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Memories of Louisiana Baby Boomers

From New Orleans to Shreveport in the 1950s

New Orleans has always been a magical city, but was more so in the 1950s and '60's. During that time people sat on their front porches and watched all the children of the neighborhood. Children could play in Audubon and City Park without fear and could travel all over the city for 7 cents and a transfer on the streetcar. From the shores of Lake Pontchartrain to the Mississippi River, it was a kid's paradise and a parent's dream.

North Louisiana, with its small towns and farms, was like a different world. Kids could run through the forests and fields and learn about all kinds of animals and the land. People helped each other there, too.

This page will take you back to a gentler time when we Baby Boomers were growing up in Louisiana. We hope you'll enjoy the music and the trip back down memory lane.

Life Really Was a Dream in 1950s New Orleans

Life Could Be a Dream

Put a nickel in the old Jukebox and listen to one of the best Doo Wop ballads of the era.

New Orleans Boy's Memories

I was born in New Orleans near the end of WWII, right after my father returned from the war. I have many fond memories of growing up in the 1950s in New Orleans, Louisiana when life could be a dream. There were so many parks and enjoyable things to do and the Streetcar provided easy access to the whole city. Here are some memories of the places and events that formed my early life.

Audubon Park

Trips to Audubon Park began when Mom would take me there as a small child. At that time there was no admission charge to visit the zoo, so on most trips to the park, we would go to the Zoo to visit our favorite animals and then we'd visit the reptile house across the street from the zoo.

If it was warm, we would wade in the fountainhead pool in front. Sometimes we'd cross Magazine St. and ride the carousel or feed the ducks by the Swan Boat. I lived within walking distance of a kid's paradise in the middle of a metropolitan area.

When I was big enough to ride my bike, I went to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School. After school, I would stop in the park to play. By then I knew everyone who worked in the park and would help throw fish to the seals and help feed the barnyard animals in the zoo. Everyone in the neighborhood knew when it was 5:00 p.m. because it was feeding time and the lions would roar. That was the signal for me to jump on my bicycle so that I could make it home before dinner.

Wading Pool Photo reference: N.O. City & Zoning.

The Picture Show and Parties

Girls would give parties and we'd dance and play spin-the-bottle. We would sit in the back of the National Show on Friday nights with our arms around our dates, sneaking a kiss when the screen got dark. Although I still loved the animals and the park, my priorities became girls, rock and roll music and dancing. Holding hands and kissing were enough to rock our worlds.

Mike and I got paper routes and had more money than we needed. Besides the Friday night shows, we could take girls on the bus (7 cents and a transfer) to the Saenger on Sundays. After the show, we'd walk across the street and eat as many Crystal hamburgers as we wanted (10 cents each and real meat).

All These Things - Art Neville - One of the Neville Brothers

This one is worth another nickel. It's perfect for those parties, when the lights are low.

Dick Clark, New Orleans Style

Everyone watched the new American Bandstand show, that was right after the Mickey Mouse Show. (Hey, I would have worn those silly little ears too, just to dance with Annette)! Then New Orleans started its own weekly bandstand called the Larry Regan's Saturday Hop Show. It was located just off of Canal St. and coats and ties were required. Mike and I became regulars and met lots of girls.


Audubon Park Swimming Pool
Audubon Park Swimming Pool

Summer Time and the Livin' is Easy

Photo reference: N.O. City & Zoning

During the summer, we began spending a lot of time at the Audubon Park Pool (25 cents or a turtle from the lagoon sold to Ott's Pet Shop). Girls would take the bus from all over New Orleans to swim in the largest public pool in the South. After swimming we'd go to the concession stand across from the pool, eat, play the jukebox and dance.

Dances (& Cars) Were Everything

We started going to the Sacred Heart (Saturday nights) and St. Anthony dances (Sunday nights).

I walked to McDonough for my sophomore and junior years. Then I worked all summer after my junior year at Orlando's fruit stand on Gentilly Blvd. Mr. Orlando would give me a big bag of fruit to bring home to the family each day after work. I bought a car and got a transfer to Warren Easton for my senior year.

Not only did Easton have pretty girls, but it was right across the street from the all girl Sacred Heart High School and our favorite dances. In addition, there was Germania Hall, Metairie Lodge, the Swamp Room, the Anchor Inn, La Casa's, Rockery's and the Old Beach.

Elvis King Creole

Pontchartrain Beach

At the Beach, At the Beach, At the Pontchartrain Beach

Let us not forget WTIX and WNOE nights at the (Pontchartrain) beach (where Mike and I first saw Elvis, on this stage, in person in 1955, as well as meeting Maynard G. Krebs aka Bob Denver, and little Joe Cartwright aka Michael Landon).

The stage at Pontchartrain Beach
The stage at Pontchartrain Beach

When Elvis filmed King Creole in N. O., the camp used in the movie where his girlfriend lived and died, was rented from Mike's girlfriend's parents. Mike personally met the "King" and immediately became a legend.

Photo reference: Pontchartrain Beach Remembered

Mardi Gras!

To this day I can't imagine having a better time growing up in New Orleans than in the 50's and 60's. Mardi Gras was unbelievable during those years. Every year the family’s Mardi Gras headquarters was my Grandpa’s beauty salon in the Legerende Building on Barrone St., just across from the old Roosevelt Hotel.

The New Orleans I Remember

People weren't mean or violent.

Rock & Roll music was all about love.

You could take girls out on the bus and back to their homes in the Irish Channel, Gentilly, Lakeview, City Park, Audubon Park and on rare occasions even St. Rock without having to look over your shoulder.

In today's society, I don't think a cute sixth grader would survive having a paper route all by himself.

So, I feel more than just fortunate for the experiences of my youth; I feel grateful, blessed and at times guilty to have been given such a charmed life.

Wild Thing - The Troggs

Memories of a North Louisiana Girl

My wife, Yvonne, was born in 1951, near the end of the Baby Boomer generation. Many of her memories of the 1950s of growing up in rural north Louisiana are contained in the featured pages below. Here are some of her thoughts about that time.

Life was simple in the country. People helped other people by sharing produce, preserves and plants. Public schools were the norm in north Louisiana and we went to school with the same kids from first grade until twelfth. Many families lived in the same place for generations so "cliches" developed, especially among the girls.

As teenagers, fashion and dances were important. My sister and I would save our allowance money and plan our purchases so that we could buy the latest styles. We were about the same size, so we'd always get different colored outfits and accessories and take turns wearing them.

The British music invasion was prevalent when I was a teenager. My favorites were the Beatles (of course), Van Morrison, Moody Blues, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Herman's Hermits, to mention a few. I also loved American groups like the Mamas and the Papas, John Fred and the Playboys, the Byrds and Art Neville. On each trip to Shreveport, we would make a stop at Stan's Record Shop to buy the latest new 45.

The new, hot cars were the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.

Life was good and dancing was everything.

Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds on Ed Sullivan - Remember that Show?

© 2009 Yvonne L. B.

If you're a boomer, tell us about it. If not... just leave us a note. 16 comments

anonymous 7 years ago

Great job Yvonne!


kimmanleyort 7 years ago

What a trip down memory lane!


Sojourn 7 years ago

A beautiful lens with great memories of an amazing city. I've been to New Orleans a few times in the past few years and always feel like I've arrived in a piece of the country that has managed to maintain it's own unique flavor and environment. No matter what else has changed or what new trends or technology enter our world, New Orleans remains a city with strong character and a fascinating history. Great lens! :)


anonymous 7 years ago

Yes, I remember N.O. in the 1950s, too, but I don't recall that people were not mean or violent...I remember the good things, but also segregration, poverty, racism, ignorance, injustice, intolerance... and I was just a little (white, by the way) girl...


anonymous 7 years ago

Yes indeed - what a blessing it was to have lived during that time, in that space. I wish it were just the voice of nostalgia but unfortunately the times have changed.


LizMac60 profile image

LizMac60 6 years ago from United Kingdom

This is my sort of lens. Lensrolling it to my My part in the baby boom.5*****


anonymous 6 years ago

May I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post! I'm only 22 years old but spent my whole life in this wonderful city and only dreamed about what it must have been like to live in the city in those days. Only recently can I recognize the way New Orleans has deteriorated and an interest in this era has grown because of what it did for our country. I took a class at Loyola University, only a few blocks from Sacred Heart , last semester called "The Sixties" but I was missing the personal side of the story. From the memories my parents and grandparents tell I know that the youth of the city, today, are robbed of good times... times have truly changed. Nevertheless, it is still unique, cultured, and beautiful and I will never be able to leave it. I know many who live here agree, this place is a part of me and you can't take New Orleans out of the girl! Thank you again this was touching and eye opening!


Stazjia profile image

Stazjia 6 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

I love your memories of growing up as a baby boomer. I'm one too but I'm English so my memories somewhat different to yours. What we have in common, apart from the music of the time, is being allowed as children to roam with our friends without fear.

Blessed by an Angel.


Blkeeslar profile image

Blkeeslar 6 years ago from Mississippi

Thank you so much for this post. Wish my grandchildren could grow up like we did in the 50's & 60's. I have such good memories of those times, we were blessed!


DecoratingEvents profile image

DecoratingEvents 5 years ago

You were a fabulous guide on this trip. Though I am not a baby boomer, I agree that I feel charmed to be able to leave the house on summer mornings riding my bike and as long as I was home by dinner, my parents were fine with it. Today's children missed out on those carefree, safe and wonderful years!


Ann Hinds profile image

Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

My grandson says that we were the lucky one and that he feels cheated. He will be 10 and in not allowed any of the freedoms we had as children. I would love to turn him loose but it's not safe. I feel like we did get the best of everything and so we still remain grounded. Great lens, Angel blessed.


huvalbd 5 years ago

My grandmother grew up in the Algiers section of New Orleans. By the time I came along, her father had moved to the Mississippi coast 50 miles away. We visited there every summer and went to New Orleans for the day whenever we could. Yes indeed, I remember it as a magical place!


anonymous 5 years ago

Our Canadian band did a cover of Warren Storm's "Prisoner Song" ;) how about that?

Yup trying to bring back that "Swamp Pop" sound

http://www.squidoo.com/the-swamp-music-players


anonymous 5 years ago

Thanks for your pic' from the 50's in Louisiana. We are currently studying "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor in an international school in Eastern Europe. Not one student has been to the south - and so the photo of two gals by a mustang and description of life in the 50's helped bring visual context to the story: Thanks!


anonymous 5 years ago

This is a really interesting lens. I'm born and raised in NJ, but love it all!


martha-m-fontenot 2 years ago

SOB! You're talkin' about HOME! But don't forget the Prytania Theater, where you couldn't get popcorn, but they sold pralines. You could get into the show for 15¢, with a nickel for popcorn and another one for coke; at least until you were 12 yrs. old.

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    naturegirl7s profile image

    Yvonne L. B. (naturegirl7s)45 Followers
    207 Articles

    Louisiana has many unique sites and interesting places to visit. Yvonne enjoys sharing her knowledge of local history, customs and events.



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