Traveling with Grace, heads into New Orleans!

Posted on November 12, 2019 by

This week’s entry for our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace, heads into New Orleans! To read more of Grace’s travels, click here.


Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, c. 1940s. Via.

Mon. Aug 5. Left Galveston at 9 and had to wait 40 min for the ferry. Stopped at Lake Charles (a very pretty city with handsome old residences around the lake) and had lunch at a Walgreen drugstore. Mrs. Allers was sick all the way and had to stop several times. At a place called Kinder we had trouble with a tire and lost more time. We went thru part of Baton Rouge and saw the capitol from a distance. The highway to New Orleans is very pretty and goes right into Canal St. We passed a number of very large hospitals all in a row. Arrived at the St. Charles Hotel (very old fashioned) at 6:15 our time (here it is 2 hours later) after traveling 357 miles.

St. Charles Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana, at night, c. 1940s. Via.

Tues. Aug. 6. Slept late. Fasted today, the 9th of Av. Went to the Chamber of Commerce to see about a guide, then to a Chrysler place to see about repairs to the car then back to the hotel to sit on the 2nd floor porch overlooking St. Charles Ave. until dinner time. Ate at Kolb’s restaurant across the street much nicer than hotel dining room, which is punk. Took a walk on Canal St. after dinner. Best lighted street I have seen outside of N.Y. and shops very pretty.

French quarter. New Orleans, Louisiana, August 1940. Photo by Brown, courtesy of the the Library of Congress.

Wed. Aug. 7. Had a very charming guide, Mrs. Reynick, take us on a tour of the city today. We started out in the French quarter or Vieux Carré. Some of the interesting sights were: The Place d’Armes with its beautiful flowering trees and unusual statue of Andrew Jackson, the dignified St. Louis Cathedral with beautiful murals and ceiling painted by Canova, brother of the famous Italian sculptor, the Cabildo with its museum of French colonial objects and household furnishings, Pirate’s Alley made famous by Jean Lafitte who was always being incarcerated by the authorities and liberated by the townspeople who profited from his looting, the old mint, old capitol bldg. many lovely antique shops (I have never seen such a profusion of lovely old jewelry, porcelains and bric-a-brak fit for a palace), homes of the aristocracy in many of which Mrs. Reynick claims to have been entertained. She pointed out the home of Dorothy Wix, one occupied formerly by Maude [Cedans??], Robert Edson, and other famous personages. She showed us the different types of architecture, French, Spanish and Louisiana stressing the characteristic of each. Most of the old houses are tremendous, with huge porches are galleries framed in handsome iron grillwork with its beautiful lacy patterns, then there are garçonnières or bachelor’s quarters in a separate wing and servants quarters in another with a big coach house besides and lovely tropical gardens with bamboo, banana, oleander, clematis, palms, hibiscus, magnolias, crepe myrtles, etc. We saw the house of Dr. Autommarchi, private physician to Napoleon I who made his death mask of Louisiana clay, now in the Cabildo, the red brick Pontalba bldgs., first apt. houses in American built by the Baroness to house families of emigres, the old Ursuline Convent, statue of Robt. E. Lee (facing the N. some say it should have faced S. which he loved, but then he could afford to turn his back to the S. without fear), Audubon Park with statue of the naturalist looking up into the trees with sketch book in hand to draw pictures of birds. We had a delicious luncheon at the French restaurant Galatoire’s where we saw some of the elite of N. Orleans elegantly costumed, then started out on more sightseeing. Visited some of the famous cemeteries (they bury the dead above the ground and their tombs are really beautiful especially in the fashionable Metairie cemetery (formerly a Jockey Club) with 14 miles of driveway). Mrs. R. took us into one of the swanky country clubs, saw Tulane University Campus and Newcombe College, the famous Sugar Bowl stadium, the City Park with its pretty Art Museum (not as large as ours) and its famous dueling ground, out to Lake Pontchartrain and thru some of the fashionable new suburbs. We saw 2 very pretty synagogues, the house where Julius Rosenwald’s daughter (Mrs. Stern) lives, the house where the author of “Green Pastures” lives, the house where Jefferson Davis died. We went into the Casa Hové where they make perfumes. Mrs. Reynick knows Mrs. Hové and she offered to show us the house, a very good example of early Spanish architecture (built in 1797) and for a wonder we were not asked to buy anything. Unlike any guide in my previous varied experience Mrs. Reynick doesn’t accept commissions and doesn’t allow shopping on her tours. We saw the home of the family of Cardinal Gibbons (he once lived here and some of his relatives still occupy the house), the home of Etienne de Bore discoverer of granulated sugar, the home of John McDonogh and some of the 30 odd public schools he founded here, and the famous French market originally built in 1791. The coffee stands here are favorite rendezvous for refreshments after the shows in the wee hours. We again dined at Kolb’s this evening.

Thurs. Aug 8th. Mrs. R. called to inquire for our health this morning. We breakfasted at a lovely air-conditioned cafeteria across the street where they have waiters to carry your trays. The restaurants are very clean and all the people I have met here are extremely courteous. This afternoon at 2:30 we took a boat ride up and down the harbor. I have never seen such a big boat (5 decks) for such a short trip – but I later heard it sometimes goes as far as St. Paul, Minn. The Capt. Himself took me on the elevator up to the 4th deck where we found comfortable chairs within earshot of the loudspeaker and a lecturer explained the sights as we went along. We were served ice cream during the afternoon and really enjoyed the breeze. New Orleans seems to be a very large port (they claim it is 2nd in the country) and we saw lots of large freighters, on the wharves were coffee, bananas, barrels of molasses, cotton sulphur and salt. Returned at 5, went to Haring’s for the car and then strain to Antoine’s for dinner. They have used the same menu for over 100 yrs. Even tho some of the things printed on it are no longer procurable. It was lucky we got here early because it filled up quickly and when we left there was a queue a block long waiting to get in. The food was very good (I had pompano en papillotte, soufflé potatoes, French rolls, coffee and baked pear in brandy). Met Mr. and Mrs. Milton Fleisher who are en route to Mexico and they stopped for a chat and to get some pointers. I was disappointed in the appearance of the clientele here, anything but elegant with a few exceptions. Afterward we took a ride out as far as Ponchartrain Beach, a large amusement park, just to cool off.

The Buena Vista Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi circa 1940. Via.

Fri. Aug. 9th. After breakfast at Kolb’s we left for Biloxi a very pretty drive along the gulf shore passing Pass Christian and Gulfpost. The road is lined with beautiful homes each with its little pier extending out into the water with a round pavilion at the end and usually there are a number of pelicans perched on the pilings. There are also a great many hotels, restaurants and tourist camps along the route. We reached the Buena Vista in time for lunch at 1:30 and enjoyed its tree-shaded verandah and cool breezes in the afternoon and evening with full moon above.

Buena Vista Hotel, water view. Via.

Sat. Aug. 10th and Sun. Aug 11th. Stayed at the hotel where we are most comfortable. From the porch we can watch the bathers, the watercraft and an endless stream of traffic up and down the highway. It is such a relief after the heat, etc. in New Orleans.


Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


 

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