Dear Julia,
Growing up in Lakeview in the 1940s, we spent most summer days swimming in the Basin (New Basin Canal) and loitering on the Polk Avenue streetcar stop. That was our sentinel as we awaited the passage of the watermelon schooners from which we obtained our bounty. Shortly after would come the Jahncke barges laden with sand or clamshells pulled by huge tugboats, which we boarded and proudly rode. Huck Finn would have fit right in with us.

Here is the question: What were the names of those big tugboats that pulled those barges up and down the basin to our enjoyment?

I would appreciate your enlightenment,
Ron D. Cambias

The Fox, the Walter Jahncke and the massive Bayside were some of the tugs in Jahncke’s sizeable fleet, but the best-known vessel was probably the Claribel, which saw service along the New Basin Canal and elsewhere.

Throughout a long career, the Claribel mixed business with pleasure, doing duty as a tugboat as well as a special-occasion excursion vessel.

In the summer of 1912, the Claribel conveyed the Jones Island Pleasure Club to its getaway near Pass Manchac.

Two years later, it was the Claribel that pushed partygoers across the lake and up the Tchefuncte River as the Contractors and Builders Exchange awarded its president, Walter Jahncke, with a loving cup during its annual excursion. For many years, the Claribel also saw special service during Mardi Gras when she served as Zulu’s royal watercraft, carrying Zulu and his entourage along the New Basin Canal to the turning basin.

Most of the New Basin Canal is long-gone, except for a small section near West End, so it can be difficult for younger readers to visualize where it was located, but it’s easy to remember. Beginning from a turning basin near present-day Plaza Tower building, roughly around what is now the intersection of South Rampart Street and Howard Avenue, the New Basin Canal followed the route of the present-day Pontchartrain Expressway before connecting with Lake Pontchartrain at West End.

During World War II, the Jahncke boats Tiger and Claribel participated in a government-run mariners training program. Followers of maritime law will remember, however, that the Claribel’s own operation wasn’t without incident or controversy. In January 1960, the Claribel had the dubious distinction of being involved in the Causeway’s first maritime accident when a barge she was towing collided with bridge supports, causing two spans to fall into Lake Pontchartrain.

Dear Julia,
There was a restaurant/bar at 1141 Baronne St. near Clio Street in the late 1920s and early ’30s. It was supposed to have been owned and operated by a long-gone father and son. This was during the time of Prohibition and, from what I can gather, the family members were always in trouble for buying and selling liquor during this time. I have found many references to this restaurant/bar, but never a mention of its name. Also, I have reason to believe there was a cousin involved in the business. Any light you could shed on the name of the business and its owners and operators would be appreciated.

Julie Hernandez

I don’t know about liquor violations at the site during Prohibition, but I can confirm that a resident of 1141 Baronne St., in the summer of 1922, found himself in legal trouble. According to the morning newspaper, C. P. Eilerson of 1141 Baronne St. appeared in traffic court, where he was fined $5 for failing to stop for a right-of-way.

During the early 1920s, Christian Peter Eilerson, a native of Denmark, operated an interior decorating business at 1141 Baronne St., but I’m unsure when he ceased selling wallpaper from that location.

By 1937, Alf M. Fletes was operating a restaurant at 1141 Baronne St. Within three years, the restaurant had changed hands, with David R. McAnally taking the reins as its proprietor. By the time World War II ended, the establishment was no longer listed as a restaurant but as a bar. The watering hole, then known as the Viking Bar, was managed by C. Pierre Sonnier.

Dear Julia,
In the days of my youth, when the Rockery Inn was at the edge of the city in Lakeview, I recall that there was a restaurant a few blocks away called DeLargo (not certain of the spelling) in the building currently occupied by John Jay Beauty Salon at 540 Robert E. Lee Blvd. There are those that have no recollection of this and think that I’m remembering something that never was.

Can you help me, or was this really a figment of memory?

Otto Rees

It is most definitely not a figment of your imagination, but you’re a little bit off on the name – it was de Latour’s.
In the mid-1930s, Louis de Latour established de Latour’s Chicken Inn at 540 Robert E. Lee Blvd. It was a successful venture and, by late ’41, business was good enough to warrant expansion and remodeling. Following its founder’s ’49 demise, the Chicken Inn continued operating under the management of his daughter. By the mid-’50s, LaRocca’s Chicken, Steak and Seafood House had taken de Latour’s place at 540 Robert E. Lee Blvd.
A native of the Fair Grounds neighborhood, Louis de Latour died in 1949, at age 60, remembered not only as a restaurateur but also as a racing enthusiast and prominent member of the local racing community. It was thanks, in part, to de Latour’s efforts that the Fair Grounds survived a drive to turn it into a real estate subdivision.

Dear Julia,
Is it true that the Blue Room in the Roosevelt New Orleans was once called the Hawaiian Room?

“Hi!” to Poydras.

Kathleen Battle

Sorry Kathleen, Poydras only accepts “Hi’s” for money. He is modeling his career after his idol, former Mayor C. Ray Nagin, who’s hoping to earn speaker’s fees. Poydras is hoping to get “Hi acknowledgment” fees. Sorry, cash only; no credit cards.

Yes, it’s true about the Hawaiian Blue Room but that incarnation lasted less than three years. Some of the attractions in The Roosevelt Hotel underwent major remodeling in the late 1930s and the Blue Room was one of them. During the summer of ’38, The Roosevelt Hotel’s Blue Room temporarily closed for remodeling and, when it re-opened to the public on Aug. 12, ’38, it was as the Hawaiian Blue Room, decorated with seashells and imported palm trees.

During its brief life, from 1938 until ’40, the tropical-themed Hawaiian Blue Room was known for live dance music and floorshows. WWL radio, which had studios in the hotel, even had a deal to broadcast live music from the Hawaiian Blue Room on the Columbia network. The national broadcasts were good publicity for the Roosevelt Hotel and for a city wishing to expose its music to wider audiences.

Hal Kemp and his band were the last musical act to play the Hawaiian Blue Room when it closed in September 1940. Remodeled once again, this time in the modern baroque style, the club re-opened as “The Blue Room” in October ’40.

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