Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot
I was recently at an estate sale in Kenner and found a bin of collectible spoons from around the world. I found one that depicts a New Orleans streetcar and says “Last Streetcar New Orleans.” Any idea what this could be referring to? Thanks, Jananne Lankard (Kenner, LA)
Your spoon was made for the souvenir and collecting trade and refers to the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line which, from 1964 to 1988, was the sole surviving local street rail line. Your spoon probably dates from that period.
As 1964 began, only two local streetcar lines remained in operation – the St. Charles and the Canal – but the Canal ceased operation at the end of May and was, like streetcars in cities throughout the country, replaced with bus service. Bus manufacturers, fuel suppliers and the rubber trade thought this was a great idea and their lobbyists convinced city planners throughout the nation that streetcars were antiquated.
Nearly a decade later, the St. Charles line remained critically endangered. In 1973, its surviving fleet of 35 cars was accepted to the National Register of Historic Places. Designated as movable landmarks – a distinction shared with San Francisco cable cars – the St. Charles cars remained until 1988, when the red streetcars dubbed the “Ladies in Red” entered service on the new Riverfront line, the last and only streetcars in New Orleans.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
Growing up I remember the commercial that went “Kirschman’s, 3060 Dauphine Street where the friendly shoppers meet.” But would you or Poydras have any information on the business that previously occupied that location? I understand it was called “John Sporl and Sons” and later “John Sporl’s Sons”? John Sporl was my great great grandfather and I can’t seem to find any information on the business.
As early as 1866, Bavarian immigrant John Sporl (1823-1883) ran a dry goods store at the corner of Clouet Street and Dauphine (originally Greatmen) Street. Such stores typically sold ready-made clothing, cloth, thread and notions, but also carried a variety of small household items. As was typical at the time, the Sporls lived on premises. The business, the original address of which was 710 Dauphine, remained in Sporl’s immediate family for almost half a century, shutting its doors just before WWI. After the city of New Orleans adopted the current street number system in the early 1890s, the dry goods store’s address changed to the more familiar 3060 Dauphine.
The 1890s brought other changes to the family business. Sporl’s widow, Marguerite Seiler, and sons John and Louis had kept the dry goods store going after its founder’s death, but Marguerite died in 1891 and son John passed away in 1897. Around that time, son Michael A. Sporl assumed sole control and created a successor firm in his own name. The business survived into the 20th century, but Michael A. Sporl filed for voluntary bankruptcy in March 1913; the dry goods store was liquidated at public auction the following month.
During this year’s Mardi Gras season, some night parades were canceled due to a threat of high wind. While following Carnival coverage, it surprised me that so many people seem not to remember the horrific wind-related accident that occurred in the early 70s. Do you or Poydras remember when the Carrollton float got blown over, hurling a member off the Jefferson Davis Parkway overpass?
Jay McArthur (Natchitoches)
Yes, I do. On Sunday, February 1, 1970, the Krewe of Carrollton was hit with a sudden gust of tropical storm force winds at approximately 2:30 p.m. just after the King’s float had cleared the Jefferson Davis Overpass. The title float blew into the railing and toppled, injuring a total of 11 people. The most seriously hurt was thrown onto the railroad tracks 35 feet below. He never regained consciousness or recovered; he passed away in July 1972. It is because of the 1970 accident that float riders are tethered.
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