New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, February 20, 2017
1790 Alexander Milne arrives in New Orleans
Milne was born in Scotland in 1742. The image is of his tomb in New Orleans.
1832 Milneburg-Port Pontchartrain Lighthouse is built
1839-The town of Milneburg
consists of a few houses, the Washington and Arch Hotels, a grocery, two barrooms and a bakery.
1870 Milneburg Port declines but Jazz flourishes
In 1870, the port declined when it lost much of its cargo to the New Orleans, Mobile and Chattanooga Railroad After 1870...the area (Milneburg) evolved into an entertainment district, as the city's passenger train, the Smoky Mary, carried more middle-class visitors to the resort. Entertainment included jazz, with Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and Danny Barker performing. An Excerpt from the 1999 Land Use Plan New Orleans City Planning Commission. Pictured is Sidney Bechet, a child prodigy in New Orleans. He was such good clarinet player that he featured by some of the top bands in the city, when he was still a child. Bechet's style of playing clarinet and soprano sax dominanted many of the bands that he was in. He played lead parts that were usually reserved for trumpets and was a master of improvisation. In 1939, Bechet played saxophone & sang with Jelly Roll Morton's New Orleans Jazzmen.
1890 - 1920 Buddy Bolden's Band plays
Standing, left to right: Jimmy Johnson, Buddy Bolden, Willie Cornish, William Warner. Sitting, left to right: Jefferson Mumford and Frank Lewis. Buddy Bolden, considered the "father of jazz," was born in New Orleans in 1877 and died in 1931. The peak of his career was from 1890 to 1920. He played music at Milneburg and other lakeshore resorts. First of the great New Orleans jazz figures was Buddy Bolden, a barber who blew his horn to glory. Deeper, deeper, Buddy Bolden plunged into his music...He dominated...New Orleans, playing at saloons, lakefront parties... Buddy made up one song after another His playing had one feature that later jazz authorities recognized as indispensable- "the trance,' and ability to sink himself in the music until nothing mattered but himself and the cornet, in fervent communion. As the 1900s approached...a small, bulkily built boy listened nightly to the silver magic of Buddy's notes. Nobody paid any attention to him then. He was young Louis Armstrong. The New Orleans sound had begun around 1900 with brass ensembles which, like ragtime, took the marching military bands as their models. In addition to cornets, trombones, and an occasional tuba these groups included clarinets, banjos or guitars, and fiddles. The bass and the piano were excluded because of their size, although the piano was a popular solo instrument in the dives, honky-tonks, and 'sporting houses." Buddy Bolden's band with Bunk Johnson was playing In honky-tonks as early as 1895, and the Olympia Brass Band existed on and off from 1900 to 1915 led by coronetist Freddie Keppard, with Joe Oliver playing second cornet and Alphonse Picou, Sidney Bechet, and Lorenzo Tio on clarinets. Oscar "Papa" Celestin formed the Original Tuxedo Orchestra in 1910. Keppard later led the Original Creole Band, while Joe 0liver worked for trombonist Kid Ory in his Brownskin Band. When Oliver left for Chicago, as Keppard had done, Louis Armstrong replaced him on coronet, There were probably a hundred of these seminal groups, and their players seemed infinitely interchangeable. All of them understood the basic premise of the music: collective improvisation. Source: New Oleans Online-Music http://www.neworleansonline.com/music/bolden.shtml Around the turn of the century, when the great Buddy Bolden was the king of New Orleans jazz, the legendary musician played his cornet all over town: Rampart and Perdido streets, Uptown, the lakefront and across the river. Source: Gambit Weekly-Blake Pontchartrain http://www.gambit-no.com/1998/0901/blak.html Buddy Bolden's music was never recorded.
1910s Jelly Roll Morton plays on the Lake
Ferdinand (Jelly Roll) Morton (1890-1941) was was the first great composers and piano players of Jazz. An interesing quote from Jelly Roll, talking about his recordings (records): "Why would anyone be interested in those old things?" He wrote "Pontchartrain" and recorded "Bucktown Blues". From 1926-1930, Jelly Roll Morton and the Red Hot Peppers band included Jazz greats Baby Dodds(drums), Johnny Dodds (clarinet), Kid Ory (trombone), and Johnny St. Cyr (banjo & guitar)--all born in New Orleans. Sources: Asbol Repertoire http://www.redhotjazz.com/jellyroll.html
1891 Painting-the Lake and Milneburg
Title of the Painting: Lake Pontchartrain Milneburg in the Distance Artist: George Gay Louisana State Museum Paintings Collection Lake Pontchartrain, Milneburg in the Distance-George Gay (c. 1858-1914) 1891 oil on canvas. Little is known of the Louisiana landscape painter, George Gay. Favoring coastal scenic vistas, Gay lived and worked in New Orleans from 1884 to 1897. His primitive style reveals limited formal art training.
1893 Woman Lighthouse keeper at Milneburg shelters storm victims
According to Carl Arredondo, in a 1893 Hurricane where 2000 people died in a 15 foot storm surge, 200 survivors sought refuge at the Port Pontchartrain lighthouse, and its female lightkeeper was publicly recognized for caring for them. This phots shows an 1890 shot of the lighthouse. Source: http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:IpP2X9jLmjo:www.newswatch15.com/weather/+port+pontchartrain&hl=en
1899 - The Goodness of St. Rocque by Alice Dunbar
'There had been a picnic the day before, and as merry a crowd of giddy, chattering Creole girls and boys as ever you could see boarded the ramshackle dummy-train that puffed its way wheezily out wide Elysian Fields Street, around the lily-covered bayous, to Milneburg-on-the-Lake. Now, a picnic at Milneburg is a thing to be remembered for ever. One charters a rickety-looking, weather-beaten dancing-pavilion, built over the water, and after storing the children--for your true Creole never leaves the small folks at home--and the baskets and mothers downstairs, the young folks go up-stairs and dance to the tune of the best band you ever heard. For what can equal the music of a violin, a guitar, a cornet, and a bass viol to trip the quadrille to at a picnic? Then one can fish in the lake and go bathing under the prim bath-houses...and go rowing on the lake in a trim boat, followed by the shrill warnings of anxious mamans.' Source: Project Gutenburg e-text http://www.infocentral.com/texts/etext96/stroq10.txt
1900s Milneburg Hops
On the pier... were Morgan's Saloon, the Joy Club, Romer's Café, The Inn, Quarelles, Nick's Restaurant, and The Lighthouse, and there were 100 more such venues close by. An incorporated village on Lake Pontchartrain, it was an active resort from the 19th century. It was the site of the Pontchartrain Amusement Park until 1984, and during its heyday (to the mid-1930s) it boasted numerous venues, both public and private, which engaged jazz bands to play residencies or for individual functions. On the pier, for example, were Morgan's Saloon, the Joy Club, Romer's Café, The Inn, Quarelles, Nick's Restaurant, and The Lighthouse, and there were 100 more such venues close by. Its memory is preserved (though its name is misspelled) in the often performed and recorded tune Milenberg Joys. Source: www.xrefer.com
1900s Buddy Bolden at the Turn of the Century
"Around the turn of the century, when the great Buddy Bolden was the king of New Orleans jazz, the legendary musician played his cornet all over town: Rampart and Perdido streets, Uptown, the lakefront and across the river." Source: Gambit Weekly-Blake Pontchartrain http://www.gambit-no.com/1998/0901/blak.html Deeper, deeper, Buddy Bolden plunged into his music...He dominated...New Orleans, playing at saloons, lakefront parties... Source: New Orleans Music Online http://www.neworleansonline.com/music/bolden.shtml Bolden played for dances, for pinics out at Milneburg, (Jelly Roll Morton says that he most surprising thing that happened to him in connection with the misspelling fo the name Milneburg was a long letter from a patriotic German citizen who was pleased that someone from the States had celebrated the Joys of the German City Milenburg with such wonderful jazz) for parties at Johnson Park (when Buddy Bottle used to make his balloon ascensions)... Source: http://home.att.net/~joeshepherd/jazz/jazz13.html Buddy Bolden is considered by many to be "The Father of Jazz".
1913 Leon Ropollo begins playing Jazz on the Lake
1902-1943 - Leon Roppolo Leon Roppolo was considered a genius by his contemporaries and like Bix Beiderbecke and Buddy Bolden, he was another of the tragic young men of early Jazz. He is remembered as being a pioneer of the jazz solo, as opposed to the collective improvisation of most New Orleans bands and for his lyrical and modern clarinet and alto saxophone playing. He was born in Lutcher Louisiana, upriver from New Orleans. His family moved to New Orleans about 1912 with in a year or two he was playing music professionally at Lake Pontchartrain and Bucktown." Source: http://www.redhotjazz.com/roppolo.html
1913 Milneburg Light Postcard
1914 - John Quarrella's Midway Restaurant at Milneburg
This photo was probably taken in late summer 1914. In the photo (left to right) are Gennaro "John" Quarrella, his wife Marie Bonano, Gennaro's brother Joseph Quarrella, and Mr. Conti, the bartender at the Midway. Notice the "Ladies Entrance" sign--something not seen in many years. Images and text about Quarrella's Midway Restaurant & Saloon courtesy of the Descendants of Gennaro "John" Quarrella and Marie Bonano.
1923 - Sheet music for Milenburg Joys
Notice the mis-spelling of Milnebug. I remember my older relatives (now gone) who spoke nostalgically about "Milenburg"
1923 Milneburg Joys is recorded
Leon Roppolo's Friars Society Orchestra ( also known as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings. Leon Roppolo was considered a genius by his contemporaries and like Bix Beiderbecke and Buddy Bolden, he was another of the tragic young men of early Jazz. He is remembered as being a pioneer of the jazz solo, as opposed to the collective improvisation of most New Orleans bands and for his lyrical and modern clarinet and alto saxophone playing. He was born in Lutcher Louisiana, upriver from New Orleans. His family moved to New Orleans about 1912 with in a year or two he was playing music professionally at Lake Pontchartrain and Bucktown. audio milne joys.ram Hear Milneburg Joys (Leon Rappolo, Paul Mares, and Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton) Recorded by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Richmond, Indiana, July 18, 1923 featuring Morton at the piano. The piece is named after the Milneburg Resort on Lake Pontchartrain five miles north of downtown New Orleans. 1922-1935 Leon Roppolo's bandThe Friars Society Orchestra (was also known as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings). At one time the band included Jelly Roll Morton. The New Orleans Rhythm Kings were heavily influenced by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band and became the first group to put out a "racially mixed" Jazz record in 1923 with "Sobbin' Blues", featuring Jelly Roll Morton. They recorded Milneburg Joys (Leon Rappolo, Paul Mares, and Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton) as the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in Richmond, Indiana on July 18, 1923-- featuring Morton at the piano. The piece is named after the Milneburg Resort on Lake Pontchartrain five miles north of downtown New Orleans.
1927 - The Beginning of the end of Milneburg
Milneburg was the other popular early resort area on the Lake, at the terminus of the Pontchartrain Railroad line, which began operation in 1831. New Orleanians rode the famous "Smokey Mary" out to the many camps that dotted the shoreline and to the hotels, restaurants, roadhouses, shooting galleries, bathing facilities and fishing piers. It was at Milneburg's bandstands, dance halls and honky-talks that much of New Orleans' early jazz was first heard. Like Spanish Fort, Milneburg fell victim to changing tastes and to the massive construction projects undertaken by the Orleans Levee Board and the WPA in the late 1920s and 1930s. This Levee Board photograph (included among the WPA photographs of Lakefront projects) was taken on October 5, 1927 from the famous Milneburg lighthouse looking to the east after demolition of the camps and other structures that occupied the shoreline. The "after" view below, taken several years later on May 28, 1941, shows the exact same area with Pontchartrain Beach and its WPA-built bathing beach, bath house under construction, and one of two light towers built by the WPA for night swimming. Source: http://nutrias.org/~nopl/monthly/july2001/3jul01.htm
1920 - Sharkey Bonano
Sharky Bonano played Jazz at Marie and, her husband, John Quarrella's establishments in Milneburg. 1899-1972 - Gustave Joseph (Sharkey) Bonano Sharkey Bonano was one of the most charismatic and beloved jazz men of old New Orleans. His charismatic singing and trumpet playing draw comparisons to Louis Prima (he even starred in a band with Prima's brother Leon in the 1930s) but his sound and personality was indisputabley his own. A powerful, hot trumpeter, Bonano played in and around his home-town as a teenager. According to Margo Duplantier Rhinehart (Sharkey's great-grand niece) "The family spells his name: Gustave Joseph Bonano. According to his older sister, Marie Bonano Quarrella, Sharkey was born on April 9, 1898, but his death notice indicates he was mostly likely born in 1899. Also, he was born in New Orleans not Milneburg. He spent a lot of time with his sister Marie Quarrella and played his jazz music at Marie and, her husband, John Quarrella's establishments in Milneburg. After John's early death (1922), Marie's family (I assume this meant Sharkey too) moved to Milneburg to help Marie run the various family businesses. Source: http://www.sonicnet.com/artists/ai_bio.jhtml?ai_id=504502 and Margo Duplantier Rhinehart.