I hope, some day, to show my grandkids around New Orleans. The Desire streetcar is gone, but I would love to retrace its route for old-time’s sake. I have always loved the Tennessee Williams Play, A Streetcar Named Desire, and what I specifically hope to do is ride the same route that Blanche followed on her way home. The directions in the play say to “… take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks” getting off at Elysian Fields, where Stella and Stanley lived. Can you please let me know the best way to do this?
Blanche’s streetcar journey to her home at 632 Elysian Fields Ave., is possible only in the world of fiction and artistic license. Because the directions mention actual transit lines of the day, they can sound plausible but have always been impossible because of some rather major details that Tennessee Williams left out.
From 1923 until it stopped running in ’48, the Desire streetcar line ran from Canal and Bourbon streets, up Bourbon then along Pauger, Dauphine, Desire, Tonti, France and Royal streets before returning to Canal Street. So far, so good. However, if you were to cross the street to pick up the Cemetery Streetcar and try to get off six blocks from Elysian Fields Avenue, you’d quickly discover Tennessee had given you really bad directions. At no point along its route did the Cemeteries line pass anywhere near Elysian Fields Avenue. In fact, anybody trying to get to Elysian Fields from the streetcar’s Canal street stop would have to travel a minimum of about 22 blocks, not six, to get to their destination. That is a bit of a hike!
Dear Julia Street,
My father was employed by The F. S. Wertz Cracker Company in New Orleans in the 1930s. I have not been able to find any information on the company and where they would have been located in town. They were later bought out by the American Biscuit Co., Chicago. I would appreciate any information.
I am sorry to tell you, but I believe the family lore connecting your dad with the F. S. Wertz company in the 1930s may have gotten a bit scrambled over the years. New Orleans city directories from the ’30s show no entries for F. S. Wertz & Co. or any bakers sharing your surname. While I don’t doubt that one of your ancestors may have worked for F. S. Wertz, I feel certain that any such employment was neither during the Depression nor in New Orleans.
While there most certainly was an F. S. Wertz & Co., which was famous for baking crackers, they were based in Reading, Pennsylvania. Just before the turn of the 20th century, large corporate conglomerates began snapping up independent bakeries, bringing them under progressively larger corporate umbrellas. In early 1898, one such group, the American Biscuit & Manufacturing Company, which was headquartered in Chicago, acquired F. S. Wertz & Co.’s Reading, Pennsylvania plant. Later that year, the American Biscuit Company merged with the New York Biscuit Company and the United States Biscuit Company to form the National Biscuit Company. In October 1902, the National Biscuit Company closed the F. S. Wertz & Co. bakery at 120 South Third St. in Reading, Pennsylvania. Five hundred employees were left jobless. Soon thereafter, a former employee purchased the shuttered plant and changed its name.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
I have a question for you about the Jefferson airplane – not the namesake rock band, but the actual aircraft that used to perch atop the old Crash Landing nightclub in Metairie. Do you happen to know the exact model of the plane, how long it was there and what happened to it? I know the plane was later removed but have long wondered about its fate and current status. Did a collector buy it? Did it ever fly again?
Before there was a rock band known as Jefferson Airplane, there was the Crash Landing nightclub at 2645 N. Causeway Blvd., which had as its gimmick a real airplane mounted on the roof of what was otherwise a plain, boxy little building. The Crash Landing, which opened in 1973, didn’t last long, but the rooftop decoration stayed put until April ’83.
The nightclub’s rooftop aircraft was a 1950s-era Super Constellation, Model 1049. Lockheed produced 579 Super Constellations for both the military and civilian market. The vast majority of these aircraft were retired and scrapped in the 1960s and ’70s.
Although the Metairie plane initially escaped the scrap heap and went on to become a suburban landmark, it hasn’t survived. In early 1983, when the property which had been the Crash Landing again changed hands, new owners had the plane removed. There is no doubt as to the aircraft’s current status. According to a classified advertisement, which appeared in The Times-Picayune on April 22, ’83, the Lockheed Super Constellation, Model 1049, which formerly adorned the Crash Landing’s rooftop, was stripped for parts and sold as scrap for pennies on the dollar.
Win a chappy’s restaurant gift certificate
Here is a chance to eat, drink 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 $25 gift certificates at Chappy’s Restaurant on Magazine Street. 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 John Keyser, Summit, Mississippi; and Darren Lindenson, Dallas, Texas.