Julia Street with Poydras The Parrot

Dear Julia,

Of a recent trip to the Barataria Unit of Jean Lafitte National Park, I saw the biggest grasshopper I’ve seen in my life. My companion said it was called a  Lubber or a Devil’s Horse. If these enormous insects are Lubber Grasshoppers, who or what is a Lubber? J.J. Boudreaux (Metairie)

A “lubber” is a big, clumsy lazy person. The word is often used to refer to inexperienced sailors or people unaccustomed to shipboard life.

Lubber grasshoppers, such as the Southeastern Lubber Grasshopper (Romalea microptera) you saw are flightless, huge and slow moving. They are native to the coastal south. Like other eye-catching insects, they are also toxic, so predators tend to leave them alone. They are not dangerous to people but, if alarmed, they are known to release a nasty brown fluid to encourage a predator to leave them alone or spit them out.

 

Dear Julia Street,

I am a native New Orleanian now living in Arkansas. Through my O’Shaughnessy family of N.O., I am related to Louisiana governor Michael Hahn who served during the Civil War. Through the years, the family story has been that Uncle Mike had a sister named Julia and that, as governor, he named a street in the city Julia Street. My question to you is “Is this a fact?” Marilyn Santa Cruz (Belle Vista, Arkansas)

Sorry Marilyn, the fact is that Julia Street is clearly shown on a map Vicente Sebastián Pintado created in 1804, more than a quarter-century before Michael Hahn’s birth. I have heard conflicting explanations of the street’s name origin and spelling; one version claims Julia honors Julien Poydras’ cook while another notes the name may have actually been Julie, which was Poydras’ nickname. Nearby streets – Poydras, Girod and Gravier – honor major property owners in the area.

In late 1852, the city of New Orleans consolidated the municipal government and, in November of that year, the Commission Council passed ordinance 395 CC, which renamed a long list of city streets. At the time, there were found to be many instances in which long streets bore different names in each of the three former municipalities through which they ran. Consequently, it was decided to simplify matters by renaming some streets so each would have a single name rather than two or three throughout its length.  Julia was one of the affected streets. A section formerly known as “Florida Walk,” around the long-vacant present day Plaza Tower building, was renamed Julia at that time and for that reason; it was the only part of the street to be named during Hahn’s lifetime. Unfortunately for family lore, neither he nor his regard for his big sister had anything to do with it.

 

Dear Julia,

In reference to an article in the February 2019 issue about an old deserted theatre in the Uptown area.: in 1954, my family and I moved to 1930 Robert Street in the Uptown area.  The deserted theatre was across the street from our home. Older neighbors in the block said they thought it had been a Vaudevillian theatre. In the early 1960s, it was torn down finally. Three private homes were built on the large lot. Sharon Stevens

(Metairie)

Thank you for confirming when the Fern was demolished. Originally a silent movie house, The Fern Theater survived into the talking era but it does not appear that vaudeville-type live variety shows played there or shared the bill with the movies. The Fern opened in the summer of 1917. Modern and well equipped, it was among the few local movie houses to feature a Fotoplayer, a semi-automated music and special effects instrument which combined elements of a player piano, a pipe organ and sound effects. The Fern closed in the mid-1940s.

 


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@myneworleans.com!


 

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