Fortier High School football – friday night lights in the forties

Fortier High School football – friday night lights in the forties

Fortier High School football – FNL

fortier high school football

The Alcee Fortier High School football, 1940s

Fortier High School Football

This is a Franck Studios photo of a football team from Alcee Fortier High School. I’m thinking this is from the 1940s rather than the 1950s, but there’s so little to go on in terms of identification. They look like your basic football team from the time before integration.

Alcee Fortier High School

Fortier High School Football

Fortier High School, on Freret and Nashville, Uptown. The facility is now Lusher High School.

The school opened in 1931. Fortier occupied the Uptown block bounded by Freret, Joseph, Loyola, and Nashville, The main entrance fronted Freret Street. Fortier opened as an all-boys, all-white school. It integrated as part of the school district’s plan, in 1961. The student body lost lost white students steadily through the 1960s and 1970s, due to white flight.

Fortier offered German language classes prior to World War II. It was one of the few schools in the city that taught the language.

Hurricane Katrina

Fortier declined dramatically in quality in the 1990s. By the early 2000s, it was rated as one of the worst schools in the city. The Louisiana Legislature pointed to schools like Fortier and demanded changes. They created the Recovery School District. The state tasked RSD with taking over public schools in Orleans Parish. They believed the Orleans Parish School Board could not handle the job any longer.

Within a year of the RSD’s creation, Hurricane Katrina struck. The storm’s aftermath changed all the plans for public schools. RSD permanently closed many schools. Fortier was one of them. RSD authorized charter schools across the city. Those new schools occupied the buildings of many older, failing schools.

Lusher High School

Lusher Elementary School opened on Willow Street in Carrollton in 1917. The school board expanded Lusher, opening a middle school, in 1990. The middle school used the old Carrollton Courthouse. That building housed Benjamin Franklin High School until that school moved to the University of New Orleans campus.

Lusher Elementary and Middle converted to a charter school in the wake of Katrina. The community planned a high school, going back to 2003. The charter enabled them to move on those plans. They opened the Fortier Campus as Lusher High School in 2006.

NJROTC at Brother Martin High School, 1969 – present #BOSH

NJROTC at Brother Martin High School, 1969 – present #BOSH

NJROTC at BMHS

NJROTC

From 2008: Brother Martin High School’s NJROTC Color Guard, awaiting inspection at a drill meet. (Brother Martin High School)

NJROTC was a citizenship program

NJROTC began at St. Aloysius in the 1967-1968 school year. The unit continued in the final year on Esplanade and N. Rampart, then moved to Elysian Fields Avenue. So, when BMHS opened, all sophomores, juniors, and seniors were required to participate in NJROTC. Therefore, this meant taking Naval Science classes and drill.

The Unit

With three classes of 325+ each, the NJROTC Unit was organized as a “regiment”. In my eighth grade year (1971-1972), the regiment consisted of two battalions of four companies each. The following year, the regiment re-organized. Cadets manned two battalions of five companies each.

Regimental Reviews

To appreciate the size of the unit, visualize what you saw at a “Regimental Review”. The events happened on the back practice field. Up front was the regimental staff. A Cadet Commander (who wore five gold bars) led the regiment. An Executive Officer (C/LTCDR), two C/LT staff officers, and a Regimental CPO (C/MCPO) comprised the staff. So, the band stood behind the staff. This was the full band. Freshmen in Marching Band received the blue uniform.

Behind the band were the battalions and the color guard. Each battalion consisted of five companies of 90-100 cadets each. Each battalion had a staff consisting of a commanding officer (C/LTCDR), executive officer (C/LT), two staff C/LTJGs, and a battalion CPO (C/SCPO) So, behind the staff were the companies. Each company was commanded by a C/LT, company executive officer (C/LTJG) and had a company chief (C/SCPO). The Platoons were each commanded by a C/LTJG or a C/ENS) and a company chief (C/CPO)

The Color Guard took up a position between the battalions, behind the band. The Drill Team was close to the school building, on the right hand side. This was a Big Deal, in terms of showing off the unit to the Cold War Navy and general public.

Uniforms

All students wore the Navy-style khakis as a daily uniform. Each cadet was issued service-dress blues as well. This uniform consisted of navy blue trousers, white shirt, black necktie, and a navy blue, double-breasted six-button jacket. So, cadets wore a khaki garrison cap on drill days (and for regimental reviews in warm weather). Cover for service dress was a white combination cap.

Officers and chiefs wore their rank insignia on the collars. Senior cadets wore an anchor on each collar, juniors one anchor on the right collar. Sophomores wore no insignia.

Cadets in the unit had the option of wearing Navy-issued khakis, or buying their own uniforms at Perret’s on Royal Street. Therefore, the advantage of buying your own was you could get permanent press. The Navy-issue khakis were all-cotton, and had to be ironed.

Modern NJROTC

When my now-LT Firstborn (2006) was in NJROTC, they wore uniforms similar to the cadets in this photo. They wore a short-sleeved white shirt in warm weather, and the all-blue uniform shown here on cool-weather drill days.

Controversy

So, there was always a bit of controversy surrounding the unit. Some of the BOSH objected to the “militarization” of the school. Consequently, NJROTC prompted debate at the time of the merger. Prior to NJROTC, both St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu had no uniform. The Brothers on the CJ faculty had concerns. Making NJROTC mandatory disturbed some of the faculty. That policy changed in my senior year, 1975-1976. So, that year, NJROTC was made optional. Students had a choice, take NJROTC or PE. The size of the unit dropped to around 800, and decreased annually from there. The modern unit is organized as a company.

I wrote this from memory. My NJROTC experience has a huge gap. I was a cadet in the 70s. I picked up interest again when LT Firstborn joined as a freshman in 2001. As a result, this may be off a bit. Please share your memories of NJROTC!

St. Aloysius 1948 – Brother Cyr and his freshman class

St. Aloysius 1948 – Brother Cyr and his freshman class

St. Aloysius 1948 remembered in 1969

St. Aloysius, 1948

Brother Cyr and his Freshman Class, St. Aloysius, 1948

St. Aloysius 1948

Brother Cyr and his freshman class, 1948. St. Aloysius High School on Esplanade and N. Rampart. The school stood on that corner from 1892. It was first the old house used by the Ursulines. From 1925-1969, it was the building we all think of when we think of the Crimson and White.

Freshmen of 1948

If these young men were freshmen in the 1947-1948 school year, they were seniors in 1950-1951. So, these boys were eighteen during the Korean War. I don’t have more detail on the photo than the that it’s Brother Cyr’s class. If any of y’all can help with identification, please let me know.

While the late 1940s were not as tumultuous as the war years, they still had their moments. The economy suffered ups and downs, as the war efforts slowed down. The Atomic Age was three years old in 1948. The country debated where to go with these powerful weapons.

Brother Cyr and these young men were three years away from the invasion of Korea by the People’s Republic of China. Harry S. Truman sat in the Oval Office. FDR’s passing elevated his Vice-President in 1945. Truman stood for election in the fall of 1948. He took the oath of office a second time the next January.

Writing the BOSH Book

I encountered a number of challenges when writing Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. Hearing “all my photos are gone” was the worst. I planned to do a second book, following my 2004 streetcar title, on Gentilly. That plan derailed in 2005. The books re-appeared on my radar a few years later. I returned to the idea of a Gentilly book. Katrina wiped out so much, my resources shrank.

That’s when I switched focus. The school fared better than most of the neighborhood in 2005. I limited the scope of Gentilly to Brother Martin. Then I expanded the timeline to include the two older schools. Between the province office and the alumni office, I found enough photos to proceed.

The Crusader Yearbook of 1969

The yearbook staff at St. Aloysius produced their last edition in the spring of 1969. It documented more than just a year in the life. The staff knew this ended an era. They tapped their files, pulling up photos like Brother Cyr and his freshmen from 21 years earlier. I’m glad they did. While there were no 1948 yearbooks around in 2010, I did have those memories preserved in 1969.

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.┬áSecond, 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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Cor Jesu Football, 1968 – Friday Night Lights in New Orleans

Cor Jesu Football, 1968 – Friday Night Lights in New Orleans

Cor Jesu Football – fall of 1968

cor jesu football

The Cor Jesu Marching Band, Tad Gormley Stadium, 1968.

Cor Jesu Football

The “Friday Night Lights” traditions of Brother Martin High School go back a long way. The two schools merged together to form BrM, St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu, participated in prep football. St. Aloysius High had a solid and competitive athletics department.

While St. Aloysius played strong, Cor Jesu came to prep sports late. The BOSH planned Cor Jesu to be an “academic” school. So, St. Aloysius was their “holistic” school. Cor Jesu opened in 1954, without athletics. By the fall of 1964, Brother Roland, SC, then the principal, announced the formation of an athletics department. Cor Jesu fielded football, basketball, baseball, track and golf teams. The school also formed a drill team as part of the band program.

The brothers hired a St. Aloysius/LSU grad, Andy Bourgeois, as the school’s first AD and football coach. Bourgeois was a member of LSU’s “Chinese Bandits” defense in 1958. Coach hired Bob Conlin as head basketball and assistant football coach.

Bourgeois and Conlin started from scratch on Elysian Fields. Cor Jesu posted a winless record in 1965. The team came along naturally. Gentilly was a baby-boomer neighborhood in the 1960s. So, more of the first wave of boomers chose Cor Jesu. It wasn’t hard to get to St. Aloysius via NOPSI. For Gentilly families, Cor Jesu was even easier. Therefore, the athletics teams improved.

Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius – the legacy

Cor Jesu came a long way from their rocky football start in 1965. So, the team that merged with St. Aloysius to play as Brother Martin in 1969 was solid. Two seasons later, those “men who never say die” won the LHSAA 4-A state championship.

Football Halftime

Cor Jesu’s music program lacked only one thing in 1964–a marching band. That changed as football debuted. Brother Virgil Harris, SC, put his band on the field with for halftime shows in that first season.

This photo shows the Cor Jesu marching band performing at a football game in 1968. The band forms a “CJ” on the field of Tad Gormley Stadium.

Thanks to Brother Neal Golden, SC (CJ ’57) for all his research documenting BOSH athletics.

 

 

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933 – N. Rampart Street #BOSHbook

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933 – N. Rampart Street #BOSHbook

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933

st. aloysius panther yearbook

St. Aloysius High School, N. Rampart Street side, 1933 (BOSH photo)

St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook 1933

St Aloysius Panther Yearbook in 1933 featured a shot from the N. Rampart Street side, 1933. This photo is in the St. Aloysius Panther Yearbook.

Esplanade and N. Rampart

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart operated St. Aloysius High on the corner of Esplanade Avenue and North Rampart Street from 1892 to May, 1969. The school used a mansion on the corner from 1892 to 1924. The BOSH tore down that building in 1924, replacing it with the one in the photo. So, the yearbook staff shot this photo when the school was nine years old.

Usually, photographers shot the school from the Esplanade side. This is an interesting and less-common perspective. Students use all entrances of a school during the day, depending on the bus or streetcar they take to get there. St. Aloysius had a large, paved front yard, on the Esplanade side. Students went outside for lunch and between classes.

Panthers to Crusaders

The mascot of St. Aloysius High in the early 1930s was the Panthers. The school’s colors were purple and gold. Therefore the pages of the 1933 yearbook have the purple trim you see in this image. Brother Martin Hernandez, SC, didn’t like the school using purple and gold, because those are LSU’s colors. He changed the colors to crimson and white. At the same time, Brother Martin changed the school’s mascot to “Crusaders”. The Crusader, in his white cloak with crimson cross gave the school a much more unique look.

When the BOSH opened Cor Jesu High School in 1954, they chose crimson and gold for that school’s colors. They became the Cor Jesu Kingsmen. Over the summer of 1969, the BOSH decided to use Cor Jesu’s colors and the St. Aloysius mascot for the combined school, Brother Martin High School.

Fifty Years of Brother Martin

The 2018-2019 year marks fifty years of service to the community by Brother Martin High, but it’s 150 years for the Crusaders.