Julia Street Answers Your New Orleans Questions
When I was a young child, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was located near where Xavier University is today and part of it was dedicated to a lady whose name was on the front of the kennel building. I think it was a Miss Beatty but I’m not totally sure of the name. Seventy years is a long time!
You are very close. In 1926, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opened a new headquarters and adjacent kennel in the 7200 block of Palmetto Street. The kennel, at 7249 Palmetto, was dedicated to the memory of Charlotte Read Beattie. A lifelong animal lover, the Thibodaux native had passed away earlier that year and left the majority of her estate to Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Both the kennel and the society office next door were later demolished to make way for Xavier University construction.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
You must have been in a hurry to meet the September deadline for publication and not given any effort to Poydras’ research for the answer to the question about the directional placement of President Andrew Jackson’s most distinguished monument in the middle of Jackson Square in favor of an obsequious response concerning the horse’s rear. For shame. There is at least an anecdotal response that may be even more accurate to relate.
Back when I was younger, I was frequently with my father and our family in New Orleans. He was a physician intern at the old Marine Hospital for a year, 1828 or so, and he loved New Orleans and its traditions. Consequently, when we visited the city on the old Rebel “streamliner” of the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad, prior to catching the late afternoon return to the north, we spent time walking and visiting the French Quarter, always including a swing through Jackson Square and not the Café du Monde, a place for tourists, but the Morning Call at the French Market, which my father said was more traditional. As an out-of-towner, I still love New Orleans over all the great cities of the world that I’ve seen, London, Tokyo and others.
During one of these walks, maybe in response to a question by me why the monument wasn’t facing the river or cathedral, but toward the apartments, the query was readily answered. My father told me that President Andrew Jackson riding on his rearing horse was placed facing toward the apartment of the Baroness Pontalba, in her honor, and he was tipping his hat to her in appreciation for commissioning the work. That made sense to me, even at an early age.
You may be correct in ducking the answer as you did, but I sincerely think that there’s more to the anecdotal response historically than you bothered to let Poydras research. Why not give it another chance? Even you might be surprised.
Russell D. Thompson
Ocean Springs, MS
I apologize for the indelicacy of my remarks concerning the orientation of General Jackson’s steed, but the historic record doesn’t validate the enduring anecdote that Jackson is gallantly tipping his hat to the Baroness Pontalba. The tale did appear in print, in the Feb. 8, 1934 edition of The Times-Picayune, but it isn’t found in Christina Vella’s definitive biography of the Baroness, Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of the Baroness Pontalba. Neither is Jackson’s salute to the Baroness reported in contemporary accounts of the monument’s 1856 dedication. In fact, the statue’s creator, sculptor Clarke Mills, spoke on that occasion and provided a totally different explanation of Jackson’s hat-tipping gesture. On the morning of Feb. 10, 1856, Mills’ comments were included in the Daily Picayune’s coverage of the unveiling and dedication of the Jackson Monument.
According to Mills, Jackson is depicted as he appeared at the Battle of New Orleans: “… He has advanced to the centre of the line in the act of review; the lines having come to present arms as a salute to their commander, who is acknowledging it by raising his chapeau, according to the military etiquette of the day. His restive horse, anticipating the next move, attempts to dash down the line; the bridle hand of the dauntless hero being turned under, shows that he is restraining the horse, whose open mouth and curved neck indicate that he is feeling the bit.” There is your explanation – straight from the horse sculptor’s mouth.
I was a war baby and have a dim childhood recollection of going to a Canal Street store called The Circus. I don’t think it was around very long. Can you tell me anything about where it was and what it sold?
The Circus was a discount department store located at 800 Canal St., at the corner of Carondelet Street, later home to the Gus Mayer store. Offering for sale all sorts of things including house paint, fabric, family clothing and children’s shoes, The Circus appears to have opened around 1947. In February ’48, after the Circus lost its lease, the short-lived department store’s contents and fixtures were sold at auction.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
Long ago, when Bacchus still paraded on its original route, the krewe threw paper money as well as doubloons and beads. I don’t think the paper throws were much of a success. Can you tell me anything at all about this short-lived Carnival throw?
During its 1973 parade, Bacchus added a new throw, Bacchus Bogus Bucks, to the more traditional beads and doubloons. Bearing Bacchus’ likeness, the words “Royal Reserve Note” and a serial number, the notes were printed on paper that simulated aged parchment. Each Bacchus Bogus Buck came rolled inside a small plastic tube, which made it easier to throw.
Although the Bacchus Bogus Buck didn’t catch on as a Carnival throw and quickly faded away, Bacchus wasn’t the only krewe to throw their own currency-themed souvenir. In 1975, Venus, an all-female krewe, threw “Venus de Million” notes.
I remember the minimal earthquake that shook Irish Bayou but it wasn’t much and was easy to mistake for a passing truck. Was that the strongest quake ever to be recorded in Louisiana?
No, the magnitude 3 quake that hit Irish Bayou in October 1987 was considerably less intense than the strongest recorded Louisiana earthquake, which occurred on Oct. 19, 1930. Centered in Assumption Parish near Napoleonville, the magnitude 4.2 tremor was felt throughout much of southeast and south-central Louisiana.
Estimated as a VI on the Mercalli intensity scale, the 1930 Napoleonville earthquake damaged chimneys and broke windows in Napoleonville and cracked plaster in White Castle. According to the United States Geologic Service (USGS), a “VI” on the Mercalli scale translates as a quake, which is strong enough to scare people, move heavy furniture and cause minor damage.
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: Russell Thompson, Ocean Springs, Miss.; and Candace Isabell, Lakeview.