Maroon Monday – 1944
This week’s Maroon Monday takes us back to World War II.
Maison Blanche ad from the Loyola Maroon, October 27, 1944.
October, 1944 – The Allies invaded Europe in June of that year, and the war in the Pacific was still hot and heavy. Still, Loyola University continued its mission, educating the men and women still at home in the United States. The Loyola Maroon, the student newspaper, still went to press. Even students needed to have a “business dress” wardrobe, for school functions, social events, etc.
“Definitely collegiate” the ad says, and that makes sense. Wool herringbone pattern fabric made for a more laid-back suit than, say, classic blue serge. Herringbone tweed is the classic “professor’s” sport coat. When I was on the Brother Martin High debate team in the mid-1970s, I absolutely loved my wool-herringbone suit. It was a dark green, and just perfect for scholarly pursuits like speech and debate. The ad’s suggestions show the level of formality of the time. Wearing a suit to “spectator sports?”
Naturally, the collegiate looking for a suit in 1944 would head to Canal Street for a suit. He’d likely pass on the higher-end men’s shops, like Porter’s or Rubenstein’s, in favor of one of the big department stores, like D. H. Holmes or Maison Blanche.
MB knew their prices would be better suited to the student budget. The young man in need of such a suit could jump on the St. Charles streetcar, ride it from uptown to Canal Street, and walk from Carondelet and Canal, cross Canal Street, then head one block up Canal to Dauphine and Maison Blanche. The men’s department of the “Greatest Store South” was on the first floor. The young man would be greeted by a salesman who would take his measurments, grab the suit that caught his eye in the proper size, and then mark it up for the tailor. It would be ready in a few days, and he would be ready for that next football game, or on-campus social function.
As a writer, this triggers all sorts of inspiration for a story. A young man, at MB, buying a suit, while other young men his age are in France and Belgium, fighting the Nazis. Why was he home? Why wasn’t he in a plane over Europe, or in a Higgins Boat, landing on islands in the Pacific, fighting the Japanese? Oh, the possibilities…
Maison Blanche Department Stores, by Edward J. Branley
For more on the fascinating history of Maison Blanche, be sure to pick up my book, Maison Blanche Department Stores.
Maroon Monday – SS President in 1933
Ad for the SS President steamboat in the Loyola Maroon, November 17, 1933
Kicking off a new feature here – “Maroon Monday” – featuring ads and other interesting items from The Maroon, the student newspaper at Loyola University New Orleans.
Our first Maroon feature is from 1933. It’s an ad for dance cruises on the riverboat SS President. Riverboat cruises go back to the 1910s and earlier. The steamboats did nightly dance cruises, and afternoon trips on weekends. The cost in 1933 was seventy-five cents; by the time I was in high school in the mid-70s, a Friday night cruise on the President cost five dollars.
The band on the President in the fall of 1933 was “Fate Marable and his famous Cotton Pickers”. Marable was a well-established band leader, one of the musicians filled the void left when Buddy Bolden stopped performing in the 1900s. Marable worked with riverboat owners, putting together bands of black jazz musicians. Joe “King” Oliver and Louis Armstrong were just two of the musicians who played in Marable’s riverboat bands in the 1920s. Marable’s bands played on the SS Capitol and other riverboats of the time. Those wooden boats had a short lifespan, however. The Streckfus Company upgraded the President, rebuilding the superstructure in steel. The boat officially called St. Louis home, but it moved back and forth from St. Louis to New Orleans as Streckfus chose.
While the name “Cotton Pickers” for a “creole jazz” combo may be a bit cringe-worthy now, it was code for a “colored band” in Jim Crow Louisiana. There are a couple of photos of Marable’s bands in New Orleans Jazz.
Steamer SS President, New Orleans, 1970 (unknown photographer, State Library of Louisiana Collection)
Here is the SS President, thirty-seven years later, in 1970. We would go on the President to see “Colour”, a 70s Beatles Cover band, among other acts. The boat had not changed much from those “new” days, back in the 1930s.
Handwritten Caption: Top Row: 1. Mr. Alphonse Otis 2. Mr. Claude Roche 3. Mr. Andrew Brown 4. Mr. Joseph Raby 5. Mr. Daniel Lawton 6. Mr. Henry Maring 7 Mr. Emile Mattern 8. Mr. Henry Devine 9 Fr. William Power 10 Mr. Patrick Cronin 11 Mr. Ashton ; Bottom Row: Fr. Courtote 2. Fr. Anthony Free, ob. 1891 3. Fr. Aloysius Curioz. 4 Fr. David McKiniry 5 Fr. John O’Shanahan S.Mis. 6. Fr. Nicholas Davis 7 Fr. Edward Gaffney 8 Fr. Bernard Maguire ob. 1901 ; Bottom: A.D. 1889. (Photo courtesy Loyola University, in the Public Domain)
Picture from the Loyola University Library of a group of Jesuit priests and brothers. Given the other photos in the scrapbook that’s the source, the photos from Loyola University than the high school.