Today in New Orleans History

August 30

Shushan Airport Milneburg Joys

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The Causeway Opens
August 30, 1956

The original Causeway was a two-lane span (now the southbound span), measuring 23.86 miles in length at a cost of $30.7 million. Cars lined up bumper to bumper on the Metairie terminus to make the first trip across the Causeway on its opening day, August 30, 1956. The bridge was composed of 2,246 spans of concrete with two bascules (draw bridges) for large passing vessels. It reduced a trip across the lake from approximately 53 miles (driving around the lake) to 24 miles.
In 1961 public relations announcements from the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission boasted “The 24-mile-long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is a magnificent symbol of the continuing progress of Jefferson Parish…it connects busy, booming Jefferson Parish with St. Tammany Parish’s famed Ozone Belt. Millions of vehicles have crossed the world’s longest bridge since it was opened to traffic on August 30, 1956”. 
A parallel two-lane span, 1/100th of a mile longer than the original, opened on May 10, 1969 at a cost of $26 million. Each span was the longest over-water bridge in the world when completed.  (Image Courtesy of the Jefferson Parish Yearly Review.)  

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On August 30, 2005 DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff declared damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina "an incident of national significance" triggering the first use of the newly created National Response Plan.  At 12:00 PM CDT (1700 UTC), Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff became aware that the New Orleans levee breaches could not be plugged. Flood waters began spilling into the  Superdome but remained confined to the field level. Later that day, Governor Blanco ordered New Orleans completely evacuated Governor Blanco ordered that all of New Orleans, including the Superdome, be evacuated due to the flooding of the city. She commandeered hundreds of buses from across Louisiana using her executive powers, and those buses eventually evacuated more than 15,000 people that were stranded ini the city to the Superdome by Thursday, September 1. There were also many instances of reported looting, including looting by police officers. Governor Blanco also said that she would request President Bush send federal troops to help restore law and order in New Orleans. 9,668 Army National Guard and 956 Air National Guard were deployed -- bringing the total number at this time to 10,624.

Shouting "Bring Back American Jobs to America" and anticipating layoffs, 30 local employees to form a picket line outside of the telephone company's Central Office in the Central Business on August 29, 1985. They circulated a petition urging Congress to help preserve jobs.  Their actions followed American Telephone and Telegraph's 1,877 job cut in Shreveport earlier in the month while the company established a facility in Singapore to produce residential phones which had been manufactured in Shreveport. AT&T was planning to cut an additional 24,000 jobs in their Information Systems Division -- jobs handling residential and some business services. The president of the local chapter of the Communications Workers of America (which represented both At&T and South Central Bell workers) said that 50 local jobs could be cut.  AT&T spokesperson Linda Morton said, "It should be obvious to the public that the telephone industry is a terrifically competitive one.  We have an obligation to balance concerns with the need to be competitive and profitable.", reported the Times-Picayune on August 30, 1985.

  August 30, 1985 Times-Picayune advertisement for HurwitzMintz at 211 Royal Street and their Units store at 227 Chartres.

  August 30, 1985 Times-Picayune advertisement for the new Compumark offering Apple computers at 208 O'Keefe Street.

Local Investors behind Venture International Group, headed by Gerald A. Derks, reached a conditional agreement with the New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority (which manages the New Orleans Convention Center) to lease city owned land used for the 1984 World's Fair to be developed into an entertainment complex.  Venture planned to lease the land and property  between the former Canadian Pavilion (including the IMAX theater) and the Australian pavilion according to an August 30, 1985 Times-Picayune article.  The Exhibition Hall Authority board voted to lease the property from the city and then rent it to Venture which had been trying to broker the deal during the past year.  The agreement awaited approved by the City Council.  Venture also proposed to establish a riverfront music festival similar to Jazz Fest and sought to lease Pontchartrain Beach for development.

The Times-Picayune reported on August 30, 1985 that the Rouse Company of Maryland, a development group, had leased the remainder of the World's Fari International Pavilion for use as a retail shopping complex which was scheduled to open in February of 1986. The first floor of the World's Fair International Pavilion was owned by the Dock Board and used to house wharves and the cruise terminal.

  August 30, 1985 Times-Picayune advertisement for Gentlemen's Quarter ("For Men, For Women" at 212 Royal Street.

  August 30, 1985 Times-Picayune advertisement for Jefferson Downs.

The official grand-opening of the Superdome was celebrated on Friday, August 30, 1975 with a Super Show hosted by Bob Hope.  Performing members of his cast of stars include Telly Savalis, Raquel Welch,  Karen Valentine, Diahann Carroll, and Tanya Tucker.  Local performers include New Orleans' own Dorothy Lamour, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, the Tavasco Singing Group from Southern University of New Orleans (performing with a twenty piece orchestra), and New Orleanian Lorrie Metzier -- Miss World-USA.  The show will benefit Children's Hospital and the Louisiana Division of the American Cancer Society.  Tickets range in price from $5 to $100 for special table seating near the stage.  The festivites begin at 8 P.M.  Some 40,000 people are expected to attend.



Robert Ernest "Dumas" Milner, who owned Dumas Chevrolet Company, was the Tom Benson of Jackson, Mississippi -- a self-made millionaire who made a fortune through turning small companies into large profitable ones, opening car dealerships, buying and selling real estate, and generally making everthing he touched turn to gold. "Dumas" was a nickname given his after he began following a hired hand by that name around his family's cotton farm. At age 7 he hawked Rosebud Salve elixir to his rural neighbors. As a young man he took over Magnolia Chemical Company who employed six peope to produce their patented Pine-Sol and other cleaning products, and turned it into a $10 million per year company with 86 warehouses, and sold it to American Cyanamid for $17 million.  He bought hotel and real estate, owned the tallest building in Jackson, began an exporting business, and acquired National Car Rental. He was Chief of Staff of Mississippi Governor John Bell Williams and owned Henderson Mansion in Pass Christian. With a somewhat quirky (but true to his times) business philosophy, he refused to hire a man to a key position until he met the man's wife.  

When the Dumas dealership formally opened at 4049 South Carrollton on August 30, 1952 at 8 a.m., gifts were given to the ladies and Val Barbara and his Orchestra played. The air-conditioned showroom was modern in every way.  The repair shop was stocked with $50,000 worth of parts and equipment.  Thirty-five employees were on duty, with 80 more expected to be brought on during the next six months. Ben Howard Nelson was the vice-president and general manager, W. N. Newt Godfree was the GM, Herbert P. Jackson served as service manager, S.K. Martin the business manager, J. Clyde Carter was in charge of parts, Alex Holliday was truck manager, and Henry Carter was the used car head man.  By the time the dealership celebrated its second anniversary, it had added a used car lot at 3925 South Carrollton.  By 1956, Dumas had four dealerships in New Orleans, including locations at 215 South Claiborne (between Tulane and Canal) and in Kenner at Airline Highway at Clay Street.


The beloved Pelican Stadium has a long history of its own (much too long to feature here) but for baseball fans, this sight (right) must have been heartbreaking.  On October 16, 1956, Dumas announced the opening of a new car lot at Pelican Stadium.  A want-ad published in the Times-Picayune that day sought new and used car salesmen to work it..."Apply in person to Bill Watson". 

From 1915 the New Orleans Pelicans (the first professional sports team in New Orleans) called it home, as did the Black Pelicans and the Creole Negro teams.  Pelican/Heinemann Stadium also allowed local fans to view major league exhibition and training games and to get a glimpse of stars such as Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, and Hank Aaron.  The stadium was demolished in 1957.  It was replaced by the Fontainebleau Hotel which was was later converted into a storage facility.

Tiger Rag, a popular ragtime tune, now incorporated into LSU's Fight Song, was recorded by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings on August 30, 1922.

Charles Genois, a native of New Orleans, was  the city's ninth mayor whose administration ran from May 12, 1838 -- April 6, 1840. Improvements under his adminstration included the paving of Royal Street, improvements made in expanding the city toward the lake, and the initial digging of the Carondelet Canal.   Mayor Genois died on August 30, 1866 after a long illness, at the age of 73. He is buried in St. Louis Cemetery Number 2.

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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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