Could you tell me when Airline Highway was started and when construction was finished?
On Jan. 15, 1926, we all said, "Whoop de do!" because we read in the paper that construction would soon begin on the Air Line Highway from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. The new road would shorten the trip by 20 to 25 miles.
The governor at the time was Henry Fuqua, a leader who gave special attention to highway construction. His death in October 1926 might have slowed things down a bit, but work on the road continued under the new governor, Oramel Simpson.
We were promised that construction would begin before the end of the year, and it did. By December 1926, construction of 14 miles of the highway on the Baton Rouge end and 10 miles in Jefferson Parish on the New Orleans end was underway. And I, for one, was looking forward to getting out the old Ford and heading to the capital just for fun.
Of course, 1928 saw a big change in Louisiana when Huey Pierce Long took office. The new road was moving right along at this point. But in November 1929, Long found himself explaining why the road was taking so long. We found out that work was delayed by difficulty in securing a right of way through parts of Jefferson, St. John and St. Charles parishes. Long reported to members of the Good Roads Bureau of the Association of Commerce that landowners along the 26-mile stretch north of Kenner were making exorbitant demands for the 314 acres of land that were needed for the highway. There were about 100 property owners asking $180,000, which was much more than the Highway Commission could afford to pay. The governor assured everybody that the right of way had been secured over the remainder of the route and that work would be rushed when the landowners reduced demands to a reasonable figure. The problem was eventually solved, and work continued.
By 1932, Long was in the United States Senate, and Louisiana's new governor was Oscar K. Allen, a good friend of Huey P. Long and another promoter of good roads.
In June 1933, the last concrete was poured on the existing contracts on the Baton Rouge to New Orleans Airline Highway. And we read in the paper that only one more step was in our way. A bridge was needed over the Bonnet Carre spillway. But a few weeks later, traffic was able to move over the 80-mile route with the exception of about 5 miles across and next to the spillway.
Finally, after two more years -- by this time, I needed a new Ford -- the bridge over the spillway was finally complete. It was May 1935.
Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, almost every Friday night was spent at my aunt and uncle's house on Lafreniere Street off of Elysian Fields. The grownups played cards while the kids played or watched TV. During a break in the card game, my dad and uncle would take us to get some of the best-tasting doughnuts I ever had. I remember it being a big house in a neighborhood close by. Can you find out about this place?
You have got to be talking about the Verbena Street Bakery at 2678 Verbena St. And your question is going to make a lot of readers start drooling and telling stories about their memories of this place. The owner and operator of the bakery was Thelma Rich, who lived there as well. The bakery -- famous for its hot glazed doughnuts -- was in business from about 1966 until about 1972.
Hey Blake, I recently purchased a Rex Coffee Shop cup. According to the 1931 telephone book, the shop was located at 5225 Canal Blvd. Do you know when the shop opened and closed? Tom McGinn Dear Tom, Rex Coffee Shop -- Frank Quintella, proprietor -- had a very short life. In fact, it was in existence for only about two years during 1931 and 1932. Maybe it was the location.