Today in New Orleans History

June 27

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New Orleans Playboy Club Bunny Advertisement
June 27, 1961 
In anticipation of the October 13, 1961 opening of the Playboy Club  in New Orleans, on June 27, 1961,  the above ad ran in the Times-Picayune, seeking "attractive, intellegent,  personable young ladies of legal age and good moral character" to work at the Playboy Club at 725 Iberville Street.  The advertisement, which ran on the amusement page, described the clubs as "distinguished private key clubs". 
On the same page, ads included what was playing at the"the movies".  At the Drive-ins were "Wackiest Ship in the Army" at the Airline, "101 Dalmatians" at the Twin Do, "Private Life of Adam and Eve" at the Jeff, and "On the Waterfront" at the St. Bernard.  At "the shows" were Elvis in "Wild in the West" (upcoming was "Snow White and the Three Stooges) at the Saenger, "Parrish" at he RKO Orpheum, "Exodus" at the Civic, "Swiss Family Robinson" at the Aereon, "Butterfield Eight" at the Arrow, "Cinderfella" at the Lincoln, and several locations showing "Return to Peyton Place".
The President was offering sightseeing cruises and Pontchartrain Beach beckoned visitors for the "Last 3 Thrill Days" of the summer of '61.  Harry J. Batt noted that "The Nerveless Nocks" -- a foursome of three men and one woman "on swaying poles (40 feet apart)" who performed "high-high in the air" --  were the "most thrilling we have ever presented".  In addition to the Nocks, "The Rixos", "Swiss balancing stars on the high suspended ladder" were guaranteed to bring thrills while "Bumbo the Balloon Clown" was doing his thing at Old McDonald's Barn.

Charity Hospital Tunnel
June 27, 1939
A new Charity Hospital was constructed on the old hospital's Tulane Avenue site in 1938 utilizing federal relief funds of the New Deal era. The Sister Stanislaus Memorial Building was also constructed in 1938 using federal funds to house the Charity School of Nursing. Other extant facilities constructed during this period to support Charity Hospital include the General Services Building, Laundry, Power House and Maintenance Building. These buildings are believed to have also been built with Federal Relief funds.

Tulane Medical School and the LSU Medical School were both established in New Orleans and located adjacent to Charity Hospital. Both medical schools used Charity Hospital as a teaching hospital and locating them geographically near this facility was advantageous.
Expansion of the Tulane downtown medical campus began through the generous donation of Alexander Charles Hutchinson. Hutchinson, president of the Morgan Steamship Line and Houston and Texas Railroad, donated the bulk of his estate to Tulane University for the benefit of its Medical Department. In 1930 the Josephine Hutchinson Memorial Building on Tulane Avenue across the street from Charity Hospital was dedicated. This new building expanded Tulane's medical school facilities at the downtown campus by providing offices, clinicat space, X-ray laboratories, a library, and auditorium.
By 1940, an underground tunnel was completed between Tulane's Hutchinson Building and the newly completed Charity Hospital building utilizing Works Progress Administration funds. Running beneath LaSalle Street, the tunnel is approximately 150 feet long by 10 square-feet. The construction of the tunnel demonstrates the close working relationship of these two institutions. 
(Image from the New Orleans Public Library.  Text from

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New Orleans guitar player Camile Baudoin, born June 27, 1948, was a founding member of The Radiators band.

NICHOLSON, Eliza Jane Poitevent Holbrook, poet, newspaper proprietor. Born, near Pearlington, Miss., March 11, 1849; daughter of lumberman William James Poitevent and Mary Amelia Russ. Fifth of eight children, but lived with an uncle and aunt, the Leonard Kimballs, as a result of mother's ill health. Grew up on their farm near the Pearl River where her love of nature was reflected in poetry writing by age fourteen. Education: at home; Amite Female Seminary. Using the name "Pearl Rivers," sent work to John W. Overall, editor of The South. His encouragement led to the submission of poems to such publications as the Home Journal in New York and the Daily Picayune and the Times in New Orleans. Poems appeared in an anthology by 1869. In 1870 accepted the post of literary editor of the Daily Picayune. On May 18, 1872, married the owner of the Picayune, Alva Morris Holbrook (q.v.), forty-one years older than Eliza. After his death in January, 1876, took over the joint position of editor-publisher and brought the paper from bankruptcy to financial success within the next twenty years. Married the business manager of the paper, George Nicholson (q.v.), a native of England, thirty-one years her senior, on June 27, 1878. Children: Leonard Kimball (b. 1881) and Yorke Poitevent (b. 1883). As editor-publisher of the Daily Picayune, turned the paper into a family publication featuring the society page, a young people's section, comics, household and medical columns, advice to the lovelorn, and a literary section. Also championed such civic causes as free night schools and humane treatment of animals. Served as president of the Women's National Press Association in 1884. Publication: Lyrics, a selection of poems (1873). Died, February 15, 1896, from influenza, ten days after the death of second husband; interred Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, La. J.J.J. Sources: Thomas E. Dabney, One Hundred Great Years (1944); James H. Harrison, Pearl Rivers, Publisher of the Picayune (1932); Notable American Women, 1607-1950, 3 vols. (1971); and New Orleans Daily Picayune, February 16, 1896. From

On June 27th, 1957, Hurrican Audrey, the most destructive hurricane to strike Southwest Louisiana until that time, moved ashore near the Texas/Louisiana border causing a disastrous storm surge.  Storm surges of 6 feet of more extended from Galveston, TX along the coast to Cocodrie, LA. The highest storm surge measured was 12.4 feet west of Cameron. In Vermilion Parish, the storm surge pushed inland to Perry, just south of Abbeville. Much of St. Mary Parish was also inundated by Audrey. Highest winds were reported to 96 m.p.h. at the NWS site with reports up to 105 m.p.h. in Lake Charles. An unofficial report of 180 m.p.h. winds was received from an oil rig, however this could have been associated with a severe thunderstorm embedded within Audrey's eye wall. Oil company tenders reported 150 m.p.h. winds which, although they are unofficial, are believed to be reasonably accurate. Waves associated with the storm were monstrous, indeed. In the gulf, seas of 45 to 50 feet were reported. Waves at Cameron reached as high as 20 feet above mean sea level. Two tornadoes were spawned; one in New Orleans and the other in Arnaudville. Out of the 100,000 buildings that experienced damage, several thousand were destroyed. Between 90 and 95 percent of the buildings in Cameron and Lower Vermilion Parishes were damaged beyond repair. The most quoted total of lives lost by all causes due to Audrey is around 526 people ; most of them were in Cameron Parish. Damages in Louisiana totaled $120 million. The most curious aspect of the storm was the exodus of wildlife preceding it. On the evening before landfall, thousands of crawfish were seen fleeing the marshes around Cameron. A few enterprising locals decided to collect them and put them in their freezer,  unaware of the significance of this event. Needless to say, these crawfish were never brought to a boil the following day, as planned. See Texas Hurricane History for more on this storm.

Jazz drummer Antonio Sparbaro, better known as Tony Sbarbaro or Tony Spargo was born in New Orleans on June 27, 1897. He was a member of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band for over 50 years. Early in his career he played with the Frayle Brothers Band (possibly as early as 1911) and the Reliance Band of Papa Jack Laine. He did side work with Merritt Brunies and Carl Randall. He joined the Original Dixieland Jazz Band for their initial recordings in 1917, became its leader in the 1940s, and remained a member until its dissolution in the 1960s. Sparbaro was the only founding member still in the group at that time. He also composed for the group, writing the tune "Mourning Blues" among others.  Sbarbaro's drum set had a number of nonstandard qualities. He employed wood blocks, cowbells, and Chinese tom-toms, and used a custom arrangement for his bass and snare drums. He used the technique known as "double-drumming", hitting the bass drum with the butt end of the drum stick. Sbarbaro even put stuffed animals inside drums to change their sound. He also had a kazoo attached to his set, providing some of the ODJB's trademark sound effects.  He remained a fixture of Dixieland jazz performance for most of his life, playing later in life in New Orleans with Miff Mole, Big Chief Moore, Pee Wee Erwin, and Eddie Condon. He played at the New York World's Fair in 1941 and with Connee Boswell in the 1950s. He quit music in the 1960s due to the popularity of rock & roll.  He died on October 30, 1969. From

June 27 – Hurricane Audrey demolishes Cameron, Louisiana, U.S., killing 400 people.
June 27th, 1957 (Audrey): The most destructive hurricane to strike southwest Louisiana was Audrey. She formed in the southwest Gulf of Mexico and moved due north, becoming the strongest hurricane ever to form in June. Warnings were issued 24 hours before landfall. However, the storm sped up its forward motion overnight on the 26th, catching residents and meteorologists alike in the area by surprise. Audrey moved ashore near the Texas/Louisiana border on the morning of the 27th causing a disastrous storm surge. Picture to the right, courtesy of the U.S. Air Force, is a radar composite from early on the morning of June 27th.
Gulf waters began to surge ashore during the early morning hours. Some in Cameron fled to the courthouse…the only structure that survived Audrey. Others were more unfortunate. Wood-frame houses floated like boats inland, in some cases, landing many miles away from their original location. Most were found along the Intracoastal Waterway after the storm. Over 1.6 million acres of land were flooded by the storm surge and headwater flooding along the rivers of southwest Louisiana. The storm surge began to recede early that afternoon. Many who survived the storm rebuilt, but few were placed on pilings. Storm surges of six feet of more extended from Galveston, TX along the coast to Cocodrie, LA. The highest storm surge measured was 12.4 feet west of Cameron. In Vermilion Parish, the storm surge pushed inland to Perry, just south of Abbeville, and put Pecan Island under feet of saltwater. Much of St. Mary Parish was also inundated by Audrey. Waves associated with the storm were monstrous, indeed. In the Gulf, seas of 45 to 50 feet were reported. Waves at Cameron reached as high as 20 feet above mean sea level; this was on top of the storm surge.
Hurricane-force winds were experienced from Port Arthur, Texas eastward to Mobile, Alabama. Highest winds were reported to 96 mph at the NWS site at the Lake Charles Air Base (now Chenault Field) with reports up to 105 mph in Lake Charles. A pressure of 905 hPa, or 26.74”, was reported by offshore oil platforms as Audrey neared the coast. An unofficial report of 185 mph winds was received from an oil rig, however this could have been associated with a severe thunderstorm embedded within Audrey's eye wall. Oil company tenders reported 150 mph winds which, although they are unofficial, are believed to be reasonably accurate. Rayne saw major damage to homes, businesses, and crops.
Church Point had many trees uprooted during the storm. High winds in Baton rouge blew out windows from the skyscraper Capitol. Two homes on Bayou Grosse Tete near Plaquemines were blown over (Menard). Heavy rainfall fell to the east of its track across southwest and central Louisiana.
Two tornadoes were spawned; one in New Orleans and the other in Arnaudville. Out of the 100,000 buildings that experienced damage, several thousand were destroyed.
Between 90 and 95 percent of the buildings in Cameron and Lower Vermilion Parishes were damaged beyond repair. The shrimp boat Bert H. Walling II sank in the Calcasieu channel below Cameron, its crewmen rescued. Two 50 foot long fishing boats were thrown onto Main street (Louisiana Highway 82) in Cameron. An offshore oil rig was shoved ashore, destroying four fuel storage tanks along the way. The tanker Tillamook had the misfortune of being within the eye of Audrey between 4 and 10 AM on the 27th. In an interesting coincidence, Audrey had the help of a ship named Audry. This ship of Lake Arthur demolished a home in Cameron on its way inland.
One of the more curious aspect of the storm was the exodus of wildlife preceding it. On the evening before landfall, thousands of crawfish were seen fleeing the marshes around Cameron. A few enterprising locals decided to collect them and put them in their freezer, unaware of the significance of this event. Needless to say, these crawfish were never brought to a boil the following day, as planned.
Masses of dead cattle, alligators, snakes, nutria, and muskrats blocked portions of the Intracoastal canal (Menard). A dead cow was found on top of a telephone pole two days after the storm moved inland. The total lives lost during Audrey stands at 416; most of them were in Cameron Parish. Damages in Louisiana totaled $120 million.

Second Axman Attack
June 27, 1918

 A Wave of Terror

Michael Pepitone/Pipitone was attacked on the night of October 27, 1919. His wife was awakened by a noise and arrived at the door of his bedroom just as a large, axe-wielding man was fleeing the scene. Mike Pepitone had been struck in the head, and was covered in his own blood. Blood splatter covered the majority of the room, including a painting of the Virgin Mary. Mrs. Pepitone, the mother of six children, was unable to describe any characteristics of the killer. The Pepitone murder was the last of the alleged axman attacks.
The Axman was an alleged serial killer active in and surrounding communities, including Gretna, from May 1918 to October 1919. Press reports during the height of public panic about the killings mentioned similar murders as early as 1911, but recent researchers have called these reports into question.
In each of the murders one or more of the residents was killed with either an axe (which often belonged to the victims) or a straight razor and the murderer never removed items from the victims' homes.  In most cases, the back door of a home was smashed or the door panels were removed to allow entrance into the homes.  The majority of the victims were Italian-Americans.
The first victims were Joseph and Catherine Maggio.  Joseph Maggio. He was an Italian grocer who was attacked on May 22, 1918 while sleeping alongside his wife, Catherine, at their home on the corner of Upperline and Magnolia Streets, where they conducted a barroom and grocery. The killer broke into the home, and then proceeded to cut the couple's throats with a straight razor. Upon leaving he bashed their heads with an axe, perhaps in order to conceal the real cause of death. Joseph survived the attack, but died minutes after being discovered by his brothers Jake and Andrew Maggio. Catherine died prior to the brothers' arrival, her throat having been cut so deep that her head was nearly severed from her shoulders. In the apartment, law enforcement agents found the bloody clothes of the murderer, as he had obviously changed into a clean set of clothes before fleeing the scene. A complete search of the premises was not completed by police after the bodies were removed, yet later the bloody razor, which had been used to conduct the murders, was found in the lawn of a neighboring property. Police ruled out robbery as motivation for the attacks, as money and valuables left in plain sight were not stolen by the intruder. The razor used to kill the couple was found to belong to Andrew Maggio, the brother of the deceased who conducted a barber shop on camp street. His employee, Estaben Torres, told police that Maggio had removed the razor from his shop two days prior to the murder, explaining that he had wanted to have a nick honed from the blade.Maggio, who lived in the adjoining apartment to his brother's residence, discovered his slain brother and sister-in-law roughly two hours after the gruesome attacks had occurred, upon hearing strange groaning noises through the wall. Maggio blamed his lack of notice to the attacks that had occurred in the early morning hours to his intoxicated state, after a night of celebration prior to his departure to join the navy, yet police were nonetheless surprised that he failed to hear the intruder as he made a forced entry into the home.Andrew Maggio became the police chief's prime suspect in the crime, yet was released after investigators were unable to break down his statement, as well as his account of an unknown man who was supposedly seen lurking near the residence prior to the 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.
Joseph Romano was an elderly man living with his two nieces, Pauline and Mary Bruno. On August 10, 1918, Pauline and Mary awoke to the sound of a commotion in the adjoining room where their uncle resided. Upon entering the room, the sisters discovered that their uncle had taken a serious blow to his head, which resulted in two open cuts. The assailant was fleeing the scene as they arrived, yet the girls were able to distinguish that he was a dark-skinned, heavy-set man, who wore a dark suit and slouched hat. Romano, although seriously injured, was able to walk to the ambulance once it arrived, yet died two days later due to severe head trauma. The home had been ransacked, yet no items were stolen from Romano. Authorities found a bloody axe in the back yard, and discovered that a panel on the back door had been chiseled away. The Romano murder created a state of extreme chaos in the city, with residents living in constant fear of an axman attack. Police received a slew of reports, in which citizens claimed to have seen an axman lurking in New Orleans neighborhoods. A few men even called to report that they had found axes in their back yards.  John Dantonio, a then retired Italian detective, made public statements in which he hypothesized that the man who had committed the axman murders was the same who had killed several individuals in 1911. The retired detective cited similarities in the manner by which the two sets of homicides had been committed, as reason to assume that they had been conducted by the same individual. Dantonio described the potential killer as an individual of dual personalities, who killed without motive. This type of individual, Dantonio stated, could very likely have been a normal, law abiding citizen, who was often overcome by an overwhelming desire to kill. He later went on to describe the killer as a real-life "Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde".
Charles Cortimiglia was an immigrant who lived with his wife and baby on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Second Street in Gretna. On the night of March 10, 1919, screams were heard coming from the Cortimiglia Residence. Grocer Iorlando Jordano rushed across the street to investigate when he heard screams from the Cortimiglia residence.Upon his arrival, Jordano noticed that Charles Cortimiglia, his wife Rosie, and their infant daughter, Mary, had all been attacked by the unknown intruder. Rosie stood in the doorway with a serious head wound, clutching her deceased daughter. Charles lay on the floor, bleeding profusely. The couple was rushed to Charity Hospital, were it was discovered that both had suffered skull fractures. Nothing was stolen from the house, but a panel on the back door had been chiseled away. A bloody axe was found on the back porch of the home. Charles was released two days later, while his wife remained in the care of doctors. Upon gaining full consciousness, Rosie made claims that Iorlando Jordano and his 18 year old son, Frank, were responsible for the attacks. Iorlando, a 69 year old man, was in too poor of health to have committed the crimes. Frank Jordano, more than six feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds, would have been too large to have fit through the panel on the back door. Charles Cortimiglia vehemently denied his wife's claims, yet police nonetheless arrested the two, and charged them with the murder. The men would later be found guilty. Frank was sentenced to hang, and his father to life in prison. Charles Cortimiglia divorced his wife after the trial. Almost a year later, Rosie announced that she had falsely accused the two out of jealousy and spite. Her statement was the only evidence against the Jordanos, and they were released from jail shortly thereafter.
Rosie Cortimiglia was the wife of immigrant laborer Charles Cortimiglia. She was attacked alongside her husband on March 10, 1919 while sleeping with her baby in her arms. She was badly wounded by the axman, but survived the incident.Mary Cortimiglia was the two-year-old daughter of Charles and Rosie Cortimiglia. She was killed while sleeping in her mother's arms with a single blow to the back of the neck when she and her parents were attacked on March 10, 1919.
On March 13, 1919, a letter purporting to be from the Axman was published in the newspapers saying that he would kill again at 15 minutes past midnight on the night of March 19, but would spare the occupants of any place where a jazz band was playing. That night many New Orleans's dance halls were filled, while bands played jazz.   Victolas also played jazz in home living rooms. There were no murders that night.  The letter read:March 13, 1919

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axman. I don‘t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

The Axman
Some citizens sent the newspapers invitations (to be published) for the Axman to visit their homes on that St. Joseph's Day evening and see who would be killed first. One invitation promised to leave a window open for the Axman, politely asking that he not damage the front door.  A song was written (see above) by Joseph John Davilla titled "The Mysterious Axman's Jazz (Don't Scare Me Papa) and published by the World's Music Publishing Company which maintained an office at 413 Godchaux Building.
Steve Boca was a grocer who was attacked in his bedroom as he slept, by an axe-wielding intruder on August 10, 1919. Boca awoke during the night to find a dark figure looming over his bed. Upon regaining consciousness, Boca ran to the street to investigate the intrusion, and found that his head had been cracked open. The grocer ran to the home of his neighbor, Frank Genusa, where he lost consciousness and collapsed. Nothing had been taken from the home, yet, once again, a panel on the back door of the home had been chiseled away. Boca recovered from his injuries, but could not remember any details of the trauma. It should be noted that this attack took place after the emergence of the infamous axman letter.
Sarah Laumann was attacked on the night of September 3, 1919. Neighbors came to check on the young woman, who had lived alone, and broke into the home when Laumann did not answer. They discovered the 19 year-old lying unconscious on her bed, suffering from a severe head injury and missing several teeth. The intruder had entered the apartment through an open window, and attacked the woman with a blunt object. A bloody axe was discovered on the front lawn of the building. Laumann recovered from her injuries, yet couldn't recall any details from the attack.
Police arrested several suspects but all were cleared of charges.  However, a murder in 1921 brought attention to the wife of the last of the axman's victims when Esther Pepitone Albano shot and killed Joseph Mumfry in Los Angeles.  Mumfry's criminal record in New Orleans included a 1915 arrest for the murder of Vincent Moreci of which he was cleared.  He had been convicted for dynamiting the grocery of C. Graffignino at 241 South Claiborne and spent two years in the penitentiary before being paroled in 1917.  Soon after he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and sent back to prison for the parole violation.  He was realeased three months before Pepitone's murder.  In 1919 he was again arrested in New Orleans -- in his pocket was a notebook containg the the name of Angelo Albano (1100 Howard Avenue) along with aproximately 100 other names of "Italians" living in the city as well as in Chicago, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, New York, and other cities.  Police suspected that this was his blackmail list but could find no proof.
Not long after Michael Pepitone's muder, his widow married Anglo Albano (who was included in Mumfry's notebook).  In 1917 Albano and Mumphry were arrested together in Jefferson Parish.  According to Esther Pepitone Albano, her second husband went missing on October 27, 1921 after Mumfry repeatedly threatened death to both she and her husband unless they turned over money to him.  Mrs. Albano said that she was sure that Mumfry had killed her husband. She said that on December 5, 1921 Mumfry came to her and demanded $500 and threatened to kill her if she refused, so she shot him in self defense. At the time of his death, Mumfy was using the alias "M. G. Leone".
From and The Times-Picayune.
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