February 1-15
February 1, 1936
Charlie Chaplin's classic Modern Times was released this week (2/5) in 1936. In
addition to Chaplin as The Tramp, the film also featured a Louisiana favorite--
Tabasco Sauce. Tabasco had earlier been seen in an Our Gang movie, but
would be the iconic elixir's most famous product placement opportunity to date.
Tabasco was first produced in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny, a Maryland-born former
banker who moved to Louisiana around 1840. In the beginning, he used discarded
cologne bottles to distribute his sauce to family and friends. When he started selling
to the public in 1868, he ordered thousands of new cologne bottles from a New
Orleans glass supplier.

February 2, 1933
Today in 1933, Shreveport-Bossier’s Barksdale Field was named in honor of 2nd
Lieutenant Eugene Hoy Barksdale. Lieutenant Barksdale received his wings in Great
Britain in 1918 and flew with the British during World War I. He died in 1926 over
Dayton, Ohio when testing a Douglas O-2 observation airplane. He was buried with
full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. Bossier Parish had donated land
for an airbase in the 1920s. Barksdale Field opened in 1933 and became Barksdale
Air Force Base in 1947. Over the years, the base has been home to iconic aircraft
such as the B-47 Stratojet and later the B-52 Stratofortress.

February 3, 1913
This week in 1913, New Orleans was first referred to as “The City That Care Forgot”
in a nation-wide advertising campaign by the St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans. The
phrase has often credited to the 1938 New Orleans City Guide, which connected it to
the city’s fame for pleasure seeking. Recently, however, it was noted that the phrase
was in wide circulation twenty-five years earlier, occurring most regularly in relation to
Mardi Gras. In 1913, anticipating Mardi Gras, a journalist wrote, “the Louisiana
metropolis has been called…’The City That Care Forgot,’ and today every aspect will
justify that description.”

February 4, 1883
Rail service between New Orleans and California was established today in 1883 over
a series of independent rail lines that would combine in 1885 and become the
Southern Pacific Railroad. The portion of the route between San Antonio and Los
Angles was called the “Sunset Route” as early as 1874, and eventually the entire
route would be called the “Sunset Limited.” It was the second transcontinental
railroad route. “The Streamliner With the Southern Accent” was the premier route of
the “Espee”, it featured the elegant Audubon Dining car with its striking reproductions
and the French Quarter Lounge Car with its white wrought-iron accents.

February 5, 1861
Today in 1861, two weeks after Louisiana seceded from the Union, Louisiana
Representative John Edward Bouligny made a speech on the floor of the U. S. House
of Representatives, declaring his steadfast loyalty to the Union. He would become the
only Southern congressman who remained in Washington after his state seceded. He
was elected to Congress in 1859 as the only successful Louisiana candidate of the
American (Know-Nothing) Party, which was firmly opposed to secession.  He would
return to New Orleans to stand for reelection after the city was taken by the Union
army in 1862, but was defeated. He died in 1864 and was buried in the
Congressional cemetery.

February 6, 1819
The town of Natchitoches was incorporated this week in 1819. French traders had
first appeared in the area as early as 1699, and in 1714, Louis Juchereau de St.
Denis established the post on the Red River for trade with Spanish-controlled Mexico.
Trade and plantation agriculture shaped the city's early years. The original French
settlement lay south of the current town center. As the Louisiana territory became
Spanish and eventually American, the town moved north to Front Street. Much of the
town's historic architecture has been preserved. The shifting Red River left
Natchitoches behind, protecting it from 20th century development. Natchitoches is the
oldest permanently-settled community in Louisiana.

February 7, 2010
Hell froze over. Pigs flew. Pick a metaphor. Nothing seemed as improbable as the
New Orleans Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17,
today in 2010. As impressive as the victory was, it was merely a prelude to the
outpouring of joy and relief in New Orleans when it was over. Mayhem was the order
of the day in the French Quarter, where the highlight of the madness was a parade of
several hundred middle-aged men wearing sequined ball gowns, in honor of the late
Saints sportscaster Bernard “Buddy” Diliberto, who had promised to put on a dress if
the Saints ever won the Super Bowl.

Ash Wednesday, February 8, 1837
The first Mardi Gras ‘parade’ on Fat Tuesday was held in New Orleans this week in
1837. As the New Orleans Daily Picayune described the scene: “COWBELLION – A
lot of masqueraders were parading through our streets yesterday, and excited
considerable speculation as to who they were and what upon earth could induce
them to turn out in such grotesque and outlandish habiliments. Boys, Negroes, fruit
women and what not, followed the procession – shouting and bawling, and apparently
highly delighted with the fun, or what is more probable, anxious to fill their pockets
with sugar plum, kisses, oranges, &c., which were lavishly bestowed upon them.”

February 9, 1967
When Mardi Gras was celebrated in Lafayette this week in 1967, a new carnival
tradition was born. Master baker and chef Francois Poupart and his wife had
immigrated from Bordeaux, France, in the 1960’s and settled in Lafayette, finding
themselves at home and frequently speaking their native language with locals. In
1967, the couple founded Poupart’s Bakery and brought a little bit of the old country
to their new hometown. Poupart’s is one of the few bakeries to sell a traditional
French king cake, or galette de rois, which consists of a layer of thick almond cream
sandwiched between two circular layers of light, flaky puff pastry.

February 10, 1721
The Flute La Baleine anchored at Ship Island, Mississippi in January, 1721, after a
ninety-day voyage from France. Parisian prostitutes, who had been rounded up and
expelled from the city, were the ship’s primary cargo and they were intended to be
married off to French settlers. All such marriages had to be approved by Sister
Gertrude of the La Salpetriere Prison, and the first occurred today in 1721. Most of
the girls apparently left for New Orleans when the capitol of Louisiana was moved
there in 1723. As far as we know, none of the 88 girls were ever charged with a crime
in America.

February 11, 1825
The Louisiana Legislature created Jefferson Parish today in 1825. The Parish
originally extended from present day Felicity Street in New Orleans Louisiana to the
St. Charles Parish line. As Orleans Parish grew it annexed from Jefferson Parish such
established areas as the Garden District, Lafayette, Jefferson and Carrollton. The
present boundary was set in 1874. The parish seat is Gretna, named for named for a
small village in Scotland; and the largest unincorporated community is Metaire, it’s
name derived from the French “moitoire”, used to describe a farming relationship
where a landowner would lease property for fifty percent of the crops or produce.

February 12, 1813
Today in 1813, Louisiana had been an American state for less than a year, but its
citizens were already being called upon to defend their new country after the
outbreak of the War of 1812. The Louisiana legislature provided that "every able-
bodied white male citizen of this state, and of any of the United States, residing in this
state, who is of the age of sixteen years and under the age of fifty years, shall be
enrolled by the commanding officer of the company within the bounds of which he
may reside." Many of those companies would participate the final battle of the war at
New Orleans.

February 13, 1899
Today in 1899, Louisiana experienced the coldest day on record. The thermometer
would plunge to 16 degrees below zero at Minden-the record for the coldest reading
ever taken in the state, and zero degrees or colder was recorded as far south as New
Roads. Baton Rouge and New Orleans would record two and seven degrees above
zero, respectively, and on the next day, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Krewe of Rex
Parade was delayed while snow was removed from the route. Later that week, ice
floes were seen at the mouth of the Mississippi for the first time in recorded history.

Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1955
For south Louisiana residents, Elmer Chocolate is synonymous with Easter. The
company’s Heavenly Hash (1923) and Gold Brick Eggs (1936) have been a staple of
Easter baskets for decades. In reality, it’s actually Valentine’s Day that accounts for
the overwhelming majority of Elmer’s business and accounts for seventy percent of
the company’s sales for the year. In New Orleans, Christopher Henry Miller turned his
pastry chef experience into the Miller Candy Corporation in 1855. His son-in-law,
Augustus Elmer, eventually joined him. In 1914, Elmer’s sons signed on to what is
now known as Elmer Candy Corporation.

February 15, 1811
When Congress called the Territory of Orleans to form a Constitution and State
Government for Louisiana this week in 1811, the Florida Parishes between the
Mississippi and Pearl Rivers were not yet part of the state. In September, 1810,
American rebels had captured Fort San Carlos in Baton Rouge, effectively ending
Spanish rule. The Republic of West Florida was proclaimed but lasted only six weeks
until December 10th, when Congress recognized the American Territory of West
Florida. Although not originally included in the constitutional call, the West Florida
Territory would be incorporated into the state before statehood would be recognized
on April 30, 1812.