August 1-15
August 1, 1934
Today in 1930, Mooringsport native Huddy William Ledbetter,  known to posterity as
"Leadbelly", was released from Angola Prison Farm after serving most of his
sentence for an attempted homicide conviction. During his sentence he had been
"discovered" by folklorists John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax, who had come to the
prison and recorded hundreds of his songs on portable aluminum disc recording
equipment for the Library of Congress. A prison official later wrote to John Lomax
denying that Ledbetter's singing had anything to do with his release from Angola, but
both Ledbetter and the Lomaxes believed that the record they had made had
hastened his release from prison.

August 2, 1967
From the Associated Press today in 1967: “It could have only have happened in the
same town where Disneyland is located. The ball park is called Anaheim Stadium.
They should rename it Fantasyland. The infant New Orleans Saints, playing their first
game as a member of the National Football League, came within a dropped pass
(twice) of a victory over the Los Angeles Rams. No NFL expansion team has come so
close in its initial outing.” The Saints lost to the Rams, 16-7, in their first pre-season
game, and would go on to lose their second pre-season against Dallas at
Shreveport, and the third against Pittsburgh at Baton Rouge.

August 3, 1975
“Welcome to the Future” read the enormous message boards of the Louisiana
Superdome as it was dedicated and opened to the public for the first time today in
1975. Governor Edwin Edwards reminded the crowd of 45,000 who had come to walk
on the new field and sit in the new chairs that, “Louisiana money, Louisiana planning
and Louisiana workmen made this possible. Let’s not forget that.” The music for the
grand opening was provided by Al Hirt and Pete Fountain and their bands, the
Centenary College Choir, the New Orleans Summer Pops Orchestra, Sheriff Adler
LeDoux’s Blockbusters and the Southern University Marching Band.

August 4, 1901
Despite his claims that he was born on the Fourth of July, New Orleans legend Louis
Armstrong was actually born today in 1901. Armstrong was born into a poor family in
New Orleans and was the grandson of slaves. He spent his youth in poverty, in a
rough neighborhood known as the Battlefield, part of the Storyville legal prostitution
district. He attended the Fisk School for Boys, where he most likely had early
exposure to music. For extra money he also hauled coal to Storyville, and listened to
the bands playing in the brothels and dance halls, especially Pete Lala's, where Joe
"King" Oliver would drop in to jam.

August 5, 1901
This week in 1901, Charles P. Adams arrived in Louisiana to open the school that
would become Grambling State University. In the late 1890’s, the North Louisiana
Colored Agricultural Relief Association was organized and purchased twenty-three
acres of land for a two-story school building. The association wrote to Booker T.
Washington for assistance in organizing an industrial school. The answer to their
appeal arrived in the person of Charles P. Adams. Early in September, he took over
the construction of the building that had been started by the association, and on
November 1st, the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School opened with three
teachers and 125 students.

August 6, 1973
Today in 1973, Garyville native Betty Jean Anderson said in an Ohio courtroom that
she was unaware that she had given birth to a child in a toilet on an airplane in flight
between Pittsburgh and Youngstown in February 1972. Miss Anderson had been
charged with attempting a crime on board an aircraft and attempting to commit
murder or manslaughter on board an aircraft. The prosecution stated that she had
boarded in New Orleans and given birth on a connecting flight, presenting evidence
from maintenance workers who were charged with removing the five-pound, eight-
ounce baby from the toilet. Miss Anderson’s response was that she didn’t know she
had been pregnant.

August 7, 1927
Happy Birthday, Edwin Edwards! The fiftieth man to serve as Louisiana’s governor
was born in Marksville today in 1927. His four terms in office (1972-1980, 1984-1988,
1992-1996) would be twice as many elected terms as any other Louisiana chief
executive, and his 5,784 days in office would make him the sixth longest serving state
governor in American history. A colorful, powerful and legendary figure, Edwards
would wield power in a way not seen in the state since the 1930’s. While he had been
longed been accused of corruption, it would be 2001, five years after leaving office
for the last time, that he would be found guilty of racketeering charges.

August 8, 1956
Records of the federal bureau of internal revenue were released today in 1956
demonstrating that more gambling stamps have been issued to residents of
Jefferson Parish than to those of the state's other sixty-three parishes combined. Of
the 112 gambling stamps issued in the state, 58 were issued to individuals with
mailing addresses in Jefferson Parish. In addition to legal stamp-holders, Jefferson
Parish had been the epicenter of gambling in the state since the days of the Lafitte
brothers at Grand Isle. Parish history featured ornate but illegal casinos like the
Southport Club in Old Jefferson and the Beverly, which opened in the 1940s and
welcomed customers wearing coats and ties.

August 9, 1944
They called it R-Day.  Seriously. The Young Men’s Business Club (YMBC) of New
Orleans had started planning Rat Eradication Day long before the Normandy
Invasion in June, but as the big day, August 9th, approached, they were inspired by
the success of the landings. Mrs. Alidore Terrebonne, age 74 of 1122 Jackson
Avenue, was the first of 100,000 New Orleans housewives to sign the pledge to clean
up sidewalks, keep garbage cans covered, save scrap paper and report unsanitary
conditions. The pledges would be circulated by the War Block Service of the Office of
Civilian Defense, and “block leaders” would be responsible for contacting the
housewives in their neighborhoods.

August 10, 1936
The highest temperature in Louisiana was recorded in Plain Dealing today in 1936,
when the mercury hit 114°. On the same day, Shreveport would record 109°; Baton
Rouge, 94°, and New Orleans, 94°. The Summer 1936 North American heat wave
was one of the most severe heat waves in modern history. In the middle of the Great
Depression and the Dust Bowl, the nationwide death toll would eventually exceed
5,000, and huge numbers of crops would be destroyed. In addition to Louisiana,
Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, South
Dakota, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and New Jersey would
also experience record high temperatures.

August 11, 1856
In 1856, two-thirds of the millionaires in the United States lived in Louisiana, and
many of them were visiting the resort of Isle Derniere or Last Island at the mouth of
Terrebonne Bay, when the Great Storm of 1856, one of the deadliest tropical
cyclones recorded in Louisiana, struck the island. The steamer Star, which provided
regular passenger service to the mainland, was lost in the storm, and 183 of her 402
passengers evacuating the island. The 12-foot storm surge completely submerged
the island, destroying virtually every structure, including the hotels and casinos, while
all crops were ruined. Additionally, Last Island itself was split in two.

August 12, 1975
Today in 1975, Catholic Church officials in New Orleans complained that funerals
were being disrupted by striking gravediggers in the city and appealed to them to
end their ten-day-old strike in the city. “It is sad that a bereaved family should have
their grief intensified by such an experience,” said Rev. Raymond Weggman,
cemeteries director for the Catholic diocese. Striking workers had delayed funerals in
the city’s above-ground cemeteries, protesting unbearable working conditions and
low pay that they wanted increased to $6.00 per hour from $2.30. The strike would
be a bust, and all nineteen striking gravediggers would be replaced by All Saints Day.

August 13, 2016
It didn’t have a name, but it felt like a hurricane. Today in 2016, a flash flood
emergency was issued for areas along the Amite and Comite rivers near Baton
Rouge. By August 15, those rivers and others had reached a moderate, major, or
record flood stage. The Amite River at Denham Springs crested at nearly five feet
above its previous record, and nearly one-third of all homes—approximately 15,000
structures—in Ascension Parish were flooded after a levee along the Amite River
was overtopped. 75 percent of the homes in Livingston Parish were a "total loss,”
and over 146,000 homes in the Baton Rouge area were damaged.

August 14, 1865
The first weekly issue of the Thibodaux Sentinel after the Civil War appeared this
week in 1865. The paper had been founded in 1861, but was put out of business
during the war. In August 1865, the journal was revived by former Confederate
soldier Pierre Ernest Lorio and François Sancan, a native of France who had
emigrated to Louisiana and worked as a portrait painter and photographer. Issued
weekly in four pages with two in French and two in English, the Sentinel’s motto was
“Independent in all things—neutral in none” / “Independant en tout. Neutre en rien.”
The paper would struggle and eventually succumb in 1912.

August 15, 1988
It was a grand old party at the Superdome today in 1988 as the Republican National
Convention kicked off its four-day run in New Orleans. Much of the credit for bringing
the convention to Louisiana was given to Louisiana Republican National
Committeewoman Virginia Martinez of New Orleans, who lobbied on behalf of her
adopted home city as a member of the RNC Executive Committee. The convention
would nominate George H. W. Bush for President and Dan Quayle for Vice
President, but the highlight of the festivities would be the farewell address of
outgoing President Ronald Reagan. Other speakers included Joe Paterno, Pat
Robertson and a New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean.