Today in New Orleans History

November 30

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Marion Abramson Dies
November 30, 1965
Born in New York City on August 29, 1905, Marion Pfeifer Abramson was raised in New Orleans, attended Isidore Newman School and graduated from Sophie Newcomb College in 1925.  She was editor of the Newcomb/Tulane Hulaballoo student newspaper and Ghost-wrote newspaper columns for football end Jerry Dalrymple ("My End of It" -- which several times appeared in the Saturday Evening Post) and  Tulane back Don Zimmerman ("Back Talk").
She married Louis Abramson Jr. in June 1925.  They had one child, Lucie Lee, who grew up to follow in her mother's footsteps regarding service to the community.  After World War II Marion became a member of the national board of the American Association of University Women and later served as president of the New Orleans chapter. She served on the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee in 1946, as a member of the Independent Women's Organization, and was elected in 1959 to serve as Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committeewoman for Ward 14.
During the 1950s she began planning for an educational television station for New Orleans. Her project was brought to fruition on October 23, 1957, when National Educational Television (NET) station WYES opened with Marion as Chairperson of board of directors of the Greater New Orleans Educational Television Association.  WYES-TV signed on the air on April 1, 1957 as the twelfth educational television station in the nation. In 1970, the station swapped frequency allocations with another local station, thus becoming Channel 12.
On September 21, 1965 August Perez and Associates submitted plans for the design of Marion Abramson High School at 5500 Reed Road in New Orleans East. Several weeks later, after a life of community service, Marion Abramson died on November 30, 1965, knowing that her name would live on in association with education.
The grainy newspaper photograph to the right is from the Friday, July 29, 1960 edition of the Times-Picayune.  It pictures the members of the Board of Trustees of the Greater New Orleans Educational Television Foundation. It was captioned: Members of the board are (from left, seated) Mrs. Abramson, James W. Ganus, Mrs. Walter Carroll Jr. (standing) Dr. Mayo L. Emory, T. Sterling Dunn, and Francis C. Doyle. The related article described a meeting of the group at the International House where Nash C. Roberts presided as President of the Board of Trustees.  The foundation was planning a two-hour (6-8 p.m.), 1500 women-strong, door-to-door fund-raiser and membership drive ($5 membership) to hopefully raise $25,000.  
Sources: The Times-Picayune, and WYES-TV. 
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November 30, 2009 - In a 38-17 Monday night win over New England, where the Patriots averaged a club record 9.6 yards per play, Brees completed 18-of-23 passes for 371 yards with five touchdowns. His career-high passer rating of 158.3, was the only the second perfect rating in club history. Brees was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

November 30, 2003 - McAllister rushes for 165 yards on 31 carries in a 24-20 victory at Washington, his ninth straight 100-yard game. The streak tied former Chicago RB Walter Payton and Jacksonville RB Fred Taylor for the third-longest in NFL history. He would be held below the milestone the following week vs. Tampa Bay;

Plans for Public Bath No. l - City of New Orleans at 400 St. Mary Street were submitted by Stone Brothers on November 30, 1909.

Board member George G. Friedrichs advocated renaming City Park for John McDonogh (45 years after his death). The City Park Improvement Association (CPIA) contested that 30 schools had already been named for him and that he had originally donated half of his land to Baltimore. The Daily Picayune reported on November 30, 1895, ”If the name McDonogh Park was substituted, there would be nothing the Commissioners to do but resign...An unfavorable report was made of the ordinance”. It is possible that McDonogh's reputation as an unsociable tight-wad (known as “McDonogh the Miser”) still weighed on the commission’s mind. Friedrich was a realtor who made a fortune in land – he owned Metairieburg, seen in the center of this map north of the New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad. It is now Bucktown and beyond. A street in the park is named for Friedrichs. It runs from Wisner Boulevard to Henry Thomas Drive as it passes Christian Brothers School.

Charles J. Leeds was the 37th mayor of New Orleans (from November 30, 1874December 19, 1876).

November 30, 1803: "In New Orleans, Louisiana, Spanish representatives officially transfer Louisiana Territory to a French representative. Just 20 days later, France transfers the same land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase."  In April 1803, Napoleon sold Louisiana (which then included portions of more than a dozen present-day states) to the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase. A French prefect, Pierre Clément de Laussat, who had arrived in New Orleans on March 23, 1803, formally took control of Louisiana for France on November 30, 1803, only to hand it over to the U.S. on December 20, 1803. In the meantime he created New Orleans' first city council.

Last Tulane Game at Sugar Bowl Stadium
November 30, 1974

Ground was broken for Tulane stadium on April 7, 1924.  It opened on October 23, 1926 with a seating capacity of roughly 35,000. New Orleans-Item sports editor Fred Digby popularized the term "Sugar Bowl" in 1927. The first Sugar Bowl game was played there on January 1, 1935, against the Philadelphia Temple Owls.  The last was on December 31, 1974 when Nebraska beat Florida 14-10.

In 1947 the stadium was expanded to accommodate 80,985 fans. Lights were installed in 1957.

It was the home of the  Saints, from their first game on September 17, 1967 when John Gilliam returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown (but they lost 27-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams) until December 8, 1974 when they won 14-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals. On November 8, 1970, Tom Dempsey made his record-breaking 63-yard field goal there, pushing the Saints into a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions.

TodayInNewOrleansHistory/TulaneStadiumDemolition.gifTulane Stadium was the site of three of the first nine Super Bowls -- Super Bowls IV in 1970, VI in 1972, and IX in 1975. Super Bowl IX was the final professional league game ever played at the stadium. It would become one of three stadiums which hosted a Super Bowl and are no longer standing. Tampa Stadium (which hosted two Super Bowls) was demolished in April 1999 and the Orange Bowl (which hosted five Super Bowl games) was demolished in September 2008.

The record attendance of 86,598 was set on December 1, 1973, during the last game played by LSU against Tulane in the Sugar Bowl. Tulane defeated LSU 14-0, ending a 25-year winless streak against LSU.

Tulane's final game at their home stadium ended in a 26-10 loss to Ole Miss on November 30, 1974. 
During its final five years, the stadium was used for football practice, high-school games (in a limited seating area), and other smaller events. The Denver Broncos used Tulane Stadium as its practice field prior to Super Bowl XII, the first Super Bowl played in the Superdome.

The last game ever played in Tulane Stadium was between De La Salleand Rummel on November 1, 1979. The last point scored in Tulane Stadium History was by Rummel High place kicker Gary Boudreaux.  The stadium was under demolition from November 18, 1979 through June 15, 1980.  (Photo by Infrogmation, 1980)

Willie Pastrano Holds Boxing's Light Heavyweight Title
November 30, 1964 
Born in New Orleans on November 27, 1935, boxer Wilfred "Willie" Raleigh Pastrano was the light-heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1963 until 1965.
A close friend of boxer Ralph Dupas, as kids they trained under Coach Ernest "Whitey" Esneault at St. Mary's Italian gym on Chartres Street in the French Quarter.  The first mention of Pastrano in the Times-Picayune reported his upcoming bout for the Southern AAU boxing charmpionship at Buras Auditorium on June 1, 1951, representing St. Mary's CYO.  He weighed 135 pounds.  Several months later, he made his professional debut at age 16 on September 8, 1951 against Leo Bayard at Municipal Auditorium.  
As a pro he was managed by Angelo Dundee and often sparred with Dundee's greatest champ, Cassius Clay/Mohammad Ali.  Pastrano won the light heavyweight championship on June 1, 1963 against Harold Johnson in a 15 round decision at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  He held the title by defeating Argentine's Gregorio Peralta with a technical knockout in the fifth round at the Municipal Auditorium on April 10, 1964, and again on November 30, 1964 at King's Hall in Manchester, England in an 11 round TKO.
Pastrano appeared on the cover of  issue of Sports Illustrated with the caption reading "Light Heavyweight Willie Pastrano Ready to Defend His Title" against Jose Torres at Madison Square Garden.  He lost that title on March 30, 1965 in a 9th round TKO, and never fought professionally again.

Willie Pastrano died n New Orleans on December 9, 1997 at the age of 62.

We Love Lucy
In Search of Aunt Sally's Pralines
TodayInNewOrleansHistory/1956November30LucilleBallFundRaiserAd.gifLuciille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley were in town on November 29, 1956 to appear in two local charity benefits in connection with possibly filming an episode of I Love Lucy in New Orleans. They arrived at Moisant airport at 10 a.m., where they were greeted by a large crowd.  They visited patients in Crippled Children's Hospital at 200 Henry Clay Avenue.
At City Hall, Councilman Victor H. Schiro read a resolution, ceremoniously signed by Councilman James E. Fitzmorris which proclaimed each of them a "Honor Citizen for a Day" to welcome the cast, hosted a press party, and enjoyed a dinner in their honor.  A press conference followed, where Arnaz described the relationship with his wife (they celebrated their 17th anniversary the following day), "We are both quick on that trigger.  We both fly off the handle pretty fast.  Be we cool down fast, too."  He said that their domestic arguments are sometimes used as material by the show's writers.  Lucy countered with "Desi is definitely the brains behind the show."  The couple first met in 1939 when they were both filming "Too Many Girls".  They were wed six months later.  Their daughter Lucie was now 5 1/2 years old and son Desi IV was almost 4.  Arnaz told Mayor Morrison that his father had been mayor of Santiago and a congressman from Cuba before Castro's revolution when he left the country.  Arnaz also took a moment to thank, in  Spanish, the English and Spanish-speaking New Orleanians for their welcome at the airport in the rain.
William Frawley told a local reporter that his contract was expiring in March and that he was considering taking the role of Jiggs in a new show where he would play opposite of Bee Benadaret's Maggie (of comic strip fame).  
On Friday, November 30, 1956, the cast enjoyed a luncheon trip aboard the Good Neighbor, the official yacht of the Port of New Orleans.  Then they were off to the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) benefit at Lyons Youth Center at 224 Louisiana Avenue at 4 in the afternoon.  Lester Lautenschiaeger, NORD director, arranged the free event for the Golden Age Clubs.  It began with the showing of a forthcoming episode of I Love Lucy, followed by a performance by NORD actors, and the introduction of the Hollywood cast who signed autographs for an estimated 5,000 children and adults.
Friday evening marked the Crippled Children's Hospital Guild annual benefit ball from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Roosevelt Hotel's International Room with music by New Orleans' own Johnny Dedroit's Orchestra.  Tickets cost $7.50 per person.  This advertisement was printed in the November 25, 1956 edition of  the Times-Picayune. 
As mentioned above, the press reported that the cast was in town, not only for the charitble events, but also in connection with a possible filming of the show in New Orleans.  Desi Arnaz had appeared on the Ed Sullivan show during before the Season six premier and said that he was going to New Orleans to fil an episode with Jack Benny and Maurice Chevalier.  This plan never materialized but in the January 17, 1955 episode titled "First Stop", the cast was in search of Aunt Sally's Pecan Pralines. 

Breaking Ground for the New Main Library
November 30, 1956
On November 30, 1956, ground was broken at 219 Loyola for a new main branch of the New Orleans Public Library.  The following quote is by Arthur Q. Davis, the lead architect:

It is difficult to realize that it has been 40 years since John Hall Jacobs (the Chief Librarian in 1958) and I developed a philosophy for the design of the new Main Branch of the New Orleans Public Library. The concept, which all parties readily embraced, was that we should create a building of openness, more like a department store space, rather than the contemporary conventional libraries of that period which seemed to turn inward upon themselves. He wanted, and I think we were able to deliver, a building that would have a feeling of "welcome," visually as well as emotionally bringing patrons into a space where they would not only have access to books and periodicals, and other reading materials, but also stimulate a desire to browse into other areas of the library.

Building on this concept, we were able to create spaces which flowed into almost every part of the building. The visitors are able to sense and be aware of what was happening in other areas of the library. As an example, from the check-out counter, under the mezzanine, but also the second level with vistas into the spaces beyond the building, including the sunshine, clouds and trees in the rooftop patios. This open plan concept permitted maximum flexibility, and through the 40 years of its constant use there have been opportunities to change uses within the existing volume. With the open plan concept, it has been a relatively easy matter to convert spaces to different functions, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the design of the building. This is probably a unique feature of the library.

Since the exterior is sheathed in glass there is, in the daytime, a view from all parts of the library out into Duncan Plaza, and the green lawns and magnolia trees give the building a sense of place. In the evening, the structure takes on a glow. When lit from within the building literally sparkles. This is due not only to the glass facade, but also the anodized aluminum sunscreen which is functional, as well as decorative. We made calculations on the screen which would not only be ornamental, but also serve as sun control, shading the building from 9:00 a.m. till sunset, giving protection from the low winter sun, as well as recognizing the conditions at the high summer solstice. Just as an anecdote, it might be interesting to note that our original concept of the sunscreen was to be gold anodized, which we felt would give the exterior an even more dramatic effect, but the Mayor, at that time, deLesseps S. Morrison, decided that the appearance of a gold building would be something that the public might read as a waste of public funds and therefore we were forced to change our specifications to an aluminum finish rather than gold. 

Since the major stacks for the library are located in the basement, which is, of course, below sea level, we had to solve the design problem of building below the water table since this was the proper place to house the stacks, rather than taking valuable space on the upper two floors, we had to be certain that there would never be an opportunity for the basement to flood. Although the stacks are below water level, all entries into the building are well above the historic high water mark, and in addition we installed emergency sump pumps under the lowest basement slab. The recent high water in the CBD past weeks should have been a real test. Since the basement was below sea level it was necessary for us to design a pile foundation which would literally hold the submerged box of four levels of books down into the ground until the structure above us was completed to take into account the hydraulic thrust so that the building would not float right up out of the ground. This condition existed until the loads imposed by the floors above could offset the upward thrust. Contrary to normal design problems, in this case we had to design a pile foundation that would hold the building down, rather than the opposite situation, where a building might normally have a tendency to settle.

I sincerely feel that the building is as functional and as aesthetically pleasing today as it was 40 years ago when it was finished. The introduction of the roof patios, the different levels, and the interplay of spaces, and the glass facade, all add toward making this building unique among contemporary libraries.

On December 15, 1958, the new Main Library at 219 Loyola Avenue opened its doors to the public for the first time.

Spillway Under Construction
November 30, 1930
Airline Highway originally was a two-lane road that ran from Prairieville to Shrewsbury (now Metairie). The first section, running between Williams Boulevard in Kenner and Shrewsbury Road, opened in June 1927. It was begun by the Jefferson Parish Police Jury as a local road and incorporated into the plan for Airline Highway during construction.
The remainder of the highway was built between 1928 and 1933 by the Louisiana Highway Commission with federal aid, as the road would carry US 61 upon completion. The section north of the spillway was officially opened on July 4, 1933, and the section on the south side followed three weeks later. (Various sections had been temporarily opened to traffic beginning in October 1931.) Completion of the bridge over the Bonnet Carré Spillway was delayed until 1935, necessitating a detour over the Jefferson Highway (River Road) via temporary gravel roads along the spillway guide levees. The eight-lane extension into Tulane Avenue (reached by a now-demolished six-lane bridge over the former New Basin Canal) was officially opened on August 26, 1940.
The Bonnet Carre Spillway, as well as the spillway bridge on Airline Highway,  was dedicated on December 13, 1935 as  part of the Mississippi Flood Control Project at a cost of  more than $13 million. Its construction was prompted by the devastating floods of 1927.  The spillway flood-way would route 250,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain then Lake Borgne and into the Gulf of Mexico, thus sparing the Greater New Orleans area from high-water river flooding.
Engineers determined that 19th century Bonnet Carré Crevasse, about 33 river miles above New Orleans would be the ideal location. Between 1849 and 1882, four major crevasses had occurred here. During the flood of 1849, a 7,000-foot-wide natural crevasse at Bonnet Carré flowed for more than six months.
This 5.7 mile-long (7698 feet) structure contains 135,000 cubic yards of concrete in 350 weirs spaced 22 feet apart on center.  Wood "needle-control" lumber slip into and out of the structure to control the flow of water.  These "pins" are lifted by cranes which ride a track along the top of the structure.  The flood-plane encompasses 7860 acres. 
TodayInNewOrleansHistory/1930November30Bonnet_Carre_SpillwayLSU2.jpgThe spillway's levees were completed in the summer of 1932.  Three railroad crossings (including the one easily viewed from the Interstate over Lake Pontchartrain) were finished in February 1935. The automobile bridge had opened to traffic, months before the dedication, on September 28, 1935.   The concrete spillway gates were completed in February 1937.
On the day of the dedication special trains from the Louisiana and Arkansas railroads awaited passengers, dignitaries, and delegate at Union Station on South Rampart Street to transport them, beginning at 9 a.m., to the spillway bridge which lay between Norco and Montz.  A white ribbon spanned across the south end of the passenger bridge, waiting to be cut at 10:30.  But that was just the beginning of a long day of celebration.  After the spillway dedication, attendees walked six blocks along the spillway levee back to the train which took them to Kenner where they boarded the steamer Capital for a lavish luncheon to the tunes of the LSU Tiger Band (which had also played at the ceremony).  Upon debarking at Eads Plaza (now Spanish Plaza near the foot of Canal Street), a twenty-one gun salute from the Washington Artillery began more ceremonies which included a pageant ("Man's Conquest of the River") performed by students from McMain, Warren Easton, Peters, and Kohn high schools and a parade to Claiborne Avenue and back with the bands from Tulane, Loyola, Easton Peters, the New Orleans Public Service, and the Celotex Company band. The evening of dedication day brought a 6:30 banquet for 1,000 people at the TipTop Inn of the Roosevelt Hotel. 
The Airline Highway spillway bridge is still holding up rather well, considering its age.  The spillway itself has been opened ten times since its construction -- in 1937, 1945, 1950, 1973, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1997, 2008, 2011. It remains as it was originally constructed with no significant modifications as none have been needed. It is an excellent example of how low-tech design can endure and work perfectly.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Photos of the spillway structure under construction on November 30, 1930 from the Louisiana Digital Library.

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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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