Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot
A MONTHLY PURSUIT OF ANSWERS TO ETERNAL QUESTIONS
City Park director, Ellis Laborde, inspects the new 25-foot floral clock circa 1953.
I must ask this before it drives me crazier for sure. When I was growing up there was a beautiful clock that graced the entrance to City Park on Bayou St. John, which was in the ground. It was there forever, and then it seemed to just disappear. Now I live across the street and every time I get a cab I’ll ask the cabbie what happened to the clock. No one can answer; not even some drivers older than me. Can you please put my mind at ease by telling me why they took this memory away from me? With all our wonderful department stores a memory, I’d sure like to know why this beautiful clock was taken from us also.
Thanks so much, Julia. I know Poydras must have had a friend or two who would visit our park when he would go to check out the time as he was growing up.
In 1952, Allen Generes, a member of City Park’s Board of Directors, accompanied park director Ellis Laborde to the National Park and Recreation Convention in Montreal. While in Canada, the pair saw and admired the floral clock in nearby Westmount Park.
Upon returning to the Crescent City, Generes decided to donate a similar clock to the park. The Mayor of Montreal graciously provided the plans and the park staff built the clock at a cost of $2,000. Located on Lelong Avenue – near the park entrance leading to what’s now the New Orleans Museum of Art – the clock was a popular City Park attraction. The oversized hands proved irresistible for climbing children. This fact, along with time and acts of vandalism, took a toll on the clock’s mechanical parts. The broken clock was dismantled in 1982.
The City Park clock wasn’t the only floral clock in the city. In the 1960s, a less elaborately landscaped timepiece operated on the Loyola Avenue neutral ground near the New Orleans Public Library. It, too, fell into disrepair and was subsequently removed.
The inspiration for New Orleans’ first floral clock has fared far better than either the City Park or Loyola Avenue neutral ground examples. Built in 1927, using gears from a Model-T Ford, the Westmount clock is believed to have been the first such timepiece in Canada. Except during World War II, the Westmount Park floral clock has been under continuous cultivation. Restored in 2000, it remains a popular visitors’ attraction.
Love my New Orleans and love “Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot!”
My husband and I moved to New Orleans over 50 years ago. We settled in Algiers; however, we loved exploring the city! Bill Long’s Bakery was one block off of Napoleon Avenue; after Mr. Long was killed in the bakery do you know if they closed or moved?
Love receiving my New Orleans Magazine; I read it cover to cover. Love Mr. Laborde’s comments and articles, and knowing about events and up-and-comings!
Ruth K. Grimes
And we love letter-writers like you, Ruth. Bill Long’s, at the corner of Freret and Jena streets, was an unusual local institution. The proprietor inherited it from his father, William Anthony Long Sr. Opened in the 1940s, in what was once a thriving Jewish neighborhood, Long’s was a genuine kosher bakery owned and operated by Roman Catholics. Although the shop also featured a delicatessen, only the bakery was kosher, so the proprietors took care to assure that all preparation, storage and handling of deli goods was kept totally separate from the bakery.
The Longs prepared all baked goods using vegetable shortening and made sure that all aspects of food preparation for their baked goods adhered to the strictest Jewish dietary laws. Utensils used for baked goods were used for nothing else and even the soap used to clean them was certified to be free of animal fat.
Freret Street changed as the years passed. Beginning in the 1960s, many families moved to the suburbs. By the mid-’80s, faithful customers still patronized the bakery but no longer lived in the immediate vicinity.
The elder Bill Long died in 1977. On the afternoon of Oct. 29, ’85, Bill Long Jr. was robbed and shot outside the bakery he and his family had operated for nearly 40 years. He died later that day, following emergency surgery.
Antoine’s Famous Cakes later opened at the site but was damaged in post-Katrina flooding and never re-opened.
After Hurricane Katrina we settled in Palm Coast, Fla. FEMA wouldn’t get us a special trailer for four adults, one of which is crippled and myself on oxygen. We really know what it means “to miss New Orleans” and enjoy New Orleans Magazine so much. Besides our family and friends, we miss the food – especially the seafood! On one of our few visits back I noticed there’s no more Foodies on Veterans Boulevard. Could you let us know what happened to them and if they’re in another location?
Cannot wait to try and make Cream Puffs and Eclairs [recipes found in September’s Food column]. Forget about trying to make seafood gumbo or stuffed crabs, as the seafood doesn’t compare to New Orleans. The only thing halfway decent is the pizza dough that you can make into beignets.
Palm Coast, FL
Opened in 1999, Foodies Kitchen began as a Brennan family culinary venture. Located at 720 Veterans Memorial Blvd., in Metairie, across the street from Dorignac’s, it was part grocery and part gourmet-to-go. Foodies faced stiff competition from Dorignac’s and from Martin’s Wine Cellar a few block away. The business changed hands in 2003, and declared bankruptcy the following year. Since that time, the property has neither been sold nor leased; it remains vacant.
Julia and Poydras,
My first date with my husband began at the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. Before we made a full circle I was smitten! Can you tell me the history of the bar?
Overlooking Royal Street, the Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone is the only local bar that revolves. First opened in 1949, the chain-driven 25-seat bar is powered by a 1/4-horsepower motor. William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote were among the Carousel Lounge’s more famous visitors in years gone by while, in more recent years, Michael Jordan and Dennis Quaid have been among those to experience the mildly disorienting experience of patronizing a bar that rotates at a slow but constant speed as it’s pulled over 2,000 steel rollers.
In 1992, the bar was renovated and the current wooden carousel top, inspired by a California carousel, replaced the original tarpaulin. Chairs replaced stools with circus scenes painted on their backs. At the same time, fiber optic lighting was installed in the ceiling to create the illusion of the night sky. Designers even added a shooting star that appears at regular intervals.
I remember a children’s Mardi Gras parade that had floats from each public school, and boys from that school pulled the floats. The boys who pulled the floats each wore the same costume. I pulled the float from McDonough 19 a couple of times, this was in the late 1930s, and then the last year before going to high school I rode on the float. Can you tell me when this parade stopped rolling? It was a lot of fun being one of those who pulled the float.
The parade you so fondly remember was known as the Krewe of New Orleans Romance, better-known as the Krewe of NOR. The first parading Mardi Gras krewe established for children, NOR paraded from 1934 to ’40 and from ’48 to ’49.