I married a Yankee and have been living in Indiana since December 1989. I miss hearing all about different places but would dearly love hearing about the hospital I was born in Ñ Hotel Dieu. I was born in 1953, and my daddy always told me that a nun helped him pick out my middle name. Neat story, huh?
Paula Hebert Horkavi
I assume that Hebert is your maiden name because nuns usually go for names like Mary, Margaret or Ann.
The hospital was founded in 1852 by the Catholic Order, Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, commonly known as Sisters of Charity. It was originally located at Canal Street and Claiborne Avenue in a house owned by Dr. Warren Stone. It acquired the name Hotel Dieu, which literally means "God's hostel," but has been used in France to mean "hospital" since early Christian times. The best known Hotel Dieu in Paris dates from 660 A.D.
During the hospital's long history, New Orleans experienced two major yellow fever epidemics -- 1853 and 1878 -- and Hotel Dieu was busier than ever. It was also the only private hospital to remain open during the Civil War. Following the war, the hospital cared for ill seamen.
The hospital was the first in the country to air condition its surgical suites way back in 1913. And in the 1940s, it was research at Hotel Dieu that developed sulfonamide drug treatment for meningitis.
The building on Perdido Street was constructed in 1972 and replaced the older building constructed in 1924, which replaced the original hospital. The hospital was renamed University Hospital when, in 1992, the Sisters of Charity sold the hospital to the State of Louisiana at the request of the Edwin Edwards administration.
Hey Blake, Is it true that, way back, an airliner went down in Lake Pontchartrain, to disappear without a trace? I have heard this story oft repeated but wonder if it is the New Orleans version of the urban legend. Ralph Scheid Dear Ralph, I have been asked about this incident many times, and I can assure you that the story of the plane that crashed into the lake is not an urban legend. However, it did not disappear without a trace.
The plane carrying 51 passengers and seven crew members plunged into the lake on Feb. 25, 1964. The Eastern Airlines four-engine DC 8 Flight 304 was on its way to New York. It left New Orleans at 2:01 a.m. and seven minutes later crashed into the lake after the plane apparently disintegrated.
There were many attempts by divers, boats, and helicopters to recover pieces of the plane, but only about 65 percent was found after months of searching.
When I was a kid, I used to play baseball with the Pilney Little League as well as run around on occasion in the woods adjacent to the ball fields, both of which were on the former property of Old Jefferson Downs. All of this land is now part of Lafreniere Park in Metairie. Do you have any info on Old J.D?
Old Jefferson Downs was originally named Magnolia Park and featured harness racing. Opening night was Sept. 23, 1954. Sad to say, the trotters had no great appeal to the horsemen who favored the traditional racing provided at the Fair Grounds. Eventually, Magnolia Park, with its six-furlong oval track, was turned into a nighttime track for thoroughbreds and renamed Jefferson Downs in 1959.
While it wasn't the Fair Grounds, Old Jefferson Downs provided a venue for horsemen who couldn't afford to or didn't want to race out of state. So it stayed in business until that fateful day Sept. 9, 1965 when Hurricane Betsy destroyed the track.
New Jefferson Downs opened in 1971 in Kenner on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Marie Krantz became general manager, and in 1986, she and her son Bryan purchased the track. Then in 1990, the Krantzes also purchased controlling interest in the Fair Grounds. They closed Jefferson Downs in 1992.