Dear Julia,

I found this 1906 photograph at the Library of Congress. It is identified as “Visiting the Torpedo Boats, New Orleans, La.” yet there is no further explanation. Do you know anything more specific about these warships and why they were visiting the Crescent City? John Jamerson (New Orleans)

The torpedo boats USS Porter (TB-6) and USS DuPont (TB-7) were among the military vessels to call at New Orleans for the 1906 Carnival season. Mardi Gras Day fell on February 27th that year.

Small, agile and well armed, both Porter-class warships had served in the Spanish-American War. As the accompanying photograph shows, the torpedo boats were popular attractions during their New Orleans stay.

The Herreshoff Manufacturing Company of Bristol, Rhode Island, a shipbuilder best known in yachting circles, built both the USS Porter (TB-6) and its sibling, the USS DuPont (TB-7). The USS Porter was named in honor of father and son naval officers, Captain David Porter (1780-1843) and Admiral David Dixon Porter (1813-1891). Nimble and swift, the Porter  boasted a top speed of 29 knots. Armed with four six-pound guns and three 18-inch torpedo tubes, she had a 32-man crew. Decommissioned in 1912, the vessel was sold the same year to Andrew Olsen of New York.

Marginally slower and less heavily armed than the Porter, the DuPont had the same length, width and depth as her sibling. Launched in 1897, the DuPont was named in honor of Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803-1865) and boasted a top speed of 28 knots. Her 24-man crew had at its disposal four one-pound guns and three 18-inch torpedo tubes. Later renamed Coast Torpedo Boat No. 3, the DuPont was decommissioned in 1919 and sold the following year.

 

Dear Julia,

Do you or Poydras know anything about the Eclipse Bottling Company of New Orleans that apparently made a drink called Whistle?  Jayne Redmann(Metairie)

I don’t know anything about it, but fortunately Poydras does. He has had a lifelong fascination with bottling plants.

The Vess Beverage Company of St. Louis, Missouri, introduced during World War I a sparkling orange-flavored soft drink. Originally named Orange Whistle, the popular nationally marketed soda was later known simply as Whistle. Between 1917 and 1922, the Louisiana Coca-Cola Bottling Company was Orange Whistle’s New Orleans licensee and distributor. In 1922, Eclipse Bottling Works took control of the local franchise and distributed the popular beverage that had, by that time, shortened its name.

The Eclipse Bottling Works was located at 2118-24 St. Claude Avenue. It had been established during World War I and produced its own Grape Eclipse soft drink but temporarily shuttered in 1919 due to a sugar shortage. Local entrepreneur John L. Lenfant, Sr., who would later run the popular Lenfant’s restaurant on Canal Boulevard, headed the Eclipse Bottling Works until its liquidation at auction in 1927. The Menefee Motor Company opened a showroom at 2118 St. Claude Avenue showroom soon after the bottling company’s departure.


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