JULIA STREET WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT

A MONTHLY PURSUIT OF ANSWERS TO ETERNAL QUESTIONS

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION

Dear Julia,
I am just old enough to remember a New Orleans publication named Figaro. I am intrigued by the name but I recall only that it had a magazine format on newsprint-type paper and it was published at least for a period in the 1970s.

Could you tell me when it was published and by whom; whether its raison d’être was local current events, politics or entertainment; and, whether libraries have archived it?

C. Moulin
Abita Springs


There had been a late 19th-century New Orleans newspaper by the same name, but the Figaro you remember was published from 1972 to ’81. For most of its run, the Mercury Press publication was based at 1070 St. Charles Ave., but, beginning in ’79, it moved to 1428 Tchoupitoulas St.

Figaro was an alternative weekly newspaper that contained a lively mix of entertainment news and political writing that didn’t shy away from controversy. It was somewhat similar, in both format and content, to Gambit Weekly, which first appeared shortly after Figaro’s demise. Some former Figaro staff include Bruce Eggler of The Times-Picayune and food critic Tom Fitzmorris.

The Earl K. Long Library of the University of New Orleans has a complete run of Figaro. You will find the original newspapers in the university’s Louisiana Division. The reference staff at your local library should be able to help you determine if any institutions closer to you have Figaro among their holdings.

Hello,
I live in North Carolina. I came across a vintage custom costume shirt/top that was made at Murray’s, 3017 Tulane Ave., New Orleans, LA 70119. I cannot find anything online about this business. I was wondering if you had any information on Murray’s that could help me date the costume piece.

Jeremy
North Carolina


I like your question, but there are two things wrong with your letter: You did not give your last name nor the name of the town you are writing from. This is in strict violation of our style rules. However, this being the Christmas season, Poydras has prevailed on me to be benevolent for just this one time. We will just assume that your lack of information is due to your being in the Witness Protection Program and that you are hiding out in the mountains somewhere north of Asheville. Being in the “program” also explains why you are looking for costumes.

The costume in question was made between 1973 and ’82, the only period in which Murray’s was located at 3017 Tulane Ave. in Mid-City. Founder Murray Himler was a well-known costume maker for several carnival krewes. Since the late ’40s, he had worked from his home on St. Philip Street in the French Quarter and, a decade later, from his residence on lower St. Charles Avenue, discretely creating costumes for krewes who trusted him to protect secrets about upcoming ball and parade themes.

The 3017 Tulane Ave. location where Himler set up shop in the early 1970s had, for more than 40 years, been home to B & C Cleaners. Following Himler’s death, Clarence Joseph Ancar Jr. and Helen Deruise carried on the traditional business, creating costumes for no fewer than nine different krewes. After Murray’s closed, the shop at 3017 Tulane Ave. became a bail bonding office.

Hi Julia,
I have been thinking that Poydras may watch the streetcars in hopes that someone will throw something edible out of the window, although food and drink aren’t allowed. In doing that watching, I wonder if he can provide any information about the streetcar numbers. Of course, all are 900s, but the numbering seems to be at random. Certain numbers seem to always show up; i.e., 904, 911, etc. I have been looking in particular for No. 952, which is the number on the LGB (now out business) G scale model of the St. Charles Streetcar. I have seen a No. 953, but no No. 952.

So my question is: Are the numbers chosen at random or were all of the numbers in existence at one time only to be retired or scraped over the years?

A second question is why is No. 911 apparently the only one with strobe lights mounted on “both fronts?”

Barrie Hiern
Shannon, GA


Barrie, your question refers, of course, to the streetcars on the St. Charles line. The red streetcars on the Canal Street line are numbered in the 2000s.

Streetcar numbers were sequential but, over time, some cars were scrapped or removed from service, creating gaps in the numbering. The 900 series had 73 streetcars with numbers ranging from 900 to 972.

Car No. 952 was built in 1923 and saw service on a variety of routes including the Desire line. When, in ’64, bus service replaced all local streetcar lines with the exception of the St. Charles route, number 952 was sold to a tourist attraction in Chattanooga, Tenn. Twenty years later, New Orleans re-purchased the car, putting it in service on the new Riverfront line. Once replica cars were introduced to the Riverfront line, streetcar No. 952 was again retired from active service.

In 1998, Mayors Willie Brown of San Francisco and Marc Morial of New Orleans signed an agreement, allowing car No. 952, which had once served the Desire line, to be lent to the City of San Francisco. The loan was a publicity stunt to call attention to the world premiere of Andre Previn’s opera based on the Tennessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire. The lease was later extended and streetcar No. 952 has since operated as part of San Francisco’s transit fleet.

I usually don’t let people double-dip and ask multiple questions but I believe you are mistaken about car No. 911 being the only one with headlights, not strobe lights, at both ends. All of the streetcars I recall seeing on the St. Charles line have had headlights and power poles at each end.

Dear Julia,
I am sure you’ve had this question asked before because this error seems so very obvious. If so, I must have missed the answer, so here it comes again. If not, it’s time New Orleans learns the answer.

I am sure that Poydras, on his many trips around our fair city fulfilling his avian duty of perching on and decorating statues, has many times visited the massive statue of a mounted Gen. Beauregard in the circle on the end of Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Perchance Poydras can tell us why the statue is inscribed “G. T. Beauregard.” We all, even those of us of proud Yankee decent, know that the General’s full name was Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. I have wondered about this for many years: Who took the “P” off Gen. Beauregard’s statue? However, closer examination of the inscription on the statue’s base shows no evidence of a “P” ever having been there, and the centering of the spacing of the letters would be wrong if a “P” were added. Therefore, the inscription never had the missing “P.” Why not?

Recently in her column in The Times-Picayune, Sheila Stroup referred to the statue of “G. T. Beauregard,” so I knew it was time to get to the bottom of this situation. Although Stroup is also of Yankee decent, she, like I, has been here long enough to know better.

So, where is the “P”? That’s “P” as in Poydras.

Donald C. Burnham
New Orleans


Neither Ms. Stroup nor the Albert Weiblen Marble & Granite Company personnel who engraved the memorial pedestal on which Alexander Doyle’s equestrian statue stands were incorrect to omit the reference to Beauregard’s original first name. Beauregard himself dropped “Pierre” from his name and, throughout his military career signed his name as “G.T. Beauregard.” The memorial in front of City Park reflects the shortened version Beauregard actually used during his military service. Because it differs from the lengthier name he was given at his Baptism, the shortened name is sometimes presumed to be an error; Beauregard’s own correspondence, however, clearly indicates his preference for the name as it appears on his memorial.
 

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