Today in New Orleans History

August 5

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Tuts Washington Dies
August 5, 1984

Pianist Isidore "Tuts" Washington, born in New Orleans on January 24, 1907, exemplified the New Orleans rhythm and blues style, also made famous by musicians such as Professor Longhair. Washington taught himself piano at age 10, and studied with New Orleans jazz pianist Joseph Louis "Red" Cayou. In the 1920s and 1930s, he was a leading player for New Orleans dance and Dixieland bands. His unique style of play blended elements of ragtime, jazz, blues, and boogie-woogie.

After World War II, Washington joined the band of singer/guitarist Smiley Lewis; they released several well-known songs on Imperial Records including "Tee Nah Nah," "Tipitina", "The Bells Are Ringing" and "Dirty People." He then moved to St. Louis to play with Tab Smith. He returned to New Orleans in the 1960s, continuing to appear at restaurants in the French Quarter, clubs such as Tipitina's, and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. For years he had a regular gig playing piano at a bar in the Pontchartrain Hotel. Although he avoided recording for most of his career, he released the solo piano album New Orleans Piano Professor on Rounder Records in 1983.

Tuts Washington died on August 5, 1984, after suffering a heart attack while performing at the World's Fair in New Orleans. In 1998, Night Train International Records released a live recording by Washington, Live at Tipitina's 78. (Wiki)

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On August 5, 2011, a federal jury in New Orleans convicted five police officers of myriad charges related to the cover-up and deprivation of civil rights in the Danzinger Bridge shootings. The convictions were vacated on September 17, 2013 due to prosecutorial misconduct, and a new trial was ordered.

On August 5, 2009, Congressman  William J. Jefferson was convicted in a Virginia court on 11 of the 16 felony counts.

Lester Lautenschlaeger, born in New Orleans on May 27, 1904, was a Tulane quarterback who was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975.  He died on August 5, 1986.

On August 5, 1978, the NFL played its first game in Mexico City. The New Orleans Saints beat the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 14–7. (Wiki)

NOFD companies Engine 43 - 2041 Egania St and Engine 47 - 7311 Chef Menteur Hwy. were disbanded on August 5, 1976.

The origins of Hurricane Camille were from a tropical wave off the western coast of Africa on August 5, 1969.

On August 5 and 6, 1963, according to anti-Castro militant Carlos Bringuier, Oswald visited him at a store he owned in New Orleans. Bringuier was the New Orleans delegate for the Student Revolutionary Directorate (DRE), an anti-Castro organization. Bringuier would later tell the Warren Commission that he believed Oswald's visits were an attempt by Oswald to infiltrate his group. On August 9, Oswald turned up in downtown New Orleans handing out pro-Castro leaflets. Bringuier confronted Oswald, claiming he was tipped off about Oswald's leafleting by a friend. A scuffle ensued and Oswald, Bringuier, and two of Bringuier's friends were arrested for disturbing the peace. Before leaving the police station, Oswald asked to speak with an FBI agent. Agent John Quigley arrived and spent over an hour talking to Oswald. A week later, on August 16, Oswald again passed out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets with two hired helpers, this time in front of the International Trade Mart. The incident was filmed by WDSU—the local TV station. The next day, Oswald was interviewed by WDSU radio commentator William Stuckey, who probed Oswald's background. A few days later, Oswald accepted Stuckey's invitation to take part in a radio debate with Carlos Bringuier and Bringuier's associate Edward Butler, head of the right-wing Information Council of the Americas. (Wiki)

August 5, 1958 -- Times-Picayune
Hope Mausoleum
4841 Canal Street in St. John Cemetery

Born in New Orleans on August 5, 1948, Wade Rathke (a graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School) founded the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 100. He was ACORN's chief organizer from its founding in 1970 until June 2, 2008.

NOPL photo -- The first NORD Play Day, City Park Stadium, August 5, 1947. In addition to the checkers matches pictured here, kids were invited to sign up for events described in the June 27 Times-Picayune as “potato and heel grasp races, 50-yard dashes, over and under, skip rope relays, dodge ball, bean-bag circle games, and almost any other game played by kids everywhere.” The youngsters traveled to City Park via special buses, streetcars and trucks. Mayor Morrison provided ice cream, cake, and soft drinks and, according to the August 6 Picayune account, 10,000 scoops of ice cream were consumed.

Actor, director, screenwriter and producer Benjamin "Bob" Clark, born in New Orleans on August 5, 1939, was best known for directing and writing the script with Jean Shepherd for the 1983 film A Christmas Story.  He passed away on April 4, 2007.

Chicago and Southern Air Lines Flight 4 was a regularly scheduled flight from New Orleans to Chicago via Jackson, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and St. Louis, Missouri, operated with a Lockheed Model 10 Electra. On August 5, 1936, after departing from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, the flight crashed in a farm field near the Missouri River. All 6 passengers and 2 crew members were killed. (Wiki)

Friends Dottie Lambour (later Dorothy Lamour) and Dorothy Dell Goff both competed in the Miss New Orleans beauty contest at Pontchartrain Beach's original location at Bayou St. John and the lakefront.  Goff was crowned queen, and Dottie took fourth place, in front of a crowd reportedly of 10,000 people.   A few weeks later, on Friday, August 1, 1930, Dottie and Dorothy boarded a 9 p.m. train at Union Station along with their mothers to head to Galveston for the International Pageant of Pulchritude (the Miss America and Miss Universe contests).  Dottie's ranking in the New Orleans pageant qualified her as an alternate for Goff, who was crowned Miss United States (Miss America) on August 5, 1930 and then Miss Universe on August 10, 1930 in the Texas pageants.  Goff, as Dorothy Dell became a film actress whose young life was cut short in an automobile accident on June 8, 1934 near Pasadena, California.

The Axman Murders
Louis Besumer and his mistress Harriet Lowe, were attacked in the early morning hours of June 27, 1918, in the quarters at the back of his grocery which was located at the corner of Dorgenois and Laharpe Streets. Besumer was struck with a hatchet above his right temple, which resulted in a possible skull fracture. Lowe was hacked over the left ear, and found unconscious when police arrived at the scene. The couple was discovered shortly after 7 AM on the morning of the attack by John Zanca, driver of a bakery wagon who had come to the grocery in order to make a routine delivery. Zanca found both Besumer and Lowe in a puddle of their own blood, both bleeding from their heads. The axe, which had belonged to Besumer, was found in the bathroom of the apartment. Besumer later stated to police that he had been sleeping when he was bashed with the hatchet.Almost immediately, police arrested potential suspect Lewis Oubicon, a then 41 year old African American man who had been employed in Besumer's store just a week before the attacks. No evidence existed which could have proved the man guilty, yet police arrested him nonetheless, stating that Oubicon had offered conflicting accounts of his whereabouts on the morning of the attack. Shortly after the attempted murder Lowe stated that she remembered having been attacked by a mulatto man, yet her statement was discounted by police due to her disillusioned state. Robbery was said to be the only possible explanation for the attacks, yet no money or valuables were removed from the couple's home.Oubicon was later released as police were unable to gather sufficient evidence to hold him accountable for the crimes. Media attention soon turned to Besumer himself, as a series of letters written in German, Russian, and Yiddish were discovered in a trunk at the man's home. Police suspected that Besumer was a German spy, and government officials began a full investigation of his potential espionage. Weeks later, after going in and out of consciousness, Harriet Lowe told police that she thought Besumer was in fact a German spy, which led to his immediate arrest. Two days later Besumer was released, and two lead investigators of the case were demoted due to unacceptable police work. Besumer was once again arrested in August 1918, after Harriet Lowe, who lay dying in Charity Hospital after a failed surgery, stated that it was he who had attacked her more than a month previously with his hatchet. He was charged with murder, and served nine months in prison before being acquitted on May 1, 1919 after a ten minute jury deliberation.

Harriet Lowe was attacked while in bed with Louis Besumer. As is mentioned previously, Lowe was hacked above her left ear and found unconscious at the scene of the crime before she was rushed to Charity Hospital.   Lowe became the center of a media circus, as she continually made scandalous and often false statements relating to both the attacks and the character of Louis Besumer, some of which are described in the preceding description. The Times-Picayune sensationalized Lowe and her outspoken nature upon discovering that she was not the wife of Besumer, but his mistress. A Charity Hospital source discovered the scandal, when Besumer asked to be directed to the room of "Mrs. Harriet Lowe," and was inevitably denied access as no woman by that name was a patient. Besumer's legal wife arrived from Cincinnati in the days immediately following the discovery, which further inflamed the ongoing drama. Lowe further gained media attention as she repeatedly made statements which voiced her dislike of the New Orleans chief of police, as well as her reluctance to comply with police questioning. After the truth of her marital status was revealed publicly, Lowe told reporters from the Times-Picayune that she would no longer aid the police in their investigation, as she suspected that it had been Chief Mooney who first informed the press of the scandal. Despite the scandal, and her delirious statements which suggested that Besumer was a German spy, Lowe returned to the home she shared with Besumer weeks after the attack. One side of her face was partially paralyzed due to the severity of the attack. Lowe died August 5, 1918, just two days after doctors performed surgery in an effort to repair her partially paralyzed face. Just prior to her death, Lowe told authorities that she suspected it was Louis Besumer who had attacked her

Mrs. Schneider was attacked in the early evening hours of August 5, 1918. The 8 months pregnant, 28 year old of Elmira Street, awoke to find a dark figure standing over her, and was bashed in the face repeatedly. Her scalp had been cut open, and her face was completely covered in blood. Mrs. Schneider was discovered after midnight by her husband, Ed Schneider, who was returning late from work. Schneider claimed that she remembered nothing of the attack, and gave birth to a healthy baby girl two days after the incident. Her husband told police that nothing was stolen from the home, besides six or seven dollars that had been in his wallet. The windows and doors of the apartment appear to have not been forced open, and authorities came to the conclusion that the woman was most likely attacked with a lamp that had been on a nearby table. James Gleason, who police said was an ex-convict, was arrested shortly after Schneider was found. Gleason was later released due to a complete lack of evidence, and stated that he originally ran from authorities because he had so often been arrested. Lead investigators began to publicly speculate that the attack was related to the previous incidents involving Besumer and Maggio.

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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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