Maison Blanche Thanksgiving weekend was always hectic.
Maison Blanche Thanksgiving
Ad from Thanksgiving Weekend, 1978. MB ran this ad on Sunday, 26-November-1978, after the madness of Friday and Saturday were over. Holiday season 1978 was my first at MB Clearview. I spent that weekend glued to one of those old electro-mechanical cash registers the store used at the time.
The Post-Thanksgiving sales in the Maison Blanche Men’s Department included mostly grab-and-go items. Casual shirts, slacks, some jackets and coats. Mom would hit the stores while dad slept in or went fishing. So, Mom picked up stuff for dad that didn’t require his presence. That gave her time to explore the various ladies departments. From the employee perspective, it was easy. The lines stached up a bit, so shoppers didn’t come up for conversation.
Selling in 1978
While individual/personal calculators grew in popularity, retail transactions in 1978 had not changed for forty years. Stores shifted from mechanical to electro-mechanical cash register. Credit card transactions remained the same. At MB, store charges (using one’s New Orleans Shoppers’ credit card) rung up on the regular sales ticket. Slide the ticket under the printer in the register. Push the old-style keys for department and item number. Cash, credit, or bank card. The sale rung up, then you’d make an imprint of the card, in the body of the sales ticket. Both store and bank cards required a phone call to verify the credit line, if the purchase was over a set amount. The approval process hadn’t changed much since the 1950s. Credit staff at the Canal Street store answered phones from downstairs and the suburban stores. Those phones had super-long cords (yes, folks, we’re talking about phones with cords). The salesperson at the register gave the card information. The credit staffers looked up the account numbers, calculated the customer’s limit, then approved or declined the purchase.
Suit separates for men
The big ad for Sunday, 26-Nov-1978 for MB presented men’s suit separates from Haggar. “Choose them by the piece: a sport coat, a vest, the slack,, or choose them all for a 3 piece vested look for under 100.00.” These pieces sold well with men whose measurements crossed over suit sizes. The price was right for younger men, as well. These items appear in the Sunday paper. While most people bought the Haggar stuff and brought it home to dad, some folks came in for alterations. We didn’t do alterations over the weekend, but Monday evening after was just fine.
Going out for a New Orleans Thanksgiving.
New Orleans Thanksgiving
The traditional Thanksgiving meal is so not New Orleans. Our Creole-French and Creole-Italian roots don’t mesh with classic turkey, dressing, and mashed potatoes. Oh, sure, we can’t help but add our local twists to the meal, like oyster dressing, or stuffed peppers with a bit of red gravy. Still, it’s not our food.
Going out to celebrate the holiday is very much a New Orleans thing, though. We’ve never been the dinner-and-the-theater type of people. We go out to eat, of course. Well, on Thanksgiving, folks go to Da Track, then out to eat.
Undecided about where to go? On 23-Nov-1968, the Times-Picayune included ads for a number of restaurants. Those places knew people would forget to make reservations at their favorites. Then there were the visitors who needed some place to enjoy dinner.
Le Cafe at the Monteleone
The Monteleone Hotel offered a Thanksgiving buffet. They included the usual Thanksgiving fare, along with “Louisiana Speckled Trout Cardinal” and “Sugar Cured Ham with Champagne Sauce.” That trout likely enticed more than a few visitors who can’t get that back north.
Second only to mom
Delerno’s opened for Thanksgiving 1968 at their place on Pink and Focis Streets, just off Metairie Road. (Ad up top.)
All the usuals, plus turkey
Louisiana Purchase Restaurant added turkey to their regular menu of “Authentic Creole, Acadian & New Orleans Cooking” for New Orleans Thanksgiving 1968. The restaurant was at 4241 Veterans in 1968. That location was later Houston’s Restaurant and is now Boulevard American Bistro. Louisiana Purchase Kitchen moved further up the street, to 8853 Veterans, Blvd.
Clementine’s at the New Orleans Airport Hilton offered diners “Roast Turkey with Oyster Dressing,” along with other sides, and, like any solid local hotel restaurant, gumbo. Clementine’s as the hotel restaurant is ATNM, but the Airport Hilton, at 901 Airline Drive, is still there more.
No Wild Boar
T. Pittari’s on South Claiborne advertised a limited menu for Thanksgiving, 1968. While the restaurant’s regular advertising made a big deal about their wild game entrees, Thanksgiving meant classics. Roast Turkey with Oyster Dressing, the New Orleans staple for the day. Additionally, Pittari’s offered Filet of Lake Trout Amandine (a New Orleans Platonic Dish), and Baby Veal Milanese with Spaghettini, one of the restaurant’s Creole-Italian favorites.
Live-action! Oscar’s puppets were more than just the Bingles!
“Oscar” Isentrout, puppet master and voice of Mister Bingle, entertaining a group of shoppers at a show promoting “Import Week” in August 1969. The photo appeared in “Shop Talk,” the store’s employee newsletter.
When Emile Alline created Mr. Bingle, he naturally visualized dolls of the character for window displays. Someone mentioned that there was a puppeteer working on Bourbon Street. He did vaudeville-style shows in between the dancers. Oscar had two puppets of Alline’s Bingle doll made.
Mr. Alline knew he had something special in the combination of Bingle and Isentrout. Oscar threw his personality, creativity, and spirit into his Bingle live shows. While Bingle began as a seasonal gig for Oscar, Alline ended up hiring him full-time. So, Oscar’s Bingle incarnation became too important.
As a full-time employee, Alline and MB discovered they had real talent in Oscar. Bingle now was a year-round project. Additionally, Oscar became part of promotions away from Christmas. “Import Week” in August ran for a number of years. Oscar had female puppets that could do costume changes. From French to Japanese, Oscar’s ladies attracted shoppers to live shows. He did shows not only on Canal Street, but the suburban stores as well. This photo is a show at Airline Village, in Metairie.
Shop Talk came out every two weeks. The store’s advertising department originated the publication. Employees contributed new items, gossip, even short poems and stories. There was a sports page, reporting on news from the various sports teams the store sponsored. Some of these played in the Commercial League. Other projects included teams for the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD). While the NORD and school sponsorships made for good community relations, inter-store employee leagues ranked highly among newsletter interests.
The newsletters were invaluable to me when I wrote the book.They’re up on the fourth floor of the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) on Loyola Avenue.
The Times-Picayune regularly offered ads for various railroad destinations in the 1920s.
Yesterday’s post of NYC 3, an “executive car” from 1928, inspired this collection of ads for various railroad destinations. New Orleans served as an active hub for railroad connections. Travelers used trains more than automobiles in the early 20th century, particularly for long trips.
The Times-Picayune featured two ads for Southern Railway on 3-November-1925. “Two Trains Every Day” to Cincinnati. The early train departed at 8:30am. Southern offered coach and sleeping car service, with meals served in a dining car.
The railroad also offered sleeping car service to Meridian, Mississippi. The car, attached to a northbound train, departed at 8:10pm daily. It arrived at 2:10am the next day. “Sleeping car may be occupied at Meridian until 7:30 A. M.” – thank goodness! Nobody wants to be booted out of bed at two in the morning. Once at Meridian, the traveler could catch trains to other Southern destinations, getting a jump on the trip.
Along the Apache Trail
While Southern Railway traveled to destinations North and East, Southern Pacific transported passengers westward. Heading to California meant scenic views:
All-motor mountain trip through the heart of Arizona’s most rugged mountain scenery. The gigantic Roosevelt Dam, with its thundering cascades and picturesque mountain setting is only one of the marvels of the Apache Trail, a motor side-trip available to passengers using the Sunset Route to California.
The ad doesn’t explain how travelers taking the side trip get back on track to Los Angeles. Since the “New Sunset Limited” ran three times a week, did the train wait in Globe, Arizona? Did it drop off the side-trip travelers, who then took the next train? No doubt interested travelers learned the specifics at the City Ticket Office, located on the ground floor of the St. Charles Hotel.
The description of SP’s “New Sunset Limited” is similar to the current Amtrak version of the route. The train, with its consist of Superliner coaches, sleepers, along with diner and lounge cars, departs Union Passenger Terminal three times weekly.
Maison Blanche advertising in the 1905 Jambalaya,
Maison Blanche Advertising
Ad for Maison Blanche in the 1905 edition of Jambalaya, Tulane University’s yearbook. Maison Blanche opened in the Mercier Building, at the corner of Canal and Dauphine Streets, in 1897. Simon J. Shwartz, Isidore Newman’s son-in-law, created the Maison Blanche concept. He convinced his father-in-law to invest in the store. While there were other businesses besides Shwartz’s dry goods store in the Mercier Building, he managed to acquire the entire building. The illustration in this ad first appeared in The Daily Picayune on the store’s opening day in 1897.
The Newmans and Maison Blanche
The Mercier Building, late 1890s
S. J. Shwartz was the youngest son of merchant Abraham Shwartz. A. Shwartz and Son started as a wholesale company on Chartres Street. When Abraham got the opportunity to open a retail store on Canal Street, he jumped on it. Unfortunately, the store, located in the 700 block, burned out in 1892. Simon moved A. Shwartz and Son to the Mercier building. The family split with Simon, however. They moved the store back to the 700 block. Simon changed the name of his store to S. J. Shwartz and Company. Simon had married into the Newman family. So, when he planned to convert his store into the “department store” concept he’d seen in Cincinnati and New York, Simon turned to Newman. Isidore invested in Simon. You can just hear the conversation: “I’ll invest in your idea, if you hire my son and brother-in-law.”
Simon did just that, The original management team of MB was Shwartz, Hartwig (Hart) Newman, and Gus Schulhoefer. Schulhoefer left MB early on, for health reasons. Hart Newman was a banker/investor, like his father. He preferred finance to retail. So, Newman desired an exit from MB as well. Shwartz then reached out to Marks Isaacs, a well-known local retailer. He brought Isaacs in as a partner. MB’s holding company became Shwartz and Isaacs Company, Limited.
Railroad Departures October 1913 to Mobile, New York, and Dallas.
Departures October 1913
Three ads in The Daily Picayune on October 21, 1913 entice New Orleanians to points East, North and West. The Louisville and Nashville (L&N) offers an excursion train to a conference in Mobile. Southern Railway promotes their daily service to New York City. Texas and Pacific wants New Orleans to go to the Dallas Fair. None of the trains were air-conditioned at this time. So, when the weather cooled in the Fall, New Orleans went on adventures.
$4.45 to Mobile
L&N Terminal, Canal Street, 1910
Those traveling to the “Account Southern Commercial Congress” in late October, 1913, could take an excursion train. L&N’s route out of New Orleans curves around Lake Pontchartrain, like US Highway 90. The trains crossed the river at the Rigolets Pass, then headed to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The railroad turned north at Mobile. L&N built their station at the end of Canal Street in 1902. So, it was still relatively new in 1913. Prior to the Canal Street station, L&N trains used the old Pontchartrain Railroad station at Elysian Fields and Chartres.
Short Route — Perfect Service
Traveling North? Southern Railway’s New York & New Orleans Limited offered service to Birmingham, Washington and New York. In 1925, Southern re-branded their NYC train the Crescent Limited. Other Southern trains traveled to Cincinnati. That route became the Queen and Crescent Limited in 1926. Southern’s trains operated from Press Street Station prior to 1908, and Terminal Station from 1908 until 1954.
“Greatest Annual Fair in All America”
For $18.35 round trip, New Orleans experienced a “liberal education” at the Dallas Fair. While boasting that the Fair was a “financial failure for years” might not sound like an appealing way to get folks up to Dallas, it served as a teaser. The Texas and Pacific Railroad served New Orleans and Central Louisiana, connecting the state with Dallas and points west.
All three railroads maintained ticket offices in the first-floor row of storefronts at the St. Charles Hotel, which stood in the 200 block of St. Charles Avenue.