Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot


Dear Julia,

I recently saw a vintage picture of an electric bus operating on Magazine Street. I think the picture was from the 50s but I would like to know more about these strange bus-streetcar hybrids and when they were used here. Red Lagrange (Gramercy)

The electric vehicle you are remembering was officially known as an electric trolley coach. Often called a trackless trolley, it was a form of public transportation that made its local debut on the Southport Shuttle Route (also known as the Oak Street line) weeks after the streetcar strike of 1929. Electric trolley coaches combined features of both buses and streetcars. 

When viewed below the roof, these trackless trolleys looked like regular fuel-powered public buses. When viewed from above, on the other hand, their roofs closely resembled those found on streetcars. Extending from the roof at the rear was a parallel pair of metal arms that permitted them to connect with existing streetcar power lines. Unlike streetcars, electric trolley coaches ran on roads, not rails, and were able move as much as 12 feet away from the overhead wires, allowing them to maneuver around obstacles and move to the curbside to accept or discharge passengers.

The image accompanying this column shows electric trolley coach #1262 in a traffic circle by Audubon Park. It is typical of electric trolley coaches that operated on various lines throughout the city between 1929 and the mid-1960s. The Magazine Street line employed the trackless trolleys from 1949 to 1964.  

Dear Julia and Poydras,

My grandparents lived in the Fourth Ward and often spoke of an old poor boy shop called Mitchell’s. Do you or Poydras know anything about it?  I think it was on Carrollton. Joe F. Fuller (Metairie)

Ira Mitchell opened Mitchell’s Better Poor Boys in a large two-story frame house, which stood at 232 N. Carrollton Ave. at the corner of Bienville Street. Established in 1937, Mitchell’s was in its heyday during WWII.  

Mitchell’s prided itself on its poor boys but it was more than a sandwich shop – it was a full-service restaurant offering plate lunches, a bar, seated dining and a varied menu. Rather than stockpiling sandwiches for the anticipated daily rush, Mitchell’s made each poor boy fresh when ordered from the lunch counter, in the dining room or at curbside. Since this took time, ads often quipped that Mitchell’s poor boys were longer. 

Dear Julia,

There used to be a small hospital not too far away from Mandina’s, but on the other side of Canal. It closed decades ago, but can you tell me anything about its history? As a small child, I recall being taken there to visit an ill relative but, unfortunately, I don’t recall else about it. Marla Wade (New Orleans)

In late 1937, Dr. Philip Montelepre purchased a two-story property and established a 10-bed medical clinic at 3125 Canal Street. By 1954, the facility which had come to be known as Montelepre Memorial Hospital had expanded, more than tripling its capacity and providing a wide range of medical services. In 1963, the architectural firm of Ricciuti Associates constructed at a cost of $292,000 a modern 41-bed annex for the growing hospital.

In late 1989, Montelepre Memorial Hospital reorganized and was transformed from a general hospital to a long-term care and rehabilitation center. Later known as University Rehabilitation Hospital and Physicians Rehabilitation Hospital, it has since been demolished.

Hospital founder, Dr. Philip Montelepre (1897-1959), was a New Orleans-born gynecologist and obstetrician. Socially active, he was the son of Paulo “Paul” Montelepre (1869-1941), editor of “La Voce Coloniale,” a newspaper serving the local Italian community. In addition to founding his namesake hospital, Dr. Philip Montelepre served for 12 years as the assistant Orleans parish coroner and was for many years an examining physician for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.  He died in 1959, following an extended illness and was laid to rest in Metairie Cemetery.


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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