Julia Street with Poydras The Parrot

Menu for the Bean Pot (1983) Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection. Gift of Richard and Rima Collin

Dear Julia and Poydras, During my student days, my friends and I often ate at a hole in the wall Mexican joint called the Bean Pot. The food was great but the decor was grim. The chef/host was a crusty old guy named Chico. The restaurant later moved to Chalmette but my fondest memories are of the old Maple Street location. Did you ever go there?  Luke Miller (Uptown, New Orleans)

Yes, I remember Ignacio “Papa Chico” Vazquez (1927-2007) and his restaurant at 8117 Maple Street. The Bean Pot was in an old house and was the kind of place in which the exotic scents of Papa Chico’s traditional home-style Mexican cooking made it easy to forgive the lack of stylish interior decoration. The Bean Pot’s menu featured seafood and meats paired with various types of Mexican sauces which Chico, a native of the Mexican state of Aguascalientes, made from scratch.

 

Dear Julia Street, I have a New Orleans musical trivia question I would like answered.

Recently, I heard Johnny Cash’s recording of “I’ve Been Everywhere” – about geographic locations. The song brought back memories of this tune I heard when I was in high school – mid 60s. Wasn’t aware of the Johnny Cash version, but the New Orleans song had the same tune. The local song had no geographic names but listed numerous high schools in and around the city, some of which are gone.

Hopefully, you could get me the actual song title, artist and if a recording is available either on vinyl, CD or cassettes, your help is appreciated. Respectfully, Mike Staiano (Metairie)

Tommy Facenda recorded on the Legrand record label a total of 30 different versions of his 1959 novelty hit “High School USA,” customized for general and local audiences throughout the country. The song was modeled after Australian songwriter Geoff Mack’s international hit, “I’ve Been Everywhere,” which had been written the same year; Hank Snow later popularized a North American version of “I’ve Been Everywhere,” which Johnny Cash would later cover.

If you have internet access or lack the patience to hunt down an original vinyl copy of “High School USA: New Orleans,” you can hear it streamed at New Orleans Jukebox Gold, part of Bob Walker’s New Orleans Radio Shrine.  Look for Show No. 6, “Fun Songs,” at: neworleansradioshrine.com/nojg.html

 

Dear Julia, My grandmother once told me that, when Castro came to power in Cuba, New Orleans’ own Poor Clare nuns took in fellow nuns who had fled Cuba. Some of the older sisters survived the trip only to die soon after reaching New Orleans. I have forgotten most of the story but hope it may sound familiar to you or Poydras. Tracy Armstrong (Metairie)

In the summer of 1961, 25 members of the Poor Clare community fled Havana after the Fidel Castro regime cut off their supplies and prepared to confiscate their monastery. The sisters found refuge at the Poor Clare monastery in New Orleans where they were later joined by their abbess and three other sisters who had remained behind in a futile attempt to save the Cuban monastery. Many of the refugee nuns were frail, malnourished and elderly. Despite best efforts to nurse them back to health, three of the sisters soon died. Sr. Teresa de la Concepcion, O.S.C., died August 1, 1961 and was followed to the grave by Sr. Elmora de Sta. Isabel, O.S.C., who died October 7th.; Sr. Adelina de la Natividad de Maria, O.S.C., died October 18th. All three nuns were laid to rest in the Poor Clares’ mausoleum on the monastery grounds.


Have A Question For Julia?

Send your question to: Julia Street, New Orleans Magazine, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005 or email: Julia@NewOrleansMagazine.com.