Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot

Dear Julia,

My grandmother grew up in the River Parishes and often mentioned riding the old rural ferry boats. She enjoyed the actual ride between Luling and Destrehan, but the wooden boarding ramps were scary to a little country girl growing up in the 1920s. She said the boat was called the “Victor”. Can you or Poydras tell me anything else about that ferry? Mary Potts (Baton Rouge, LA)

The Luling-Destrehan Ferry Company, Inc. owned and operated the “Victor,” which ran between Luling and Destrehan. The picture which accompanies this column shows the “Victor” in operation around 1924. On the morning of October 20, 1976, another Luling-Destrehan ferry was lost when the Norwegian tanker “Frosta” struck the ferry “George.” The stricken ferry sank, taking with it 78 of the 96 people aboard.

Dear Julia,

Back in the late 1970s there was a bar called, I think, Tyler’s Beer Garden on Magazine. They had live music, served raw oysters at a dime each (or a dollar a dozen) and, back then, was one of the few bars serving Guinness (albeit bottled). I remember hearing it burned down and that was about 1980 when I (briefly) moved to Houston. Did it ever reopen? Did the owners start a new bar elsewhere? I have fond memories of Friday evenings spent there long ago. Roddy McM. (New Orleans)

Tyler’s was famous, far and wide, for the musical acts which played there but it also was, as its name and your memory indicate, a bar. Around 1978, the New Orleans Bar-Hopper’s guide and its mascot Colonel Kangaroo, included Tyler’s Beer Garden among the places where guide subscribers were entitled discounts and free drinks.

Are you sure about that 1980 date? The big fire at Tyler’s Beer Garden, 5234 Magazine St., was a decade later, on the evening of April 15, 1990; a faulty heater was blamed. Leo Bisso opened Tyler’s, the corporate name of which was L & T, Inc., in the 1970s. Records at the Secretary of State’s office show the corporation was dissolved in 1993.

The April 1990 fire came at a particularly bad time, only two weeks before the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was scheduled to begin. The blaze gutted the two-story frame building, taking out the roof and back wall. There were no injuries or loss of life, but an adjacent double also sustained some damage. During the 1990 Jazz Fest, Ernst Café, hosted Tyler’s Jazz Revue, comprised of acts already scheduled to play the ill-fated Magazine Street venue. Those performers in exile included The James Rivers Movement, Rick Margitza, Ramsay MacLean and Charles Neville.

Dear Julia,

When I was in grade school, there was a local exterminating company with a catchy ad campaign set to snazzy music. The commercials ran a lot, and I often heard them while my mother drove me to school. One of my fonder memories of Catholic school was sitting in class as the public address system speaker in the ceiling blared “Will ‘Miller the Killer’ please report to the principal’s office?” As you might expect, the class would start giggling and singing. The nuns were not amused, which only encouraged us to cut up each time the bug man came to spray the school. Do you remember these old ads? Who was Miller? Ned Jameson (Biloxi, MS)

The music, as I remember it, sounded as if it would be more at home in a striptease show than a pest control commercial, but the ad campaign was a “hit” in its day. Company founder Dennis Miller was born and raised in Eunice, deep in Acadiana. He had a successful college football career at Loyola, but it was as an exterminator that his was most widely known. He retired to his native Eunice where he died in 1997 at the age of 84.


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