Julia Street

Hey there Julia and Poydras,
I was driving with my parents down Banks Street in Mid-City. We passed 3701 Banks St., which is now Finn McCool’s. I remember it used to be Joe’s 19th Hole. My parents seem to remember it being an Irish bar in their youth (roughly 30 years ago). Can you tell me what this place used to be? They can’t remember the name and it’s driving them (and therefore, me) crazy. Thanks!
Donald Bonck
New Orleans

The Banks Street bar now known as Finn McCool’s has been a neighborhood fixture for far longer than you or your parents have been around. In fact, the building at the downtown lake corner of Banks and Telemachus streets has been a neighborhood watering hole for almost exactly 100 years. Over the past century, it has changed hands and names quite a few times but people of your parents’ ages and older folks like me remember it as being the Zip Bar and Lounge. Since World War II, incarnations of this neighborhood institution have included the unimaginatively named Banks Street Bar and Restaurant as well as Johnnie’s Bar and Restaurant, Little Henry’s Bar and Restaurant and Pete’s Place.
Dear Madam,
I grew up in New Orleans during the “War Years” – 1941-’46. I went through my first six grades at a wonderful public school – Kruttschnitt. Although I didn’t realize it at that early age, Kruttschnitt was a special school in that part of New Orleans. All other elementary schools in the area were Catholic. Therefore, at Kruttschnitt I went to school with many Jewish children, as their parents were not about to send them to Catholic schools in the neighborhood.
My family had moved to New Orleans from a poor “dirt farm” in Mississippi. What a wild time it was for me to enter first grade and be mixed with so many different ethnic groups – Jewish, Spanish, Italian, South American, Irish and there was me, from the back woods of Mississippi.
Those years at Kruttschnitt were wonderful. At 72 years of age, I still keep up with several friends from that time.
The Jewish children were all very talented musically and after Tonet lessons in the third grade, we could move up to the band, made up of fourth, fifth and sixth graders. My dad had given me a soprano saxophone (bought for $10 from a retired New Orleans jazz player) and I played it in our school band. I still have that old silver sax.
In 1944 or ’45 there was formed an All City, All Star Band, selected from all elementary schools in New Orleans (public or Catholic) to perform at City Auditorium. I was the only one from the Kruttschnitt band to be in that All City Band. I really didn’t play that well – perhaps it was the soprano sax that got me in, as I was the only player of that instrument in the 100-plus person band. What an experience it was! We played concerts for two nights and huge crowds came to the auditorium to hear us. I would like to think it was a peaceful diversion from what all had suffered during the past five years of war.
For three summers, I went each year to a boy’s summer camp – Sam Barthe’s School for Boys. Sam had a private school and a summer camp. I was picked up by van each morning and returned home in the afternoon. At that camp I learned swimming, woodworking, boxing, football and other boy’s training. I lived on Danneel Street. Sam’s place was off of Napoleon, either north or south of Freret Street.
The above finally brings me to the three questions I have for you.
1. Is there any record of that Elementary All-Star Band performing at City Auditorium in 1944 or ’45?
2. Kruttschnitt School was named for a man who gave all of his life’s savings to education. Please send me any information you can on this man.    
3. What was the address of Sam Barthe’s School for Boys?
I have many more memories of New Orleans. My children and grandchildren can hardly believe some of my stories. I would be glad to share them if you are interested. Just let me know.
Your answers to these three questions I have posed would be greatly appreciated.
William W. Rhymes
Shelby, N.C.

I most definitely believe your story but the 1943-’44 and 1944-’45 Municipal Auditorium season programs don’t list performances for an Elementary All-Star Band. Instead, the programs focus almost exclusively on concert subscription series and the occasional Junior Miss pageant.
Ernest B. Kruttschnitt (1852-1906) was a popular local attorney and educator. President of the Board of Education from 1890-1903, he was the nephew of Judah P. Benjamin. President of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention, a post to which he as unanimously elected, Kruttschnitt was also an administrator of the Tulane Education Fund and had headed the Pickwick Club. When he was laid to rest, on his 54th birthday, schools closed in his honor.
Between 1949 and the late ’50s Sam Barthe’s school was located in the old McFadden House, in City Park, before moving to Metairie.

Dear Julia and Poydras,
In the mid-1960s, there was a locally published kid’s book. It had a pink and yellow cover, but the title escapes me. I think the author was a local TV celebrity. Does this ring a bell with you?
Sandra Connor

Yes, it most certainly does ring a bell. In 1966, Terry Flettrich, host of WDSU’s Midday program, wrote The House in the Bend of Bourbon Street, a children’s story with a timely local twist. Penned around the time of the Riverfront Expressway controversy, when the French Quarter’s riverfront very nearly became an elevated multi-lane expressway, this child’s walking tour of the French Quarter is also a cautionary tale about cultural stewardship in the face of real estate speculation, demolition and redevelopment. I don’t want to spoil the twist but some of the little book has an eerie ring in the post-Katrina city, as the entire city confronts issues the French Quarter faced and survived more than a generation ago.

Dear Julia,
I grew up during the Great Depression. Just before World War II, my family and I used to enjoy going to see the Mid-City Carnival parade. Back in those days, it actually paraded through Mid-City, starting at Canal and South St. Patrick streets and heading downtown until it made a “U” turn at Canal and Chartres streets. It then turned north on Rampart Street and went down to St. Ann Street, where it made a turn before disbanding at the Municipal Auditorium. I seem to remember that a husband and wife team designed Mid-City’s floats in those days but I can’t remember anything about them. Do you have any idea who they were?
Joel Pansy

Edward Louis Schneider and his wife, Coralie Ann Curtis Schneider, were the creative talents behind Mid-City’s early street pageants. Mrs. Schneider died in 1938, at the age of 44. Edward Louis Schneider, who later married Theresa May Edwards, passed away in 1952.
In 1939, Edward Schneider told a reporter for the Item-Tribune that, as a child, he liked to hang out at the Grand Opera House on Canal Street. One day, he befriended a stagehand and got a job painting theater curtains and scenery for $1.50 per week. The self-educated artist would later go on to design and build floats for the children’s Carnival krewe, NOR, as well as Mid-City. Working with his hands, Schneider used neither models nor molds as he crafted the floats in Mid-City’s den at 731 South Solomon St.

Dear Julia,
Many years ago, my family hosted a Japanese exchange student. We had a delightful summer. I have often wondered how this exceptionally polite young man explained to his professor how we taught him to extract every bit of goodness from boiled crawfish! My question is this. Our Japanese friend told us that Lafcadio Hearn once had a restaurant somewhere in New Orleans but I have forgotten the location. Do you know where it was? Is it still there?
Jackie Lennon
New Orleans

In the late 1870s, Hearn briefly dabbled in the restaurant business, opening an inexpensive eatery at what was then 160 Dryades St. (now O’Keefe Avenue), between Poydras and Lafayette streets. No 19th-century buildings have survived to the modern day along the even side of O’Keefe Avenue, between Poydras and Lafayette streets.

Win a Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch or a night at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel
Here’s a chance to stay at an elegant local hotel or to eat, drink, be merry, 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 or an overnight stay for two at the elegant Omni Royal Orleans Hotel. 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@renpubllc.comThis month’s winners are William W. Rhymes, Shelby, N.C and Jackie Lennon, Covington.

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