"Online since 1999"
radio and growing up in New Orleans in the 50's, 60's and 70's!
ERIC TRACY, KFWB, Los Angeles:
Bob: Joe Cahn, the Commissioner of Tailgating and former owner of the New Orleans School of Cooking, was in town recently and we were reminicing about the 'old days' in New Orleans. I loved my 8 years there. It got me thinking about my old friends so I did a search looking for Bob Ruby. Your website came up. Thanks for keeping my name alive in the "city that care forgot." I had a lot of fun looking through your site...in fact, I can't wait to give Hugh Dillard a call (thanks to you.)
If you'd like some stuff from my NO days, I've got it. Most of it in boxes in my shed...but soon I promised to go through it and weed stuff out. Pictures I can get my hands on easily, but I have airchecks, outtakes of TV commercials done by WWL, some of the crazy characters that were part of my mix (Sam Adams ... lost him, too), Vic Vickers, the poet laurette of LSU and more.) Let's stay in touch and as my relics rise to the surface, I will share.
I don't have to do much to keep the memory of Eric Tracy alive here in New Orleans. You are well and fondly remembered, both from WWL radio and New Orleans Night People on Channel 26. Thanks for visiting the site.
JIM LOCKE, Montgomery, AL:
Bob: I read with great interest your excellent recollections of the night Jayne Mansfield died. I am sure that it was a difficult scene to cover.
At the time, I was a youngster of age 13 and was living in Montgomery, Alabama. My family and I was returning from a long trip in the family station wagon to visit family in Bakersfield, California. We were returning through New Orleans; my father was determined to see as much scenery along the way as possible. We ate a late dinner at a New Orleans restaurant and went to our motel to check in. There was some problem with the room and, rather than choose another one, my dad decided to drive on to Mississippi. As we drove through the late-night darkness I remember waking up as our car slowed. Up ahead I saw traffic backed up and could see red lights flickering off of fog that seemed everywhere. As we slowly made our way along, we all knew there had been a wreck. As we passed the scene we could not see much, except that a car was jammed underneath the read of a large truck. We knew it had to be a very bad accident.
We drove further and my dad pulled into an all-night restaurant to get some coffee for himself, my mom and my grandfather. Though I cannot be certain, I am almost positive it was what the fellow who wrote to you described as the White Kitchen. It seemed to be the only place open around. My dad said some folks inside had mentioned the wreck and thought two or three people had been killed.
It wasn't until the next morning watching the news in the motel room that we learned it was Jayne Mansfield. It was so eerie. I will never forget it.
Surreal things happen in this world. That certainly was the White Kitchen where you stopped that night ... not long after Jayne and the others had been there, the final stop on their journey into history. It amazes me how the Jayne Mansfield crash has taken on such a life of its own over the years...like the mysteries and myths surrounding the deaths of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, JFK and ... someone well remembered there in Montgomery ... Hank Williams Sr.
TOM WISEMAN, California:
Seeing that picture of Alan Jaeger cracked me up. I went to Ferncrest (2222 Gentilly Blvd) with him and his brother Andrew, then Cor Jesu, before it merged with St Aloyisius and became Brother Martin. We used to walk down to the KB's at Elysian Fields and Gentilly and harass Miss Christopher at the soda fountain. That was right across the street from A&G cafeteria and Bert's Record's, where I used to stuff my portable tape recorder into a gym bag and try to tape records instead of buying them. I remember the one-hour Beatles shows on "TIX" and "TIX PREDICTS THE WEATHER!" Then we would set all the buttons on the left of the car radio to "TIX" and the ones on the right to "NOE" so we could switch back and forth according to which song was on. I used to drink beer at the Barrel, right next to the Library, across the street from the Pitt and the Steer Inn. Before it was the Library it was a laundromat and I used to wait for the bus there on my way to Cor Jesu. When I was fourteen I took Karate lessons for a while from a Cuban guy named Carlos. Almost every guy in there was from Chalmette. I was a boy scout with Andre and Rene Mouledoux. Their dad was the scoutmaster and their older brother Warren was in it as well. My neighbor, Greg Ostrick, who eventually did some time on the air, had the call-in thing wired, and he taped it every time he won. He was a pretty smart guy. Wonder what he's doing now. I live in (sic) California now, but I so miss N.O. and when I come back I'm going to be sure to visit: BUD'S BROILER, CAMELLIA GRILL, ST CHARLES AVENUE STREETCARS, CITY PARK, LEE CIRCLE, LAKESHORE DRIVE, BRUENING'S RESTAURANT, BUCKTOWN, CAFE DU MONDE, MUMFREY'S, AND CRAZY SHIRLEY'S, (if they are still there).
I think those places are all still there. And it's ironic that you and my good friend Alan Jaeger grew up together ... a WISEMAN and a WILD MAN.
I enjoy your site. Do you have any information on New Orleans Night People. It was one of the most memorable (if not one of the best) of all locally produced shows. Ding-Ding the Singing Bird, Harry the Singing Mailman, Ruthie the Duck Lady, etc., what a cast of characters! I wonder if any taped exist.
That was quite a unique show and fondly remembered. Late night on New Orleans WWOM-TV Channel 26 and a host of eccentrics. Eric Tracy was the host, and he just emailed us too (see above). We'll toss the question to him and see what he says.
Hey Bob : Great web-site. What a pleasant surprise to hear so many great memories.
It was great WTIX DJ's like you who make it all possible! Your fame lives on, being mentioned in "The Ballad Of The TIX Tigers."
TERRY LEYDON, Slidell:
Dear Bob: I have spent nearly five hours digging around your great Web site, and it's nearly 6 a.m. in the morning, so I thought I might as well get my two cents in.
First, thank you very much for putting this site together. It is obviously a labor of love from someone who I will always be grateful to for their Sunday night oldies show, long after I left AM radio behind. I thoroughly agree with you about today's "oldies" stations.
I was raised in the old Ninth Ward (before it was called that gentrified name, "Bywater", except for the phone exchange), and like anybody else who grew up in the 60s and 70s (I was born in 1955), WTIX and WNOE were a big part of my life until I started listening more to FM around 1970 or so. Seems I recall that FM radios were not too easy to come by (especially in small transistor radio format), and all they played on them was jazz and classical anyway, at least until WRNO started around 1967. Funny thing is, that is all I generally listen to now, outside of R&B and R&R from the 1950s-1980s. I like some C&W (with the emphasis on Western) music (the older, the better), but now that Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings have moved on, why bother? Most of today's country bands sound like rock wannabes to me. Hank didn't do it that way.
Anyway, your site flooded my own mind with memories, not to mention being overjoyed at some of the things you have on it (I certainly never expected to hear "Ice Man" in this lifetime again!), but it also triggered some questions that I would like to know if you might have answers to.
1.) When I would have the chance to listen to FM radio in the mid-1960s, I would enjoy hearing Toby's Tower of Jazz and Poppa Stoppa on WNNR-FM. The former was one of the very few radio programs (Al Gourrier on WYLD was another) with a jazz format in the music's birthplace. I will forever be grateful to Mr. Falcon (thanks for mentioning him in your list of local DJs) for fostering an appreciation for John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, and as Toby would put it, "Dinah ... Dinah ... WASH-ING-TON." Do you recall the show, and do you know whatever happened to Mr. Falcon?
2.) When the Charlie Douglas Road Gang rode the overnight airwaves at WWL in the 1970s-80s, I loved listening to his show on late Sunday nights-early Monday mornings when he would have a country "oldies" show. Before going to CBS news on the hour, he would play a western swing instrumental that has stayed in my mind for years, but he would never say what was the song's title or the name of the band (could have been Bob Wills, but I doubt it). Do you have any idea where I might find that information? BTW, when I was a kid, it was a real treat for me when you DJs would play the whole instrumental song before going to a newscast.
3.) Whatever happened to Jim Stewart, the WNOE legend? To this day, I think he was the most surreal DJ I have ever heard. God, he was funny! Thank goodness for those program directors who let him have free reign of his show.
4.) I'm asking this next one with a straight face, and I would appreciate a straight answer to this one. Did WTIX ever consider playing a Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention record in the late 1960s? I know "Brown Shoes Don't Make It" would have been out of the question, but "Any Way The Wind Blows" was on the same level as Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes. BTW, I still think the original Mothers were the all-time 50s cover band, in spite of all the other craziness they took part in, because they would play it with obvious love and respect.
Now for a few short comments. 1.) Thanks for educating me on the sorry state of radio today with your editorial. It's so ridiculous, I can't even listen to WRNO ("All Nazareth. All the time.") anymore. Sorry, I find Walton & Johnson funny only 10% of the time. But it's even worse for classical music and jazz. At least WWNO tries. Thank you, Lord, for compact discs and Internet sites such as yours. 2.) I noticed Bobby Charles of Abbeville and J&M Recording Studios is not listed among your area artists. Any chance of rectifying that? 3.) I would give a week's paycheck to hear one of the Larry Regan's "Rascals" segments from the 1970s. Oh, man, they were right-on! And Larry's soothing late night voice was so unforgettable! "Larry (breath) Regan here (breath) with you." or "And the current (breath) temp (breath) is 82 (breath) degrees.". 4.) Good luck on finding Ted ("It's the Teddy-Go-Round!") Green. Fond, fond memories. 5.) THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your tribute to Mr. Clarence, Poppa Stoppa. Listening to him, even as late as the 1980s on WYAT, was like entering a venerable museum or cathedral. I often would think he must really like this music! And when he would play the very occasional Beatles record, it would be one of their core songs, "There's A Place"! Such rarified taste! 6.) I ate many a roast beef and potato sandwich (remember gravy sandwiches?) at Martin Bros. on St. Claude until they closed in the mid-1970s, but Clarence & Lefty's on Almonaster (just past the Franklin Ave. split) served some great ones, too! Acy's Pool Hall on Sophie Wright Place wasn't bad either. 7.) Artista's Pizza Parlor on Franklin Ave. did only one thing that made their pizzas so great. Every one of them was made from scratch (including the dough it seemed), and the warmth and freshness oozed from every black olive and bell pepper. Tower of Pizza on Downman Road was a good place to go, too.
Thanks again for all the wonderful memories and your wonderful site!
Glad you enjoyed! There's always more coming too! Now a few answers:
Toby Falcon (Toby's Tower Of Jazz on WNNR): I suppose he's passed away by now but I worked the shift before him many times and I remember the "royal" air he carried when he entered the studio to share another Tower of Jazz with his audience. A tall, big man, kinda stuffy but ok.
The Charlie Douglas Instrumental: No idea, but I'll give the number of Charlie's office in Nashville if you really feel like pursuing it.
Jim Stewart: Alive but Missing In Action away from New Orleans at this writing (12/27/03). I'll try to put a tracer on Jim the Stew.
WTIX and Frank Zappa: Nope, never did we ever consider playing any Zappa music. We played Top 40 and chose our playlist from the Billboard charts. To my knowledge Zappa never had a single ('45) hit on the charts, or if he did it did not rise high on it.
... now, back to my yummy Gravy Sandwich from Clarence & Lefty's ...
PETE LATINO, Lafayette:
Bob, so very nice to recall all of the wonderful people and places of my youth. I graduated from F. T. Nichols in 1962 - Go Rebels!
I played bass with The Playboys in 1960 and '61, and then with The Crowns (after Starkey left for the service) in '62 and '63. After that I spotted quite a bit in the Quarter with just about everyone passing through.
How about those Sunday evening dances at Star of the Sea at St. Roch Park?
After a few years of kicking around I finally settled in the Lafayette area in the early '70's, where I reside to this day.
Weren't the '50's and '60's a great time to be in New Orleans?
Yes that era was a great time, and especially within the charm of New Orleans. Hmmm...a light just went on in my head. There was a guy in my class at De La Salle (Class of '63) who played with the Playboys as I recall...Dennis Turgeau. Is my memory on target?? Of course this was the New Orleans band known as the Playboys, not John Fred's Playboys.
FOLLOWUP FROM PETE LATINO:
Bob, you're correct - Dennis Turgeau sang with the Playboys.
In addition, the original group consisted of Kenny Hebert on guitar (now in Houma), Rudy Valentino on drums (passed away in the '70's), Kippy Kimble on trumpet, Harris Deffess on alto / tenor (passed away in the '70's), and Joe Miller on baritone sax.
Dennis and I played together again for a couple of years in the late '60's at the Ramada Inn at Michoud, with Tommy Woodin on drums and Ritchie Ladner on piano.
FLOYD FRILOUX, Sr., New Sarpy:
Howdy: Just wondering if tape or anything available from old Dawnbusters show: I was born in 1930 and heard that show many mornings. Pinkey, Irvin Fasola, Henry Dupre, Aloysious "Al Hirt", also had someone playing organ and vibes. Just recently was reciting Arise' song to my wife but had some incorrect words. Thanks for any info you may have available. Merci!
No Dawnbusters tape or disk recordings exist as far as I can determine. What a pity...they would be such classics now. But Phil Cheramie (Email From Visitors, Page 24) sent me the lyrics to Arise:
ARISE', ARISE', ARISE'
YOU CAN'T STAY IN DE BED ALL THE DAY
YOU GOT TO FIX THE MIRLITON
YOU GOOD FOR NOTHING BIG COCHON
ARISE', ARISE', ARISE', ARISE'.
...and I assume in the song it was pronounced the good ole Cajun way ... "Aroise."
DON ANTHONY, Atlanta:
Hey Bob, Don Anthony here. Ran across your site and boy, what a flashback. Fortunately, for listeners, I left the air for good in '79 and headed for the west coast. In '85 I started Talentmasters, a radio placement firm; added Morning Show Boot Camp in '89, a conference for radio personalities and in '95 began publishing The Morning Mouth, a publication for personalites. Since '86, I've made Atlanta my home along with my wife Patti and our 4 kids 21 - 7 yrs old-- all boys.
A few Sundays ago I was driving through Hammond on my way to Houston. Just for fun, I tuned into to 'TIX to see if "JOE CULOTTA" was still there. Remember him? I used to get $10 if I took meter readings for him during his show. The '70's . What a fun time. Skinny (Tom Cheney) and I rooming. What a trip.
It's a nice thing you've done with the site. So many personalites come and go and once they've left, many are gone forever. Best of luck to you always.
Don, really nice to hear from yet another member of the old WTIX gang. Radio began to be a poorer place when you left the air in 1979. And it's hard to believe that Joe Culotta and "Let's Talk It Over" have been off the air since 1989, and that Joe and Miriam just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
CATHY in Gretna:
Hi Bob, This is an awesome site. Memories-Memories-Memories!!
I've been reading for a couple of hours. I couldn't turn this off. Of course it flodded my mind with remembrances of my own. I am a fifties child and I thank God everyday for it. I could restate eveything I read about, but there is no need to. You have heard it all. But I do have one thing I haven't seen here to tell you about. When my husband and I were dating we would go to Mac's Fried Chicken in Algiers, get a take-out box of chicken and head down the street to the Algiers Drive-in Theater. We would listen to the radio and eat our chicken until the movie started. Also another one of my special memories is going to see Mr. Bingle in the Maison Blanche Store on Canal St. with my mom, dad, and 2 sisters. Then we would ride over to the French Quarter for coffee, chocolate milk, and beignets. This was our yearly adventure across the river.ha-ha As my husband would say, "You can take the Girl out of Gretna, but you can't take Gretna out of the Girl." (Westbank is the Bestbank)
Thank You so much for all these Memories. I plan to pass this site on to all my Friends and Family!!
We all shared so many of the great things New Orleans had to offer back then. I hope that was WTIX you were listening to on the radio!
JOHN MARSHALL, El Paso:
Bob, I just finished reading your Memories of growing up in N.O. It was great....I stumbled on it while looking for something on Eddie Price's....is it still there?
I grew up in Shreveport, but came to New Orleans often to visit my grandmother, who lived at 1607 Broadway near Tulane. Even I remember many of the things in your recollection, as I went to Loyola right after Hurricane Betsy in '65. I remember The Raven well. And the streetcar was, and is, the greatest.
How about....Cusimano's, K&B's on seemingly every major intersection, corner groceries, Tulane Stadium, the Loyola Fieldhouse, the azaleas blooming on the Avenue every spring. It must have been really great growing up in New Orleans in the '50's and '60's. What a fun city. Thanks for the memories.
Eddie Price's turned into The Boot around 1970 and I think it's still there. And I think to this day that The Raven on Maple Street made the best pizza anywhere. What a great tasted, washed down with a freezing cold pitcher of beer!
DIANE AHTEN, Class of 1962 Warren Easton:
Hi Bob...Just wanted to say I enjoyed every minute of your web site, brought back so much. I graduated from Warren Easton in 1962. I am the owner of it's back to the 50 & 60's web site.
We also have a ladies group..WEE Sorority...Warren Easton Eaglettes who meet for a Brunch Dinner, or gathering once a month for anyone that would like to join us.
I just put on the class of 1961-62-63 Class Reunion at the Hampton Hotel in New Orleans which a big hit and lasted 3 days. I was also a drum majorette for Easton. I was not a letter girl. I was one carrying a baton. There were 7 of us back in 60-61-62: Diane Ahten, Mary Mike Galway, Lurlyn Hickey, Carol Bennet, Philippi Cusimano. Linda Eilers and Jane Arbisi. Hey we were just as good .....should I say more...lol. I did fill in a few times with a letter...which was the E since I was shorter.
I am also in the Hall of Fame committee. One of the Eagles sent me your web site. I'll pass this on to the web site group.
I also went to all the dances that you mention, good friends with Eddie Roth, Chuck Como & Roland (Stone) LeBlanc... I love "Just A Moment Of Your Time". We had their new band Flip Side play for us at the reunion. One of our own Easton Eagles, Guy Trippi, plays with them..this group is made up from many of the older groups.
Thanks for the Great memories.
Warren Easton certainly did produce an abundance of musical talent...and good looking majorettes and Letter Gals for sure!
JOHNNY SCHUBERT, Deer Park, Texas:
Bob, love the site. Brings back a lot of memories for me. Been living in Deer Park Texas for the past 30 years, but I get back to the Big Easy to visit the family. Seems I was the only dummy to leave New Orleans.
I was born in '52. Some memories I have are listening to my clock radio my parents bought me when I was around 6. I'd listen to WTIX till I fell asleep, then my mom would come in my room and turn it off for me. The radio and WTIX came in handy after watching Morgus on a Saturday night. WTIX would keep me company until I fell asleep.
Got to experience most of the good stuff growing up there. Seeing Mr. Bingle at Maison Blanche (and visiting Santa). Hanging out at Shakey's Pizza on the West Bank. Going to Cafe DuMonde on the last leg of a date. Of course, the submarine races at the Lakefront could pre-empt the beignets!!!! Sneeking off to the parking lot at the College Inn to get a couple of daquiris. Driving down Bourbon Street (when you still could) trying to get a peek while the barkers held the doors open. The flashing yellow beacon at Binder's Bakery (hot French bread right out of the oven). The St. Bernard drive in. Pat O'Brien's. The Bali Hai. Ponchartrain Beach (Laugh-in-the-Dark). My Uncle's camp on Lake Catherine on Chef Menteur Hwy (less than a mile from where Jane Mansfield died). Going to see a movie at the Saenger, Joy or Loew's Theaters. A drive through City Park on my Honda 350 (around '69 and '70). A drive along Lakeshore Drive on a sunny afternoon on my Honda. Eating at Bruning's or Fitzgerald's with family and friends. Hap Glaudi, Buddy Diliberto, Wayne Mack, Henry Dupre (I was on his Popeye and Pals show) Sid Noel (Morgus) and many others.
I see that Craig Roberts is on your missing persons list. Well, he's somewhere in the Houston area or was until a year or 2 ago. Craig was a sportscaster at one of the Houston TV stations (either KHOU, KTRK or KPRC). He's been here for many years, but he's not on the air anymore. Believe it or not, Craig was my very first flight instructor. I started flying lessons at Lakefront Airport back around '72. Craig was working at one of the flight facilities at Lakefront and took me for my introductory flight. I still have that log book with his signature.
Thanks for the memories and allowing me to flood you with more of them. Your website is a permanent bookmark and I visit it at least once a week.
Craig Roberts may have been the most talented air personality I ever worked with. He was certainly the most popular flight instructor at Caudle Aviation.
Bob, my mother was a singer with the Dawnbusters. We think it may have been sometime in the 1940's. Her name was Eleanor Albro. If she was with the group when married her name would have been Eleanor Hennessey. She died at a young age. We would love to know if anyone has any memory of her in the group. I know some may have pictures. My brother and I are both musicians and we would love to know if there are any recordinga at the time she would have been with the group. I'm not sure if you can help with this information. It would mean so much to know about our Mom and we appreciate anything you can do!
What a great show your mom was a part of. It's sad but I don't think any recordings of the great "Dawnbusters" shows exist, though I's live to have some clips online for listening. If someone remembers your mom or has pictures, I hope they contact me here for you.
DENIS MURPHY, Tampa, FL:
Bob, love your site! As a N.O. expatriate now living in the Big Easy's sister city - Tampa, it is a real lift. I grew up in the 50's in St. Rita, N.O. parish so many of the old haunts you have on your site have good memories for me too.
I didn't think anybody remembered "Tunies". We all ate them on Friday (no meat).
How about Miss Hirsch the usher at the Popular. She kept order with her flashlight. And Arnaud's Drugs, the only all night pharmacy in town besides Waterbury's.
In all of your many encounters with up and coming local talent, did you ever run across a young black singer in '59 named Joyce Bailey? She was our housekeeper, but she moonlighted singing at Lincoln Beach and elsewhere. I would love to find her. She would probably be in her 60's now. If you have any ideas on how I could locate her, please advise.
In any event, keep your good work up. We need all the stimulus we can get these days for good vibes.
I don't remember Joyce Bailey but maybe somebody who does will see this and email me for you. Yes, Mrs. Hirsch was quite a fixture at the Poplar, and she ran it with an iron fist. I still remember how, at the Saturday matinees, they would put a free pass for the next week's matinee in lucky boxes of popcorn...and who's signature was on them? "P. Hirsch."
J. HEARD, Fernandina Beach, FL:
Mr. Walker, I ran across your website and was so interested in reading the recollections of the early days in New Orleans.
My first encounter with Leon Kelner was as a teenager growing up in Georgia and listening to him nightly from our living room radio broadcasting from the Blue Room. You could receive it loud and clear because it came on at 11 PM our time (Eastern). Don Lewis was the announcer and Jack Delaney played trombone and handled the vocals along with another band member, Jay Barry. Delaney sang the up tempo songs while Jay Barry usually handled the Ballads. He always opened with his theme song "Blue Room" and he closed the broadcast with "The Song is Ended". Don Lewis always dedicated songs during the broadcasts for listeners in different states. During the halfway break in the program, he always told you who was currently performing in the Blue Room and who was scheduled in the coming weeks. He played a variety of dance tunes, ballads, foxtrots, swing, latin and of course always featured a dixieland number. In the mid seventies, I was in town and had dinner and caught the show in the Blue Room, but by then it was the Dick Stabile Orchestra as the house band. I recall Leon Kelner had relocated to the Boca Raton Resort in Florida.
I knew Leon Kelner's brother, David Kelner who resided in Savannah, GA and played at the Wilmington Club. He looked and played the style just like his brother. He told me once he would occasionally fill in for Leon at the Blue Room and when dancers would ask for his autograph - he would smile and sign Leon's name. They never knew the difference. In the late 50's and 60's I taped a lot of the broadcasts of Leon Kelner of of the radio with a reel to reel recorder. They are excellent quality and I still enjoy playing them today I also taped broadcasts of other bands from the Blue Room such as Ray Anthony, Tony Pastor, Ralph Flanagan, Woody Herman, Russ Carlyle and Jan Garber .
In 1995 The Fairmont Hotel brought Leon Kelner and his Orchestra back and reopened the Blue Room for New Years Eve. I heard about it and flew out and met him for the first time. What a wonderful evening. It was just like the years I had heard him on radio, except Jack Delaney and Jay Barry were not there. I believe he played the next year and then soon passed away. His brother David passed away later. I wonder if Jack Delaney or Jay Barry are still alive? I wonder if anyone has a photograph of Leon Kelner Orchestra in the Blue Room? I would really like to have a copy.
Thanks for the wonderful memories of a great era in America and for the great website. Keep up the good work.
If I recall correctly, Leon Kelner was working at the Broadwater Beach hotel in Biloxi when he passed away on March 8, 2000 at age 77. If I find a pic of Leon Kelner I'll post it on my site. And we'd sure love to get a copy of one of his old Blue Room broadcasts from you to post for listening, in addition to the only one we have up now!