Today in New Orleans History

August 31

Shushan Airport Milneburg Joys

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 30,000 Attend the New Orleans Pop Festival
 August 31 and September 1, 1969

Two weeks after Woodstock, on Labor Day weekend of 1969's "Summer of Love", music festivals were held throughout the United States and Canada.  But New Orleanians could travel just an hour away to their very own love in -- an  event which was famously known and billed as the New Orleans Pop Festival.  An estimated 30,000 young people trekked to the Louisiana International  Speedway in Prairieville on August 31 through September 1, 1969.  Only about  half  who did so paid the entrance fee;  the remainder camped outside the racetrack. 

Producers advertised that the performers would include The Byrds, Chicago Transit Authority, Country Joe and the Fish, Dr. John the Night Tripper, Glen McKay and the Headlights, Greatful [sic] Dead, Iron Butterfly, It's a Beautiful Day, Janis Joplin, Oliver, Santana, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Youngbloods, Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, and "many other stars" as well as a "giant fireworks show".  If  all of those performers actually made appearances is doubtful -- it was common practice to advertise all those who were "invited to perfom" as having committed to the gig.  The Associated Press reported that Janis Joplin, Canned Heat, and the Grateful did  indeed perform.  Tickets ranged from $7.00 to a $16.00 weekend pass. 

According to the Associated Press, 12 arrests were made for the sale or possession of marijuana and doctors treated 30 people with "Bad Trips" on LSD.  Authorities reported that the crowd was generally well behaved but a physician on duty said, "If we could just get them to wear shoes, we wouldn't have so many cut feet".

Other music festivals held during that weekend included:

The Isle of Wight Festival where Bob Dylan performed his first major concert in several years to a crowd of 200,000. 

Texas International Pop Festival in Lewisville at the Dallas International Motor Speedway which drew 40,000 people.  Near the festival site was a campground on Lewisville Lake were many nude swimmers caused massive traffic jams as driving gawkers came to a halt.  Other onlookers arrived in boats.  Mayor Sam Houston said, "It's the sightseers who are causing the problems.  The swimmers were real cooperative in halting their activities".

The Sky Rock Festival and Lighter than Air Fair in Tenino, Washington which drew 10,000 including vendors shouting, "I've got acid!. I've got Mescaline!".

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On August 31, 2012 some 600,000 homes (about 1/3) in Louisiana were without. electricity due to the passage of Hurricane Isaac.

On August 31, 2012, the US Department of Justice  filed papers describing the spill as an example of "gross negligence and willful misconduct" as a result of the Deepwater Horizonoil spill .The government also advised that Judge Barbier should disregard claims made by BP that minimize the environmental and economic impacts of the spill. They cited environmental damage that "could cause negative impacts to marsh vegetation for years to decades."  BP rejected the charges saying "BP believes it was not grossly negligent and looks forward to presenting evidence on this issue at trial in January." A ruling of gross negligence would result in a four-fold increase in Clean Water Act penalties, which would cause the penalties to reach approximately $17.6 billion, and would increase damages in the other suits as well. (Wiki)

During the early hours of August 31, 2008, Hurricane Gustav entered the Gulf of Mexico with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph and minimum central pressure of 958 millibars. During August 31, the storm moved in a northwest direction slightly losing its strength (despite passing over a shortened Loop Current) with sustained winds at 115 mph. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said that it was possible thousands of people who need city help could start leaving on Saturday, as the first wave of a full-scale evacuation. Later, he ordered the mandatory evacuation of the whole of New Orleans commencing on the morning of August 31, calling Gustav "the storm of the century ... the mother of all storms."On August 31, Nagin also declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew and the cessation of city assistance in evacuations by the afternoon. By that afternoon, 1.9 million people had evacuated southern Louisiana, with 200,000 being residents of New Orleans alone, making it the largest evacuation in the history of Louisiana. Mayor Nagin stated in a press conference that any New Orleans residents found looting during the evacuation of the city due to Hurricane Gustav would be arrested and immediately transported to Angola prison. On the evening of August 31, Gustav weakened to a Category 2 hurricane and remained at such intensity until landfall. Gustav caused 94 deaths in the Caribbean; and, as of September 15, 2008, 46 deaths in Louisiana. (Wiki)

On August 31, 2006, sportscaster Vince Marinello's estranged wife, Mary Elizabeth, was shot twice in the face in the parking lot of an office tower in Metairie. Sheriff's authorities initially announced their belief that the murder was a result of a botched robbery. Marinello voluntarily met with sheriff's investigators and initially denied any connection to the murder of his estranged wife, saying he was in Jackson, Mississippi. On September 7, he voluntarily turned himself in to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Department's main office in Gretna. He was subsequently arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the killing of his wife, who filed for a contentious divorce after she discovered he was not legally divorced when they wed. On the night of September 11, 2006, Marinello posted a $250,000 bond and was released from jail. On December 13, 2008, the jury found Marinello guilty of second degree murder after 90 minutes of deliberation. In Louisiana, a conviction for this charge carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole. (Wiki)

New Orleans native, singer and multi-instrumentalist, Donnie Elbert, hit the R&B charts on August 31, 1974 with his recording of Love Is Strange.

Life-long Harahan resident Charles (Charlie) Brent Jr., was born on  August 31, 1948. This Multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger for the Ronnie Kole Septet, Ann-Margret, Irma Thomas, and the Tonight Show Band also worked with the Contours, the New Era, Wayne Cochran & the C.C. Riders, Luther Kent & Trick Bag, the Chicken Hawks, the Mambo Brothers, and many others. A talented player of the guitar and saxophone he toured with rock and soul bands throughout the country and tutored local musicians at home. A graduate of De la Salle High School, he attended Loyola University School of Music where he was instrumental in establishing the university's jazz program. Charlie died at age 58 on November 28, 2006.

Advertisements from the August 31, 1943 edition of the Times-Picayune:

Times-Picayune ad -- August 31, 1943

Special Events for Service Men, coordinated by the New Orleans Recreation Center, on August 31, 1943 included a Meeeting of  Service Men's Wives and Walking Tour of the French Quarter -- U.S.O., 818 Gravier Street., 1 P.M., a Bowling Party originating at  119 Carondalet Street at 2 P.M., and a Swimming Party at  St. Mark's Community Center at 1130 South Rampart Street followed by Ping-Pong, Badminton, Shuffle Board, and Refreshments in the Courtyard. 7 -- 10:30 P.M.  Meet originating at 119 Carondalet (Transportation Provided).

Born on August 31, 1933 in Algiers, Herman Riley, whose mother Nell Brooks was a jazz and gospel singer,  played Blues and Bebop-rooted Tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet and bass clarinet in a blues and beboo rooted style.  He attended L.B. Landry high school where the black musicians union president and teacer William Houston brought local jazzmen to play for student assemblies and dances.  Riley was a member of the  school orchestra and marching band and also played professionally while still in high school, performing with Ivory Joe Hunter, Guitar Slim, and Paul Gayten.  He went on to study cello and bassoon at Southern University in Baton Rouge. He moved to Los Angeles, after serving in the U.S. Army, where he performed live and recorded on Motown West with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Supremes.  He toured in the U.S. with Della Reese and as a member of the New Grove band backing Sammy Davis.  He perfomed with Count Basie, Etta James, and others. He traveled through Japan with Quincy Jones and Benny Carter, to Scandinavia with Mercer Ellington's orchestra, to South Africa with Monk Montgomery, and to London with Jimmy Smith.  He passed away on April 14, 2007 at the age of 73. (Wiki)

Jazz Musician Bill Eastwood was born on August 31, 1899.  During the 1920s New Orleans banjoist and guitarist Bill Eastwood played with New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Norman Brownlee and the Halfway House Orchestra, and many other.  He later became a business agent for the musicians union. He died in New Orleans in 1960.  Click Here to Listen to She's cryin' for me  recorded by Bill Eastwood on banjo with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings on March 3, 1925 along with composer Santo Pecora, Charlie Cordilla on clarinet, Paul Mares playing cornet, drummist Leo Adde, Glynn Lea ("Red") Long playing piano and trombone, and Chink Martin on the tuba.

On August 31, 1819, a battle occurred between United States Revenue Cutter Service cutters and one of Jean Lafitte's pirate ships, the Bravo. After a brief gunnery battle, the Americans boarded the enemy ship. The pirates captured included commandant  Jean La Farges, a lieutenant of Jean Lafitte.

A hurricane that moved through Cuba on the 27th and 28th of August, 1794, struck New Orleans on the 31st and produced crop damage. The storm surge moved inland from Balize (Pilottown) westward to the Plaquemines as deep as 10 feet in places, totally engulfing Fort St. Phillip and drowning their chief engineer. Large hail was also noted in the storm; a very unusual event in a hurricane. Nine hours of high winds tormented what is now Avoyelles Parish on September 1st as the storm continued marching northward. Many lives, cattle, and horses perished in the storm. (Wiki)

Hurricane Katrina Time-line
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Downgraded to a tropical depression


At 10:00 PM CDT (0300 UTC), Mayor Ray Nagin announced that the planned sandbagging of the 17th Street Canal levee breach had failed. At the time, 85% of the city was underwater.

Michael Chertoff released a memo to other cabinet members and the Environmental Protection Agency stating that, "the President has established the 'White House Task Force on Hurricane Katrina Response.' He will meet with us tomorrow to launch this effort." The memo also declared Hurricane Katrina to be an Incident of National Significance and designated Michael Brown, Under-Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R), as the Principal Federal Official (PFO) for incident management purposes."

In a national news conference presided over by Chertoff, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson announces relaxation of Federal fuel and emissions standards in response to Katrina.

The USS Bataan was positioned off the coast of Gulfport, Mississippi to support the relief efforts. The United States Navy moved additional ships and helicopters into the region at the request of FEMA. The number of National Guardsmen on duty in the Gulf Coast rose to approximately 8,300 [actually 10,428 Army National Guard and 960 Air National Guard were deployed - 11,388 total]. They remained under their respective governor's control, which enables them to provide law-enforcement support in the affected regions, which is prohibited [to the military] by the Posse Comitatus Act.

President Bush returned early to Washington from vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. Though he does not stop in Louisiana, Air Force One flies low over the Gulf Coast so that he can view the devastation in Air Force One. He later declared a Public Health Emergency for the Gulf Coast.

Mayor Nagin ordered almost the entire New Orleans' police force to abandon search and rescue missions and turn their attention toward controlling the widespread looting and a curfew is placed in effect.

State workers began work at closing the 17th Street Canal breach, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adds additional resources to the task.

At 11:00 PM EDT (0300 UTC), the National Hurricane Center announced that the center of the remnant low of what was Hurricane Katrina has been completely absorbed by a frontal boundary in southeastern Canada, with no discernible circulation.The remnants of the hurricane caused roads in northern Quebec to be rutted and eroded by heavy rainfall, isolating the north shore communities for several days.

BNSF Railway announced that it expected to restore limited freight service to southern Louisiana by September 1. Other than debris on the mainline, the biggest problem facing crews working to reopen the line is the damage to the Bayou Boeuf bridge in Morgan City, Louisiana. The bridge and bridge piers were struck by a barge propelled by the storm's winds and wave action. BNSF sent crews to repair damaged railway signal systems starting on August 30. BNSF transferred freight through other hubs such as St. Louis, Chicago, and Memphis until service was restored.

Norfolk Southern (NS) announced that the majority their mainlines that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina were again operational. They removed almost 3,700 fallen trees and inspected over 1,400 miles (2,253 km) of track before setting trains in motion. Tracks directly into New Orleans, however, remained out of service due to washouts, continued flooding, as well as the city's evacuation orders. Freight that would have normally transferred in New Orleans was routed to other terminals across the NS system. The company's experience with previous hurricanes helped it to prepare action plans before Katrina made landfall. They moved repair equipment, supplies and employees into nearby areas and quickly deployed them to inspect and repair the system after the storm passed.
The Associated Press reported that MSY would receive humanitarian flights, and that the airport "has no significant airfield damage and had no standing water in aircraft movement areas", although the airport did, as the article put it, "[sustain] damage to its roofs, hangars and fencing."

On August 31, it was announced that the Superdome evacuees would move to the Reliant Astrodome in Houston, Texas. With no power and no water, sanitary conditions within the Superdome had rapidly deteriorated. As of August 31, there had been three deaths in the Superdome: two elderly medical patients and a man who is believed to have committed suicide by jumping from the upper level seats.

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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).

Shushan Airport
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