Win a Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch for two!
Here’s a chance 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 a New Orleans landmark, 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 to: errol@neworleansmagazine.com. This month’s winners are: Madeline G. Knorff, Canton, Ga., and Mary Doiron, Metairie.

Dear Julia,
I was delighted to see the question about the West End streetcar because I have a question of my own, though Poydras may be too young for this one.

I vaguely remember a trip by streetcar with my parents to Spanish Fort (old Pontchartrain Beach) when it was located at the juncture of Bayou St. John and the lake, though for the life of me I cannot remember how we got from the end of the line to the amusement park. It seemed when the line was the busiest, they would hook two cars together to accommodate the crowds.

There were few roads out to the lake in those days and I seem to remember that the amusement rides were set up on a wood platform. It also seems to me that when the public school children were transported en masse down to Lafayette Park for McDonough Day with our small bouquets clutched in our hot little hands, streetcars were also hooked up.

In those days we lived in Edgewood and the trip anywhere was an adventure. In fact, most of the girls in my high school (McMain) didn’t even know where we lived. I’m probably giving away my age but it would be a reality check to make sure my memory isn’t failing.

Madeline G. Knorff
Canton, Ga.

Your memory isn’t failing and you didn’t suffer from double vision, either. As late as the 1930s, streetcar trailers, the non-motorized passenger or baggage cars pulled behind the motorized lead car, could be seen during busy times along the Canal-Cemeteries and West End lines. During the peak summer rush, streetcars serving lakefront resort areas at West End and Spanish Fort could be seen pulling as many as three trailers in order to accommodate crowds; during winter or in bad weather, motorcars typically pulled only a single trailer. 
Street railway trailer cars had been used as early as the late 1870s, on a steam railway servicing the amusement area at West End. Trailers were also briefly used on the St. Charles and Tulane Belt routes, from 1912 to ’15. It appears that most of the city’s trailer cars were retired or scrapped by ’34. 

Dear Julia,
I have been wondering about a trough I came across on Bayou St. John a few months ago. This trough is made of cement and is about eight feet long by three feet wide. It is engraved with the name “Erik Petersen,” written in blue with yellow outlines in the same type font as a street name. It is located at the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Moss Street, across from the Esplanade apartments. Why would this be there? Would the trough have been used for horses? Who do you think Erik Petersen is? I am half Danish and the clearly Scandinavian name has got my curiosity. Any insight you have would be appreciated.

Ingrid Franc
New Orleans

The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals erected horse troughs throughout the city so that service animals could find relief from summer heat. In 1915, local SPCA superintendent E. S. Fremont issued hot weather rules for horse owners. A list of 50 public watering troughs accompanied the rules and included a trough located at Esplanade Avenue at Moss Street. I was unable to find any information about the elusive Mr. Petersen but it’s likely that, some time before ’15, he donated money for animal welfare and the SPCA was acknowledging an act of generosity.

Dear Julia,
A little over 50 years ago I married a New Orleans girl. The wedding was in the city and the groom’s headquarters was the Pontchartrain Hotel. The walls of the entrance foyer were made of marble. Supposedly, embedded in the marble are drawings of rabbits.

My question: If this is true, how many rabbits can be counted and can they still be seen? Or is this another situation like the old stage show Harvey.

R.W. Richardson
Franklinton, La.

I know of no rabbits in the Pontchartrain’s walls. Perhaps the marble bunnies are elusive creatures, like pink elephants, and may only be glimpsed under ideal conditions.

Marble veins can, like clouds or constellations or any other natural shape, be imagined to look like just about anything. With a little imagination, it’s amazing what familiar shapes people can see reflected in the world around them. A cloud formation one person identifies as a begging rabbit may, to a geographically minded viewer, resemble Great Britain. 

Dear Julia and Poydras,
When did the Spring Fiesta start in New Orleans? Dominican college on St. Charles Avenue was on the Azalea Trail.

Jackie Nain Drouilet
Houston, Tx.

Poydras once tried to join the Spring Fiesta Association but only because he misunderstood and thought that it was Spring “Siesta” and that he would be allowed to sleep until summer. Wisely, his application was rejected.
The New Orleans Spring Fiesta Association has, since the 1930s, worked to promote preservation of regional history and historic architecture. This past March and April, the association hosted its 72nd Annual Spring Fiesta and Historic Home Tours. Spring Fiesta events include tours of historic homes, courtyards and gardens, showcasing the latter then when the azaleas are in full bloom. Many of the homes featured during Spring Fiesta are privately owned and not available for public viewing at other times. The Azalea Trail, once made known by signs around town, is no longer promoted.

Dear Julia and Poydras,
Growing up in New Orleans in the 1920s and ’30s I often heard my father say: “You will send me over the hill to the Poor House.” We were also told we could buy something when our rich uncle came out of the “Poor House.” Of course the only hill I know of is in Audubon Park but was there ever a place folks called the “Poor House?”

Mary Doiron
Metairie

While Victorian New Orleans did have workhouses, I don’t believe there was anything that was actually called the Poor House or which served as a specifically designated debtors’ prison. By the time you were a little girl, social service organizations existed to help people who were having financial difficulties but they didn’t take the poor people away or detain them. At the time of the Depression, older people would still be likely to have known parents and grandparents who had immigrated, in the mid-19th century, from home countries where the greatly-feared debtors’ prisons were commonplace.

Julia on TV
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.