JULIA STREET WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT
THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS
Alcee Fortier High School
When I was a student at Alcee Fortier Sr. High, (Go Tarpons!) in 1953 etc., during our half-hour lunchtime, many of us would race down Freret Street to grab a poor boy. I seem to remember that it was a drug store, with a lunch counter in the back. We were, of course, ignoring the rule not to leave campus, but the roast beef poor boy was so superb we were willing to risk being caught. Racing back to return on time was the hardest part.
In spite of all the delicious roast beefs I’ve enjoyed in my dear hometown, I cannot recall having one better than those served there at noon. Any idea what the business was?
Thanks for your help.
Martha Morazan Fontenot
You neglected to tell me whether you up ran up or down Freret Street, but even quick young feet would be challenged to sneak off campus, get lunch several blocks away and return undetected in 30 minutes or less. There were three drugstores within nine blocks of Alcee Fortier High School.
Richmond’s Drug Store was located at 5944 Freret St. Because Richmond’s definitely had a soda fountain and was located only three blocks uptown from campus, I believe it was the drug store most likely to have been your beloved poor boy shop. Around 1953-’54, Robert R. Richmond was the proprietor.
The next possible candidate was Bourgeois Drug Store. Edward J. Bourgeois ran the store, which was located at 5100 Freret St., five blocks downtown from campus. While the round trip would have been possible during your allotted lunch break if you hurried, you probably wouldn’t have had time to wait for or enjoy your order. The very best roast beef poor boys are messy, so you probably needed to allow an extra minute for a washbasin stop on you way back to class.
The least likely of the nearby Freret Street drug stores was Berner Drug Store, 4700 Freret St., nine blocks downtown from campus. Trying to cram an 18-block round trip and a messy lunch into 30 minutes would have been very difficult and chances of running late and getting caught would be unacceptably high; it’s much more likely you went to Richmond’s.
First let me address part of your answer concerning the Como Club (Julia Street column, October 2014 issue). I was following along quite nicely until your reference to 413 St. Charles Ave. as being “north of Lee Circle”. I thought we New Orleanians used Uptown, downtown, lakeside and riverside to indicate locations of stuff. I guess you meant “St. Charles Avenue downtown of Lee Circle”. Try to stick with tradition, please.
Now to my question.
I’m an Uptown native (lived across the street from Allen School and the former Fortier High School). Back in the late 1950s I biked with a friend far afield, somewhere to the area between Napoleon and St. Charles avenues and Upperline and Danneel streets. Somewhere in there was an old, abandoned, dilapidated movie theatre. Do not tell the cops, but we were able to enter through a slightly ajar door and the place was a mess. I think the projector was on the ground floor, thrown from the balcony above. I remember some rows of seats still in place and maybe a torn screen. Do you have any information on a small neighborhood theatre in that area? Maybe its name and history? I think it was on the uptown river corner (See how handy that is?) of maybe Valence and Baronne streets?
Thanks for anything you can do to shine a light on this vague memory,
I apologize for breaking with tradition. No offense was intended. I chose to use standard cardinal directions because I have among my readers many out-of-town subscribers and people who may not have been born and reared in New Orleans. Plus, Poydras gets confused easily. All he knows is that the lake is north of the city, so he figures out directions based on that. However, I respect and agree with your suggestion. When getting around town, I personally use the directions “uptown, downtown, riverside and lakeside”, not “north, south, east and west.” In the future I’ll stick with tradition but will add clarification, if necessary, for the benefit of my general audience.
Your memory is a little too vague for me to positively identify the theater you and your friend explored in the late 1950s. I wonder if it could have been the Fine Arts, at 1735 Constantinople St. In their recent book, There’s One In Your Neighborhood, Rene Brunet and Jack Stewart recalled that, prior to its closing in late July ’58, the Fine Arts had shortened its hours and was open only on weekends. After a brief closure, the Fine Arts reopened as the Booker T in mid-August ’58. It served as a black audience movie theater for less than a year before first being leased to the Theatre Guild of New Orleans and then sold to the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.
After watching Lost Restaurants of New Orleans, it brought to memory a restaurant: Bull’s Corner. As a child I walked past the restaurant going to the dentist. His office was located in the Magnolia Building. I remember the area was near Baptist Hospital.
Can you give me info on the restaurant? What type of food was served there? Also, was it a restaurant for the medical personnel in that area? I know it was probably in the early 1960s. Any info would be appreciated.
Bull’s Corner opened near Baptist Hospital in late 1967. Like your dentist, it was located in the Magnolia Medical Center Building at 4440 Magnolia St. It served the general public, but because of its proximity to a major hospital and doctors’ offices, many of its patrons were medical personnel.
Bull’s Corner had a good salad bar but it was best known for its burgers and steaks. The 1978-’79 edition of food critics Richard and Rima Collin’s New Orleans Restaurant Guide commended Bull’s Corner for having good burgers and desserts as well as one of the city’s better salad bars. The Collins were less complimentary about the steaks, which they found to be inconsistent. Bull’s Corner original Magnolia Street location closed in the late ’80s.
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: Karen Boudreaux, Marrero; and John Hecker, Washington, D.C.