The St. Aloysius Color Guard was a military-style unit in the mid-1960s.
Aloysius Color Guard
From the book: “Color Guard. Prior to the activation of the school’s NJROTC unit, the St. Aloysius Band also included a Color Guard for presenting the American flag at football games, Carnival parades, and other events.” The unit consisted of a commander (left), two rifle escorts, and color bearers carrying the United States flag and the flag of the City of New Orleans. The 1966 Crusader yearbook staff shot this photo on the Esplanade Avenue neutral ground. Students in the unit are unidentified; if you know who these young men are, please let me know!
Band auxiliary to NJROTC
In 1967, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart announced an arrangement with the United States Navy to establish a Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC) unit at St. Aloysius High School. Participation in the unit was mandatory for Crusaders in grades 10, 11, and 12. The school adopted the Navy’s khaki undress uniform for all grades.
When St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu merged to form Brother Martin High, the NJROTC unit moved to Elysian Fields. The band and the color guard adopted the NJROTC uniforms for public events. The band wore the NJROTC service dress blue uniform. This consisted of navy blue wool trousers and a double-breasted wool jacket, with six buttons. Band members wore a white, long-sleeved shirt and a black necktie with the suit. Their covers were a naval officers style “combination cap” with a white cover. Ranks were indicated by insignia on the jacket sleeves. Officers wore thin stripes near the jacket cuff. Chief Petty Officers wore a CPO-style insignia on the upper sleeve. The band’s Drum Major held the rank of Cadet Lieutenant, and the commander of the color guard was a Cadet Lieutenant (Junior Grade).
BMHS kept the NJROTC uniforms for the band through the 1975-76 school year.
Gulf, Mobile, and Northern’s Rebel Route connected New Orleans to Jackson, Tennessee.
The “Rebel,” operated by Gulf, Mobile, and Northern Railroad, at Terminal Station in Faubourg Treme, late 1930s, early 1940s. It’s unclear whether this train is departing on a northbound run, or backing into the station, arriving on the southbound run. Trains approaching Terminal Station used a “wye” track on St. Louis Street to change directions. The inbound train entered the wye, then backed in. Passengers exited onto Canal Street, across from Krauss Department Store.
The Gulf, Mobile, and Northern operated the Rebel from 1935 until its merger with the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in 1942. GM&N expanded the Rebel. They purchased additional equipment, operating a split of the route, from Union, Mississippi, to Mobile. The GM&O expanded the Rebel Route further, north to St. Louis. The train’s final incarnation, the “Gulf Coast Rebel” ended service in 1958.
GM&N purchased two trainsets from the American Car Foundry in 1935. These sets used “power cars,” units which combined locomotive and coach. The Rebel also carried a buffet-coach car and a sleeper-observation. All coach seating operated following Jim Crow segregation laws.
The railroad acquired a third trainset in 1937. This trainset enabled GM&N to operate the split at Union, down to Mobile.
With the merger in 1942, GM&O discontinued the “little Rebel” trainsets. The railroad replaced them with the “Big Rebels,” Alco DL-105 locomotives and standard-style cars.
South of Laurel, Mississippi, GM&N/GM&O used Southern Railway tracks to reach New Orleans. The Rebel approached the city via Slidell, crossing Lake Pontchartrain using Southern’s five-mile bridge. The train traveled through the city using Southern’s “back belt.” The Rebel stopped at City Park Avenue, then turned towards the river, ending the journey on Basin Street. Like Southern Railway trains, GM&O shifted passenger operations from Terminal Station over to Union Passenger Terminal in 1954.
The Walmsley administration held a banquet at the Municipal Auditorium in 1932.
Morris FX Jeff Municipal Auditorium
Franck Studios photo of the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium in 1932. The city opened the facility on May 30, 1930. Since it opened, the Municipal Auditorium hosted a wide range of events, including Carnival balls, boxing matches, high school graduations, professional wrestling, as well as trade shows and conventions. The building sits in Faubourg Treme, next to Congo Square.
The Municipal Auditorium seats over 7800 people in its arena configuration. The city used the facility as a starting point for several professional sports franchises. The auditorium served as home court for the American Basketball Association’s New Orleans Buccaneers, during the team’s 1969-1970 season. When the National Basketball Association granted New Orleans a franchise, the New Orleans Jazz played their first season in the facility. The New Orleans Brass, an East Coast Hockey League (AA) team, used the auditorium as home ice from 1997 to 1999.
What attracted these teams to the facility was the ease with which it could be adapted. The Bucs originally played at the old Loyola Field House, but outgrew it. The Jazz planned to use the Louisiana Superdome, but decided to wait a season. That enabled the team’s management to prepare for Dome life. While the Brass were a professional team, they knew the Dome would be impractical. They used the auditorium until the opening of the Smoothie King Center.
Harrah’s New Orleans Casino planned to use the Municipal Auditorium as a temporary site, while they demolished the Rivergate convention center and built their current casino on that site. The temporary casino only operated for a couple of months in 1995.
Thomas Semmes Walmsley held the office of Mayor of New Orleans from 1929 to 1936. Walmsley was a controversial figure, being a staunch racist. Interestingly, Walmsley was a member of the Boston Club, the luncheon club located on Canal Street that is closely identified with the Mystick Krewe of Comus. Hosting a political event in the city’s new auditorium was quite logical.
Photo of a Masonic funeral procession from the late 1940s/early 1950s.
Masonic Funeral Procession
Officers of Axiom Lodge #216, Free and Accepted Masons, Prince Hall Affiliation (PHA), lead a funeral procession. Undated photo Axiom Lodge dates to 1951, so photo is likely 1950s. Perhaps someone with more automobile knowledge can pinpoint the truck on the left side. Axiom Lodge is incorporated in Faubourg Treme. So, it’s possible this procession walks through that neighborhood.
The officer front and center is likely a Warden of the Lodge. He carries the Volume of Sacred Law (VSL). This is likely a bible. Behind the Warden walks the Worshipful Master. He wears a hat, indicating his office. The Master walks under an arch of two pikes, carried by Tylers. A Tyler of a Masonic lodge serves as the guardian of the lodge room. He stands outside as the lodge gathers, challenging those who desire entrance. In this procession two Masons function as guardians of the Master.
Prince Hall Affiliation
Prince Hall was a man, a free Black Bostonian. He was born ~1735. Hall became an abolitionist and an influencer in the Black community of Boston. He encouraged Black men to reject British rule and support the revolution. Hall believed that white men would recognize the contributions of Blacks in the formation of the new nation.
Hall recognized that the two most important institutions in Colonial society were the military and freemasonry. Ironically, Hall was initiated into a lodge attached to the British Army. Lodge 441, chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland, initiated Hall and fourteen other Black men into freemasonry.
Hall in turn founded African Lodge 1. So, the membership named him Grand Master. After Hall’s death in 1807, African-affiliated lodges sought to join the Grand Lodges of their respective states. The white lodges rejected them. So, the African lodges formed an Independent Grand Lodge. “Prince Hall Affiliated” lodges grew in number. Additionally, more white grand lodges recognized the African Grand Lodge.
While most growth of Prince Hall freemasonry occurred in Union states, the movement eventually moved into rebel states. PHA lodges grew in Jim Crow states, since the structure was already segregated.
St. Aloysius Commencement in 1894 was a simple ceremony.
St. Aloysius Commencement
The St. Aloysius Commencement ceremony in 1894, as covered by the Daily Picayune, was a simple ceremony, as the school:
…closed its session yesterday without any of the special exercises which are features of the commencement season. For more than a quarter of a century, the institute has been an important factor in the commercial life of the community, sending forth hundreds of students to take positions in the business world and many of our most successful and progressive merchants and thorough bookkeepers and accountants have graduated from its halls, the foundation of their success being the splendid knowledge of mathematics and business methods inculcated at this Institute.
Witnessing the graduation of these young men were a number of Brothers of the Sacred Heart:
- Rev. Brother Justin, President of the Institute
- Rev. Brother Jerome
- Rev. Brother Auastatius
- Rev. Brother Symporium
- Rev. Brother Louis Alphonse
- Rev Brother Anthony
- Rev. Brother Louis
- Rev. Brother Theodius
- Rev. Brother Louis Americ
Rev. Brother Justin addressed the St. Aloysius commencement of 1894, followed by Rev. Brother Jerome, who admonished them that “money was only a means to an end, and that the highest good lies in being faithful to the promptings of conscience and God.”
Esplanade and N. Rampart
The graduates received their diplomas in the General Study Hall of the school, located on the corner of Esplanade and N. Rampart. The school originally opened in a house on the corners of Barracks and Chartres Streets in the French Quarter. The Archdiocese sold that house, originally the officers’ quarters for the Spanish Colonial military, to the BOSH in 1869. St. Aloysius outgrew that facility. In 1892, they acquired the old Ursuline school on Esplanade Avenue, at the corner of N. Rampart Street. The Ursulines moved their convent to the Ninth Ward by then. So, St. Aloysius occupied that corner for only two years of the quarter century of the school’s operation.
Phillis Wheatley School is located in Faubourg Tremé.
Model of Phillis Wheatley School, 1954, via HNOC
Phillis Wheatley School
Photo of an architectural model of Phillis Wheatley School, designed by Charles Colbert, in 1954. Colbert’s widespread praise for the school’s mid-century modern design. While the school was relatively undamaged by Hurricane Katrina, it was demolished on June 17, 2011. The school district rebuilt Wheatley, and the new facility opened in 2014.
The school is located at 2300 Dumaine Street, in Faubourg Tremé. Its namesake was an enslaved woman who published a book of poetry in 1773. When Wheatley opened in 1954, it was a segregated, colored-only school.
In a July 4, 2009 Times-Picayune article, Lolis Eric Elie, then one of the paper’s regular columnists, described the constraints the school placed on Colbert. The biggest issue was size. The land set aside for the school was less than twenty percent the size recommended for a school of 800 students. Colbert designed a multi-story facility to fit in the small space. His cantilevered steel truss design featured classrooms raised above an open, ground-floor space. The raised building offered a play area underneath. So, since there was no space for a separate recess/playground, students used this covered area.
While Colbert’s design drew praise from architects, educators found numerous issues. Bilateral lighting appealed to designers. Teachers worked in classrooms with large windows. The glare from those windows obscured chalk boards.
Bathrooms presented another serious flaw in Colbert’s design. There were no bathrooms in the raised classroom building. Both students and faculty had to go downstairs to a separate building to use the lavatories. This goes hand-in-hand with the overall property constraints. To fit in the space, Colbert built a multi-story facility. The district provided no money for proper plumbing in the raised section.
Preservation as institutional racism
After Hurricane Katrina, preservationists opposed the school’s demolition. They argued that the mid-century modern design justified keeping the building. The problem here is when white preservationists don’t factor in the practical aspects. To re-purpose the 1954 building meant finding land to build a new school for 800 African-American students. Even now, ten years after the building’s demolition, its loss is mourned, without a mention of providing important educational services in the Tremé
NOTE: While the full version of most of blog posts are for patrons only, this one is open. That’s because a discussion about Wheatley started on Twitter. Thanks to NOLA History Guy patrons for understanding!