Julia Street

With Poydras the Parrot

Solari’s building was demolished when it’s owners cashed in on the lucrative market for parking lots to serve new French Quarter hotels in 1961.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION

Dear Julia,
Many years ago, on the corner of Iberville and Chartres streets, across from the Monteleone Hotel, there was a grocery, deli, bakery, cafe that was absolutely wonderful. If there was any product you needed to find, it was likely that Solari’s would have it. Also their prepared foods were quite delicious. They only had counter space, but it was worth eating at the counter to enjoy their foods. It seems to me that their decision to close was a sudden one. Since there was always a crowd in the establishment, it was a wonder to me that they should want to shut down. If you have any information about Solari’s, would you please enlighten me?
Henrie Banjavich
Ft. Walton Beach, FL


J. B. Solari founded the company in 1861, initially setting up shop at the corner of St. Louis and Royal streets but later moving, in 1873, to the corner of Royal and Iberville streets. You are not the only person to wonder why such a beloved and venerable institution suddenly ceased operation in the summer of 1965. The reason for the demise seems to have been a matter of money, as building owners rushed to cash in on the lucrative market for parking lots to serve new French Quarter hotels.

In 1961, the century-old company was sold to a syndicate that purchased the land and building as well as the business for about $750,000. The new owners demolished and replaced the building where Solari’s had operated for nearly 90 years, erecting a larger modern building that combined ground level retail space with upper level parking. Solari’s moved in when the building was completed but remained in business only a few more years. In August 1965, the syndicate sold the Solari’s building to Diversa Inc., a Dallas-based developer, for $1,350,000. Though there were rumors at the time, claiming that Solari’s might soon open a new location nearby, those plans never came to fruition.


Dear Julia,
I recently heard that New Orleans has a direct connection to the National Anthem. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Battle of New Orleans, the National Anthem as we know it would likely not exist. What is this connection?
Ric Peri
New Orleans


There is no connection. The Battle of New Orleans had nothing to do with “The Star Spangled Banner,” which was already written and set to music at Baltimore, months before the Battle of New Orleans took place.

Francis Scott Key penned the poem “Defence (sic) of Fort McHenry” which we now know as the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner” on Sept. 14, 1814, nearly four months before the Jan. 8, 1815 American victory at the Battle of New Orleans. The poem that Key scribbled on an envelope in celebration of a key American military victory following the British bombardment of Fort McHenry was immediately published at Baltimore. Set to the tune of “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a 19th-century English drinking song that had originated in a London gentlemen’s music club, the poem was renamed “The Star Spangled Banner.” In 1814, Thomas Carr’s Music Store in Baltimore published it as sheet music. It was not until 1931 that Congress proclaimed “The Star Spangled Banner” to be the national anthem of the United States of America.

The Smithsonian has the earliest known manuscript of Francis Scott Key’s handwritten lyrics and is home to the battle-torn flag that inspired our national anthem. These historic artifacts and more are included in the Smithsonian’s outstanding interactive examination of the origins and evolution of our national anthem (AmHistory.si.edu/StarSpangledBanner). Two of the more interesting things I found at the site are modern recordings of music that influenced the development of “The Star Spangled Banner” as we know it today.

A modern recording of an 1850s arrangement of “The Star Spangled Banner,” played on period instruments from the Museum of American History’s collection, sounds both familiar and odd to modern ears and can be heard or downloaded here: AmHistory.si.edu/StarSpangledBanner/mp3/song.ssb.dsl.mp3. The Smithsonian’s rendition of “The Anacreontic Song,” the English drinking song which provided the melody of our national anthem is found on the same website: AmHistory.si.edu/StarSpangledBanner/mp3/song.anac.dsl.mp3.


Dear Julia,
Of all the krewes listed in your February 2014 edition, there was no mention of the “Caliphs of Cairo.”
I have a very nice call out favor I inherited from my mother that she received many, many years ago when my uncle was King. Is the organization still in existence?
Zoe C. Schluter
Baton Rouge


The Caliphs of Cairo were established in 1937 and remain an active krewe. They are not a parading organization (the listing in the magazine was of groups that march); their Carnival celebration is an annual tableau ball. Like many older krewes, their King’s identity is a closely guarded secret but the Queen and her court are identified in published accounts of the annual ball.

The Caliphs of Cairo first appeared in the 1937 Carnival season. Their first ball, held at the Municipal Auditorium, recounted the story of “Joloco the Rainbow God,” a legend of the Taino people, indigenous Native Americans of Cuba and the Antilles. Miss Virginia Diggett, representing the goddess of rain, ruled as the Caliphs’ first Queen; her unnamed King depicted Jolocco.


Dear Julia,
Do you know anything about a former West Bank Carnival; krewe known as Jefla?
Shannon Halpern
River Ridge


On Oct. 11, 1948, the Jefferson Carnival Club met at 339 Monroe St. in Gretna’s McDonoghville neighborhood to select their first Carnival ruler, King Jefla. As with Alla (Algiers, La.) and Grela (Gretna, La.), Jefla’s name was a combination of the first letters of the name of the krewe’s home and the abbreviation for its home state; Jefla stood for Jefferson, La. Newspaper accounts occasionally reported the krewe name as Jeffla but Jefla appears to have been the preferred spelling of this short-lived Carnival organization’s name.

On Sunday evening, Feb. 27, 1949, Jefla’s “torch bearers” met at the Shangri-La Club prior to the krewe’s first 11-float parade to receive last-minute instructions from their Captain, Sam Centineo. The Westbank’s first night parade, led by King Louis Badalamento and Queen Norma Calzada, saluted “Fables of Jefferson Parish,” touting Jefferson’s history and natural attractions. The parade began at the corner of Columbus and Monroe streets and wound its way from Gretna’s McDonoghville neighborhood to downtown Gretna. Following the street parade, the krewe’s ball commenced at the Gretna High School gymnasium.

Jefla’s first floats had been borrowed, but those for its second parade were purchased. In October 1949, the Jefferson Carnival Club bought from the Old Reliable Carnival Club (better known as the Krewe of Choctaw) 10 floats that Choctaw had used in that years’s Carnival season.

When Jefla returned for the 1950 season, King John A. Flynn and his Queen, Miss Jeannette Martin led the parade, the theme of which was “Say It With Love.”

Jefla appeared only once more, holding its last parade and ball in 1951. The theme for Jefla’s final 10-float parade and ball was “King Jefla Visits Comicland.” Joseph Chimento and Miss Sidonia Terrebonne ruled over the festivities as King Jefla and his consort. Inclement weather forced Jefla to parade during the day for its final public appearance. The following Carnival season, Jefla was absorbed into the new and similarly short-lived Krewe of Midas.

 


Win a Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch
Here is a chance to eat, drink and listen to music, and have your curiosity satiated all at once. Send Julia a question. If we use it, you’ll be eligible for a monthly drawing for one of two Jazz Brunch gift certificates for two at The Court of Two Sisters in the Vieux Carré.
To take part, send your question to: Julia Street, c/o New Orleans Magazine, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005 or email: Errol@MyNewOrleans.com. This month’s winners are: Ric Peri, New Orleans; and Shannon Halpern, River Ridge.
 

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