Today in New Orleans History

August 11

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The Wash 'n Wear Wizard
Verne Tripp

“Use of the electron microscope in discovering hidden secrets of cotton fiber will be revealed at a meeting of Naval Research Company 8-1 Tuesday at 7:30 at Southern Research Laboratory, 2100 Robert E. Lee. Verne Tripp, cellulose chemist at the laboratory, will be the speaker at the meeting” read an announcement in the Times-Picayune on August 11, 1957. At that time only four 1200-pound $19,500 electron microscopes were in use in New Orleans .-- at Verne Tripp's lab, at Charity Hospital, and at the medical schools of Tulane and Louisiana State universities and few people, other than Tripp, knew how to use them. He had given a presentation at Charity Hospital on “Medical Possibilities of the Electron Microscope” in 1951 so he was well versed in the field.

Verne Tripp graduated from Loyola University, where he was on the deans list, in 1939. After completing a teaching fellowship at the University of Detroit he began working at the lab in 1942. In 1949, with his wife Rita Council, Leon Segal, and Carl M. Conrad he wrote “Determination of Cellulose by Acid-Dichromate Oxidation”. Some ten years after our local scientists began puzzling out the mysteries of cotton the first advertisement for wash 'n wear appeared in the Times-Picayune (1953). A decade after that (1964) Tripp received the highest citation of the United States Department of Agriculture – the Distinguished Service Award in honor of “contributions to the development and improvement of wash-wear cotton fabrics and thus the welfare of the cotton industry”. Fellow Southern Regional scientists Dr. Ruth R. Benerito and Lawrence W. Mazzeno Jr. also shared the award. The USDA noted that an estimated 45 million yards of cotton fabrics were being produced weekly in the nation utilizing either directly of indirectly the laboratory's wash-wear developments.

Mr. Tripp is pictured here with (left to right) daughters Liddy Haneman and Dolly Breaux and grandaughers Robin Breaux Lauga and Erin Breaux – all wearing wash 'n wear. (Photo courtesy of Harry and Dolly Tripp Breaux.)

From Legendary Locals of Metairie by Catherine Campanella.

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Los Angeles Times reported on August 11, 2010, of tensions in Grand Isle after BP brought in 1,500 contract workers many of whom were African American and Latino. Locals complained of high crime and raised Confederate flags (see

Musician Thomas Herman Ridgley (known as Tommy Ridgley) was born on October 30, 1925.  He released his debut single "Shrewsbury Blues" in New Orleans in 1949 for Imperial Records. In the 1950s he formed his group the Untouchables, and recorded for labels such as Decca, Atlantic and Herald. His 1952 release "Tra-La-La" on Decca was later covered and made famous by Pat Boone.  In the 1960s he signed with the local Ric Records, and released some singles which were to become local hits, but none of them broke through to create a stir nationally. These sides included "Double-Eyed Whammy" and "I've Heard That Story Before", a remake of the song first recorded for Herald.  During the 1970s and 1980s, there were fewer recording opportunities for Ridgley, however, he continued to record for local labels, and continued to perform. He kept performing at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival every year from 1972 until his death. In the 1990s, he released three newly recorded albums. How Long? came out on the Sound of New Orleans label in 1990, and She Turns Me On followed two years later on Modern Blues Recordings. He was supported by musicians such as George Porter, Jr. and Raymond Weber on 1995 album Since The Blues Began from Black Top Records. It also featured guest guitarist Snooks Eaglin and turned out to be one of the most solid efforts in his career, but this became his last recorded album. He suffered from kidney failure in his last few years, and died from lung cancer on August 11, 1999.  New Orleans singer, Sammy Ridgley is his younger brother.

The 1929 vintage bridge carrying Highway 90 over Chef Menteur Pass was repaired and re-opened to traffic on August 11, 2006 after it had been closed due to  Hurricane Katrina damage. Meanwhile the modern I-10 Twin Span (now Frank Davis bridge) was in need of a complete rebuild.

The Big Easy television series, inspired by the film of the same name from 1987. premiered on the USA Cable Network August 11, 1996. Tony Crane played New Orleans police detective lieutenant Remy McSwain, Susan Walters played state district attorney Anne Osbourne and Barry Corbin played police chief C.D. LeBlanc. Daniel Petrie Jr. (who wrote the screenplay to the film) was the executive producer of the series. 35 episodes were broadcast over two seasons. The series takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana and was shot on location. (Wiki)

The Orpheum Theater, built in 1918 at 125--129 University Place, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 11, 1982.

On August 11, 1971, construction work began on the Louisiana Superdome as pile-driving was begun. Stadium bonds were also first sold that day.

Several WPA photographs captioned "Ground improvements to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's laboratory are well underway by WPA. These negatives show WPA workmen grading and filling a portion of the forty acre site and the roadway already under construction which has an eighteen inch sand fill to be topped with six inches of shell and two inches of asphalt), August 11, 1941.  During the 1950s, Prema-Press cotton was developed here.

Several WPA photos of the beginning of construction of the Fountain of the Winds by the WPA as part of the general beautification at the Lakefront airport, August 11, 1937.

Morris F. X. Jeff, Sr., a pioneer in establishing recreational and educational programs for African American children when New Orleans was segregated, was born in Morgan City on August 11, 1914. After moving to New Orleans with his family at an early age, Mr. Jeff graduated from McDonogh 35 High School and Xavier University. He later obtained a master's degree from the University of Michigan. Mr. Jeff began his teaching career in Lake Charles in 1937. In 1940, he returned to New Orleans where he dug ditches for the Works Progress Administration. He was later promoted to a position in the WPA's recreation department. Mr. Jeff's career with the New Orleans Recreation Department began in 1947 when he became head of it's "colored division." As head of this division he instituted many youth programs that are still in use in the city. Mr. Jeff died of heart failure on August 29, 1993 at the age of 79 and is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3. (From the New Orleans Public Library)

CHAPELLE, Placide Louis, clergyman, diplomat, prelate. Born, Runes, Lozère, France, August 28, 1842; son of Jean-Baptiste and Marie-Antoinette (de Viala) Chapelle. Educated, local schools; College of Enghien, Belgium; St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, entering at age 17. After earning doctorate in theology, taught at St. Charles College from 1862 until priestly ordination, June 28, 1865, in Baltimore. Following five years of missionary work in Maryland, became assistant at St. John's Church, Baltimore, later becoming its pastor. Secretary to the Tenth Provincial Council of Baltimore, 1869; theologian to Archbishop Martin J. Spalding, of Baltimore, at First Vatican Council, 1869-1870; notary at Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, 1884. By 1882, pastor of St. Matthew's Church, Washington, D. C., becoming a friend of ambassadors, foreign diplomatic corps members, statesmen, and United States officials, including Presidents Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and Grover Cleveland. Accomplished linguist, spoke French, English, Spanish and Italian, with reading knowledge of classical languages. On November 1, 1891, Chapelle was consecrated titular Bishop of Arabissus and coadjutor to Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Salpointe of Santa Fe with the right of succession. It is said that New Orleans would have been his preference since he had visited at times the Crescent City and made numerous friends there in the company of James Cardinal Gibbons. Chapelle's chance to return to New Orleans came upon the death in mid-1897 of Archbishop Francis Janssens (q.v.) whom he succeeded six months later. Within a year, became apostolic delegate to Cuba and Puerto Rico and, a year after that, September 1899, papal envoy extraordinary to the Philippine Islands, where he spent two years in delicate negotiations, including ownership of friars' lands. After receiving in Rome the title of assistant at the pontifical throne in recognition of his diplomatic services, proceeded to Paris to attend peace conference following end of the Spanish-American War. Duties for the Holy See caused long absences from New Orleans and dissatisfaction among some of its clergy. A more serious cause for clerical criticism was the archbishop's determination to wipe out the diocesan debt extending back to the tenure of Archbishop Napoléon J. Perché, (q.v.) by imposing 12% tax on parish revenues. However, at Midnight Mass at the Cathedral in 1904 he announced that the debt of 24 years had finally been fully paid. Early in 1905, he planned a confirmation tour from Bayou Lafourche to the Sabine River, with 49 churches included in the itinerary. In July, 1905, New Orleans had its last epidemic of yellow fever and the archbishop hastened, in early August, from Lake Charles to be with his New Orleans flock. Within a week of his arrival, he died, August 9. Due to quarantine, he was interred with minimal solemnity in St. Louis Cathedral, August 11. Chapelle Street in the Lakeview section of New Orleans and Chapelle High School, Metairie, named for subject  Source:

Storm conditions battered New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 11, 1860 with winds of up to roughly 50 mph (80 km/h) and heavy rainfall. The hurricane wrought a great deal of damage throughout southeastern Louisiana. At least 35 to 40 people drowned when a low-lying community at the eastern end of Lake Pontchartrain was inundated with flood waters up to a depth of 12 feet (3.7 m), a result of intense and persistent winds generating a significant storm surge. It was reported that in the town "there is hardly a house remaining". A railroad wharf near the lake was largely destroyed, and another settlement called Milneburg was flooded; residents were rescued by boat.

On August 11, 1792, a petition was presented to the Cabildo by Hurel Dupre requesting permission to build a rice mill.  The request was granted. (NOPL)

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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