While visiting historic St. Mary’s Academy in the French Quarter, Mayor Robert Maestri of New Orleans stopped to talk to some of the students and later posed with them for this picture in the spring of 1939.
He soon learned that the school was in need of basic repairs. Floors needed to be recovered and drinking fountains were insufficient in the school’s courtyard. The mayor saw to it that more drinking fountains were installed and he ordered all of the floors to be completely recovered at his own expense. He also had city workers improve the school’s driveway area and other entrances. His lack of a basic education may have been the motivating factor behind his desire to help other kids go further than he did since he had gone no higher than the 3rd grade.
Mayor Maestri (1889-1974) was the mayor of this city from 1936-1946. He was the son of two Italian parents: Frances Maestri and Angele Lacabe. He started out inheriting a furniture store from his father and ended up amassing a fortune through real estate investments. He was an ally of both Huey and Earl Long and was responsible for seeking public housing for low income families as well as the construction of Charity Hospital. After 10 years in office, Mayor Maestri was defeated by de Lesseps S.Morrison Sr. in the mayoral election of 1946.
He is best remembered and ridiculed for the quote he made to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at New Orleans famous Antoine Restaurant. Over a dish of Oysters Rockefeller and in his thick New Orleans accent, he asked, ” How ya like dem e-r-s-t-u-h-s, Chief?”
Source: The Louisiana Weekly, 08 April 1939, page 1.