Shop Talk was the employee monthly magazine for Maison Blanche Department Stores.
The June, 1970, edition of “Shop Talk,” the Maison Blanche employee magazine, featured a page of new fashions for the Fall and Winter. The idea was to offer some advance looks at the styles coming in. The buyers planned out merchandise a year in advance. So, by Summer, they presented new styles to employees. Then, folks working in all departments talked up the new stuff.
Shop Talk was more than just a marketing tool. The newsletter/magazine updated the MB community on many comings and goings. While much of the news and features were what one would expect from a company communication, there were personal stories and other items.
The newsletter described the Fall/Winter fashions for women as, “Do your own thing” —
Many new looks are seen for fashion this fall. At upper left, note the mixed length being used in skirts. Lower left is the gaucho pants outfit to be worn with boots. At right, note the new wide-brim hat and slit skirt. The wide belt with big buckle is important, too, this year.
This page offers sales associates talking points that even a college student like your humble NOLA History Guy could work with. And I did, when I worked at MB Clearview a few years later. Skirt lengths were all over the place in the late-60s/early 70s. The store, like the wider world, didn’t have a definitive statement on skirts:
No subject has come in for more discussion in years. Every woman (and man) keeps asking: Are they going down or staying up? The answer is yes. Misses hemlines will be mid-knee, one or two inches below the knee, or slightly longer than mid-calf. Juniors may be up to three inches above the knee to three inches below. That should be something to suit everybody. The real mini seems to be out, but legs are still very much alive. They will be seen in still-short skirts, in mixed lengths — garments combining medium and long hems — and in the new slit skirts, sometimes slit clear to the hip.
Fall/Winter 1970 promised to be exciting at MB!
Tulane Trackless Trolley, a trolley bus operating on the Tulane line in 1963.
Tulane Trackless Trolley
A trolley bus (also known as a trolley coach or trackless trolley) from the St. Louis Car Company. Photo is of New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) 1190, operating on the Tulane line. The bus rolls inbound on Canal Street, approaching S. Saratoga Street. Hotel New Orleans stands just behind the bus. An ad for American General Insurance (now AIG) occupies the space on the front of the bus. American General’s office was at 222 Carondelet.
NOPSI trolley buses
NOPSI purchased trolley buses from both the St. Louis Car Company and Marmon-Herrington of Indianapolis, Indiana. They operated the electric buses on transit routes formerly running streetcars. So, when the company discontinued streetcar “belt” service on the St. Charles and Tulane lines, St. Charles continued operating streetcars. Tulane trackless trolleys operated until 1965. At that time, all trolley bus lines converted to standard buses.
The Hotel New Orleans
This photo caught my eye because of the sign behind the trolley bus. The Hotel New Orleans stood at 1300 Canal Street. The building dates to the 1930s. The hotel sported a huge neon sign proclaiming “HOTEL NEW ORLEANS.” That neon sign is visible in the background of so many photos of Canal Street. While the rooftop sign is ubiquitous, the street-level sign is a neat catch.
My friend Aaron posted this photo on Facebook. He catches stuff from everywhere. Looking for more info on NOPSI 1190, I turned to Streetcar Mike. This is his copy of the photo, with the credits. Here’s his entry for 1190:
St. Louis 1190 on the Tulane line at Canal and S. Saratoga Sts. on an unknown date. I presume it’s after 1957, when the Canal neutral ground was rebuilt to eliminate the unused outer streetcar tracks. Hotels and bars dominate this section of Canal just out from the Joy Theatre (out of picture to the left). Photo comes from the collection of Gerald Squier courtesy of Scott Richards and was added 03/22/14.
Thanks to Mike and the photo sources!
Maylie’s Restaurant served the Poydras Market area for over a century.
Franck Studios captured Maylie’s Restaurant, in the 1000 block of Poydras, in the 1950s. The Hibernia Bank Building looms over the old Poydras Market. Maylie’s opened as a bar in 1876, adding sandwiches and a full dinner menu as business grew. The restaurant closed in 1986. The location is now a Walk-Ons sports bar.
The Bernard Maylie and Hypolite Esparbe opened a bar at 1000 Poydras Street, in 1876. This location stood across the street from the Poydras Market. The city licensed and supervised a series of public markets. Thpse markets lasted into the 1940s, when privately-owned supermarkets replaced them. The public markets ensured sanitary conditions, particularly for sale of meat and seafood. By the 1930s, air-conditioning enabled grocers to expand beyond dry goods.
Maylie and Esparbe originally catered to the workers and stall-owners at the market. They offered a place where those men could stop for a drink or beer after the market closed. They recognized an opportunity to open earlier in the day, and gave away sandwiches to bar patrons. Eventually, customers suggested they stay open for dinner. The bar became a full restaurant. Maylie’s served a table d’hôte menu. Diners appreciated the regular fare and inexpensive prices.
The restaurant’s reputation allowed it to survive the changes in the neighborhood, after the closing of Poydras Market. Generations of men (women were not admitted until 1925) returned after work for dinner. Bernard Maylie’s grandson, Willie, operated the restaurant into the 1980s. Willie lived on the second floor of the building. He closed the restaurant in 1986.
While the Maylie’s building now houses the sports bar, another restaurant, Copper Vine, stands next to it. its name comes from that big vine growing out from Maylie’s, up onto the wall. So, the memories continue.
(thanks to Todd Price for his profile of Maylie’s from 2018)
This Canal Street Postcard was printed in 1903.
Canal Street postcard
Detroit Publishing Company postcard of Canal Street, New Orleans, from 1903. The photographer stands on the roof of the Custom House, looking towards the lake. The foreground shows the 500 block. The round coupla, foreground right, sits atop the Godchaux Building, at Canal and Chartres Streets. Further up the street, the postcard shows the often-overlooked buildings of the 600 block. The top of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (Jesuits Church) is visible, background, center. Streetcars scurry up and down the two main-line tracks at the center, with other lines appearing and disappearing on the outside tracks.
The Henry Clay monument now stands in Lafayette Square, across from City Hall (now Gallier Hall). The city re-located the monument there in 1901. Canal streetcars passed so close to the monument, there were concerns about safety.
While the postcard gets incredibly grainy after the 700 block, the cupola of Leon Fellman’s store at 800 Canal, and the Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club at 900 Canal, are visible.
Detroit Publishing Company knew living vicariously through postcards was a popular pastime. The company bought images from photographers across the country. They then hired artists to color the black-and-white photos in. Now, photographers just have to post their work on social media.
Electrification of streetcar lines began in 1893. Canal Street electrified in 1895. So, this 1905 photo shows first-generation electric streetcars. The engineering firm, Ford, Bacon, and Davis pitched a design to streetcar operators for a single-truck platform in 1894. Most of the streetcars in this photo are of that design. Most of these streetcars move riders on the inside tracks. One single-truck on the Uptown side turns from Camp Street on to Canal. The operator prepares to travel one block, then make another right-turn, onto Magazine Street. The now-immortal arch roof streetcars are still twelve years away. They made their first appearance on the streets in 1915.
The Henry Clay Monument stood on Canal Street from 1860 to 1901.
NOTE: If you see something else interesting on these maps, speak up! Le’ts talk about it.
Henry Clay Monument
A private group raised money to build a monument to American statesmen Henry Clay in 1860. The city approved their plan to erect the monument on Canal Street. They placed it at the three-way intersection of Canal Street, St. Charles Avenue, and Royal Street. The Robinson Atlas of 1883, Plate 6, shows the monument, with the streetcar tracks passing around it.
The Henry Clay monument stood as mapped here until 1895. The New Orleans City Railway Company electrified the Canal Street line that year. The city cut back the massive circular base. This provided the streetcars with a linear path across the intersection. Prior to 1895, mule-drawn streetcars curved around the monument.
Canal Street activity
Activity at the Canal-St. Charles-Royal intersection developed after 1861. The Henry Clay monument rose in the center of Canal Street a year earlier. The streetcar company simply went around the statue, completing the transit to the river. The main activity happens just above and below the intersection. Notice the circles in the center of the Canal Street neutral ground. Those are turntables. If you’ve been out to San Francisco, you may have seen the turntables used to change the direction of cable cars when they reach the end of the line. Before electrification, streetcar companies operated “single-ended” equipment. the mule pulled the streetcar onto the turntable. The operator guided the mule in a circle.
The turntable just below Clay handled “backatown” lines coming up from along the riverfront. Additionally, the turntable on the lake side (see, we really do express directions as “lake” and “river”) handled the streetcars coming to Canal Street from Carondelet, Baronne, Dauphine, Burgundy, and Rampart Streets.
The Clio Street line crossed Canal Street at Bourbon and Royal Streets. So, after passing by the Jackson Depot railroad station, streetcars on Clio made their way down Carondelet Street, crossing Canal, then heading outbound to Elysian Fields. They used Bourbon Street to traverse the Quarter. The line returned to the St. Charles Hotel via Royal Street. The streetcars curved around Henry.
1964 Transit Improvement Program ended the Canal streetcar line.
1964 Transit Improvement
Flyer updating riders on the 1964 Transit Improvement Program. New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) planned the removal of streetcars from the Canal Street line for May 31, 1964. While advocacy groups organized in late 1963/early 1964 to oppose the program, it was too little, too late. The plans for this removal began in late 1959.
This flyer emphasizes the advantages of switching Canal to bus service. NOPSI rolled out new buses as part of this “improvement.” Those Flixible company buses were air-conditioned. Riders in Lakeview and Lakeshore could get on the bus close to the house and ride all the way into the CBD.
This flyer promotes the Phase 2 changes. In Phase 1 of 1964 Transit Improvement, the city cut back the width of the Canal Street neutral ground. This allowed for three traffic lanes on either side of the street. When streetcars returned to Canal Street in 2004, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (NORTA, successor to NOPSI’s transit operations) built a single-track terminal at Canal Street and City Park Avenue. There was no space to re-create the two-track end of the line. So, at the time, New Orleanians approved these changes. Preservationists were caught off guard.
NOPSI immediately cut down the electric overhead wires on 31-May-1964, as part of Phase 2 of 1964 Transit Improvement. The city ripped up the streetcar tracks within weeks of the switch to buses. Additionally, the air-conditioning started on 31-May.
NOPSI expanded the “suburban” bus lines. They extended buses going to West End and Lakeview into downtown. Streetcars on the Canal line ended their runs at City Park Avenue. So, a rider living, say, off Fleur-de-Lis Avenue walked to Pontchartrain Blvd. They caught the bus to City Park Avenue, transferring there to the streetcar. While that doesn’t sound like a big deal, NOPSI discovered an opportunity. The rider starts on a bus with a/c, but switches to a hot, humid streetcar. If it’s raining, well, you get the idea.
Additionally, NOPSI offered an enhanced service, the “express” lines. Express 80 followed the Canal-Lake Vista (via Canal Boulevard) route. For an extra nickel, riders boarded Express 80 rather than the regular line. When the express bus reached City Park Avenue, Express 80 made no stops until Claiborne Avenue. Same for Express 81, which followed the Canal-Lakeshore via Pontchartrain Boulevard line. So that rider could not only stay on the bus from home, they got to the office that much quicker.
Downtown workers relied upon public transit so much more in 1964. When something is part of your day-to-day routine, improvements that enhance your experience are easy to sell. Preserving forty-year old streetcars didn’t seem like a big deal compared to not sweating through your clothes by the time you arrived at work.
Thanks to Aaron Handy, III, for this image of the flyer!