Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot
Is it true that the first plane to fly across the Atlantic visited New Orleans? I have heard this was the case but the person who told me about it did not seem to know the details. Can you or Poydras tell me if this was true if there was a New Orleans connection? Thank you. Oretha Jones (New Orleans)
The four Navy-Curtiss flying boats built for Seaplane Division One were to have been utilized as submarine hunters to combat German U-boats but were delivered too late to see wartime service. In May 1919, the aircraft attempted a transatlantic flight from Rockaway, Long Island, to Lisbon, Portugal. Only one of the four, the NC-4, successfully completed the journey despite a mechanical problem, which earned it the nickname “the Lame Duck.”
When the NC-4 visited New Orleans in December 1919 as part of a tour to encourage naval aviation recruitment, onlookers arrived in droves to see the plane moored in the Mississippi River at the foot of Jackson Avenue. The National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida owns the NC-4, which is the sole surviving member of Seaplane Division One and only example of its type.
I just read the letter addressed to you concerning the Colorado Mining Co. It was located in the 500 block of St. Philip St. It was quite the dive. The owner was Charlie Gambino, he was a friend of mine. I lived just down the block on what was I believe was 615 St. Philip. The bartenders were Steve and Earl. I hope this helps your readers. Ron Ustach (New Britain, Connnecticut)
Thank you for the additional information, Ron. For the benefit of readers who may have missed last month’s issue, the Colorado Mining Company was a short-lived 1970s French Quarter watering hole which briefly located at 616 St. Philip before moving to 515 St. Philip. Charles N. Gambino, a well-known local lounge owner, died in 1982 at the age of 47.
Where exactly was the old lover’s lane known as Turtle Back Road that was near City Park? Red Fritzhurten (Metairie)
Turtle Back Road was a heavily-rutted dirt road which ran along the Carondelet Canal between Orleans Avenue and Lake Pontchartrain. Marconi Boulevard, completed in 1938, replaced it.
I don’t think it ever appeared on an official map, but Turtle Back Road was especially notorious in the 1920s. In attempting to describe it, I am reminded of the hit 1966 song “Dirty Water” by the Standells, in which the protagonist tells the audience he may be found by the Boston riverfront “…along with lovers, muggers and thieves.” Turtle Back Road was popular with all of those groups. One of the city’s most notorious murders, that of Bertha Neason, occurred there in April 1920; a year later, Felix Birbiglia and Charles Zelenka were hanged for the crime.
The Washington Hotel at Milneburg was once a world-famous attraction that was well-known for its seafood dinners. Do you know when or why it was torn down? Constance Smoty (New Orleans)
The Louisville & Nashville Railroad, the hotel’s last owner, took no interest in it and felt it should fall to progress. In September 1920, the railroad hired the Samuels company to raze the solidly-constructed hotel and sell the building materials.
Completed in 1832 to serve the Pontchartrain Road and travelers arriving or departing by way of the lake, the resort covered half a city block and was once surrounded with formal gardens. The Washington Hotel catered to the well-heeled visitor. A breakfast there, which cost $2 in 1838, would today cost the equivalent of roughly $50.
A children’s playground briefly occupied the cleared land. Soon, seawall construction and land reclamation destroyed the remainder of Milneburg.
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