Buggy Ride!

Buggy Ride!

A buggy ride is still a fun part of a visit to New Orleans.

buggy ride

Buggy Ride!

“Carriage driver. Mardi Gras, New Orleans. February 1976” by Elisa Leonelli, via Claremont College’s Special Collections. A dapper buggy driver for Gay 90s Carriages sits at Jackson Square, waiting for the next customer(s). Cafe du Monde is visible top left background. This driver is a bit far back in the line. Hopefully it was a busy day, and he moved up to the front of the line, (at Decatur and St. Peter).

Buggy Ride evolution

The business of offering buggy rides to Vieux Carre visitors began before WWII. Clem and Violet Lauga founded Gay 90s in the early 1940s. They retired, turning the business over to their son, James Lauga, Sr., in 1971.

Carriage tours were regulated by the city as a conveyance. They fell under the purview of the city’s Taxicab Bureau. So, what mattered to the regulators was the safety of the carriages and how they were operated. Nobody took an interest in the stories the buggy drivers actually told their customers. As a result, a lot of fanciful and inaccurate stories about New Orleans went home with visitors. Licensed tour guides dismissed those stories as “buggy ride history.” The tour guides enticed tourists seeking facts and accuracy. Riding a carriage through the Quarter was fun, but come to us for the stories.

In the 1990s, the city put its foot down on “buggy ride history.” Carriage drivers are now required to be licensed tour guides.

Horses versus Mules

Until the 1970s, carriage ride operators used retired race horses to pull tourists. They purchased horses from owners who ran them at the Fair Grounds. When he took over management of the company, James Lauga, Sr., investigated the use of mules. He learned that draft mules were superior to horses for pulling wagons and carriages. Jim Sr. purchased six mules in 1972. The company has operated with mules ever since. Mules have played an important role in the New Orleans economy for centuries, from riverfront wagons to streetcars.

In the mid-1970s, around the time of this photo, hot summers took a toll on the horses pulling carriages. Horses dropped dead of heat exhaustion in the Quarter. The city council then required all buggy-ride companies use mules.

Royal Carriages today

As mentioned above, Gay 90s Carriages is now Royal Carriages, where scholar, museum operator and buggy-ride tour guide Charlotte Jones roamed the streets with Chica.

King Fish Beer Parlor Decatur Street

King Fish Beer Parlor Decatur Street

The King Fish Beer Parlor anchored the 1100 block of Decatur Street

king fish beer parlor

King Fish Beer Parlor

William Russell photo of the King Fish Beer Parlor, 1101 Decatur Street. The photo, courtesy the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, is undated. Most of Russell’s photos date to the 1950s. The building stands at the corner of Ursuline and Decatur Streets. So, the corner housed a number of businesses over the years. From the 1900s to the 1950s, the owners leased 1101 Decatur as dance clubs, night clubs, and jazz clubs. These clubs created an expansion into the Ursuline Row Houses that continue down the 1100 block. It’s currently mixed-use residential/commercial.

1880s construction

1101 Decatur Street is described by the Historic New Orleans Collection as:

This address consists of three, nice late Victorian Eclectic style brick commercial buildings designed by Thomas Sully for the Ursulines Nuns. The building at the corner has three stories and the other two buildings facing Ursulines each have two stories. These structures replaced the original Ursulines Row Houses that were destroyed by fire.

So, the 1884 building operated as a manufacturing/warehouse facility. The owners leased the ground floor as retail space. Cigar maker Jules Sarrazin moved his business there. By 1900, the ground floor became a night club, the Pig Pen. That club later moved to Bourbon Street. The King Fish Beer Parlor took its place at 1101 Decatur.

Walking Tour

The New Orleans Jazz Commission created a walking tour that includes the King Fish. The tour (PDF here) starts at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at 400 Esplanade. The museum occupies the Old US Mint. Additionally, there are still numismatic exhibits. Here’s the tour’s description for stop #6, 1101 Decatur:

This Italianate style building by architect Thomas Sully was built in 1884. The King Fish, probably known briefly as the Pig Pen, was another of the more longlived clubs. Operated by Vincent Serio, Jr. and Arthur Schott, aka the King Fish, the musicians featured included George Lewis, Billie Pierce, Dee Dee Pierce, Burke Stevenson, and Smilin’ Joe (Pleasant Joseph).

So, 1101 Decatur pushed me down rabbit hole! While its history as a jazz club attracted me, the full story requires attention. More to come on this fascinating corner.

New Orleans Thanksgiving, 1968

New Orleans Thanksgiving, 1968

Going out for a New Orleans Thanksgiving.

new orleans thanksgiving 1968 delerno's in metairie

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

new orleans thanksgiving 1968 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

new orleans thanksgiving 1968 louisiana purchase metairie

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.

Hotel Thanksgiving

new orleans thanksgiving 1968 airport hilton

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

new orleans thanksgiving 1968 pittari's

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.

 

 

 

 

Brennan’s Autumn 1966 @BrennansNOLA

Brennan’s Autumn 1966 @BrennansNOLA

Brennan’s Autumn 1966 meant interesting meals all day.

brennan's autumn 1966

Brennan’s Autumn 1966

“Autumn is delicious at Brennan’s” is the theme of this ad in the Times-Picayune, 9-November-1966. Brennan’s was known primarily for their variations on Eggs Benedict and other breakfast dishes. After breakfast/brunch, business tapered off. The restaurant promoted lunch and dinner service. With New Orleans entering Autumn (finally, in November), Brennan’s enticed diners in to enjoy “entrees with Brennan’s own French-accented sauces…”

“new Autumn Breakfasts”

Ever had hot grilled grapefruit
with a touch of Kirsch? Then, Brennan’s Eggs Por-
tuguese … chopped tomatos in a tender flaky
pastry shell, topped with poached eggs and
covered with a rich Hollandaise sauce.
Wrap it up with delectable Crepes
Suzette and a hearty cup of
cafe au lait

Crepes Suzette offered the diner some flaming excitement at Breakfast time.

new Autumn Luncheons

Beautiful way to break your day … exotic
Chicken A L’Orange … tender boned chicken
sauteed in a spicy orange sauce and served
with parsley rice. This is only one of many new
entrees on the luncheon menu at Brennan’s
… guaranteed to present you with the most
pleasant decision you’ll make all day.

Locals and tourists alike eschew a big lunch in New Orleans. They opted for “business” or “working man” lunch places. Brennan’s created dishes appealing, but not designed to spoil your dinner.

new Autumn Dinners

First, Brennan’s “from Paris” Onion
Soup au Gratin. Follow this with Beef Dore’ …
skillfully seasoned chopped sirloin steak, em-
bellished with cheese and cooked in a pastry puff
with a Perigord red wine sauce. A tossed
green salad with Chapon dressing
and luscious cheesecake
complete your meal.

Unlike other “old-line” restaurants, like Antoine’s and Arnaud’s, Brennan’s dated back to the late 1940s. Antoine’s was a century old by the time Owen Brennan opened his place on Bourbon Street. So, Brennan’s didn’t have that base of diners who came in for that One Specific Thing. That gave the restaurant a lot more flexibility on the menu. Still, that One Specific Thing applied to Brennan’s. That’s why they now serve Breakfast all day.

Brennan’s French Restaurant, 417 Royal Street, across from the Louisiana Supreme Court.

 

 

Louis Gallaud at Preservation Hall

Louis Gallaud at Preservation Hall

Louis Gallaud played in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the mid-1960s.

louis gallaud

Louis Gallaud

Photo of Louis Gallaud at the piano at Preservation Hall.The Hogan Jazz Archive caption reads, “Band members Louis Gallaud, p; Alcide “Slow Drag” Pavageau, b; Harrison Verrett, bj; during a performance at Preservation Hall in early July.” The year isn’t mentioned. Slow Drag joined the band in the mid-1960s and passed in 1969, so that narrows it down a bit more.

Gallaud was born on February 27, 1897. He played gigs in Storyville prior to the district’s closing. So, he was working with A. J. Piron, in his late teens. After the district closed, Gallaud continued playing jazz, in Punch Miller’s band. Gallaud played piano on a number of recordings of Miller’s band. He left Miller in the 1920s. Gallaud formed his own band, which regularly played out in Milneburg. These were the waning days of the “Smokey Mary,” the Pontchartrain Railroad. While the railroad no longer served as a cargo-mover, it still brought folks out to Lake Pontchartrain. A number of bands played out in Milneburg, at restaurants and clubs. Additionally, many musicians went out to the fishing neighborhood to busk during the day. They would then hop on the train back to town to play clubs and ballparks in the evening.

1940s

Gallaud continued to play Traditional Jazz into the 1940s. He played with a number of musicians and bands. One of his regular gigs was at Luthjen’s Dance Hall, on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Marais Street, just off St. Claude Avenue. Note that this is the original Luthjen’s, opened by Clementine Luthjen, which burned down in the 1960s. Clementine’s nephew, Jerome Luthjen, re-opened the club at Marigny and Chartres Streets. That incarnation of the club closed in 1981.

Preservation Hall

Louis Gallaud continued playing into the 1950s. Like many of the older Creole Jazz musicians, he joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the 1960s. Louis also hosted musicians at his home in the Treme for impromptu sessions. Louis passed away on November 24, 1985.

Desire Buses begin 1948 #StreetcarSaturday

Desire Buses begin 1948 #StreetcarSaturday

Desire Buses begin on 30-May-1948.

desire buses

Desire Buses

New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) converted their Desire line from streetcars to buses over Memorial Day Weekend in 1948. This flyer, distributed on transit lines across the city, explained the change. Streetcars ran until Saturday evening on 29-May. On Sunday morning, 30-May, White Company buses rolled out of Canal Station, taking over on Desire.

Street renovations

NOPSI moved quickly to remove streetcar tracks on the Desire line. So, they wanted the ride along the line to be smooth. Removing the tracks and re-blacktopping the street helped. From the brochure:

Street car tracks below Almonaster will be removed and the streets over which the buses are to travel will be resurfaced. During the progress of the track removal and re-paving, short temporary detours from the permanent route will be necessary. Signs at regular stops will direct passengers to the nearest temporary stop.

NOPSI implemented this plan for several reasons. First, streetcar tracks made for a bumpy ride for automobiles. To generate buy-in for buses, the company, along with the city, gave folks a smoother car trip. Sentimental feelings for the “Streetcar Named Desire” vanished quickly. Once the tracks were gone, the streetcars were quickly forgotten.

NOPSI and City Hall tore up streetcar tracks quickly on other converted lines. When the company converted the Magazine line to trackless trolleys, they left the overhead wire. Since the electric buses didn’t require tracks, up they came. Now, the blocks on Camp street the line traveled got that smooth-ride treatment. It also didn’t hurt that nobody really missed streetcars on Magazine.

Post-WWII Conversions

NOPSI planned to convert a number of lines in the late 1930s. The outbreak of World War II delayed those plans. The War Department, along with other agencies supporting the war effort, denied the companies requests. Streetcars operated using electricity. They ran on existing steel rails. Buses required rubber tires and gasoline. The War Department needed those two resources more than public transit. So, streetcars remained throughout the war. As part of the peacetime economy transitions, the government approved the bus conversions.