Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot
THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS
I really enjoy your question-and-answer column and look forward to reading and learning new places and adventures of New Orleans.
I was born in New Orleans and, along with my twin sister Cookie, was raised at the end of Canal Street in a family business: the Quality Flower Shop. We were raised by our mother and strict grandmother, Emma Bottinelli, who opened the flower shop in 1936. We were always in the shop from playpen to college.
My question is: What was the name of a large building on Broad and Bienville streets that had a high brick wall around it? When we didn’t practice our piano or do our chores in the flower shop, my grandmother would drive to this place and tell my sister and me that there’s where we would be put, and all we would get was oatmeal and water. Needless to say, it only took a few trips to the front gate and we decided that it was better to help in the florist shop and to practice our piano. We were told that it was a house for wayward girls that didn’t listen to their parents. So what was really this huge building of all brick and shades always drawn with the large iron gates in front?
I often think of this and never really knew what the building was. I think Schwegmann’s was on that corner after the building was torn down. I would really like to know what it was when it was torn down so that Cookie and I can reminisce about this and look back and laugh.
We turned out OK; we played piano on WDSU-TV on a program called “Tele-kids” and I ran the flower shop until 1998, after my grandmother passed away at age 99.
Thank you in advance for a reply about the above.
Sweetie Pie Kuntz
How could any institute for wayward youth ever take in two sisters named Sweetie Pie and Cookie?
The ominous brick-walled compound was the House of the Good Shepherd. Founded in 1859, it was originally a home for young women who, according to the institution’s second annual report had “deviated from the path of virtue.” The Roman Catholic asylum was first located Uptown on Magazine Street but in 1865 moved to its new home on Bienville Street at Broad Street. The House of the Good Shepherd operated at that location for nearly a century and, in its later years, was a haven for young women who had run afoul of the law but whose transgressions were not necessarily sexual in nature.
Would you please straighten out my memory about something I heard a long time ago? Someone once told me that when Charity Hospital was just built, cotton bales were used instead of filings. I know this sounds ridiculous. I repeated this to someone recently. They laughed at me. I said to myself, “I know Julia Street will give me the right answer.”
Bernardine S. Thomas
The Charity Hospital that has stood closed and abandoned since the post-Hurricane Katrina flood sits on pilings, not cotton bales, but political haymaking has figured prominently in its institutional history. Financial, administrative and land deals, many concerning the new Charity Hospital and orchestrated by Gov. Huey P. Long, played major roles in the Louisiana Hayride scandals that would haunt Long’s associates and his successor, Gov. Richard W. Leche.
We often wonder what happened to the Royal Cafe at the corner of Royal and St. Peter streets. The cafe was a must-stop on our yearly stay at the Hotel Monteleone. We visit New Orleans every December during Papa Noel. We sorely miss the cafe.
The food was outstanding and the atmosphere warm and comfortable, especially on a cold winter evening when the fireplace glowed and the piano player caressed the ivories. Our favorite barkeeps were Xiomara and Carey.
Has the cafe reopened elsewhere?
John and Jane Tischner
The Royal Café and Deli was located at 700 Royal St., at the corner of St. Peter Street, in the historic LaBranche Building. Although the building was historic and atmospheric, the restaurant was a modern one, established in the early 1980s and featuring seafood dishes. Inexpensive by French Quarter standards, the casual eatery and catering establishment was owned by Royal Foods, Inc. It was in existence for about 20 years and has not re-located.
I really enjoyed your history of New Orleans coffee. What happened to Union Coffee? We could get it at Sav-A-Center but, since we moved to Hammond 15 years ago, we have been without our fave. What happened?
Nothing happened to Union Coffee, a long-time local favorite. The brand that “tickles your palate” remains readily available throughout the New Orleans area.
In 2008, the Reily Foods Company purchased The French Market Coffee brand, which produces Union brand coffee. If your local stores don’t stock Union and your palate needs tickling that only that old-time coffee brand can satisfy, you can ask your grocer to order Union brand dark-roast coffee-and-chicory, or you can contact Reily Foods by postal mail, toll-free number or Internet: Reily Foods Company, 640 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA 70130; (800) 535-1961; ReilyProducts.com
I grew up in New Orleans in the 1950s and ’60s. I seem to recall that a girl was bitten by a shark in Lake Pontchartrain. I even remember an article in Dixie Magazine about sharks in the lake. I have searched Google numerous times to find a story about this, but without success. When I tell friends about this, they think that I’m crazy. Am I delusional or in possession of an amazing memory?
Dio ti benedica
Martin Guy Barcelona Sr.
You have an amazing memory but some younger and non-native readers may not recall that Dixie Roto Magazine was The Times-Picayune newspaper’s illustrated Sunday supplement. The word “Roto” was short for “rotograveur,” an old illustration process. Most people forgot what Roto meant and just called the weekly magazine Dixie.
In its issue of April 11, 1965, Dixie ran “Pontchartrain’s Sharks,” an illustrated two-page article by Paul Serpas. As Serpas indicated in his article, sharks are normal residents in the brackish lake, but attacks on humans, while not unknown in Lake Pontchartrain, have been rare. Numerous shark species are known to inhabit or visit the lake; documented species have included bull, black fin, hammerhead, dogfish, sand and nurse sharks.