Maison Blanche Halloween wasn’t a big deal. Christmas was the big deal.
Atrium at Maison Blanche, Lake Forest, mid-1970s. T-P photo.
Maison Blanche Halloween
Interior shot of the Maison Blanche store in The Plaza at Lake Forest. The store opened in 1974. The store incorporated many of the design features of the one in Clearview Shopping Center in Metairie. This photo features the open-air center atrium. The escalators stood on either side, with the Fine Jewelry department on the ground floor. The mall-side entrance to the store stood to the photographer’s left. First floor departments included cosmetics, jewelry, candy, juniors and menswear. Retailers always believed menswear should be easily accessible, on the ground floor.
“You’ll be a sleeping beauty in dreamy sleepwear by Gilead…short waltz length nylon tricot gowns with matching coats…” – women’s sleepwear, items a husband or boyfriend find difficult to buy as gifts. So, appeal to the ladies directly, before the Christmas ad onslaught.
This ad, from the Times-Picayune, on 31-October-1978, is a great example of how seriously Halloween was a part of the chain’s Fall marketing. Yes, there’s nothing in the ad for spooky season. That’s because Halloween is merely a blip on the radar. The focus for department stores like MB was always the post-Thanksgiving shopping season. While stores like Spirit Halloween, Party City, discounters like K-Mart, and the old five-and-dimes offered what you needed for Halloween, MB and its competitors didn’t bother. Setting up for Halloween required taking space from multiple departments. The managers of those departments and the buyers they worked for balked at disrupting the holiday mojo. September heralded the “Pre-Christmas” promotions. Those sales carried on through November. The day after Thanksgiving marked the formal start of the Christmas season. To set up displays for special merchandise at the end of October, only to break them down days later made no sense.
Halloween in Men’s Suits
So, Maison Blanche Halloween wasn’t a thing. In fact, I took the day off when this ad ran in 1978. The “Haunted House” we held at the Lambda Chi Alpha (University of New Orleans) house in Gentilly needed more help than the Men’s department at MB Clearview. Since we worked on commission, my colleagues certainly didn’t miss me on a slow night.
Hope your Halloween was a good one! This post goes up a day late, but that’s OK, because we’re still in the middle of All Hallows Eve, All Saints, and All Souls.
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.
Southern Railway Southerner train ran from New Orleans to New York City.
Southern Railway Southerner
Two EMD E-6 “A” units pull the Southern Railway Southerner train, southbound over Lake Pontchartrain. The photo is undated, but likely from the late 1940s/early 1950s. The Southerner operated from 1941 to 1970. The train used Pullman-Standard cars, delivered to Southern in March, 1941. By 1970, ridership on the Southerner and its companion route, the Crescent, dwindled. Southern Railway combined the two routes. They re-named the combined service the “Southern Crescent.” The Southern Crescent ran from 1970 until Amtrak took over passenger service in 1971. The Southern train became the Amtrak Crescent.
Southerner vs Crescent
There were two main differences between the Southerner and its older companion, the Crescent. First was the route. While the Crescent used a coastal route, the Southerner went more inland through Alabama and Mississippi.
- Atlanta, GA
- Anniston, AL
- Birmingham, AL
- Tuscaloosa, AL
- Meridian, MS
- Laurel, MS
- Hattiesburg, MS
- Picayune, MS
- Slidell, LA
- New Orleans, LA
- Atlanta, GA
- West Point, GA
- Auburn, AL
- Montgomery, AL
- Flomaton, AL
- Mobile, AL
- Pascagoula, MS
- Biloxi, MS
- Edgewater Park, MS
- Bay St. Louis, MS
- New Orleans, LA
(note: this is from a 1950 timetable; some stops omitted.)
The Southern Railway Southerner used Terminal Station on Canal and Basin Streets. The New Orleans Terminal Company built the station in 1908. New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad trains used this station prior to that railroad’s acquisition by Southern. Southern shared Terminal Station with the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio Railroad. The Southerner crossed Lake Pontchartrain via Southern’s “five-mile bridge.”
The Crescent crossed Lake Pontchartrain via the Rigolets bridge. It arrived at the Louisville and Nashville Station at the head of Canal Street. That train’s final leg traveled over L&N tracks, through Alabama and Mississippi. After 1954, both trains arrived and departed from Union Passenger Terminal, on Loyola Avenue.
Use of other railroad’s right-of-way forced the consolidation of Southerner and Crescent in 1970. L&N discontinued passenger service that year. Southern Railway Southerner’s route became the Southern Crescent’s. The combined train operated exclusively on Southern track.
The Pullman-Standard consists:
- Baggage-dormitory-coach (22 seats)
- 52-seat coach
- 56-seat coach
- Dining car
- Two additional 56-seat coaches
- Tavern-lounge-observation car.
Prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the 52-seat coach was partitioned/segregated. Sleeper service was added to the Southern Railway Southerner in 1951.
Fishing Shack in the Rigolets
Fishing Shack in the Rigolets, 1943, by Jane Smith Ninas
1943 – Fishing Shack in the Rigolets
I spent some time this afternoon, looking in a couple of photo collections for local Radio Shacks. It’s part of a new project, a Facebook group for sharing memories of New Orleans stores. The name of the group is New Orleans Shopping, so please feel free to click through and join. So, I didn’t come up with any Radio Shack photos right off, but I did come up with a lot of “shacks”. This painting caught my eye, thought I’d share.
Fishing Camps around New Orleans
We’ve got fishing camps (no Realtor is going to call your grandpa’s camp a “shack”) all over Southeast Louisiana. Some are simple, others are palaces out in the wetlands. The Rigolets pass, along with Chef Menteur Pass, are the two bodies of water connecting Lake Pontchartrain with Lake Borgne. Lots of good fishing and crabbing out along those passes.
Ninas’ painting includes many of the components one would expect in and around a local fishing camp. It’s raised on pilings. Around the shack are various dockside items for keeping and maintaining small fishing boats The shack is on the ground, next to the pass. While most fishing camps on the lake are over water, this shack is on the shore..Usually, a pier connects the camp to shore. Owners of fishing camps in te 1930s-1940s likely kept their boats by the camp. So, there’s a hoist behind the shack, where the boat could be raised. They could work on the boat while out of the water. It’s also a good way to secure the boat, raise it up, then lock down the hoist. These days, it’s more likely the owner puts their boat on a trailer and bring it home.
Jane Smith Ninas
Jane Ninas, nee Smith, is the artist. She married artist Paul Ninas, in 1933, but then left him and married photographer Walker Evans. She passed away in 2005, at the age of 92.