Brother Martin High School has a rich history of basketball championships.
Crusader forward Leroy Oliver (1975) goes up over Felton Young of Holy Cross in second-round district play, 1974. Center Rick Robey (1974) looks on, hoping he doesn’t have to go for a rebound. (photo courtesy Brother Martin High School)
I was reminded of the 1973-74 season yesterday because of the current story of St. Augustine defeating Scotlandville High School yesterday (13-March-2021) to win the state championship.
This year’s story is of a team that wouldn’t be denied three years in a row. St. Augustine lost to Scotlandville in the championship game in 2019 and 2020. The story in 1974 was of two teams that played each other five times in the same season.
Brother Martin vs. Holy Cross
Two top-flight teams in the Catholic League make for a grueling season. Brother Martin, state champions in 1970 and 1971, returned as a contender in 1973-74. Coach Tom Kolb returned to coach the Crusaders after running the Jesuit program. Four letterman, Leroy Oliver, Rodney Montgomery, Jimmy McCulla and Rick Robey, along with Donald “Duck” Newman, started.
The Crusaders defeated the Holy Cross Tigers in their first district game, at Holy Cross. Both teams ended the first round with 6-1 records. They played for the first round championship at Tulane. Holy Cross won. They met in their very next game, at Brother Martin. The Crusaders defeated the Tigers. They went on to win the round undefeated.
So, the teams met a fourth time, again at Tulane, to decide the district champion. The Tigers lost, 57-58. The teams advanced to the playoffs. Each team won four games on the road to the championship showdown in Alexandria, LA. The Crusaders won that fifth meeting of the season, 67-56.
As Brother Neal Golden, SC, wrote about that year:
Robey completed an outstanding senior year.
- He made All-District, All-City, and All-State and was selected the best player in the Top Twenty tournament.
- Rated as one of the top four seniors in America, he signed with Kentucky where he played four years before going to the NBA.
That was three state championships in the first four years since Brother Martin opened. Crusader basketball continued to bring hope district and state titles.
Brother Martin vs St. Augustine
So, the big basketball rivalry wasn’t always with St. Augustine. Like many successful runs (like the Scotlandville run that just came to an end), a school gets that one (or maybe two) players who stand out. The Crusaders experienced this in 2002-2003, when DJ Augustin came to Elysian Fields. The Crusaders were state runner-up that season. They won the championship in 2004 and 2005. Augustin and his teammates were odds-on favorites to win a third championship, but Hurricane Katrina had other ideas.
My band kiddo’s sophomore year was an exciting, albeit grueling one for Crusader basketball. The team played St. Augustine four times that season, losing to the Purple Knights three times. Fourth time was lucky, as they defeated their Catholic League rivals in the state semi-finals, going on to win the championship.
Hebrew Rest Cemetery, just off of Elysian Fields Avenue and Gentilly Boulevard.
Hebrew Rest Cemetery
This aerial shot of Gentilly captures both sections of Hebrew Rest Cemetery. Latter and Blum commissioned this aerial set. The set documents the development of shopping centers running from Frenchmen Street to Elysian Fields Avenue in 1961. Hebrew Rest Cemetery predates those shopping centers by 100 years.
Jewish congregations formed in New Orleans in the 1820s. By the 1840s, those congregations built cemeteries. They started at the end of Canal Street. As the city grew, more cemeteries were needed. Additionally, diseases like Yellow Fever struck New Orleans. In 1860, the city’s oldest congregation, Shangari Chasset, acquired land n Gentilly for a cemetery.
Reform Jews in New Orleans formed Congregation Temple Sinai in 1870. Shangari Chasset turned over all of their cemetery properties to Temple Sinai two years later.
The congregation re-organized the Gentilly cemetery in 1872. They formed a separate corporation, the Hebrew Rest Cemetery Association. This separated the cemetery from a single congregation. In 1892, the Association purchased the land in Gentilly. So, they built Hebrew Rest #2. They constructed a third expansion in 1935.
Jewish tradition calls for in-ground burials. While we think of New Orleans cemeteries and their above-ground tombs, the city’s Jews weren’t the only ones who dug graves. So, a walk through St. Patrick Cemetery No 1, on Canal Street, reveals a number of in-ground graves. These graves are actually “copings.” Rather than simply a hole in the ground, a concrete frame surrounds a coping. Dirt fills the frame. So, the coping is an in-ground burial, but raised by a foot or two. This addresses concerns that the city’s high water table might push a coffin out of the ground.
Hebrew Rest sits on the Gentilly Ridge, one of the highest points in New Orleans.
Benjamin Franklin High 1987 transitioned from Uptown to Lakefront.
Benjamin Franklin High 1987.
Dr. Everett C. Williams poses with OPSB member Mr. John Robbert and students of Benjamin Franklin High 1987. They stand behind an architectural model of the planned campus for the school, located on the University of New Orleans Lakefront Campus. (Students are unidentified; please comment if you know anybody!)
The city’s public school for gifted students, Benjamin Franklin High 1987 opened its doors for the first time for the 1957 school year. The Old Carrollton Courthouse (S. Carrollton Avenue, between Hampson and Maple Streets, Uptown), housed the school for just over thirty years. While Benjamin Franklin 1987 was originally segregated, it became the first Orleans Parish public school to desegrate, in 1963.
The original requirement for admission to this select school was an IQ of 120. Now, Franklin requires a more-formal admissions test of prospective students.
Alumni of note of Benjamin Franklin High 1987:
- Barry W. Ashe: Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
- David “Dee-1” Augustine: rapper
- Lolis Eric Elie: former columnist at The Times-Picayune, TV writer for Treme and Hell on Wheels, author, award-winning documentary filmmaker, author of Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country (ISBN 1-58008-660-8)
- Ted Frank: Director of the AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest
- Jalila Jefferson-Bullock: Louisiana State Legislature – Representative, District 91: 2003-2007
- Anya Kamenetz: freelance writer & columnist, author of Generation Debt (ISBN 978-1-59448-907-5)
- David Kinch: chef and owner of Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, California
- Delfeayo Marsalis: jazz trombonist – attended Ben Franklin/NOCCA
- Wynton Marsalis: Pulitzer Prize, nine-time Grammy Award winning musician – attended Ben Franklin/NOCCA
- Jeffery Miller: jazz trombonist – attended Ben Franklin/NOCCA
- James Nolan: poet, fiction writer, essayist, and translator
- Wendell Pierce: actor, star of the HBO dramas The Wire and Treme
- Wade Rathke: co-founder of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)
- Cedric Richmond: U.S. Representative, Louisiana’s 2nd district: 2011-current; Louisiana State Representative, District 101: 1999-2010
- Clint Smith: author and poet, known for his work in education, incarceration, and inequality
- Richard (Dick) Talens, Entrepreneur, Celebrity Trainer, and Co-Founder Fitocracy
- Rosie Tran: Stand Up Comedian, Actress, Model, and podcast host.
- Walter Williams: Saturday Night Live writer, creator of Mr. Bill
Move to Lakefront
The Orleans Parish School Board determined that the Old Carrollton Courthouse was no longer suitable for Franklin’s campus. They negotiated with the University of New Orleans and leased land for Franklin on the university’s Lakefront/Gentilly campus. Benjamin Franklin High moved to the new campus in the 1989-1990 school year.
This photo is part of the Orleans Parish School Board collection at UNO. If you know anyone in this photo, please let us know, so we can improve the description.
Maison Blanche Swimsuits 1956 for Memorial Day sale.
Maison Blanche Swimsuits 1956
Swimsuits and other summer wear filled up almost an entire page of the Times-Picayune on 31-May-1956. Cotton swimsuits for $5.50, and in stock after Memorial Day? Whoa. Sixty-four years later, women stress over buying a swimsuit in January.
Summering in the late 1950s
Many New Orleans families packed up and headed to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in June. School’s out, and the heat rolled in. Central air-conditioning wasn’t nearly what it is now. So, Mom and the kids left town. Literally. Dad worked, of course, joining the family Friday night.
Folks who didn’t have the means to buy or rent a summer home, or a fishing camp down the bayou, managed with day trips. The Elysian Fields bus transported generations to Pontchartrain Beach for a day of sun and swim. Others chose the West End bus, for picnics at the park. Black families rode out to Lincoln Beach, on Hayne Blvd., in New Orleans East. Others chose the shelters maintained by the Orleans Parish Levee Board along the lake. Shelter No. 3, by the old Coast Guard station, featured a roped-off swimming area. Lifeguards manned watch stations there, by the entrance of Bayou St. John. Whichever escape the family desired, the right clothes were essential.
By 1956, Maison Blanche operated three stores. The Canal Street store always served as the flagship and corporate headquarters. The buyers chose lots of clothing for deeper discounts as summer approached. The stockrooms on the second floor emptied, filling the displays on the first floor. They buyers sent stock and brand lists to the art department. Messengers delivered ads to the paper.
Those buyers factored in stock levels of certain items for these sales. Not only did they consider shoppers on Canal Street, but folks in Mid-City and Gentilly. MB operated the store at S. Carrollton and Tulane, serving Mid-City and the growing Metairie subdivisions. In Gentilly, the store at Frenchmen and Gentilly Blvd. offered a closer alternative than Canal Street to families out there.
The block-font “Maison Blanche” logo at the bottom of the page served as the “standard” for MB at the time. The top “MB” varied, depending on the artist.
Andy Bourgeois becomes the first football coach at Cor Jesu.
Mr. Andy Bourgeois was the first head football coach at Cor Jesu High School. The school announced it would compete in Catholic League athletics in the fall of 1964. So, Cor Jesu’s administration named its first athletic staff in January, 1965.
From its opening in 1954 until 1965, Cor Jesu High School’s defined its mission as a college prep school. While the other BOSH school in New Orleans, St. Aloysius, had athletics, Cor Jesu focused on academics. St. Aloysius High School operated as a holistic school. Cor Jesu, on Elysian Fields in Gentilly, went for the “smart boys.”
By the mid-1960s, the BOSH changed Cor Jesu’s mission. The BOSH looked ahead at the viability of the St. Aloysius campus at Esplanade and N. Rampart. Since the Aloysius building opened in 1925, it aged poorly. The Institute decided their future was on Elysian Fields, with the newer facilities.
Athletics at Cor Jesu
If the BOSH were to consolidate their efforts on Elysian Fields, the campus needed an athletic department. They had the land for this. They needed the staff. On January 30, 1965, Brother Roland, SC, Cor Jesu’s principal, introduced Andy Bourgeois at a meet-and-greet dinner. The school cafeteria provided the setting for the event.
Bourgeois was known to New Orleans, and specifically to the BOSH faith community. He graduated from St. Aloysius in 1956. As an undergraduate at LSU, Bourgeois was one of the “Chinese Bandits” that won the football national championship in 1958.
About 400 boys from the school attended the dinner event with their parents. Brother Roland introduced Coach Bourgeois. Brother presented Coach with the first “letterman” sweater for Cor Jesu. Bourgeois drove around to elementary schools in Gentilly. He introduced himself and kicked off the school’s recruiting.
Brother Roland introduced two coaches at that 30-January-1965 dinner. While Bourgeois and football received top billing, Brother also introduced Cor Jesu’s first basketball coach. Robert Conlin, a graduate of De La Salle and Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, led the Kingsman’s basketball program. He also assisted Bourgeois with football. When the two schools combined in 1969, Bourgeous left. Conlin became Brother Martin’s first head football coach. So, that’s how Conlin’s legend began. Andy Russo, moved from head basketball coach at St. Aloysius to Brother Martin.
The decision to add athletics sparked new development on Elysian Fields. Cor Jesu built the massive gymnasium building. Brother Martin later named the gym for Coach Conlin.
BMHS Pep Rally 1982 in the gym on the Elysian Fields Campus
BMHS Pep Rally 1892
Brother Martin High School was into its second decade when this BMHS Pep Rally 1982 photo was taken. As you walked into the gym (it would be some time before “the gym” received a formal name, seniors and juniors sat on the right, sophomores, freshmen and eighth grade on the left. The band and football team sat in chairs on the floor. Cheerleaders alternated between the two sides. The banner, “WE WANT H.C.” on the back wall indicates the team’s next opponent was Holy Cross.
The Brothers of the Sacred Heart designated Cor Jesu High School as a college preparatory school. So, the school didn’t have a gymnasium in the 1950s (the school opened in 1954).. The Brothers changed this philosophy/plan for the school. They planned for a gymnasium in the early 1960s. The provincial at the time, Brother Martin Hernandez, SC, discussed his plan with then-Archbishop Joseph Rummel. Rummel offered to help with the financing of the project. What was the catch, you ask? Of course there had to be one, but it wasn’t unreasonable. The archdiocese put up money to finance the new gym, if Hernandez and the Brothers increased the building’s size. The Cor Jesu gym became the largest high school gym in the city. Rummel wanted the big gym for Catholic functions, such as the CYO Basketball Tournament. Since the school got the better end of this deal, Hernandez agreed.
The gym didn’t change much after the merger of Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius merged into Brother Martin in the fall of 1969. The back wall featured a “Kingsman” which morphed into a “Crusader.” The front side wall, closer to The Mall, sported a “Crazy Crusader” drawing.
After Coach Bob Conlin passed away in 1997, the gym was re-named the Robert M. “Bob” Conlin Gymnasium. This was fitting on multiple levels. Conlin was Cor Jesu’s first basketball coach. He led the BMHS football team for 27 years.