JULIA STREET WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT
THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS
Dear Miss Julia,
Years ago when we drove from Gentilly to Uptown to visit my father’s parents, we passed a building with a neon sign on the roof. It was the Sandman and he was dropping sand from his hand while holding a sack. I think it was near Broad Street, and it could have been a mattress factory near a water plant. I looked forward to seeing it every trip and would like to know what happened to it. I would love to see it again.
Thank you very much.
You are remembering the Crescent Bed Company building at 600 S. Broad St. at Gravier Street. The nearby water plant you recall was actually a pumping station, not a water treatment plant. Having lost its factory in a fire, the decade-old Crescent Bed Company in 1910 purchased the entire block bounded by S. Broad, S. Dorgenois, Gravier and Perdido streets. Within a year, owner Peter Jung Sr. had not only built his mattress factory at that location, but turned a quick profit by selling to the National Brewing Company the unused half of the newly acquired square. If Peter Jung’s name sounds familiar to you, it should. In 1925 it was he who, with fellow family members and mattress company officers, established the Jung Hotel.
Perched atop the Crescent Bed Company was a neon depiction of the local company’s trademark – the Sandman standing on a crescent moon and sprinkling soporific sand from his hand. Sadly, like many landmarks I once knew and loved, it’s long-gone, but the 1921 advertisement accompanying this column does justice to the company mascot’s distinctive creepiness. I am not exactly sure how I imagined the Sandman of folklore might look, but I’m reasonably sure I wouldn’t envision him as a strange broken-nosed mix of Robin Hood, the Pied Piper of Hamlyn and King Richard III. However, it’s because of his somewhat peculiar and oddly menacing appearance that I remember him well.
By the early 1970s, the Broad Street mattress factory had become an outlet store for the Dameron-Pierson office furniture company and, by the 1980s, was home to the Whittaker Rattan company.
As season subscriber of The Saenger for many years, I have very fond memories of a dear elderly aunt and I shopping at Krauss on Canal Street before the 2 p.m. Thursday matinee Broadway shows during the early 1980s through the mid-’90s.
Often we found ourselves in the lighting/lamp department, admiring the artistic, beautiful and huge lamps, some of which cost over $1,000. Most of the lamps had women in elaborate, low-cut long dresses and men wearing white wigs on the base playing harpsichords, straight out of the old European and Mozart era. My aunt would always tell me if she had the house to match the lamp she would buy it. When Krauss went out of business in the late 1997, she said she wished she had bought one.
Can you tell me some history on the lamps, style, the maker and is there any store in the New Orleans area selling them today?
I remember Krauss’ fourth floor lamp department but have been unable to identify the manufacturers or distributors of the lamps you described. Had you asked about the much more modestly priced and widely advertised brass lamps Krauss sold around that time, I would have been able to tell you that makers included Sedgefield and Sandel.
In October 1982, Times-Picayune writer Ed Fricke interviewed John Cecil and Mike Provenzano, Krauss’ fine furniture buyers. Noting that their customers tended to buy furnishings piece-by-piece rather than as matched sets, Cecil and Provenzano commented that many shoppers were particularly fond of elegant items reflecting 18th-century style – especially those with French or English influence. Unfortunately, although the lamps your aunt so coveted would have been among some of Cecil and Provenzano’s more upscale decorative items, neither man mentioned them to their interviewer. I suspect the lamps were French or English imports and that they may have been the product of various porcelain works.
If you’re in the market for such a lamp, I recommend you systematically work your way though upscale furniture stores. With the right amount combination of time, persistence and cold hard cash, I suspect a large 18th-century style figural lamp wouldn’t be too hard to obtain. On the other hand, if money is no object, why concentrate your search on a modern reproduction? After all, $1000+ (in 1980s money) was a heck of a price for a modern look-alike. I bet your aunt loved Royal Street.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
Back in my student days, my friends and I used to go out for beer and pizza, often ending up at the Pied Piper. Do you remember it? I don’t think it was around very long. Where exactly was it?
The Pied Piper’s Pizza Palace was hardly palatial. Any way you looked at it, it was a student dive in a suburban strip mall. However, the deep-dish pizza was good, the baskets of tater tots were hot and crispy and there was plentiful beer for washing it all down. I seem to recall Pied Piper’s Pizza Palace didn’t last terribly long, operating at 3300 Ridgelake Drive from about 1975 until the early ’80s.
Win a restaurant gift certificate
Here is a chance to eat, drink 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 a tour and Creole breakfast for two at Degas House or a Jazz Brunch for two at The Court of Two Sisters. 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: Deb Downing, New Orleans; and Beverly Hall, Luling.