December 16, 1884
World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition, also called the World Cotton
Centennial, opened to the public in New Orleans today in 1884. At a time when nearly
one-third of all cotton produced in the United States was handled in New Orleans and
the city was home to the Cotton Exchange, the idea for the fair was first advanced by
the Cotton Planters Association. Congress lent $1 million to the fair's directors and
gave $300,000 for the construction of a large US Government & State Exhibits Hall
that would enclose thirty-three acres and was the largest roofed structure constructed
up to that time.
December 17, 1935
Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish, the first bridge over the Lower Mississippi
River, was dedicated this week in 1935. Before the ceremonies, a special sixteen-car
train stuffed with dignitaries left Union Station, crossed the bridge to Avondale and
returned. Thousands packed the traffic circle on the New Orleans side of the bridge
for the ceremony where Governor O. K. Allen spoke and Mrs. Rose Long cut the
ribbon for the span named for her late husband. C Later in the afternoon, a second
train left Union Station for those who wanted to cross the bridge on the first day.
Construction work had formally started on December 31, 1932.
December 18, 1948
WDSU in New Orleans, Louisiana's first television station, went on the air today in
1948. It was also the first on the Gulf Coast, the second in the Deep South after WSB-
TV in Atlanta, and the 49th in the nation. The station was founded by New Orleans
businessman Edgar B. Stern, Jr., who also owned WDSU radio station and others in
the city. The radio station was originally located at the DeSoto Hotel, now the Le
Pavillon Hotel; the "D" in the name stood for the DeSoto, the "S" for the New Orleans
States newspaper, and the "U" for Joseph Uhalt, who founded the radio station as
WCBE in 1923.
December 19, 1990
Shaquille O'Neal scored 49 points against Arkansas State in a game played this week
at the Maravich Assembly Center, setting a new record for the building. O'Neal was
born in Newark, New Jersey in 1972, and came to LSU, where he was a two-time All-
American, two-time SEC Player of the Year, and received the Adolph Rupp Trophy as
NCAA men's basketball player of the year in 1991. He was also named college player
of the year by AP and UPI. He left LSU early to pursue his NBA career, but continued
his education even after becoming a professional player. He was later inducted into
the LSU Hall of Fame.
December 20, 1803
Joseph Deville de Goutin Bellechasse was commander of the militia at the transfer of
the French colony of Louisiana to the United States today in 1803. Bellechasse had
been born in New Orleans in 1761, and entered Spanish military service in 1779, when
he fought along with Don Bernardo de Galvez at British posts at Fort Bute at Manchac
and at Baton Rouge. In 1803, he retired from the military and engaged in business
enterprises in New Orleans and on the German Coast before being returning to the
military in 1803. He would later be elected president of the legislative council in 1810.
December 21, 1867
Sarah Breedlove, known as Madam C. J. Walker, was born this week near the village
of Delta in 1867. One of six children, Breedlove's parents and her older siblings had
been were enslaved on Robert W. Burney's Madison Parish plantation, but Sarah was
the first child in her family born into freedom. After moving first to Denver and then to
Saint Louis, Walker made a fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and
hair products for black women. She was said to be the first female self-made
millionaire in America. She would be known for her philanthropy and political and social
interests, as well as her entrepreneurial skills.
December 22, 1947
“Jingle, jangle, jingle…Here comes Mr. Bingle!” The lovable candy-cane wielding
snowman with the ice cream cone hat made his debut this month in 1947 at the Maison
Blanche Department Store in New Orleans. Mr. Bingle, voiced by Oscar Isentrout, was
the star of his own show performed at the Canal Street Maison Blanche each day in
the weeks before Christmas. Mr. B would be franchised to Lowenstein's Department
Store in Memphis in the late 1950's, and when the Baton Rouge department store
Goudchaux’s purchased Maison Blanche in 1982, Mr. Bingle would cast his spell
across the Gulf South from Florida to Texas.
December 23, Early 1900s
This week in the early 1900's, the Mighty Haag Circus, a two-ring circus based in
Shreveport would return to its hometown and enter winter quarters after a long year on
the road. The circus had been famous for the one-legged clown Roy Fortune, a
highwire walker, sword swallower Marguerite Davis as well as elephants, bears, ponies,
camels, lions, tiger and blue-faced monkeys, hyena, ocelot and badger. . When the
circus came to Shreveport for the winter, they got off the train at Texas Street and
people lined up to see the two-mile parade of wagons to the Pine Wold House. The
famous circus elephant Trilby is buried at Pine Wold.
December 24, 1894
In 1867, miners discovered sulfur in the caprock of a salt dome in Calcasieu Parish,
but it was beneath quicksand, which prevented mining. In 1894 the German-born
American chemist, Herman Frasch devised his Frasch method of sulfur removal using
pipes to bypass the quicksand. The process proved successful, on December 24,
1894, when the first molten sulfur was brought to the surface. However, the high cost
of fuel needed to heat the water made the process uneconomic until the 1901
discovery of the Spindletop oil field in Texas provided cheap fuel oil to the region. The
Frasch process began economic production at Sulphur Mines, Louisiana in 1903.
Christmas, December 25, 1947
Are you one of thousands of lucky Louisianans who got a Grayson ham for Christmas?
After leaving the Merchant Marines, Ollie O. Grayson opened the restaurant that
bears his name in Clarence in Natchitoches Parish in 1959. Today, Gregory and Bryan
Grayson are the third generation to run the restaurant where many of the staff
members have been chopping wood for the pits or whipping up the potato salad and
homemade buns for two decades or more. The selection of meat is extensive, but
Grayson’s is famous for its smoked hams. More than three thousand are sold each
December 26, 1941
The Louisiana College Wildcat football team departed today four Mexico City to play in
the Orchid Bowl against the National University of Mexico. The twenty-four members of
the team and five coaches and managers would travel by automobile and stop along
the way to practice in San Antonio and in Monterrey. The teams had met on six
previous occasions, with the Americans winning all six contests. The Wildcats would
prevail on January 1, 1942, as well, but the victory would be bittersweet. Two weeks
later, Louisiana College Acting President H. M. Weathersby would announce that the
college was dropping football for the duration of World War II.
December 27, 1741
Jean Étienne de Boré was born in Kaskaskia, Illinois Country, today in 1741. In 1795,
he succeeded in making sugar granulate at his wife’s family property in New Orleans.
De Boré was not the first to have accomplished the feat, but he was the first to do it in
a manner judged to be economically successful. Sugar cane would become a
profitable commodity crop and planters would began to cultivate it in quantity. His first
crop consisted of some 100,000 pounds of sugar which were sold for 12.5 cents per
pound, along with 50 cents per gallon for molasses, which netted him a profit of
December 28, 1997
Tonight in 1997, the biggest crowd in Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl history
turned out at the Fairgrounds to watch LSU trounce Notre Dame, 27-9. The 22nd
edition was the second time the teams had played each other that year, as the Irish
had defeated the Tigers in Baton Rouge, 24-6, on November 15th. LSU’s Rondell
Mealey and Arnold Mealey were named the outstanding players of the game. McNeese
State defeat Tulsa in its first game in the first Independence Bowl in 1976, which was
called the Bicentennial Bowl, before changing its name the following year. Over the
years, LSU, Tulane, McNeese State and Louisiana Tech have played in the bowl.
December 29, 1989
Legendary New Orleans sportscaster Hap Glaudi died today in 1989. Glaudi attended
Jesuit High School in New Orleans, where legend says he financed his high school
education from his winnings at the horse track. Glaudi worked on the school
newspaper at Jesuit and later parlayed those skills into a twenty-five career at the New
Orleans Item. He would become WWL-TV's lead sportscaster from 1964 until 1978,
and later he would add radio to his broadcasting skills, working at WWL (AM) on the
pre-game and post-game shows for the New Orleans Saints. Outspoken and
passionate though he was about the Saints, Glaudi never took issue with even the
most opinionated callers.
December 30, 1950
New Orleans is first city in Louisiana to be named an All-American City today in 1950. It
would win the honor again in 1996, and Shreveport would earn the designation in
1953, 1979, 1980 and 1999. Alexandria would be recognized in 1994. The All-America
City Award is given by the National Civic League annually to ten communities in the
United States. It recognizes those whose citizens work together to identify and tackle
community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results. Winners can be
neighborhoods, towns, villages, cities, counties, or regions. The All-America Award is
the oldest community recognition program in the nation.
December 31, 1999
Today in 1999, not all Louisianans were waiting around to see if the world was going to
end at midnight. More than a few were doing all they could to help it along. At a “Mass
of resurrection" with jazz gospel music was observed at the St. Augustine Catholic
Church in New Orleans. Afterward, the past hundred years were “mourned” at a
traditional jazz funeral that wound through the streets of Treme and paused at the
gates of St. Louis #1 Cemetery on Basin Street. The somber farewell was followed by
a joyous second-line with the Budweiser Clydesdales through the French Quarter.