Julia Street

600 block of Royal Street, known as “Governors Row,” circa 1940.

Dear Julia and Poydras,
Can you tell me why the 600 block of Royal Street is referred to or known as “Governor’s Row?”
That’s a tough assignment for Poydras – maybe he has a few friends on Royal Street who can help him out.

Mrs. Shawn Frederick

Ma’am, Poydras has no friends and he does not do assignments. He just specializes in taking credit for the work of others.

The lake side of the 600 block of Royal was once home to several men who served as governors during early statehood and the French Colonial period. Andre Bienvenue Roman (1795-1866), who first served as governor from 1831-‘35 and served another term from 1839-‘43, once resided in the building that now stands at 611 Royal. Next door, at 613 Royal, the Court of Two Sisters stands on the site of an earlier building where French Colonial-era governor Etienne de Perier (c.1690-c.1755) lived; Perier served as French Governor of Louisiana from 1725-’33. Tradition also claims that another French Colonial governor, Pierre de Rigaud, Marqius de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal (1698-1778), also occupied the 18th century residence that formerly stood on site of the present-day 613 Royal Street; Vaudreuil was French Governor of Louisiana from 1743-’52.

Dear Julia,
Back in the late 1940s, I lived on Louisa Street in the Bywater. Along with throwing newspapers for the Item, I worked on Saturday for the “first” Schwegmann Corner Grocery store at Piety and Burgundy Streets,
I can’t find my original Social Security card, but I remember that it had the name “Schwegmann” on it as well as my name.

Can you tell me when the Social Security Service stopped printing the name of the first employer on each recipient’s card?

Roy Picou

The original Social Security card, first issued in 1936, noted only the date of issue, account number and the name and signature of the person for whom the card was issued. If your first employer’s name appeared on you card, it may have been because they were involved in obtaining the card for you. The original card design contained no blank for the employer’s name.

In the early days, employers obtained their own identification number by filing Form SS-1, which described the nature and size of their business. Social Security would then send the employer copies of Form SS-2 to give to employees who needed to apply for a Social Security number.
The completed form SS-2 was returned to the local postmaster by any of several acceptable methods, one of which was to simply give the form back to one’s employer. Once Social Security issued an account number, the agency returned a Social Security card to the employee, either by way of his employer or though the mail.

Dear Julia,
When I was a little girl, back in the early 1970s, my grandmother, who lived in Uptown New Orleans, taught me a neat little trick. She would dial a five-digit number and hang up. A few seconds later, the phone would magically ring. There was no recording after she dialed the number, nor was there a recording when the call rang back.

What was the purpose of this phone number and how did it work? I find it odd, too, that this phone number had only five digits, instead of the standard seven digits.

Millie Munsch

Thanks for reminding me about that number Millie. It was great for passing time when you had absolutely nothing to do. Poydras would love it.

The trick doesn’t work any more, but it had a real purpose other than amusing visiting grandchildren. It was a way for telephone subscribers to verify that the line between their handset and the phone company was working.

Dear Julia and Poydras,
All over the French Quarter, one sees tile plaques set into the edges of corner buildings, noting the Spanish names for the adjacent streets. When and why were they installed?

Kirsten McKay

The local Spanish consul, Jose Luis Aparicio, talked the Spanish government into donating to the City of New Orleans a total of 126 tile plaques commemorating the period from 1762-1803 when New Orleans was the capitol of the Spanish Province of Luisiana. Attached to corner buildings throughout the Vieux Carre, most of the plaques were installed in early 1960.

Dear Julia,
Each autumn, for as long as I can remember, St. Louis Cathedral holds a special Mass for lawyers. How old is the local tradition of the annual Red Mass?

Thomas Samuels
New Orleans

The Red Mass is held in early October, at the beginning of the judicial year. It takes its name from the red vestments the clergy wear for the occasion. Judges and members of the legal profession may attend the special Mass, which is offered in order to ask for the Holy Spirit for wisdom, understanding, counsel and fortitude in the exercise of their profession. Both Roman Catholic and non-Catholic members of the legal profession are invited to attend.

Tracing its beginnings to 13th century Europe, the Red Mass has been a local tradition for a little more than half a century. New Orleans’ first Red Mass was celebrated at St. Louis Cathedral on the afternoon of October 5th, 1953.

Look for the Julia Street question each Friday on “Steppin’ Out” at 6:30 p.m. on WYES/Channel 12. The show features reviews, news and features about the New Orleans entertainment scene. Viewers who can answer Julia’s weekly question can call in for prizes. Tell ‘em you read about the show in New Orleans Magazine.