Memories of Lakeview
“I was born August the 2nd, 1924, and when I was 6 months old we moved to Lakeview,” Muriel Bonie MacHauer reminisces.
“My dad purchased a corner lot – he built his house out of cypress. It was at 6901 General Haig St., corner of Mouton Street, and that was the only shell street between the Orleans canal and Canal Boulevard,” she says.
Her school days began at the old Lakeview School on Milne Boulevard, now possibly scheduled for demolition after being vacant for decades. MacHauer and her husband moved to Canal Boulevard between Filmore Avenue and Porteous Street and raised their children there.
MacHauer has written a book, Lakeview Memories: Growing Up in Lakeview in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s (available at Amazon.com), which she started after Hurricane Katrina. “Well, after two years I decided I would come back. You meet other people, and everybody had a story. I spent so many hours on the phone. I asked a few questions, and maybe we’d talk for two hours!” Those tales, along with lots of photographs, are in her book.
Another book, We Shall Not Be Moved by Tom Wooten, also focuses on pre- and post-Katrina Lakeview. Obviously a much-loved area, Lakeview, according to the city’s New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation website, NewOrleansOnline.com, today is bounded by “Lakeshore Drive, Orleans Avenue, City Park Avenue and the Jefferson Parish line.”
In the 19th century, the area between the Metairie Ridge (continued as City Park Avenue) and the lakefront was mainly swampland, with some restaurants and camps reached by streetcar lines. The New Basin Canal ran along what’s now West End Boulevard. The big drainage projects from the Sewerage & Water Board after 1890 opened up residential areas of old Lakeview, and a project of the 1920s filled in the lake to form the land on the lakeside of Robert E. Lee Boulevard. Families moved out toward the lake from the more crowded neighborhoods closer to town.
“I spent the first 17 years of my life in the 7th Ward, and since then in the 5th Ward,” Gasper Schiro recalls. When his family moved from North Broad Street to Lake Vista, he was a student at Jesuit High School.
“We lived on North Lark Street, Number 50. North Lark goes up to St. Pius X Church, and when we first moved there they were having Masses upstairs in the meeting room of the Lake Vista Shopping Center.” Those suburbs on reclaimed land featured walkways and park-like areas, with streets and parking toward the rear of the homes. The Lake Vista Shopping Center had one special attraction: ”Miranti’s Drug Store. They had a soda fountain,” Schiro recalls.
Cruising Lakeshore Drive in his Oldsmobile 88 with his Jesuit buddies was a favorite activity, with stops at Lenfant’s and the Rockery Inn on Canal Boulevard.
Errol Laborde’s (Editor-In-Chief of this magazine) parents lived on Banks Street when he was born, but they bought a home in a new development in the 5700 block of General Haig Street. “There were young families with kids,” Laborde says.
His part of Lakeview centered on Harrison Avenue. “It was a real rite of passage the day I was allowed to ride my bike all the way there – that was maybe 12 or 14 blocks.”
St. Dominic’s Church once used what’s now the gym for services. “I can remember Father (F.J.) McMullen giving a homily in that gym about building a church – ‘Look at this roof, look at this floor, is this any place for the house of God?’” Laborde says. Proving that Lakeview was a financially strong neighborhood, by 1961 the current church was built. Laborde also fondly remembers being an active member of the Knights of Columbus Squires Youth Organization.
Music was a big part of Laborde’s teenaged years. “I’d hear a song on WNOE and I could get a 45 record for $1 at the Studio A record shop.” Harry and Anita Connick were the shop owners. St. Dominic’s also had a spot in rock history: Prior to coming to the church, Father Cayet Mangiaracina and Gene Pitney co-wrote “Hello, Mary Lou,” made famous by Ricky Nelson.
Lakeview today even has a Facebook page titled “I grew up in Lakeview, did you? What do you remember?”
Now, if you want even more memories than you can find in books, just check out all the photo albums and messages on Facebook.
It is almost as good as cruising Harrison Avenue.