Thursday, June 20, 2024

Burns Home Restoration

 The restoration of old homes is a frequent activity in Covington. Here is the story of one of them. Click on the articles to make them larger and more readable. 

See also these links:

Mrs. James Clifton Burns Biography

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Betty Johnson

 Betty Johnson managed the "Yellow House Apartments" for years. She was active with her church and even had a jail ministry at Angola State Prison. 

Betty Johnson

The Yellow House Apartments

According to the late Rusty Burns, the Yellow House Apartments building was originally the "Brocette House", at the corner of Theard Avenue and 24th Avenue, across from the school board office. It was first called the Wagner boarding house.  Here is an early 20th century postcard showing it in red. The Brocette family moved from this location in the mid 40's This structure remains at the corner of Theard & 24th Avenue this day. 

Betty Johnson and her car. 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Remarkable Jonette Shelton

 One of the Covington area's most remarkable people was Jonette Helm Dunning Shelton. Long known and appreciated as an expert floral arranger who ran her own florist shop in downtown Covington, she was also widely-recognized as a highly capable pianist, playing guest solos with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and teaching her own piano students. 

She was also quite active in promoting the arts and served on the first board of directors for the St. Tammany Art Association, along with Marguerite Davis, Kathryn Long, Carlos Aceves and Betty Ellis.

The formation of the STAA in 1958 was said to be "a wake-up call to realize that our community is blessed with an amazing number of talented artists who work in a variety of mediums and styles."

And Jonette was a great example of that, given her wide range of skills in music and art.

In 1949 she served as president of the Amvets Auxiliary
Brandon Fuhrmann Post No. 15

Also that year she was teaching piano to young students

Around that time she became involved in the retail flower and gifts business

When Dunnings Flowers was located in the Southern Hotel building

Dunning's Florist 1970's

It moved across the intersection to where Del Porto Restaurant is now

She continued giving piano recitals in the area

Click on the images to make them larger and more readable. 

Her mother, Jessie Brown, also played the piano

By the late 1950's her fame as a well-respected pianst grew

The art association began offering classes in 1957

Her artwork was displayed at the Playmakers Barn

As time went on, her florist business prospered and took more of her time. 

The Morgan Interview

In 1956 well-known writer Mary Frances Morgan penned this profile of her friend, the remarkable Jonette Dunning Shelton.

Click on the above image to make it larger. 

Here is the text from the above article:

Mrs. Jonette Dunning Called Talented 

Realist By Local Interviewer, Friend

 By Mary Frances Morgan 

Ordinarily, when arrangements are made for an interview—the subject in question is someone personally unknown to the writer —and the first step, obviously is to bone up- on the personality's background and career so as to be sufficiently familiar with the matter to seem politely interested rather than just pontedly curious.

News Services keep a file on all celebrities so that the Staff member assigned to interview—say Eleanor Roosevelt, Leopold Stokowsky, Amy Vanderbilt or perhaps some of the more volatile and unpredictable characters in public life—is armed with at least enough knowledge not to be 'a dangerous thing.'

In recent years, however, it has been refreshing privilege to interview two Covington girls—held in the spotlight of public interest—whom I had known since their sandpile days and whose young lives were, to me, as to all their hometown friends and neighbors, open books. 

When I interviewed Peggy Dow at the Waldorf Astoria, several years ago for Photoplay Magazine—she was a talented young Universal International Star on the threshold of a brilliant career in show business. "How are the kids back home?" .She wanted to know. "Wouldn't 'it be fun if I'd run into Rosemary Fuhrman here in New York?" "Is Miss Arnaud still teaching French at Covington High?"

Yes, refreshing is the word—and it fits another gifted young Covingtonian like a new spring bonnet! Only the other morning I sat in the back of Dunning's Flower and Gift Shop to interview Jonette Helm Dunning—fresh from her spectacular guest debut with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and from the moment she told me to sit down with her close to the door so that she could keep one eye on the shop inside, it was clear to see that this year's spring bonnet will be exactly the same head-size as all the others in her parade of Easters.

Since she had—several nights before—performed before an audience genuinely aware that she was a fine young pianist, but far from the actual realization that she had advanced to such professional heights—dozens of people have been asking "Why doesn't the girl become a concert pianist and grow rich and famous?"

Jonette, whose manner is gentle and whose appearance, girlish yet prettily sedate, in no manner suggests the extravagancies often affected by young women with rarified artistic aspirations, smiled when I put the question to her. 

"Oh, there are many reasons," she answered, and with disarming modesty, she listed as the first reason her own conviction that she is not yet sufficiently accomplished in technique or repertoire to attempt such a demanding and competitive career. 

"For one thing," she went on, "I got a rather late start with music. After having had a few lessons when I was six years old, I didn't study music again until the summer following my junior year in high school. At that time, I studied under Miss Klinger here in Covington until I enrolled in Brenau College—where I had the audacity to major in music.

"Really, I mean that I was thrown in with much more advanced pupils and all through college, both then—and later, for two years at L.S.U., I had the feeling that I was always behind and could never catch up. However, after I was married—I lived for some time in Hartford, Connecticut, and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the Julius Hartt School of Music — where I taught and studied. I believe I can honestly say that it wasn't until I returned here and began my studies under Miss Corinne Mayer in New Orleans that I felt myself to be on the right road. 

'You see, it would be hard to express just what it was she gave me—confidence, incentive, a true appreciation of good music—She made me realize that i still lacked foundation and because she is the rare and great teacher that she is, she literally started me over from the very beginning, and I have enjoyed every moment since that I have studied with her."

In a discussion that led, once again, to the future--and whether or not she seriously contemplated a career in music, Jonette pointed out the uncertainties and the possible heartbreak, as well as the long range financial aspect of any free lance career in the arts—and she said, thoughtfully, "Whether or not the average music lover realizes this—there is little glamor in the life of a concert artist — and I feel that my music means more to me when I can enjoy it rather than depend on it. The pressure is terrific, almost killing, the competition is deadly and the constant traveling makes any thought of home life a mere pipe dream. 

"Actually, most professional musicians would give anything to have an interesting business, a life with roots and a home in a pretty country town. These are the things that really spell success, after all, and I'm content with my life—and with the knowledge that music can always be an integral part of it without becoming the be-all and end-all of my existence."

It is all but impossible not to feel a warm glow of admiration for a girl such as this—one whose artistic talents radiate in many directions, yet, though her dark head brushes the clouds — her small feet are planted soundly on earth—the good earth of St. Tammany Parish—where Jonette Helm Dunning is—first, a devoted mother, secondly, the competent and creative manager of a flower and gift shop, and—in between and all 'round, threading like a  bright cord through the very fibre of her young life, a gifted and humble musician.

Charm is a word that embodies many glowing attributes. It has been said that only one out of a hundred women possesses, in essence, the cultural, esthetic, captivating and unassuming qualities that add up to the elusive top drawer qualification known as charm. It seems to me that Jonette Dunning is gifted with a wealth of charm as well as talent—and it is evident that, whatever path she may choose in time, she is already well on the way to success as a human being.

March 30, 1956

End of Morgan Article

In 1955 another feature article was written about Jonette, this time by Mrs. Walter Valois.

Click on the image to make it larger and more readable. 

Here is an excerpt from the above article that was published in 1955:

Mrs. Jonette Dunning In Recital Of 
Piano Music Here Last Thursday

By Mrs. Walter Valois

Mrs. Jonette Helms Dunning presented a recital of piano music last Thursday and Friday evenings at the home of Mrs. F. F. Chapman on America Street.

To those privileged to hear Mrs. Dunning in her well-chosen and varied program, played entirely from memory, the event was a delight to the amateur music-lover and to the seasoned concert-goer. A gratifying experience it was, too, to hear this young and gifted musician rise to professional and artistic heights. It was manifest that excellent instruction, gruelling work and study, had added to natural talent a power and an effectiveness which singled out unmistakably, the work of each composer and each type of composition.

Mrs. Dunning is a student of Miss Corinne Mayer of New Orleans. After being graduated from L.S.U. she studied at t h e Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn. with Moche Paranov, and with Rudolph Ganz in Chicago. At Master Classes at L.S.U. she has played for Harold Bauer:and she has done some piano teaching.

Mrs. Dunning's musicianship is unquestioned. She has amazing strength, restraint where it is needed, and has the power to draw from each inert key the full meed of sound demanded by the script from robust richness of tone down to the merest whisper vaporing up from the keyboard. 

APRIL 29, 1955 

Today's Personality

In 1972, she was featured on the front page of the Covington Daily News as its "Today's Personality."

Click on the above image to make it lager. 

Her Obituary

Jonette Helms Shelton passed away on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at the age of 93.  According to an obituary provided by Fielding Funeral Home, she was the daughter of Jessie Hood Helms Brown and John Foy Helms, born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on April 13, 1924

She came to Covington at the age of three. She attended Brenau College and LSU, earning a Bachelor in Music Education. She taught private piano lessons for some time before opening Dunning's Flowers and Gifts in 1949, where she was a talented and highly regarded florist until retiring in 1979. 

She was also involved in bringing the Symphony to Covington for annual performances, originally in the old Covington High School gym. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Visiting Teacher Retires

 Finding a replacement for retiring visiting teacher Martha Overbey wasn't going to be easy, but the proposed salary of $6500 a year was a great incentive, back in 1958.

Click on the image to make it larger. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Tallulah's Vintage Market

 Tallulah's Vintage Market on Girod Street in Mandeville is an interesting place. I had been meaning to go in there to see what they had for a while, and a few days ago I did. It's on the corner of Girod and Claiborne Streets, diagonal across from La Lou Restaurant. 

The building used to house a bakery many years ago. 

Here are a few photographs of what's to be found inside. 
Click on the images to make them larger. 

To view the store's location, CLICK ON THIS LINK

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Yachting Tips From 1955

 The Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans ran a lengthy article in its own publication back in 1955, extolling the cruising and harboring adventures available in St. Tammany Parish north of Lake Pontchartrain. The local newspaper St. Tammany Farmer reprinted some of the highlights mentioned by the SYC. Here is the article.

Click on the above image to make it larger.

Here is the text from the article:

Yacht Club Tells of Adventures Awaiting 

Yachtsmen in Waters of St. Tammany

The waters of St. Tammany Parish have been given very favorable mention as "overnight harbor spots" by  the "Tell-Tale," official publication of the Southern Yacht club at New Orleans.

Under the subtitle "favorite landfalls, the Tchefuncta River," the magazine had this to say:

"To cruising yachtsmen the Tchefuncta River offers a protected and picturesque overnight anchorage. Why not run over there one of these Saturdays and come back Sunday?" "Once in the river proper you can anchor where you will, but stay to the right or East of mid-channel, as the tugs using the river favor the west bank in the first long reach of the river.

"A mile and a half upstream is the town of Madisonville, where you can secure provisions, gasoline, water and ice if needed. Churches are within walking distance of the landing just below the swing bridge.

"Above Madisonville the Tchefuncta puts out some of the prettiest cruising hereabouts, the low-part being wild, but gradually more and more fine country places appear along both banks. At Three Rivers take the left hand stream, the Bogue Falaya, on up towards Covington. How far up you will go depends upon your draft, as anything over three feet, except at unusually high water, will generally ground you about half a mile below the town."

Under the subhead "Bayou Liberty" the magazine says:

"Another popular anchorage used by local sailors is Bayou Liberty, which winds northeast through a delightful summer residential area, navigable as far as Highway 190, some miles or so inland.

"For overnight we recommend anchoring at the fork, or next best putting your bow on the left bank a few hundred yards below the swing bridge. a mile .and a half above the fork. This little settlement is called Bayou Liberty. There is a Catholic church here, live bait and little else. Slidell is close, if anything urgent is needed and. the local gentry will ride you in, we're sure."

Under "Bayou Lacombe" the magazine says:

"From the mouth of Bayou Lacombe up to the railroad bridge is five miles of wild but interesting terrain through marsh first, and then gradually rising wooded ground. You may anchor where you will or tie to the bank. Our favorite anchorage here is just by the first patch of really solid ground on the east side with a little shingle beach and a clump of cypress, a nice spot for impromptu barbecuing.

"The town of Lacombe on Highway 190 is about a mile above the railroad bridge, which is hand-operated on a lethargic timetable. Up there are provisions, gas, ice, churches, and so forth, but it's a job getting old Betsy to them. Better not plan to go above the bridge. If you need anything, hook a ride up from the fishing settlement situated on the west bank about a mile inside the entrance. 

Here, at Joe Love's Camp, you can get bait if you're so inclined. The fishing is good both inside the bayou and outside around the beacon, or further out by the old rigs. As in the neighborhood of Bayou Liberty, we suspect an early-season duck is to be found here too, but the banks are posted, so make prior I inquiry about hunting rights. 

"We recommend tranquil Bayou Lacombe to the cruising yachts''' because it's close, yet miles away from the world's confusion, also post we once made it a spin both ways, over Saturday and back Sunday." 

The report tells that a sail boat drawing six feet of water reports "entering the Mandeville Harbor during December at abnormally low water and having no difficulty in entering or leaving."

"Tell Tale" also reports on the adventures to be found in Pass Manchac, Lake Maurepas and its rivers, the Rigolets and Chef Menteur."

FRIDAY. APRIL 29, 1955

Friday, June 7, 2024

House Lifting in Mandeville

 Some houses in Mandeville are being raised. Here's one on Girod Street and another on the lakefront . Click on the images to make them larger. 

The lakefront home

Over on Facebook Lesslee Fitzmorris recounted her memories of this lakefront house. It was her family's home for over ten years. She recalled that the bottom floor was "so unique." 

"Before we renovated the house, the bottom floor had two rooms which had been used in the early 1900’s as bedrooms. Additionally there were two solid brick rooms: one was a cool room for vegetables and the other was a boiler room. 

"The staircase in front was unique because the handrail was one piece of wood that had been slowly bent. I’m not sure if that can be replicated. There was also a boot swipe at the foot of the stairs to clean boots before entering the house."

Her family bought the house from the Poitevient family and totally renovated it, using only craftsman who were originally from the Northshore. It was a labor of love, she said. 

"The original smokehouse that stood on the property was destroyed by Katrina, but we salvaged the bricks and built two patios," she recalled. She has a photo of her parents picnicking on the lakefront in front of it when they were dating. "The home provided wonderful family memories and I feel blessed and thankful to have lived there," she concluded.