How did the terms "Dixie" and "Dixieland" come into being? What do they really mean?
The Citizens Bank and Trust of New Orleans, which was established in 1833, became known across the United States for printing $10 notes with the word "DIX," the French word for 10, on the back. From these notes came the nicknames "Dixie" and "Dixieland." Citizens Bank was one of the strongest banks in the South throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s. In 1924, it merged with the Canal Bank and Trust Company, which also had been around since the 1830s, and the new bank thrived until the Great Depression.
In 1933, the federal government shut down all commercial banks nationwide in response to the Depression, and the Canal Bank was not given a license to reopen. On May 20, 1933, however, the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) opened; as part of a reorganization plan, many customers of Canal Bank became depositors of NBC. Over the next four years, the bank increased its assets from $3 million to $50 million and in 1971 became the First National Bank of Commerce. That bank was later acquired by Bank One, which in turn was bought by J.P. Morgan Chase.
The First National Bank of Commerce that operates in New Orleans today is unrelated to the original FNBC. It is locally owned and received its charter from the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions in May 2006 with an initial capitalization of more than $60 million.
When I was in Italy some years ago, I spotted a squash on a fruit and vegetable stand and told a friend it was a "gugutza." She accused me of making up the name. Is there such a thing as a gugutza, and does it have another, better known name?
You didn't make up the name, but you did spell it wrong. The proper spelling is cucuzza — although many in south Louisiana use a variant of the phonetic spelling you employed. Cucuzza is a Sicilian word for a long squash, which can be prepared similar to zucchini and summer squash. Cucuzza is pale green in color and the flesh inside is white. Technically, it's not a squash but a gourd, and if dried can be used as a drinking vessel, giving it an alternate name of "bottle gourd." You should peel cucuzza before preparing it, but both the flesh and seeds are edible.
When the old 1st District police station was built on North Rampart Street, wasn't it used as the City Hall, and wasn't there some controversy over an artwork that was to adorn the front of the building?
Your memory is partially correct. The structure, which was constructed in 1951 and has since been replaced by a new 1st District station at 501 N. Rampart St., originally was the Municipal Courts Building and police station. The city hired artist Enrique Alferez to create a sculpture for the front of the building. He produced The Family, which depicted the anatomically correct nude bodies of a man, woman and child holding hands. The piece was cast in concrete and sheathed in aluminum. The frontal nudity offended the congregation at the nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe church and other members of the public, and was condemned as obscene. The statue was taken down and sold at an auction for $2,400 to A.E. Truxillo, who placed it in the cocktail lounge of the St. Francis Hotel, which he owned. After Truxillo died, the artwork was passed down to his descendants.