Dear Julia and Poydras,
Again I’m writing to you with a story going back to my honeymoon in March 1948. We came to your town from Chicago via the Illinois Central R.R. on the City of New Orleans, the delightful overnight excursion.
We stayed at the LaFitte Guest House on Bourbon Street and the streetcar named Desire still ran beneath our window. As a widow in 2007, I stayed in the same hotel, same room and enjoyed a Sazerac across the street at LaFitte Café.
Our first honeymoon dinner was at Vieux Carré; we were dressed to the nines, as they say, and were rewarded not only with exquisite food, but also unbelievable service. The maître d’ in an elegant business suit and welcoming manner beckoned us into his home. We were smokers at the time and, almost out of nowhere, our cigarettes were lit with incredible immediacy.
The crowning moment of the evening was the emergence of the owner, perhaps: a beautiful woman elegantly dressed in a beaded gown who gracefully navigated the central staircase, surveying her domain and then somehow disappeared. It was a captivating moment. As you see, I’ve never forgotten. What an amazing introduction to your remarkable city and the first of many astonishing and memorable events for us.
My question: Where was that remarkable restaurant (somewhere near Canal Street, I think) that holds the mystique of the Queen City, and is there any information about its history?
P.S. I was so impressed with Poydras’ fan-love of the Pittsburgh Parrots! Ah, youth. I have one more extraordinary story from another visit, but I want to keep Poydras in suspense.
Ruth M. Tobias
The Vieux Carré Restaurant was located at 241 Bourbon St. The site is currently home to the Bourbon Cowboy bar.
In 1946 Owen E. Brennan leased the existing Vieux Carré restaurant, first changing its name to Owen Brennan’s French & Creole Restaurant, then to Owen Brennan’s Vieux Carré. Now one of the nation’s foremost restaurateurs, Brennan’s younger sister, Ella, was a teenager when she accepted her brother’s challenge to manage the Vieux Carré and, under her management, the previously mediocre restaurant flourished. The upscale menu emphasized seafood and was written in French, with English explanations. In ’56, Brennan’s moved to its current Royal Street location.
Many years ago, I believe in the 1960s, an Eastern Airlines plane was lost on its approach to Shushan Airport, now Lakefront Airport. I heard at the time all passengers and crew were lost. Not only that, but also that the plane wasn’t found – it disappeared in the mud of Lake Pontchartrain. This has bothered my wife and me for years, not so much that we had a personal interest, but just the unknown factor. Hopefully you may send Poydras on a mission and see what he could discover. We would appreciate any information you could provide. As we are part-time residents, we thank you so much.
Eastern Airlines Flight 304 had arrived in New Orleans from Mexico City and was en route to Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., when it crashed into Lake Pontchartrain shortly after takeoff from Moisant Field. (The large four-engine commercial airliner was not trying to land at Shushan Airport on the Lakefront, which accommodated smaller private aircraft, but was flying over the lake when the accident occurred.)
The Douglas DC-8-21, tail No. N8607, is believed to have encountered wind shear and was determined to have crashed due to “… degradation of aircraft stability characteristics in turbulence, because of abnormal longitudinal trim component positions.” A total of 58 people – 51 passengers and seven crewmembers – died in the crash; there were no survivors. Although some fragments were recovered, much of the wreckage was never found. At the time of the accident, investigators speculated that Flight 304 had broken up in flight or upon impact.
From my childhood I recall a place in Slidell called the Preventorium. It was a home in the piney woods of the North Shore, which was considered healthy for growing children. The home was for offspring of patients of John Dibert Hospital, which specialized in tuberculosis victims. The purpose was to protect these children from this disease that was rampant at the time.
The house was a small-frame building, with no electricity or city water, and the surrounding area was mostly large pine trees. I can only speculate that the depression of those years took its toll on the operation of this facility and it was sold in approximately 1935 when my father bought it as a summer and weekend retreat for our family.
We enjoyed it for several years, especially the hurricane lamps (no electricity) and pumping the cistern each morning for our household water supply. It was a lovely place somewhere “over the railroad tracks” on the outer fringe of Slidell, which provided my brothers and me, and our friends and family, many fun times during summer vacations and weekends throughout the year.
I have often wondered if it could be there still. I have tried to find it, but the many years of modern transportation have erased what small memory I may still have of it.
Do you and Poydras have any knowledge of the Preventorium?
Martha B. Bailey
Martha, the words “knowledge” and “Poydras” should seldom be used together unless the subject is freeloading meals.
Newspaper references to the Preventorium at Slidell fail to give its exact location, saying only that it was situated on 12 acres near Slidell. Your father’s act of sale, however, should include in the property’s legal description the site’s exact location. If your family no longer has a copy of the title, a copy should still exist at the St. Tammany Parish courthouse.
In August 1927, the Orleans Parish Tuberculosis and Public Health Association announced it had obtained a site for a new year-round preventorium, which would open the following year in St. Tammany Parish. Emily Jane Dominic and Ouida Wallace would manage the facility.
The Preventorium opened in June 1928, admitting 20 youngsters. Underweight children and those otherwise predisposed to contract tuberculosis were given two-week doctor-supervised vacations at the Preventorium in the hope they would be strengthened and become less susceptible to the disease.
Was there ever a street in New Orleans named Gallatin Street? If so, where was it located?
Actually, there have been two New Orleans streets named Gallatin but only one has kept its name. There still is a Gallatin Street located between Aurora Oaks Drive and Bristol Place in the Aurora section of Algiers.
The other Gallatin Street, once famous for vice and bloody crime, changed its name to French Market Place in August 1935, when the City of New Orleans passed ordinance number 14427 C.C.S. The tiny street (more commonly know as “Gallatin Alley”), which once had an overwhelming criminal reputation, runs from Dumaine to Barracks streets, between North Peters and Decatur streets in the French Quarter.
Win a Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch or Lunch at the Rib Room
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 e-mail: Errol@MyNewOrleans.com. This month’s winners are: Ruth Tobias, Lincolnwood, Ill. and Marie Traylor, New Orleans.
Julia on TV
Look for the Julia Street question on “Steppin’ Out,” every Friday 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.