The Shushan Airport, which later became Lakefront Airport, was among facilities all over the lakefront area that were dedicated to military operations during World War II.
I've read in your column about Consolidated Vultee (May 18, 2008). My mom began there in 1943 as an inspector checking the rivets installed by other women. She was only 5 feet tall, and she talked about how she was one of the few who could crawl into the tail of the plane to check the rivets and how she almost died one day when someone accidentally disconnected the electrical cord for the fan she had with her in the tail of a plane. Where was Consolidated Vultee located on Lake Pontchartrain?
That's quite a story. I imagine there are many folks who have equally exciting stories to tell about the war days in New Orleans.
Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Company was located at the end of Franklin Avenue on the lake side of Robert E. Lee Boulevard. Right next door was the Navy assembly plant and, of all things, a German prisoner-of-war camp.
From 1942 until the end of the war, the lakefront was almost completely given over to military operations. We had a U.S. Army hospital and a U.S. Navy hospital, both at the end of Canal Boulevard. A U.S. Coast Guard station was at the end of Bayou St. John, as well as the U.S. Maritime Commission. The Naval Reserve Aviation Base Aircraft Carrier Training Center was between the London Avenue Canal and Elysian Fields Avenue on the lake side of Robert E. Lee Boulevard. When the Navy abandoned the base in 1957, the Orleans Levee Board leased the property to the LSU Board of Supervisors, and the next year Louisiana State University, New Orleans — now the University of New Orleans — was born.
Farther west was the U.S. bombing squadron, Camp Leroy Johnson, the National Guard hangar and seaplane ramp, and the state-of-the-art Shushan Airport (later the Lakefront Airport), which the federal government leased for the Army Air Force to use for antisubmarine patrols and training.
I played in the Holy Cross Band when St. Aloysius was still there. I remember most of the high school fight songs, but not that of St. Aloysius. Can you help?
Don J. Veca
Old Blake remembers when they wrote that song. It goes like this: "We're going to fight for our Alma Mater, for Aloysius crimson and white. We're going to shout 'til the skies resound it; we're going to win over all tonight. The Crimson Crusaders are our heroes; they are the men who never say die. So while the whole gang is here, let's stand up and cheer, for we're Aloysius High!"
St. Aloysius High School for boys opened at Chartres and Barracks streets in 1869, and in 1982 moved to the corner of N. Rampart Street and Esplanade Avenue.
In 1969, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart closed St. Aloysius and the boys moved to Elysian Fields Avenue, where the brothers were operating another school — Cor Jesu High School. The two schools consolidated and became known by another name: Brother Martin.
In the lobby is a plaque that explains the choice of the school's new name: "Brother Martin High School honors Brother Martin Hernandez, S.C., a Brother of the Sacred Heart whose lifetime of dedicated service to the youth of New Orleans is perpetuated by this building."
The words to the fight song changed a little because in addition to the name, the school colors changed from crimson and white to crimson and gold.