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Talking Baseball on NOLA History Guy Podcast 25-May-2019
Early Baseball in New Orleans by S. Derby Gisclair
NOLA History Guy Podcast 25-May-2019
Our first long-form pod in a while! We feature this week a conversation with S. Derby Gisclair on his book, Early Baseball in New Orleans. We also drill in on this week’s “Today in New Orleans History” Pick.
Ms. Campanella notes that Beulah Ledner moved her bakery on Metairie Road on 21-May-1970. I remember Ledner’s well, so it’s our pick of the week from her Today in New Orleans History page/website. I don’t have memories of Ms. Ledner as much as friends of my dad who worked for her. Her first bakery on Metairie Road was just a couple of doors down from American Legion Post 175. My dad was quite active in that post, and he would take us to the club when he wanted to hang out with his friends but needed to entertain the kids.
Beulah Ledner defined the doberge cake in New Orleans. This article by Judy Walker talks about the cookbook Ledner’s daughter wrote and includes some recipes.
Campanella also mentioned Beulah’s son, Albert. He passed away in 2017, at the age of 93. Here’s his obit. Quite the fascinating man!
New Orleans Past dot com
S. Derby Gisclair
This pod features the first of several conversations we’ll have with baseball historian S. Derby Gisclair. Derby is a fascinating man who out to write an autobiography! His first baseball book, Baseball in New Orleans, came out in 2004. He’s also written Baseball at Tulane University, and the book we’re discussing today, Early Baseball in New Orleans: A History of 19th Century Play.
We started our conversation with the Early Baseball book, for two reasons. It’s where the whole thing begins, and also, Derby talks about the book this week. He presents the book and subject at Octavia Books, on Octavia and Laurel Streets, uptown. The talk is at 6pm on Tuesday, 28-May. As Derby says in our talk, you can’t see the props on a podcast. So, go see him in person!
Last week’s pod.
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More Southern Rebellion in NOLA History Guy Podcast 18-May-2019
Butler’s General Order 28, 15-May-1862, as printed in the Daily Picayune.
NOLA History Guy Podcast 18-May-2019
Two segments as we’ve been doing for NOLA History Guy Podcast 18-May-2019. We discuss the French Market and Mayor Cantrell’s ideas on re-vamping the market in the first segment, then back to 1862 for the second segment.
The French Market
New Orleans French Market (courtesy Wikimedia Commons user MusikAnimal)
NOLA.com allowed a story about Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s plans for re-vamping the French Market get away from them this weekend. The article is titled, Mayor Cantrell wants the French Market to be like Seattle’s Pike Place. So, T-P presents a clickbait headline. It’s guaranteed to rile up the locals. Offer a comparison of anything in New Orleans to anything in Seattle, and, well, thems fightin’ words!
Open-air, public markets have a rich history in New Orleans. The first of those was the French Market, along the river. As the city grew, Faubourg Treme and Faubourg Ste. Marie opened markets as well. So, by the 1920s, most neighborhoods had public markets. Air conditioning and commercial refrigeration created the shift from the open markets to grocery stores and supermarkets. Shopping styles shifted after World War II. Therefore, construction of supermarkets began when rationing and building restrictions ended.
Post-War French Market
While truck farmers continued to bring produce to the French Market, the butchers and fishmongers moved to supermarkets. The buildings in the French Market closer to Jackson Square grew quiet. By the late 1970s, Dutch Morial recognized the need to boost the Market area. Dutch renovated the buildings. So, Morial’s face-lift attracted artisans and food shops. Fast forward forty years, and it’s time for another renovation and re-vamp. Mayor Cantrell explores successful markets in Seattle and Philadelphia (Reading Market), to see what will work in New Orleans.
General Order 28
Major General Benjamin Butler issued General Order 28, the “Women’s Order,” on 15-May-1862. The Daily Picayune published the full text of the order (illustration above). So, the order enters the Lost Cause mythos after the war. At the time, Butler did what was necessary for an occupying commander. He pacified resistance and re-opened the port.
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Talking green streetcars and Benjamin Butler in NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019.
NOPSI 865, rounding the turn from S. Carrollton Avenue to St. Charles Avenue in 1960
NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019
Two segments this week. We talk about our pick of the week from Today in New Orleans History. Then we “unpack” a photo from 1960.
May 1, 1862
top of the broadside printing of Butler’s proclamation of martial law and occupation, 1-May-1862
While the United States Navy compelled the surrender of New Orleans on 25-May-1862, it was the Army that did the heavy lifting from there. Major General Benjamin Butler, USA, issued a proclamation on 1-May-1862, announcing that New Orleans was under the control of the federal government. He also declared martial law.
The rebels lost the war on the night of 24-25 April, 1862. While many people died and much was destroyed before the formal armistice, it was all over when New Orleans returned to Union control. Farragut forced the rebels to retreat north of the city. Butler came over from Ship Island with his invading force and moved in. Once martial law was established, most of the occupying force moved North as well, in pursuit of the rebels.
Butler was pretty much an awful person. He had a massive ego. To be fair, so did Farragut and Porter. All three commanders claimed credit for the victory in New Orleans. It’s hard to say who was the worst in this respect, but Butler received the most disparagement. The Lost Cause mythos plays out locally, portraying Butler as a venal man and petty thief. The “spoons” legend is an example. Butler and the USA had orderly procedures for occupying New Orleans. They confiscated gold and silver from residents. Butler didn’t pocket spoons, he sent his troops to loot entire houses!
May 1st is Inauguration Day in New Orleans. Two notable 1-May inaugurations were in 1978, when Ernest Nathan “Dutch” Morial officially became the city’s first African-American mayor. Last year, 2018, Latoya Cantrell became the city’s first woman mayor. It’s important to note that 1-May was set as inauguration day by the charter changes of 1954. As much as grumpy liberals who hate Mitch Landrieu want to slander him, he didn’t engineer a way to stay around through the city’s Tricentennial.
NOPSI 865, 1960
Our photo this week is of NOPSI 865, a vintage-1923 arch roof streetcar. This “Charley car” turns from S. Carrollton Avenue to St. Charles Avenue, on an inbound run. We unpack the photo in NOLA History Guy Podcast 4-May-2019.
I’m working on a long-form pod about Da Paper, now that it looks like John Georges is going to vaporize it. That will go up in 2-3 weeks. Working on preserving the memories of the “digital” years.
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The Times-Picayune Farewell begins. I have concerns. (cross-posted to YatPundit.com)
Screenshot of NOLA.com, 03-May-2019 in the morning.
The phone delivered a tweet with a story about The Advocate acquiring the Times-Picayune yesterday afternoon. I feel a sense of anxiety and urgency over this acquisition.
They’re firing the entire staff at TP/NOLA.com. This wasn’t a merger, it’s a purchase of intellectual property and physical assets. The humans that made NOLA.com what it is are on the street.
When Newhouse delivered their last big round of cutbacks at TP, I felt like something should/could be done to develop a platform in the market that offered a place for some of those laid-off writers to publish and get paid. Folks told me there was no way it would work. A discussion group on the subject failed miserably. Fortunately, Lamar developed the idea for TBB delivered big time in its first year.
TP employed a lot of talented people. Many of them know New Orleans is home, in spite of this setback.
The “digital era” of the Times-Picayune spans over twenty years. While Da Paper struggled, management and staff found a “digital voice.” Forays into video produced good, thoughtful discussion between writers such as Tim Morris and Jarvis Deberry. The bumps in the road were large, though. The first massacre at TP was when Newhouse fired all of the “digital” staff at NOLA.com. That staff operated separately from T-P. Unifying the dot-com with the newspaper offered the organization an opportunity to take charge. All this now shifts to history.
The stories of how NOLA.com grew, then shrunk, then merged with T-P connect with New Orleans’ larger stories in the early aughts and teens. T-P struggled like everyone else during Katrina. They rose above the #shitshow.
We must preserve these stories and memories.
I’m thinking this through, but we have to move quickly. People pack up and leave as soon as other opportunities present themselves.
Work with me to preserve the stories of the last twenty years.
The Bernadotte Street Yard ran from Canal Blvd. to Jefferson Davis Parkway
Sanborn fire map from the 1940s, showing detail in Mid-City New Orleans. Full PDF here.
Bernadotte Street Yard
Throughout the first half of the 20th Century, the portion of Mid-City that ran from Jefferson Davis Parkway to City Park Avenue was much narrower than the neighborhood is today. On the western side, Mid-City extended to the New Canal. From there, the neighborhood ran west, crossing Banks, Canal, and Bienville Streets. Mid-City hit a dead end one block past Bienville. So, the Bernadotte Street railroad yard began at Conti Street, essentially cutting off Mid-City from Bayou St. John.
New Orleans Terminal Company
The New Orleans Terminal Company (NOTC) built a railroad link from Canal and Basin Streets. It ran through Faubourg Treme, then down St. Louis Street, out to Florida Avenue. So, this connected the company’s passenger terminal downtown with the “Back Belt” owned by Southern Railway. Southern moved their passenger operations from their station on Press Street to Canal Street in 1916. Therefore, NOTC made a solid investment.
In addition to connecting Canal Street with the Southern Railway’s track, the NOTC link became the foundation for an industrial corridor. So, NOTC built a railroad yard at the Canal Blvd end of the link. Southern Railway leased the yard from NOTC. Southern referred to it as the “Bernadotte Street Yard.”
The image above is part of a Sanborn fire map from the 1940s. It shows the American Can Company factory on the right, on Orleans Avenue.The map details the various warehouses and other industrial sites. The borders are Jefferson Davis Parkway to N. Carrollton Avenue, Bienville Street to Orleans Avenue. Additionally, this area included a Southern Railway engine facility. That facility had a turntable and roundhouse.
To be contnued…
The Bernadotte Street Yard is relevant to a number of my research interests. So, I’ve got a fiction project in my head that may play out on passenger trains. That means Terminal Station. The station’s proximity to Krauss Department Store is also significant. I regularly watch rail activity on the Back Belt, on Canal Blvd. The mouth of the yard is not far away. In other words, come back periodically for more on this area.
If you didn’t have air-condition or a lot of fans, you might have lived in screen porch houses growing up.
(cross-posted to Eloquent Profanity)
House with a screen porch on Iberville Street in #NOLAMidCity
Screen porch houses
Before central air-conditioning became part of everyday home life, screen porch houses lined the blocks of New Orleans neighborhoods. Residents escaped the heat of summer by going outside. There were two problems with being directly outside, though. First, most folks avoided direct sunlight and sunburn. Second, the mosquitoes! So, homeowners screened in their front porches. Screens allowed the breeze in, but not the bugs. The offered protection from the sun. The wood floor gave the rocking chair a smooth surface.
Nothing to fans to a/c
It’s hard to remember a time before so many homes in New Orleans had air-conditioning. By 2011, 88% of homes in the United States were built with central a/c. Prior to the suburban expansions of the late 1960s/early 1970s, homes lacked a/c. While many were retro-fitted with wall units in bedrooms, living spaces often were not. Families believed you should go outside. Sit on the porch. Talk to the neighbors. Many a writer and literary critic supports the notion that central air conditioning dramatically changed the genre of “Southern Literature”, because people just didn’t socialize like they used to. They holed up inside and stayed cool.
There’s a lot of merit to this concept, In New Orleans, we sit outside for a few weeks in the Spring and the Fall. The rainy season (what the northern parts of the US call, “Winter”) just doesn’t accommodate outside activity. The humidity of the Summer and early Fall drain us.
New Orleans homes
Not everyone has a Spanish Colonial courtyard to retreat to on a hot day. Shotgun homes offer good airflow, but privacy concerns often outweigh the breeze running through the house. That leaves the backyard. Thing is, the backyard isolates the family from the neighborhood. Porch-sitting brings folks together.