September 1, 2008
Today in 2008, Hurricane Gustav became the worst storm to hit Baton Rouge in at least 50 years. Gustav
made landfall near Cocodrie in Terrebonne Parish as a Category 2 storm and brought wind gusts of 91 mph in
East Baton Rouge Parish. Trees were down all over the city, and an older couple were killed in their home
when a tree fell on it Three hundred thousand Entergy customers in the parish were without power, and the
American Red Cross reported that 63,590 people had taken refuge in shelters. Across Louisiana, 48 people
were killed by the storm, and over a million lost power.
September 2, 1928
The movie version of Uncle Tom's Cabin, directed by Harry A. Pollard and starring Margarita Fischer as Eliza
and James B. Lowe as Uncle Tom was released today in 1928. It was the first "big" Hollywood movie to be
filmed partially in Baton Rouge, more than 200 local citizens had been used as extras. The movie’s racial
sensibilities might confound modern viewers, but it was representative of its era and was considered to be a
classic. It would be a while before the film screened in a Baton Rouge theater, but it definitely created an
appetite for movie making in the city.
September 3, 1984
Today in 1984, nearly six hundred students were gathering in Baton Rouge for the opening of the newly-
founded Jimmy Swaggert Bible College on Bluebonnet Lane. Dr. Don Paul Gray would be the college’s
president, and Swaggert would serve as chancellor. Swaggert had predicted in 1983 that the college would
enroll 500-1000 students in its first year, and over the course of the next two years, enrollment would exceed
900. A twelve-story dormitory with two wings—one for boys, one for girls—had been built across Bluebonnet
Lane from the World Ministry, and by the time had come for students to check in, four floors in each wing
would be needed.
September 4, 1920
The Columbia Theater on Third Street opened in 1920. With1,451 seats, and was the first theater in the
United States to have lights lining the aisles. The grand opening of the theater was a blockbuster in itself. The
theater was awash in flowers from well-wishers. After an opening prayer by the Reverend Canon Racine of St.
Joseph’s Church, eleven hundred theatergoers settled in for a concert by the Stanocola Brass Band and the
Columbia Concert Orchestra, followed by Miss Norma TaImadge in Yes or No?, and Magda Lane in Bought
and Fought For. The theater was renamed the Paramount in 1937, and closed and demolished forty-two years
later in 1979.
September 5, 1862
Today in 1962, the First Louisiana Native Guard was formed, becoming the first all-black regiment to serve in
the Union Army during the Civil War. While based in New Orleans, several members of the guard were Baton
Rougeans. Free men of color were in the minority in the Guard, as most were African American men who had
escaped from slavery to join the Union cause and gain freedom. The Guard would play a prominent role in the
Siege of Port Hudson near Baton Rouge in the summer of 1863, and would become the 73rd Regiment
Infantry U.S. Colored Troops. The regiment would be disbanded at the end of the war.
September 6, 1975
WLPB, Baton Rouge’s first public television station and Louisiana's first PBS affiliate, went on the air in 1975,
broadcasting on UHF Channel 27. In 1971, the legislature had created Louisiana Educational Television
Authority to build and sign on the stations needed to bring Big Bird, Frontline and Masterpiece Theatre to the
state. Over the next eight years, LPB would expand its signal over the state, adding stations in Monroe,
Shreveport, Lafayette, Lake Charles and Alexandria. (In case you were wondering, Shreveport native and
longtime Baton Rouge resident Beth Courtney would be named president and CEO of Louisiana Public
Broadcasting and become a fixture at the network in 1985.)
September 7, 1972
At the Munich Olympics today in 1972, Rod Milburn won the gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles, tying the
world record of 13.2 seconds. A native of Opelousas, “Hot Rod” was the outstanding high school hurdler in the
United States and broke the national age record for the 120-yard hurdles. He was voted to the Louisiana
Sports Writers Association All-State track and field team in both his junior and senior years. Following high
school, he attended Southern, where he was coached by Dick Hill, and also where he met Willie Davenport,
the 1968 110-meter hurdles champion. Davenport recognized his potential and mentored the young athlete.
September 8, 1935
Tonight in 1935, somebody shot Senator Huey Long. Police witnesses said that Carl Austin Weiss, a Baton
Rouge doctor, approached Huey and fired the shot that would cause his death thirty hours later. Weiss’s
defenders would say that he was at the Capitol to speak to Huey and approached him in the hall in a manner
that the Senator’s bodyguards deemed to be threatening. An errant bullet from a guard struck Long, before
the next sixty-two would strike Weiss. Someone later said that when Weiss’s body was moved, the sound of
bullets falling out of his body and hitting the marble floor sounded like somebody dropping a fistful of nickels.
September 9, 1935
Today in 1935, Dr. Carl Austin Weiss, the man who’d been named as the gunman in an attempted
assassination of Senator Huey Long the night before, was given a funeral at St. Joseph's Church. There had
been some discussion of whether an accused assassin could be given a burial in the church, but as Long was
still alive and expected to live, the service proceeded. It was attended by hundreds of people, including two
former Louisiana governors, and later said to be the largest funeral ever held for a political assassin. Long
would die from complications from his wound later that night at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital.
September 10, 1968
This week in 1968, the 24-story Louisiana National Bank building downtown on Florida Street was dedicated.
One of the building’s most popular features would be the Camelot Club, a private dining club on the 24th floor
that would become the location of power lunches in the city for the next forty years. At the dedication, Mayor
Woody Dumas said, "Those who think downtown is dying are dying themselves. This $12.5 millinn building is
evidence of the confidence of business in this community." Louisiana National Bank was absorbed by Premier
Bank in 1988, which was absorbed by Capitol One in 2001, which was absorbed by Chase in 2004.
September 11, 1955
Delmont Village Shopping Center on Plank Road held its Grand Opening on Plank Road this month in 1955.
The new center and its thousand convenient parking spaces featured nineteen stores, including J. C. Penney,
Young Fashions clothing for children, Rochelle for ladies’ fashions, Kinney Shoe Store, Halpern’s Fabrics and
a Piccadilly Cafeteria. The anchor for the center was the 27,000 square foot branch of Dalton’s Department
Store, featuring “fine walnut veneers, modern fixtures, vinyl floors and paint ranging from soft green to pink to
tan.” Within a few years, Dalton’s would be sold to the D.H. Holmes chain of New Orleans.
September 12, 1935
It was said that every cut flower between New Orleans and Lake Charles was sitting in the garden of the
Louisiana State Capitol today in 1935, as Senator Huey Pierce Long was laid to rest on the grounds of his
beloved Capitol building. An aerial shot of the funeral later confirmed that the thousands of mourners had
been surrounded by ranks of bouquets on stands that stretched from the parking lot to Spanish Town Road.
An estimated hundred thousand mourners had filed past the casket in Memorial Hall a day earlier. At the
service, the LSU Band under director Castro Carazo, offered Ev’ry Man a King at dirge pace.
September 13, 1944
The Southern University Marching Band, "The Marching 100", made their debut this month in 1944. In the
years ahead, the band would become “The Human Jukebox” and under the baton of seven distinguished
directors, would perform around the world, including performances for three United Stated presidential
inaugurations, four Sugar Bowl and five Super Bowl appearances and six weeks at Radio City Music Hall.
When the New Orleans Saints returned to the Louisiana Superdome on August 25, 2006 to play their first
home game since Hurricane Katrina, the Human Jukebox ushered in the rebirth of the Saints, reducing some in
the crowd of 75,000 to tears of joy.
September 14, 1992
This week in 1992, Senator--and later Oscar and Nobel Prize winner Al Gore stopped at Po Boy Lloyd’s on
Florida Street for a bowl of gumbo and a plate of shrimp and sausage jambalaya. Gore was running for Vice
President on a ticket with Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and made a campaign stop in the city. Earlier, Gore
had walked along Third Street between Florida and Laurel Streets, shaking hands and looking into empty
storefronts. Dining at Po Boy Lloyd’s with six small business owners, Gore suggested that his environmental
policies would not be detrimental to Louisiana’s oil and gas business.
September 15, 1955
This week in 1955, there were over twelve hundred entries in a city-wide contest to name the new street that
would connect 33rd Street in the north with Stanford Avenue in the South, but Mrs. Julie C. Cusachs of St.
Ferdinand Street won the $100 prize offered by City-Parish councilwoman Mildred DuBois. The winning entry
was "Acadian Thruway". Mrs. Cusachs, a native of Natchitoches Parish, said she submitted the name because
she'd just completed a course in Louisiana history while working on a master's degree at LSU, and that she
thought the word “Acadian” connected with local heritage and that “Thruway” sounded “modern.”