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Blake Pontchartrain: “Huba Huba!” to the West Bank

Signs on the bridge told drivers to keep moving



Hey Blake,

Did I dream this or did there used to be a sign on the top span of the old Crescent City Connection going to the West Bank that said "Hubba Hubba"? I guess it was to keep traffic moving? Ever heard of that?


Dear Mary,

  Your memory is correct but your spelling is off. There were signs on what was then called the Greater New Orleans Bridge, but they read "Huba Huba!"

  Articles in The Times-Picayune and The States-Item in late 1965 said the term was slang derived from Japanese and was used by American GIs during World War II. It meant "speed up" or "get the lead out." The signs bearing that expression were installed on the West Bank approaches to the bridge, where drivers were known to slow down while approaching the main span, causing traffic delays.

  The director of the Mississippi River Bridge Authority, Charles Macaulay, said he picked up the term while working in Japan. Macaulay worked under Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Allied occupation of Japan following World War II.

  "Macaulay...adopted (the term) as the equivalent of: 'Let's be good fellows, get it up to the speed limit please and get on across,'" the Picayune reported in December 1965. A tongue-in-cheek editorial hailed the move: "Both in signology and for the International City's cultivation of foreign tongues, the experiment is a breakthrough. Should 'Huba Huba!' wear thin, other terms might be brought to the Bridge Authority's attention. 'Allons, allons!' is in the same vein and 'Accelerez!' (with 'S'il vous plait' thrown in if there's room) may subtly convey the idea of hitting the speed limit but not exceeding it."

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