I thought I would share this with those of you who have a passion for history. I was visiting my mother yesterday and she gave me a bunch of my Dad’s correspondence, as he passed away a couple of years ago and she is trying to slowly de-clutter the premises. In the papers was a letter dated April 4, 1940 from my uncle to his brother (my father), in which he is describing a trip from Baton Rouge to New Orleans for the weekend:
“We are all trying to live rather cheaply now, as I am trying to clear up all debts before we get into the war. However we turn loose now and then for a little fling. Last weekend we took a holiday weekend in New Orleans. Left here at 3 Saturday afternoon and ate dinner at Kolb’s restaurant, which is the best German restaurant in the city. Had Wiener Schnitzel for dinner and Apple Strudel for dessert. Saw “Virginia City” at the Saenger that evening. Sunday morning we went out to Audubon Park walking and toured the zoo. Had lunch at a French restaurant then went to the Blue Room at 2:30. Tommy Dorsey was playing and it was a good show. We danced very little and went mainly to hear the music and see the floor show. We got out of there at 5, went down to the Jung Hotel and checked out, then stopped by the French Market for doughnuts and coffee outdoors before setting out for Baton Rouge. Got back here at 8 p.m. and that is what we call a swell weekend.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Historical notes: From the driving times, you can tell they drove on the Airline Highway - that’s Highway 61 - which legend has it Huey Long had built from the Governor’s Mansion straight to the front door of the Roosevelt Hotel, which served as his de facto office when he was in town. Kolb’s was a popular restaurant in the 100 block of St. Charles that stayed open until finally closing about 10-15 years ago. They had a really cool system of ceiling fans run on an intricate system of leather belts and pulleys left over from a building built for the 1884 Cotton Exposition. The site of the fair later became Audubon Park. The Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel was a popular place for all the big acts of the day from the ’30’s into the 60’s. There were frequent radio shows from there that were beamed out at night as far north as Chicago on the clear channel station WWL. The Roosevelt and the Blue Room have recently re-opened after a lengthy post-Katrina renovation. Across Canal St., the Saenger Theater awaits full restoration. It is one of those grand palatial film palaces from the 1930’s and prior to Katrina was the site of Broadway shows and other concerts events. The Jung Hotel was another very popular hotel of the day. The building is still there, and was a Clarion and something else before Katrina, but I believe is still shuttered.Edited: 06 January 2010, 03:43