Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket – From Economical to Metairie

Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket – From Economical to Metairie

Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket opens new, expanded store in #themetrys!

(x-posted to YatCuisine)

Zupardo's Family Supermarket

Economical Supermarket, on Elysian Fields and Gentilly, in the 1950s. (Zuppardo’s photo)

Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket – My grocery

I’ve been going to Zuppardo’s  Supermarket, either the old store on Elysian Fields and Gentilly, or the Metairie store at Veterans and Transcontinental, since I was a kid. That’s going back to the days when the Gentilly neighborhood had an incredible number of groceries and supermarkets.

Economical!

Zuppardo's Family Supermarket

Replica of Anthony Leo Zuppardo’s banana cart from the early 1900s at the new Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket. (Edward Branley photo)

Peter Zuppardo came to New Orleans from Sicily in 1895. He took a job in the wholesale banana business. His son, Anthony Leo, saw an opportunity with over-ripe bananas. Anthony took those bananas around in a donkey cart. By 1930, the Zuppardo’s parked a truck at Gentilly Road at Elysian Fields. At that time, Elysian Fields Avenue was just a dirt road. The Pontchartrain Railroad closed in 1931, and Elysian Fields wasn’t paved until the end of the decade.

The Zuppardo’s bought the lot on that corner, establishing a permanent presence. The fruit truck expanded into a store in 1937. Those were the waning days of the city’s public market system. That system gave way to private stores after the war. The family made a good decision, as the neighborhood grew. After World War II, Gentilly’s population exploded, as men returning from the war looked to start their own families.Those strong ties helped Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket in later years, in their expansion to Metairie.

Bell Supermarkets

Zuppardo's Family Supermarket

Bell Supermarkets newspaper ad from the 1950s (courtesy NOLA.com)

Economical became part of the Bell supermarket co-op. The idea was for independent grocers to join together to better advertise their stores. This was important, because John Schwegmann’s “giant” supermarkets became incredibly popular in the 1950s. Stores such as Economical, Dorignac’s uptown, and Pap’s in the Ninth Ward all sported the Bell logo.

Economical continued its popularity into the 1960s. That was my first personal experience with the store. My momma grew up in Gentilly, on Lavender Street, just off of Franklin Avenue. She and her grandmother made groceries at Economical. Even though my parents moved out to #themetrys when they came back from Boston in 1960, we’d still go out to see my grandma regularly, and I’d tag along for grocery runs.

Expansion and Re-location

zuppardo's family supermarket

Aerial view of Elysian Fields and Gentilly, 1961. Hebrew Rest Cemetery is middle-left. Cor Jesu High is across from the cemetery. Economical Supermarket is to the right edge, below Gentilly Blvd. (NOPL photo)

The Bell supermarkets expanded and re-located as population shifted. The Papania’s opened a “Pap’s” store on Mirabeau and St. Anthony in Gentilly. Dorignac’s and Zuppardo’s opened stores on Veterans Blvd. in Metairie. Dorignac’s built a store in the 700 block of Vets, near Martin Behrman, while the Zuppardo’s opened their Metairie location at Vets and Transcontinental. My family lived closer to Dorignac’s and Schwegmann’s in the late 1960s, so we shopped there.

I renewed my acquaintance with Economical when started at Brother Martin High School, just up Elysian Fields from the supermarket, in 1971. While we mostly stopped at the local convenience store, d’Mart, we occasionally walked down to Economical for things, particularly when d’Mart employees got annoyed with all of the students coming in. I met one of the current owners, Joey Zuppardo at that time. Joey was Class of 1973, I was 1976, so he was a senior when I was a freshman. (For a full run-down of the Zuppardo family tree, check this 2018 Ann Maloney article on the new supermarket in the Picayune.)

UNO and Redeemer Days

I took many a trip down to Economical with my Lambda Chi Alpha brothers from our house on Elysian Fields near Robert E. Lee in the late 1970s. Even though Ferrara’s was just a two-block walk, the prices were much better for guys on tight budgets, working their way through UNO. After I graduated in 1980, I taught at Redeemer High School on Crescent Street, near St. Frances Xavier Cabrini church. Even though Pap’s was closer to the half-double we rented at the time, I found myself heading back down to Gentilly Boulevard for various items.

Life in St. Ann Parish and Zuppardo’s Supermarket

Zuppardo's Family Supermarket

Scenes from the original store on Vets and Transcontinental (courtesy Zuppardo’s)

In 1986, we moved out to #themetrys, near Clearview and Veterans. While my daddy had soured on Dorignac’s over the years and shopped at Schwegmann’s, Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket  at Transcontinental was so close, it became our grocery. My boys grew up coming with me to Zuppardo’s all the time. As they got older, cashiers would ask after them. I’d show photos of them as Brother Martin students and they’d sigh at how time passed. That little boy who pushed a Little Tykes shopping cart, loading it up with things important to him (cookies and fruit roll-ups) is now a Naval officer and submariner.

I’m not sure when they dropped the “Economical” from the name, becoming “Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket.” The original store closed in 2005, as Katrina left the store and all of Gentilly in pretty bad shape. To this day, my wife still says “Economical,” which I attribute to her growing up in Lake Oaks and transferring from the Broad bus line to Elysian Fields, on her way home from Dominican.

The New Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket

Two Saturdays ago, Zuppardo’s Family Supermarket closed. They knocked a hole into the side of the old store and moved everything into the new one. I’ve been an almost-daily grocery shopper for years. When your store is as close (about a mile) as Zuppardo’s is to us, it’s easy to blow off extended menu planning. Most of my “test kitchen” ideas start at Zuppardo’s Supermarket. The new store opened last Wednesday. Those four days drove me crazy, as I ended up at three different supermarkets to get things we usually pick up at Zuppardo’s!

Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly before the Seminary

Riders wait for the Broad line at a bus stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Broad line bus stop Iroquois Street at Gentilly Boulevard

Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Bus stop at Gentilly Blvd. and Iroquois Street, 10-Jun-1946. This Franck Studios photo has a court docket number in the corner. I haven’t looked up why NOPSI lawyers hired their go-to photographers to shoot this location yet.

Post-WWII Gentilly

There wasn’t much in Gentilly, below Franklin Avenue, at this time. In May of 1946, the Southern Baptist Convention upgraded the New Orleans Bible College to a seminary. The increased interest in the school motivated the SBC. They moved the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to its present location, directly across the street from this bus stop, in the 1950s.

The Broad Street line ran across town, from out here in Gentilly to Lowerline Street, uptown. Folks studying at NOBTS and their families at this time took the Broad bus to Franklin Avenue. They transferred to the Gentilly streetcar line, heading inbound, to get downtown. NOPSI discontinued the Gentilly streetcar line in 1957. The Franklin Avenue bus line replaced the streetcars.

The Broad line offered a lot of options to the rider. I used Broad to get from Brother Martin High School back to #themetrys in my high school years.

Gentilly Shopping

Bus Stop Iroquois Street Gentilly

Times-Picayune ad announcing the opening of Maison Blanche Gentilly, September 12, 1947

In 1946, Maison Blanche was still a year from opening their store in Gentilly. The store opened its second location, closer to Elysian Fields, in September, 1947. The store at Tulane and S. Carrollton Avenues followed a few months later. By the 1950s, the Gentilly Woods subdivision grew rapidly. Maison Blanche recognized this. They moved their Gentilly store, from Frenchmen and Gentilly Blvd., to just down the street from NOBTS. MB rode that boom, then moved on to the next boom, New Orleans east. They moved the store to The Plaza at Lake Forest mall in 1974.

Mr. Bingle 1952

Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley

Lots of photos of those stores in my book, “Maison Blanche Department Stores” – check it out!

 

 

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives in Gentilly #TrainThursday

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives in Gentilly #TrainThursday

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives operated regularly in Gentilly

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives

Southern Ry (NO&NE) 2-8-0 near Gentilly Blvd (between NE Tower and Seabrook) New Orleans, Frank C. Phillips Photo

2-8-0 Steam Locomotives

We mentioned the New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad (NO&NE) last week, in our discussion of Homer Plessy’s ticket to Covington. Plessy was arrested at Press Street Station. That station was the terminal for the NONE in the 1890s. Southern Railway acquired NO&NE in 1916. Southern Railway moved NO&NE’s passenger service to Terminal Station on Canal Street. Freight service operated from NO&NE’s Gentilly Yard. The way out of town for the Southern system was their five-mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain. So, passenger trains came out via the Lafitte Corridor, then merged onto the Back Belt. Freight trains came up Peoples Avenue from the yard, then to the back belt. The trains traveled north, alongside Peoples Avenue. The trains crossed the Industrial Canal at Seabrook. From there, they headed out of town.

Gentilly Blvd. and trains

The Back Belt more-or-less follows Gentilly Blvd. While train tracks run as much as possible in straight lines, streets tend to twist and turn. Because Gentilly Blvd intersects the train tracks several times, the railroad and the city built several underpasses. Trains stayed at the same level, going straight. Automobiles turned, curved, and dipped under the tracks.

1940s Gentilly

Tony Howe, admin of the Louisiana Railroad History group on Faceback captioned this Frank C. Phillips photo:

Southern Ry (NO&NE) 2-8-0 near Gentilly Blvd (between NE Tower and Seabrook) New Orleans, Frank C. Phillips Photo

Others in the group (which is highly recommended for railfans and rail historians) added details. The houses to the left place the photo in Gentilly Terrace. The train heads south, towards either the Back Belt or the yard. The photographer stands just south of the underpass at Gentilly Blvd. The WPA/city/railroad built that underpass in 1940.

Consolidation 2-8-0

Baldwin Locomotive Works introduced the Consolidation 2-8-0 locos in 1883. So, this type of engine was a regular workhorse by the late 1940s. NO&NE owned a number of Consolidations. Unfortunately, the number on this engine isn’t visible.

Hurricane Betsy demonstrated the resilience of New Orleans and MS Gulf Coast

Hurricane Betsy demonstrated the resilience of New Orleans and MS Gulf Coast

Hurricane Betsy showed how resilient and strong the Third Coast is.

hurricane betsy

Damage to the old NAS New Orleans buildings at then-LSUNO, 1965 (Courtesy Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans)

Hurricane Betsy

On 10-September-1965, Hurricane Betsy hit Grand Isle, Louisiana. The storm formed as a tropical depression on 27-August-1965, in the Caribbean, near French Guinea. After Grand Isle, Betsy crawled up the Mississippi River. The wind pushed “storm surge” water from Lake Pontchartrain into New Orleans. The monetary damage from Betsy surpassed $1B. Betsy was the first storm hitting that mark.

Damage to New Orleans

hurricane betsy

Classroom damage at then-LSUNO, 1965 (Courtesy Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans)

Betsy damaged New Orleans on three fronts. Water pushed by the storm’s winds topped the levees along the lakefront. That flooded the “levee board neighborhoods”, subdivisions between Robert E. Lee Boulevard and the lake. Surge in New Orleans East pushed into the Lower Ninth Ward. That surge, as well as flood walls from the south slammed St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes hard. Second, wind blew down trees, utility poles, large signs, etc. Those falling objects damaged houses and businesses. Roofs fell victim to wind as well. As if this wasn’t enough, Hurricane Betsy spawned tornadoes in Metairie and Jefferson. While tornadoes are more localized, they still inflicted tremendous damage in small areas.

Aftermath

Hurricane Betsy ran up a big tab. New Orleanians paid the bills. They city was wet but not defeated. The people were windblown, but fully intended to stay.

The US Army Corp of Engineers, along with the city, learned much from Betsy. They learned the levees along the lake needed to be much higher. The Corps raised the levees. We built new floodwalls. City Hall developed new evacuation strategies. All that work protected the city for almost forty years.

Katrina

Hurricane Betsy

Flood waters from Katrina swallow the Lakeview branch of NOPL, 2005 (courtesy Loyola University New Orleans)

Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans on 29-August-2005. The preparations of the late 1960s and 1970s, for the most part, held. Some failed, most notably the levees and floodwalls on the city’s outfall canals. Evacuation strategies worked, particularly the “contraflow” lane configurations on interstate highways around the metro area.

The city got wet. The people got windblown. New Orleans and the federal government paid the bill. The people recovered from the damage. Others moved here, strengthening the city. Even the Superdome area came back strong, after serving as the “shelter of last resort”. The Katrina Diaspora continues to affect the city’s culture. While city wrestles with gentrification and “new” influences, groups and neighborhoods preserve what was here before Katrina.

Florida

Folks on the Florida Gulf Coast tell similar stories of wind and rain. National writers would be best advised to take a deep breath and consult history before writing off any town on the Third Coast as “gone”.

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Typing Class 1979 – Brother Martin High School

Typing Class 1979 – Brother Martin High School

Typing Class, 1979

Typing Class 1979

Brother Lloyd LeBlanc, SC, observes Typing students in 1979.

Typing Class 1979

Brother Lloyd LeBlanc, SC, observes his students in Typing class 1979. The “typing room” you see here was located on the inside side (further away from Elysian Fields) of the old building. You could access this classroom from either the CJ side, or from the second floor resource center.

Typing in the 1970s

Rolling a sheet of paper into a typewriter, then tapping on the keys was still how documents were produced in 1979. Personal computer usage grew dramatically at this time. Still, when I submitted a paper to one of my professors at UNO in 1979, it was typewritten, on the little Smith-Corona we owned at home. I learned how to type in the room in this photo, in 1972-73. The scene wasn’t much different from the photo.

Selectric

We used IBM Selectric typewriters at Brother Martin in the 1970s. The Selectric used the same keyboard as the first IBM electric typewriters of the 1930s. Those typewriters looked quite similar to the original commercial typewriters of the 1890s. The Selectric was A Big Deal in the 1970s.

Typing class, 1979

“Elements” for IBM Selectric Typewriters. (IBM photo)

The element, the ball with the letters on it, was interchangeable. Well, not at Brother Martin, though, since we used just the basic element. Students typing chemical formulas, however, could switch out the basic element with one with, say, chemical symbols, or the Greek alphabet. IBM made a lot of money on this concept. The student of Russian history needed only one machine. She switched from one alphabet to another with ease.

Brother Martin freshmen failed to see the significance of this in the 1970s. That’s OK, we sorted it out quick enough in the real world.

Brother Lloyd

Brother Lloyd LeBlanc, SC, was a wonderful man and teacher. He attended Loyola in the 1950s, with my mom. I’ve told the story before of how my mom knew many of the Brothers from teaching them at Loyola, or, like Brother Lloyd, as classmates there. Loyola is a Jesuit college, of course. She appreciated the skill of the Jesuits. While Brother Jean Sobert, SC, was the front man for the school in those days, men like Brother Lloyd projected a quiet impression.

The typing room’s volume setting was up there. Your typical classroom was a quiet place. All those typewriters hummed, whirred, and clacked. Brother Lloyd sat in the back of the room, supervising it all. He carried a stick, a pointer, one of those wooden ones with the rubber tip. On the first day of class he held up that pointer. Brother announced he never hit students with that pointer. It was a tool for correcting our posture. The first time the pointer poked me was a bit unnerving. Brother wanted me to adjust my hands as I typed. After the first experience, the pointer helped improve your typing.

Brother Lloyd adopted an all-business teaching style. You came in, sat down, and got to work. Outside of class, however, he lightened up. Talking to Brother Lloyd, between classes, passing by the typing room, or catching him downstairs occasionally, was fun. He lived in one of the houses around the corner from the school. Just a quick walk home meant he was around more than a teacher heading for the car after class.

Other Typing Teachers

Brother Lloyd led the Typing staff. Others taught the class, most notably, the Conlin Brothers, Bob and Dan. Coaches taught Typing, since it wasn’t an “academic” subject. The course material was laid out in the book and in the recordings used to keep rhythm. With more coaches than Physical Education classes, coaches needed class assignments. I never heard anything bad about either Conlin with respect to Typing. The noise level of the room made the usual distract-the-coach banter difficult.

Transition to Computer

As the 70s morphed into the 80s, those Selectric typewriters hit ten-plus years in the classroom. Brother Martin retired the typewriters. “Keyboarding” became the subject. The State of Louisiana required students take a class in basic computer skills. Typing simplified the transition. The spot in the freshman schedule changed names.

Identifying the students

This photo is from the 1978-1979 school year. I graduated in 1976, so I don’t recognize any of these guys. If you do, please comment or drop me a line!

Donald Newman, BM ’75, 1957-2018

Donald Newman, BM ’75, 1957-2018

Donald Newman

Donald Newman

Brother Martin High School Varsity Basketball Team, 1973-1974. LHSAA AAAA State Champs. Don Newman is #11, bottom right. (courtesy Brother Martin High School)

Donald Newman, BMHS Class of 1975

We lost a good guy yesterday. Don Newman was a year ahead of me at Brother Martin. He was a basketball player, a member of the 1973-1974 Louisiana LHSAA 4-A championship team. Newman was point guard for that team, and the next year, as a senior. He also played baseball while at BMHS.

After Brother Martin, Don went to LSU, for a year, where he played basketball and baseball. He transferred to Lake City, then Grambling, he played one game at Lake City and not at all for Grambling. Newman landed at University of Idaho, where he played from 1978-1980.

Pro Career

Don was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the third round in 1980. He was the last person they cut before the start of the 1980 season. He signed with the Montana Golden Nuggets of the CBA.

In 1981, Newman tried out for the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL, as a cornerback. He never played football in high school or college. He didn’t make the team, but did play in Canada,first for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Montreal Concordes, Ottawa Roughriders, and Hamilton TigerCats. He began his coaching career at high schools in Idaho. Newman got his degree from Idaho in 1987, and moved up to collegiate coaching.

Coaching

After coaching at Moscow (Idaho) High School, Newman took an assistant job at Washington State. He moved from there to head coach at Sacramento State, then Arizona State. He moved to the NBA from ASU, working as an assistant for the Bucks, Nets, Spurs, and Wizards. While with the Spurs, he earned two rings, as an assistant coach on the 2005 and 2007 championship teams. Newman was still with the Wizards when he passed yesterday.

High School Memories

Don was point guard on the “Robey team” in 1973-1974. Rick Robey was the classic big-man-in-the middle, and Don was the ball handler. Don was as important to the team as Robey, because when Rich would get into foul trouble, it was up to the rest of the guys to pick up the slack. Newman was the leader. Mind you, the rest of the team was pretty good as well, but Don was the best athlete, and I’ll go as far to say that he was a better overall athlete than Robey.

1974-1975

After the state win, Robey graduated and went on to the University of Kentucky, and then the Boston Celtics. That next year, it was up to the four juniors from the state team to keep it going. Newman, along with LeRoy Oliver, Reggie Hadley, and Rodney Montgomery were the subjects of many a “can they do it without Robey” articles. Junior Mike Litwinowicz stepped into the center position, when they weren’t running more of a small-ball offense. Sophomore Dwayne Vantress also got a bit of varsity time in 74-75.

The team didn’t repeat as state championships, but they did win the Catholic League a second year. While many at the school and in the media considered that a let-down, I was proud of those guys. They were under incredible pressure. Brother Martin won state in 1969-1970, 1970-1971, then again in 1974. The school also won state in football in the 1971 season. The combining of Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius made the teams from those early years powerhouses.

Statistician Memories

I didn’t know Don well, even back on Elysian Fields. I had one class with him, a one-semester religion class. I pretty much kept my head down in religion, but that’s a story for another time. I knew a lot about Don even though we weren’t really friends because I was a sports statistician. In the days before even electronic calculators, you had to be able to do two-digit division in your head to knock out shooting percentages. When Johnny Vitrano (JV coach and assistant Varsity coach) was breathing down your neck to get the halftime percentages back to Head Coach Tommy Kolb, you had to think fast!

But having coach bug us was part of the fun. The best perquisite of the statistician’s job was you got to sit at mid-court, at the scorer’s table. Front-row center to see these guys play. While Robey was gone, my junior year was much more exciting. There were a number of games in my sophomore year where I didn’t get to do the book for varsity. There were juniors and seniors who got the mid-court seats. By junior year, though, I was one of the lead statisticians. Keeping the score book or the shot chart for Don, LeRoy, Reggie, Snake, Mike, Bean (Vantress) was a blast. Yelling our lungs out for them up front, even on the other team’s home side–don’t tell Brother Neal, SC, but he should have charged us a fee for doing the games.

Rest in Power, Don. You were one of the good guys.