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.
Graduation 1970 took place in the Rivergate Convention Center on Canal Street.
Brother Jean Sobert, SC, Director of Student Activities, gives last-minute instructions at Graduation 1970. The Charter Class of Brother Martin High School graduated in May, 1970. The commencement exercises took place at the Rivergate. Brother Jean speaks to a member of the NJROTC Color Guard, who participated in the ceremony. Brother Mark Thornton, SC, presided over the commencement as the school’s first principal.
The Class of 1970 set the tone for the opening and initial growth of the school. There was a lot of disappointment and sadness at the end of the 1968-69 school year. The students at Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius closed their schools. The classes of 1969 moved on. The rising seniors, along with the underclassmen, gathered on Elysian Fields in August of 1969 to open the new school. Brother Mark worked hard to bring the student bodies together, moving back and forth between Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius, talking to those rising seniors. He brought students into the planning over that interim summer.
One of the biggest things that unified Brother Martin in those first years was success in athletics. The basketball team, led by Coach Andy Russo, brought state championships home that first year, and in the 1970-71 season as well. Those teams combined the athletes from both schools. The 1969-70 team not only won state, but was ranked at the top of several national polls at the end of the season. The gym, now named for Coach Bob Conlin, offered a great (if not a tad warm) facility for basketball games. The facility held the entire student body and faculty for Mass and other assemblies.
Athletic success blended the disparate faculties and student bodies almost completely by the Fall of 1971. That’s when the football team won the 4-A state championship. The final game pit the Crusaders against neighborhood rival, St. Augustine High School, at Tad Gormley.
With the combination of Cor Jesu and St. Aloysius, class size exceeded 300 in grades 9-12. (Eighth Grade was about 100 students.) The school required a larger facility for commencement. While St. Frances Cabrini Church, on Paris Avenue, was a lovely place for Cor Jesu commencements, even that facility would be crowded. The Rivergate Convention Center opened in 1968. It provided a location large enough to accommodate faculty, student body, parents and guests.
Binder’s was “The Happy Baker with the Flashing Light” in the Marigny.
Ad for Binder’s Bakery in the Times-Picayune, 8-July-1966. At the time, the main Binder’s location was at the corner of Franklin and St. Claude Avenues, where the McDonald’s is now. The bakery also operated locations on Independence St., Desire St., and further up on Franklin Avenue, at N. Prieur Street. Joseph Binder started the bakery. His cousin, A. J. Binder, worked with him. A. J. “Butz” Binder, Jr. (St. Aloysius 1929), worked at the St. Claude location from when he was a child, into the 1970s. A.J. Senior opened the the bakery named for him at Frenchmen and N. Rampart Streets, in 1971. Father passed away in 1973, and son took over as general manager.
A.J. Binder, Jr. has a story similar to many we hear about Brother’s Boys who attended St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, and Brother Martin. After graduating from St. Aloysius, Binder’s delivered loaves of French Bread daily to the school’s cafeteria on Esplanade and N. Rampart Streets. I don’t know if that continued into the Brother Martin years, but I certainly ate my share of roast beef po-boys on Binder’s bread during my years on Elysian Fields.
The Binder’s Bakery tag line, was, “The Happy Baker with the Flashing Light!” The bakery displayed that tagline at the stores, on the delivery trucks, and even on the sleeves for the French bread. The note in this ad caught my eye, something I didn’t think about until I read it:
Sorry … due to Hurricane Betsy, our FLASHING BEACON, indicating when HOT FRENCH BREAD was available, was destroyed. We have tried, with no success, to have the sign company replace it. We hope to have it back in operation very shortly.
So, Hurricane Betsy blew up the Mississippi River and struck New Orleans on 9-September-1965. This ad appeared on 8-July of the following year. The Happy Baker’s light was out for a good while by that point. I don’t know the story of the original flashing light on St. Claude and Franklin. My memories of Binders only go back to the store in the Marigny. That location had a sign, of course. A border of amber lights flashed when hot bread was available. I’m assuming that sign went up when A.J. Senior opened the location in 1971.
Serious here, folks, please share your Binder’s stories with me. Those loaves of French bread were an important part of BOSH culture!
The A. J. Binder’s bakery in the Marigny, after serving the neighborhood and delivering French Bread citywide for 47 years, closed in 2018.
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.
Stephen B. Massicot was a “promising young Orleanian.”
Obituary for Mr. Stephen Massicot (click for a PDF copy), who passed away on June 4, 1898. This column ran in the Daily Picayune on Wednesday, June 8, 1898. Massicot graduated from St. Aloysius College in 1897.
St. Aloysius in 1898
St. Aloysius opened in New Orleans in 1869. The original campus was a house on Barracks and Chartres in the French Quarter. By 1890, the school outgrew that first location. In 1892, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart acquired a mansion just outside the Quarter from the Ursuline Sisters. The nuns desired an uptown location. They moved to State Street. Their campus, at the corner of Esplanade and North Rampart. reverted back to the Archdiocese. The archbishop leased it to the BOSH.
So, Stephen Massicot entered St. Aloysius in its second year on Esplanade Avenue. That mansion remained until 1924. That’s when the building known to generations of Crusaders was built.
Life after St. Aloysius
Stephen Massicot was valedictorian of the Class of 1897. After graduation, he went to work for Gotfried & Muller. They were cotton buyers. While cotton plantations no longer used the enslaved for labor, cotton was still huge in New Orleans. Riverboats still brought cotton down from the plantations. Mule -drawn wagons transported raw bales to cotton presses along the riverfront. Those presses compressed cotton for transport. Wagons returned the pressed cotton to the riverfront. Ocean-going ships took it up the east coast or to Europe.
So, cotton was a commodity. Buyers purchased cotton, either at the source (the plantation), or upon arrival in New Orleans. The grower moved on. The buyer then flipped the commodity, selling the pressed cotton to ship owners. They carried the product to textile mills. Those mills transformed raw cotton into bolts of fabric.
The obit describes how Stephen Massicot complained of discomfort and a fever two weeks before his passing. Doctors diagnosed his discomfort as typhoid fever. Five days after the diagnosis, the young man died.
The paper reports that the student body of St. Aloysius attended the funeral. His surviving classmates served as pall bearers. After the funeral, his mates laid him to rest in St. Louis Cemetery.
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.