Can you tell me the movie theaters that existed on the West Bank in the 1940s-1960s era? We were only able to think of six.
I remember the many, many theaters we had to choose from during that period. On the East Bank of New Orleans there were dozens of theaters, most of them neighborhood theaters, but theaters on the West Bank were also plentiful.
One of the first ones was the Folly Theater at 501 Opelousas St. It opened in 1940 and closed about twenty years later. Another early theater was the Algy at 440 Vallette St. It spanned the ages from about 1945 to 1961. Then, of course, there was the Algiers Drive-In at 3500 General Myers Ave., a very popular place for about fifteen years in the 1950s and '60s. And for almost thirty years, beginning in the 1960s, you could see flicks at the Abalon (not Avalon) at 411 Opelousas.
If you wanted to see a movie in Gretna or Harvey, you also had choices such as the Beverly Theater, which opened and closed in 1950, or the Hollywood Theater at 229 Newton St., opened in 1935 and closed in 1950. The Tower Theater at 122 Huey P. Long Ave. had a pretty long run from 1945 to 1955, and the Gretna Greet Drive-In lasted for twenty years from 1955. In Harvey, a theater named the Gay was popular throughout the 1950s.
Seeing a movie in Marrero was a little more difficult. The Royal Theater was popular from 1940 until 1955, but the Marrero Drive-In on 8th Street had only a brief run.
Oh, and there is one other theater I recall, the Gordon at 4th Street in Westwego. Somehow, I remember that in 1965 the Gordon and the Algiers Drive-In, among others, were running movies featuring a very popular starlet of the day, and you could see playing just about everywhere Annette Funicello in a movie entitled How to Stuff A Wild Bikini. Hey Blake,
Do you know if the S.S. President is still being neglected and looking for a home? Would you happen to know whom to contact? A Reader Dear Reader, For years, the S.S. President was docked on the Yazoo River in Mississippi and for sale by the Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. For a while, you could buy the old steamship for $500,000 but then they raised the price to $1 million. However, offers apparently were not coming thick and fast, so the corporation decided to take ANY offer.
In September 2005, the company finally got a buyer and announced that David Campbell, a hobbyist from Effingham, Ill., and his family had purchased the President and were planning to save it. The family bought it for $1.
Campbell and his family want to return the President to the pleasure ship it was in its glory days and use it for party rentals, hotel accommodations and dining. If you want to contact David Campbell to find out how the restoration is going, you can call (217) 342-9688.
When it was built in 1924, it carried freight and passengers from Cincinnati to Louisville. It was converted to a luxurious excursion boat after the Streckfus Company bought it in 1929. By 1934, it was referred to as the "biggest and grandest in America." The ship was rechristened the S. S. President and given an extensive makeover during which a ballroom and a bandstand were added.
After tramping up and down the river, the President settled in New Orleans at the end of World War II where large crowds came to hear the likes of Louis Armstrong, Bonnie Raitt, U2 and Pete Fountain. Many came for the dining and dancing as well. The ship was a favorite venue for Jazz Fest concerts.
In 1985, the boat was sold and moved to St. Louis. It was a popular attraction there, but her last cruise for dining and dancing was in 1990. After that she was supposed to be turned into a casino, but never was.
The S.S. President was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark on Dec. 20, 1989.
Dear Readers In the Aug. 1 issue of Gambit Weekly, I misidentified the year of Gen. James Wilkinson's journey to New Orleans. It took place in 1777. Thanks to a kind reader for catching the error.