author and historian, about his book, Baseball in New Orleans. I had a great chat with Derby, up at the French Truck Coffee Shop on Magazine Street in the Garden District.
New Orleans Pelicans Baseball
Pelicans manager Jimmy Brown with two Loyola players, Moon Landrieu (l), and Larry Lassalle, 1948.
Most of Baseball in New Orleans focuses on the old New Orleans Pelicans. The club was around, in one form or another, from 1887 to 1977. The New Orleans Zephyrs arrived in 1993. So, the AAA-level club in Denver had to leave that city when they got a team in The Show, the Colorado Rockies. These professional teams anchored baseball interest in New Orleans for over 150 years.
New Orleanians played baseball at several locations in the 1800s. The early Pelicans teams played at Sportsman’s Park. So, this ballpark sat just behind what became the “Halfway House,” later the Orkin Pest Control Building, on City Park Avenue. The ballpark operated from 1886 to 1900. The Pelicans moved to Athletic Park on Tulane Avenue in 1901.
Heinemann Park/Pelican Stadium
In the early years of the Pelicans,Alexander Julius (A.J.) Heinemann, sold soft drinks at Pelicans games. Heinemann eventually joined the board of the club. He acquired the land at the corner of Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues. So, Heinemann displaced a small amusement park called “White City.” Therefore, the Pelicans had a “serious” home. While the Pels were in the off-season, they moved the bleachers up Tulane Avenue to the new ground. The Pelicans played at Heinemann Park, later named Pelican Stadium, until its demolition in 1957. Derby has lots of stories about the ballpark in NOLA History Guy Podcast 1-June-2019.
Other Baseball Leagues
St. Aloysius and Loyola star (later Brother Martin and UNO coach) Tom Schwaner
Numerous leagues played in New Orleans. While the Pels played, amateur leagues also organized. They included workers at stores and businesses. So, these leagues played at local parks. High School and college teams also played. Derby’s books chronicle those teams. Special shout-outs to the “Brothers Boys! So, several BOSH young men appear in the book. So, one of them was St. Aloysius and Loyola Grad Tom Schwaner. Schwaner also coached Brother Martin and UNO. So, Gisclair also mentions the strong teams at Brother Martin High School in the early 1980s.