Today in New Orleans History

January 1

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Happy New Year as Metairie and Gambling Grow
January 1, 1926

The Jefferson Parish Police Jury opened the first section of Airline Highway in 1927. It ran from Williams Boulevard to Shrewsbury Road and continued along Metairie Road to the city. Airline Highway south of Metairie Road was not completed until 1928. With other new major roads built or proposed during the 1920s (Harlem/Causeway, Transcontinental, Clearview Parkway) a commute to and from the city was much more palatable and so Metairie's first building boom occurred in this decade.

While new folks moved into Metairie gambling was thriving. A 1925 Times-Picayune article noted that “Out in the suburbs, but patronized by Orleanians, are the de luxe places” It described one of many – Dominick Tranchina's Beverly Gardens on Metairie Road where “the gambling equipment is the finest” and an “excellent orchestra” fronts a “brilliantly polished dance floor” and “a few hundred yards down Metairie Road” was the Victory Inn.

“My, but that band just makes your feet Charleston and you can't keep still” reads a 1926 ad for Beverly Gardens “Restaurant”. Great and highly popular bands such as the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra led by Papa Celestin and Armand Piron's New Orleans Orchestra with Peter Bocage were featured here.

Jazzman Peter Bocage said the Victory Inn, located between Ridgeway Drive and Labarre, had a $100,000 bankroll. It opened in 1922. As a sign of the times a 1926 ad informed that “Yep! The Road is Paved all the Way Now! Up to the Door of Victory Inn. 

Some newly arrived residents lobbied to remove the gambling establishments, formed a committee, petitioned to incorporate as a municipality which could enforce laws which Jefferson Parish officials ignored, and in 1926 were issued a charter for the town of Metairie Ridge. They chose C. P. Aicklen as their mayor who announced that he would shut down the gambling houses. Gaming figures then lobbied to overturn the charter. In November 1928 the Supreme Court of Louisiana decided that the city had been illegally incorporated because too few residents had signed the petition. The only notable official action by Mayor Aicklen was the turning of a valve in 1928 at the 17th Street Canal near Metairie Road which brought natural gas to all constituents via 9-mile pipe.

Aside from gambling in the 1920s, Metairie was relatively crime free but some ladies were upset by the actions of some visitors as described in an August 19, 1927 article which read “Plans were discussed, to rid the streets and roads of the city of Metairie of the numerous petting parties of young men and women of New Orleans who are using these dimly lighted places as parking grounds, at a meeting of the Women's Civic Auxiliary of Metairie Thursday night at the home of Mrs. G. L. Sheen, Friedrichs Avenue”.

This January 1, 1926 TImes-Picayune advertisement tells us that "Beverly Gardens is just chock full of delightful ways in which to pass the evening" and notes the "best food" and dancing to Dee Larroque's Orchestra while making no mention of the gambling.

In a 1959 interview Peter Bocage recalled playing at Dominick J. Tranchina's Beverly Gardens, Victory Inn, and Tranchina Night Club – all on Metairie Road. “There was plenty of money in those days. We used to make high as twenty, thirty dollars a-piece, just collections” [tips] from gamblers. “Money was like water with them”, Bocage said.

From Legendary Locals of Metairie by Catherine Campanella

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The St. Claude Avenue streetcar line  (February 21, 1926 – January 1, 1949) and the Gentilly Line were the last two streetcar lines to open in New Orleans until August 1988 (inauguration of the Riverfront line). Replaced with trolley bus and later diesel bus service. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has plans to rebuild a similar route.

In 1900 Madame Begue hand-wrote her recipes in French for publication in a cook book published by Southern Pacific Railroad as a souvenir and travel incentive. One of the first cookbooks published for the New Orleans market, it became a sought-after souvenir and guide for tourists.  It included Madame Begue's Turtle Soup, Chicken a la Creole, and Creole Gumbo as well as recipes from other well-known cooks, including Victor Bero from Victor's Restaurant (now Galatoire's). The recipes measurements, temperatures, and cooking times left to the best judgment of the cook because much of the cooking done over an open fire. In 1937 an updated version was published to suit the needs of more modern cooks using kitchen stoves.  In 2012, local food enthusiast Poppy Tooker provided a new foreword and recreated the most significant of Madame Begue's creations by providing contemporary renditions of the original recipes. (Sources:, Poppy Tooker's Mme. Bégué's Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery (2012), Mme. Begue's Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery (January 1, 1937 edition), and Judy Walker.

The first Sugar Bowl game was played there on January 1, 1935, against the Philadelphia Temple Owls.  The last was on December 31, 1974 when Nebraska beat Florida 14-10.

Emile Weil submitted plans for the Touro Synagogue at 4238 St. Charles Avenue on January 1, 1909. See also Photo of Judah B. Touro at,554. Dedicaton on building at

James Henry Caldwell, a native of Manchester, England, after working as an actor in England and the United States and having managed a theater in Alexandria, Virginian (in 1818) and built a theater at Petersburg, built the Camp Street Theater in New Orleans at cost of $70,000 and although it was still not finished, opened it on May 14, 1823. It was the first important structure in the new Second (American) Municipality.  It formally opened on January 1, 1824. Meanwhile, Caldwell continued to tour eastern theaters during summer until 1825 at which time he began tours of towns in the South and Southwest—called "Pioneer of Drama in the South." Brought competent actors and good plays to the region and became the most important theatrical person there. Built theaters in Cincinnati, Nashville, Mobile, and converted a salt house in St. Louis into a theater. He introduced gas lighting into American Theater in New Orleans and organized a company to supply gas lighting for the city, receiving a charter on March 1, 1833. It began operations in 1834 but Caldwell sold his interest in 1835. He established similar companies in Cincinnati and Mobile and these were his principal sources of wealth in later years. He opened the St. Charles Theater in New Orleans on November 12, 1835; it was the most magnificent theater in the South and one of the largest in the country but it burned in March, 1842. Caldwell retired from theatrical activity on January 14, 1843, and thereafter devoted his time to several official positions in New Orleans.  He was commissioned as captain in Louisiana Militia, Forty-second Regiment of First Brigade on December 7, 1842. He was a member of the Second Municipality Council during the last ten years of its existence and then served as recorder. When New Orleans reverted to one complete city government, he was elected to board of aldermen and served as president of that body from 1855-1856. He served a term in the Louisiana house of representatives (1858-1860) and in 1857, became a principal stockholder in Bank of James Robb.  He had extensive real estate holdings in New Orleans and elsewhere.  Caldwell left New Orleans between February and October, 1862 to live in Cincinnati. In August of 1863 he was living in New York City. In feeble health for some time, he died there on September 11, 1863. Services were held on September 14, at St. Patrick's Cathedral. His remains were then taken back to New Orleans where services were again held on October 11, 1863, at Dead Church [?] on Rampart St. with burial in Fireman's Cemetery.  (From

A leader of the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768,  Nicholas Chauvin de Lafreniere was born on his family's 5000 acre plantation (some of which is now Lafreniere Park) on September 30, 1728.  In 1749 he replaced his father on the Superior Council as acting councillor assesseur.  In 1758 Louis Billouart de Kerlérec recommended him for reappointment to the council and he was sent to France as Kerlérec's personal envoy to the minister of Marine in 1759. While there he studied law and was admitted to the French bar.  On January 1, 1763 he was appointed attorney general of Louisiana, serving in that position until August 1769.  He implemented ministerial directive to expel the Jesuit order from Louisiana on July 1763 and, with Denis-Nicolas Foucault, presided over public sale of huge Jesuit estate.  La Freniere also secured legislation banning importation of slave "criminals" from other French colonies. After Spanish governor Antonio de Ulloa attempted to establish Spanish dominion as stipulated in the Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1768, Lafreniere, along with Joseph Milhet, Jean-Baptiste Noyan, Pierre Caresse and Pierre Marquis, led an insurrection which ousted Ulloa in October 1768. Ulloa's replacement Alejandro O'Reilly was able to crush the rebellion and arrested its leaders on August 18, 1769.  They were charged with treason, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death. They were executed by a firing squad in New Orleans on October 25, 1769. The Louisiana revolution preceded the American revolution by several years.

Oscar "Papa" Celestin is Born
January 1, 1884
TodayInNewOrleansHistory/1950PapaCelestinAtAlphonsePicous71stBD.jpgIn 1954 "Lincoln Beach opened to a throng of 10,000 eager citizens, who spilled onto the elaborately landscaped midway and gathered around the stage where Papa Celestin's jazz band played" noted New Orleans Magazine.  He passed away not long after on  December 15, 1954.
Born in Napoleonville on January 1, 1884, he was originally a guitar and mandolin player and worked as a cook on the Texas and Pacific Railroad before settling in St. Charles where he began playing trombone and trumpet in a local brass band.
He arrived in New Orleans in 1906 and joined the Indiana Brass Band on cornet and played with the Algiers Brass Band.  Later worked with Jack Carey and the Olympia Band and became a member of Henry Allen Sr.’s Excelsior band in 1908. In 1910 Celestin started the Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra which played at Tuxedo Hall in New Orleans, from 1910 until it closed in 1913.  Musicians in his band included Peter Bocage, Louis Armstrong, Bebe Ridgley, Lorenzo Tio, Jr and Isidore Barbarin (guitarist Danny Barker’s grandfather).
Celestin also led his own band at Villa Cafe and then co-led a band with Ricard Alexis, later billed as the Original Tuxedo Brass Band. It was renamed the Tuxedo Brass Band in 1911. Around 1917 he organized, with William Ridgely, the Original Tuxedo Orchestra, until they split up in 1925 with Celestin leading it himself. Withthis, and other bands he led, he recorded and toured the Gulf Coast until the early 1930s. Celestin then left full time music but continued to lead his own band in New Orleans, including at the Pelican Roof in 1939.
He worked in local shipyards during World War II until being seriously injured by a hit-and-run motorist in 1944.  After the war Celestin re-formed his band and began recording for various companies and doing live broadcasts from local radion stations. He was also a mainstay and tourist attraction on Bourbon Street's Paddock Club until his death.
In May, 1953, he went to Washington, D.C. to play for President Eisenhower and appeared later that year in the film Cinerama Holiday. In view of the tremendous contribution Celestin made in jazz throughout his lifetime, the Jazz Foundation of New Orleans had a bust made and donated to the Delgado Museum in New Orleans.
Celestin is pictured on the right (in the right) in 1950 at Alphonse Picou's 71st birthday party.  
Pictured on the left is the Original Tuxedo Jazz Orchestra -- Left to Right: Bill Matthews, Guy Kelly, Papa Celestin, Jeanette Salvant, Narvin Kimball, Joe Lawrence, Chinee Foster, Joe Rouzon, Simon Marrero, Clarence Hall by Ted Gottsegen Papa Celestin was one of the most popular of New Orleans cornetists and considered a major player in the development of jazz.
Celestine's bands were known for playing in the regural venues as well as wherever jazz music was needed-- funerals, picnics, or dances.


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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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