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.
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.
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
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).
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
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?
Questions & Answers
© 2009 Yvonne L B