JULIA STREET WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT
THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS
I’m a native New Orleanian who moved to New Iberia with my husband 30 years ago. Since you can never truly move a New Orleans girl away from her city, we return every five weeks to an apartment we share in the 500 block of Royal Street with friends from “Cajun Country” who also love New Orleans.
Below our apartment are some horse poles that I grew up hearing were where horses were tied up before the invention of cars. I would like to know if these are authentic and, if so, how far back do they date? You see them scattered randomly throughout the French Quarter, so have they been left in the same place for a century or were they placed where they are at some point just for “ambiance”?
Tell Poydras to come roost on our balcony anytime!
Karen, Poydras never admits to “roosting” for fear of being called
As with most things, there’s some truth in what you were told. Yes, in the days before horseless carriages came into vogue, riders did need to tie their animals to something to keep them from wandering away while their owners were busy elsewhere. However, it’s most likely the horse-head hitching posts you see throughout the French Quarter are modern reproductions.
In February 1962, Times-Picayune reporter Howard Jacobs, then writer of the popular “Remoulade” column, informed readers that numerous cast-iron horse-head hitching posts were recently installed throughout the French Quarter. According to Jacobs’ unnamed informant, private owners installed the posts at curbside in order to create barriers to prevent motorists from parking on sidewalks.
I remember visiting Miss Sunbeam, the Audubon Zoo elephant, when I was a small child in the late 1960s. But wasn’t there another Miss Sunbeam that was at the zoo before my time? What happened to her?
Yes, you’re right. There were, indeed, two different Miss Sunbeams, both of who lived at Audubon Zoo in the 1960s. The Holsum Baking Company, maker of Sunbeam brand bread, donated both the original Miss Sunbeam and her successor and namesake to the zoo. The first Miss Sunbeam was formally presented to the zoo in June 1961 and was among the zoo’s most popular attractions for little more than two years.
On July 11, 1963, the young elephant, which had eaten well and appeared to be in good health, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. A necropsy revealed she had hemorrhaged from the stomach and intestines.
A little more than four months after the original Miss Sunbeam’s death, her replacement arrived in the city. In May 1964, Miss Sunbeam II made her official public debut.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
I address this letter to the both of you, as this will truly require the absolute best in research and magic. I can only hope that this result qualifies in your pursuit to Eternal Questions in life.
Back in September of 1836 a Commander Charles Edward Hawkins brought his New Texas Navy Ship, the Independence, to your beloved City of New Orleans for retrofitting. Commander Charles Edward Hawkins was the first Commander of the newly formed Texas Navy. The ship was bought as the United States Revenue Cutter Ingham there in New Orleans in 1835. The Schooner was 125-tons and 89 feet in length with a 40-man crew capacity.
Between September 1836 and February 1837, while living in Mrs. Hale’s boarding house on Canal Street, the Commander (a true Texas Hero) was stricken with smallpox and died. The Commander was buried on the 12th of February in 1837.
Who was Mrs. Hale? What was her street address? Does the boarding house still stand on Canal Street?
Where was the Commander laid to rest?
Josiah W. Tyson III
During the 1830s, New Orleans city directories were not published every year, leading to some pretty big gaps in the historic record. I searched, without success, for your Mrs. Hale. Although there was an 1837 directory, there was no listing for her, so I cannot begin to speculate about the exact location where her boarding house once stood. It is unlikely the structure still exists.
Commander Charles Edward Harkins was laid to rest in a vault in the old Girod Cemetery, a Protestant burial ground that once stood near the present-day site of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) surveyed a number of local cemeteries, noting on index cards the inscriptions that appeared on the headstones and closure tablets. According to the WPA cemetery cards, the closure tablet on Hawkins’ vault was noted as having the following inscription:
To the memory of
Comd. Of the Texian Navy
A native of the state of N.Y.
Who Died Feb. 11 – 1837
Aged 34 yrs.
“Brave generous and
All who knew him
Girod Cemetery was deconsecrated and razed in the late 1950s.
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 Alvarez, New Iberia; and Rachel Haverham, New Orleans.