October 16, 1954
Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the Louisiana Hayride program broadcast
from Shreveport tonight in 1954. First broadcast of the Hayride had been on April 3,
1948 from the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Shreveport. Horace "Hoss" Logan
was the original producer and emcee. Presley's performance of his newly released
song That's All Right Mama brought a tepid response, according to former Hayride
emcee Frank Page, but he still signed to a one-year contract for future appearances.
On March 3, 1955, Presley made his first television appearance on the television
version of The Louisiana Hayride, carried by KSLA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport.
October 17, 2013
Today in 2013, the Fiske Theatre in Oak Grove received notification that it was being
considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historical Places. The classic
theater first opened by Donald Fiske in April 1928, and at the time was one of the
premier state of the art movie cinemas in northeast Louisiana. It was a two level
cinema with a first floor that seated five hundred people and balcony seats for 250.
The Fiske was rebuilt in 1950 in the Moderne style. After a two-month renovation in
2008, the Fiske returned as a first-run theatre on December 15, 2008.
October 18, 1943
While work was going still going strong in the effort to build the landing craft that would
make the Normandy invasion and other World War II operations successful, New
Orleans businessman Andrew Jackson Higgins announced today in 1944 that his
company would use 25,000 workers and its enormous assembly facilty at Michoud to
build C-46 aircraft for the war effort. It didn't happen. The contract would be cancelled
soon thereafter, but Michoud would not go to waste. The plant would be involved in
projects pertaining to the Manhattan Project that are still classified; build tanks during
the Korean War; and manufacture Saturn rockets and fuel tanks for the space shuttle.
October 19, 1911
The first Washington Parish Free Fair was held this week in 1911 in Franklinton.
Since its birth in 1911 in a local livery stable, this county/parish fair has steadily grown
each year. The fair moved to its current site in 1913, and the Mile Branch Settlement
was moved to the site in 1976. Held in the third week of October every year, it is
believed to be the largest county/parish free fair in the United States, and it is the
second oldest Parish Fair in Louisiana. Highlights include dozens of exhibits of cut
flowers, homemaking, livestock and agricultural products, Old McDonald’s Farm, stage
performances, a midway and the PRO Rodeo.
October 20, 1982
This week in 1982, most people in Gonzales probably didn’t even know that Norway
had a king, and if they did, they certainly didn’t expect to see him in their hometown.
But there he was. Olaf V, Europe’s oldest reigning monarch, visited the Ascension
Parish city today to dedicate the recently refurbished Norwegian Government Seaman’
s Center. Governor Dave Treen was on hand at the center, where the miniature golf
course had been covered up to provide a reception space. The governor compared
the adventurous spirit of the people of Louisiana to the Vikings of old and presented
the king with a print of Shadows-on-the-Teche and a proclamation.
October 21, 1939
Tonight in 1939, LSU entertained the Loyola Wolfpack of New Orleans before 16,000
fans at LSU Stadium. The game which ended in a 20-0 Tiger victory would be closest
game between the two teams during their three year series, but it would also be the
last. Citing an annual deficit of $20,000, Loyola gave up football at the end of the
season. The Wolfpack had enjoyed some success over the years. Its 1926 team,
coached by Eddie Reed, went undefeated. William Elton “Bucky” Moore was not only
Loyola’s leading rusher that year, but his 1,131 rushing yards in eight games led the
nation that year.
October 22, 1968
Today in 1968, the Southern Regional Council announced on the eve of the 1968
Presidential election, the number of African Americans registered to vote in Louisiana
had doubled since the 1964 election. The Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 had
given the U. S. Department of Justice the power to sue counties and states that
denied voting rights to eligible black citizens, and starting in 1961, the Kennedy
Administration decided to test these new rules in the South. Throughout the early and
mid-1960’s, a concerted effort was made to raise voter registration totals in places like
East Carroll Parish, which hadn’t registered a single black voter since 1922.
October 23, 1926
Tulane Stadium was dedicated today in 1926. In 1925, the university announced
today that it had secured funding for a new football stadium and that construction had
begun on the facility that would seat 20,000 spectators. Lionel F. Favret, the
contractor for the project said that the new stadium would be one of the most modern,
comfortable and attractive in the country, if not the largest. The idea from the
inception of the movement has been one of quality, not of size. Frank G. Churchill, the
architect, visited some of the most efficient college plants in the country and studied
the handling and comfort of the crowds before drawing his plans.
October 24, 1940
Elsie the Cow made her debut as spokes-bovine for the Borden Company at the New
York World's Fair which closed this week in 1940. Also during that time, the company
had opened an ice cream parlor in Lafayette that still stands to this day. Borden's Ice
Cream on Johnston Street in Lafayette was built in 1940. In 1981, the then owner,
lifelong Lafayette resident Flora Levy, died. Her will stipulated a large bequest to the
University of Louisiana Lafayette's Foundation and included a provision that the ice
cream parlor. Borden’s in Lafayette is the last Borden’s retail ice cream shop in the
October 25, 1972
City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthro peaked at Number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100
chart this week in 1972. According to the legend, songwriter Steve Goodman met Arlo
Guthrie at the Quiet Knight bar in Chicago and asked to be allowed to play a song.
Guthrie grudgingly agreed, on the condition that if Goodman would buy him a beer,
Guthrie would listen to him play for as long as it took to drink the beer. Goodman
played City of New Orleans, which Guthrie liked enough that he asked to record it.
The song was a hit for Guthrie and would prove to be his only Top 40 hit.
October 26, 1911
Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson was born today in 1912. She began singing as a child
at her father's church services and committed herself to the Lord at an early age that
she would not sing any form of music other than religious. She would never be
persuaded to sing blues or jazz. She appeared often with other artists such as Dinah
Shore, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, and Harry Belafonte, but always as a gospel
singer. She sang for presidents, royalty, and packed concert halls around the world.
She wrote gospel songs herself and co-wrote others with her good friend Doris Akers.
October 27, 1894
Joseph Samuel Clark, first president of Southern University, died today in 1944. Clark
had been born in 1871 in Bienville Parish. He attended Coleman College in Gibsland,
Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, and Leland College in New Orleans. Between 1901
and 1911, he served as principal of the Baton Rouge Academy. In 1906, the school
was renamed Baton Rouge College, and Clark was named President. In 1914, he was
named the first president of what is now Southern University at Baton Rouge. During
his twenty-four-year tenure as president, the student enrollment grew from forty-seven
to 500 students, and he would be succeeded in the position by his son, Felton G.
October 28, 1967
Today in 1967, Monroe native Huey Newton was celebrating release from his
probationary period from a previous stabbing conviction when he and a friend were
pulled over by Oakland, California, Police Department officer John Frey. Frey was
shot four times and died within the hour. Huey Newton was had been born in Monroe,
the youngest of seven children and named for Huey Long. In 1945, the family
migrated from Monroe to Oakland. Newton graduated from Oakland Technical High
School in 1959 without being able to read and attended Merritt College, where he
would be one of the co-founders of the Black Panther Party in 1966.
October 29, 1943
Writing in “The Governor’s View,” Governor Sam Houston Jones’s weekly newspaper
column today in 1943, the governor pointed out that there are “good politics” and “bad
politics.” In a nutshell, “good” politicians agreed with him, and “bad” ones did not.
Jones had been elected in 1940 to end twelve years of Long influence in Louisiana,
and near the end of his term, he was pointing that agriculture and industry had
prospered in the preceding three years. He condemned “deducts, deadheads and
kickbacks,” and boasted that, “this old state of ours has had a smelly reputation for a
long time, but we have seen many abuses corrected.”
October 30, 1889
More than sixty years before Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco, a New
Orleans girl, Alice Heine, pulled off the feat, wedding Prince Albert I of Monaco,
Sovereign Prince of Monaco on October 30, 1889. The prince, whose first wife had
been a daughter of a Scottish duke, was an oceanographer. During his long journeys
at sea, Alice took a great interest in the Monegasque opera season. She brought a
strong business acumen, showing an understanding far beyond her years. She
helped to put the principality on a sound financial footing and supported opera and
ballet. Her former home in New Orleans is now the Café Amelie on Royal Street.
October 31, 1988
Poverty Point in West Carroll Parish was named World Heritage Site today in 1988. By
2200 BCE, during the Late Archaic period, the Poverty Point culture occupied much of
Louisiana and was spread into several surrounding states. Evidence of this culture
has been found at more than a hundred sites. The largest and best-known site is near
modern-day Epps, Louisiana at Poverty Point. The Poverty Point culture may have hit
its peak around 1500 BCE, making it the first complex culture, and possibly the first
tribal culture, not only in the Mississippi Delta but in the present-day United States.
Settlement at Poverty Point lasted until approximately 700 BCE.