May 16, 1963
The world changed today in 1963 when the city’s first McDonald's opened on Plank Road at the corner of
Hollywood Street. Soon a second location would be added on State Street near LSU and third in Rebel
Shopping Center near what is now the Baton Rouge Community College. In the late 1950’s, Charles “Rocco”
Valluzzo, a dentist in Battle Creek, Michigan, was exploring retirement options and opened a McDonald’s
franchise in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Shockingly, the franchise failed and Valluzzo was offered Baton Rouge as a
substitute. The rest was history, and today, there are more than twenty-five McDonald’s in Baton Rouge alone
that are owned by the Valluzzo family.
May 17, 1946
Today in 1946, tempers flared between veterans and the city recreation commission over what to do with the
old city market on St. Louis Street that had served as the USO Center during the war. Veterans advocated
converting the facility into service center for the Veterans Administration and local civic clubs wanted it for a
recreation center. The USO Center, which had opened on January 15, 1942, held its closing ceremonies on
January 27, 1946. Local Girl Scouts led the effort to convert the building to recreation purposes, and
eventually, the veterans were accommodated elsewhere and recreation center became an active community
May 18, 1998
This week in 1998, Governor Mike Foster honored the Zion Travelers Spiritual Singers at the Governors Arts
Awards. The Zion Travelers were founded in 1938. Organized in 1946, the Zion Travelers were featured in the
Louisiana Pavilion Exhibit of the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans and in the 1985 Festival of
American Folklife sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. They were featured at the
annual River City Blues Festiva, the annual Louisiana Folklife Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage
Festival. The Zion Travelers had a popular radio program of gospel music on radio station WIBR and
performed together for more than 60 years.
May 19, 1942
In May of 1942, the State-Times and Morning Advocate announced that in association with the Exchange Club,
it would establish an annual award that would be presented to the person who is considered to have added
most to the material and spiritual advancement of the city during the past year. Charles P. Manship, publisher
of the papers, said the award would be named the Golden Deeds Award and would bo presented annually.
The first award was presented the following month at a banquet on the roof of the Heidelberg Hotel. The first
recipient was Albert Miller Cadwell, vice president and manager of Cotton's Bakery, who had--among other
things--organized the Baton Rouge Community Chest. (Left, Louis D. Curet was the recipient in 2006.)
May 20, 1955
The original office of Capital Bank and Trust Company opened today in 1955 at 1731, just across the street
from Goudchaux's Department Store. In 1974, the bank purchased the Wooddale Towers, where it established
headquarters to be positioned for the "growth center" of Baton Rouge that research then pegged to be near
Airline and Florida. The bank grew through the 1960’s and 70’s, but in the mid 1980’s, losses came hard and
swift. In 1988, the bank was $40 million in the red when it was sold to Mississippi-based Grenada Sunburst
System Corp. which itself was later acquired by Regions Bank.
May 21, 1928
Today in 1928, fifteen thousand people—a record at the time—watched the inauguration of Governor Huey
Long at the Old State Capitol. A rainstorm failed to damage the enthusiasm of those who lined the parade
route along Third Street and North Boulevard, and the new governor gave his first broad smile of the day as
the parade passed the Govenor’s Mansion where Long heard high-pitched “Daaa-deee” from his family’s
viewing platform. The evening was damp, but ten thousand guests were happy to show up for the massive
inaugural ball, which was held at the Pavilion on the old LSU campus downtown.
May 22, 1943
Today in 1943, Second Lt. Charles J. Borden of Texas would be killed in a crash of his P-38 training fighter
plane on Perkins Road. Harding Army Air Field, which would eventually become the Baton Rouge Metropolitan
Airport, opened in 1941, and was used by the United States Army Air Forces Technical Service Command as a
maintenance and supply base. Borden was one of hundreds of young army air force pilots undergoing flight
training at Harding Field during World War II. He would be one of 58 people killed or injured while training at
the base during the war. Harding Field would be renamed Ryan Field in 1954.
May 23, 1982
Today in 1982, the U.S.S. Kidd arrived at Baton Rouge after being towed from the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Ten thousand Baton Rougeans lined the river bank to welcome the World War II hero, and the ship would be
opened to the public for the first time on August 27, 1983. Built at Federal Shipbuilding & Dry-dock Company
of Kearny, New Jersey, the Kidd launched on February 28, 1943 in a record-breaking fourteen minutes. In
World War II, the Kidd earned its nickname as “the Pirate of the Pacific,” and would be decommissioned in
1964. Over the years, KIDD has slowly been restored back to her August, 1945 configuration.
May 24, 1947
Tonight in 1947, the Baton Rouge Red Sticks opened a four-game series at home in Alex Box Stadium with the
New Iberia Cardinals. Both teams were members of the Class D Evangeline League, which had begun in 1934
with six teams, none of them in Baton Rouge. The Red Sticks would join the league when it resumed play in
1946, following World War II, and remain until the league folded in 1957. In 1956, the team changed its name
to the Rebels. Other teams in the league in 1947 included the Abbeville Athletics, Alexandria Aces, Hammond
Berries, Natchez Giants and Thibodaux Giants. (The Houma Indians, pictured, had played in the league in
May 25, 1942
Today in 1942, the first commercial fluid catalytic cracking plant began processing at what is now the
ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge. The fluid catalytic process is widely used to convert the high-boiling, high-
molecular weight hydrocarbon fractions of petroleum crude oils into more valuable gasoline, olefinic gases,
and other products. Cracking of petroleum hydrocarbons was originally done by thermal cracking, which has
been almost completely replaced by catalytic cracking because it produces more gasoline with a higher octane
rating. It also produces byproduct gases that have more carbon-carbon double bonds (i.e. more olefins), and
hence more economic value, than those produced by thermal cracking.
May 26, 1999
This week in 199, owner Sam Haynes opened the Blue Bayou Water Park this week. The water park and the
adjacent Dixie Landin' Amusement Park replaced Fun Fair Park, a small-scale amusement park at the
intersection of Florida Blvd. and Airline Highway. Best known for rides like the Galaxi and Wild Mouse, Fun Fair
Park was also known for a pet chimpanzee named Candi, who famously got loose and bit a park patron, or so
the urban legend goes. In response to complaints by animal welfare organizations, Candi was given a new
home that was thirteen feet in diameter, to replace the much smaller cage at Fun Fair Park.
May 27, 1827
The First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge was established today in 1827. It was the first Protestant
congregation in the city. Earlier in 1827, the Mississippi Missionary Society had dispatched Princeton
theological student John Dorrance to Baton Rouge to conduct religious services every Sabbath. The church's
first services were held on in a frame building on the site of the old court house. The church later moved to a
new home at the intersection of Florida Street and Church Street, which later became Fourth Street. In 1927 it
moved to the present site on the corner of North Boulevard and 7th Street.
May 28, 1964
Today in 1964, Frank's Restaurant was founded by Frank Dedman Sr. and his wife, Carolyn. At first, they
called the business the Blue Bird Drive-In, and it was across Airline Highway from the current location. The
restaurant is now in its third generation of family ownership and is beginning its fourth generation of loyal
customers. The business has been owned by Frank Dedman Jr. and his wife, Cathy, since 1999. The family
opened a similar restaurant with an identical menu, also called Frank’s, at 17425 Airline Highway in Prairieville
in 2004 with a separate building housing a large reception center. Frank Dedman III and Ross Dedman
operate the Prairieville restaurant.
May 29, 1862
Today in 1862, General Thomas Williams of the U. S. Army arrived in Baton Rouge with six regiments of
infantry, two artillery batteries, and a troop of cavalry. During the early summer, Williams' brigade began work
on what later became known as Grant's Canal, cutting a new channel across the base of De Soto Point on the
west side of the Mississippi River across from Vicksburg, Mississippi. Williams would be killed during the Battle
of Baton Rouge on August 5, 1862 at what is now the corner of Florida Street and Seventh Street. The U.S.
Garrison and Ordnance Depot in the city would be renamed Fort Williams in his memory.
May 30, 1964
Today in 1964, Miss Bette Davis stepped smiling from a chartered Electra prop-jet at Ryan Field and was
presented with bouquet of red roses by a petite third grader from Hollywood Elementary School in Baton
Rouge. Davis was in Baton Rouge for the filming of Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte at locations around Baton
Rouge and Donaldsonville. The cast and crew were housed at the Oak Manor Motor Lodge on Airline Highway,
Joan Crawford, who was also (briefly) in the cast and was then married to the chairman of the board of Pepsi,
remarked, "What could be better than having my hotel room right here next to the Pepsi-Cola Bottling
May 31, 1977
Baton Rouge couldn't help falling in love with Elvis Presley. The King played his last concert in Baton Rouge to
twelve thousand adoring fans at the LSU Assembly Center tonight in 1977. During the concert, Elvis was
alleged to have said, "Despite what you read or hear, we're here and we're healthy and the hell with anything
else." Writing in the Morning Advocate, Smiley Anders wasn't sure. "He didn't look healthy and the show was
much like his 1976 performance, emphasizing his clowning around with fans rather than any solid musical
accomplishment." Seventy-seven days later in 1977, The King would die at his home in Memphis.