Today in New Orleans History

October 8

Milneburg Joys

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 Swanson's Burns to the Ground
Monday, October 8, 1984

1949, Swanson's Restaurant

In 1922 Frank William Turan Swanson opened the Yellow Dog Saloon at East End on the lake (near his waterfront home) serving all the boiled seafood one could eat as long as one imbibed in his ten-cent schooners of beer. In 1926 he opened Swanson's Sea Food Restaurant whose floor was clearly marked with a line designating which half of the building was located in Jefferson Parish where gambling was illegal but mostly ignored by local authorities. He fished and hunted to supply the restaurant in which his wife Julia Pfeiffer worked.

1948 Advertisement for Swanson's Restaurant 

A May 1948 fire destroyed the restaurant and the neighboring My-O-My Club (Bruning's had minor damage). Frank and Julia rebuilt the business which became so popular that celebrities such as Guy Lombardo dined there. By 1953 Swanson's boasted of “Delicious seafood in air-conditioned bliss”. Frank passed away in 1956 at the age of 64. As a youth he had been an outstanding swimmer with the East End Athletic Club and had hunted ducks and snipe for market, bringing large bags of birds to buyers at East End who shipped the goods far and wide. He was known as one of the best marksmen in the area and widely acknowledged as an outstanding fisherman – one of the first to catch a tarpon within city limits on Lake Pontchartrain. He also served the community as deputy sheriff and operated the Bucktown jail. The Swansons had lived at 1849 Orpheum Street.

In 1968 Vincent Aiavolasiti took over the restaurant and added “aged K.C. Steaks and authenitc Italian food”. In 1975 Bill Summers stepped in and renamed it “Swanson's Flagship”. The restaurant returned to Swanson ownership in 1978 when Danny Mayer, grandson of Frank and Julia, bought the business. When Danny passed away in 1979 the doors were closed for good – Five years later, on Monday, October 8, 1984 the building burned to the ground. Over 100 firefighters (30 from Jefferson and 80 from Orleans Parish) fought the blaze (Swanson's straddled the parish line).  The alarm was called in my Mable Swann, cashier at Original Bruning's restauant. across Roadway Drive from Swanson's.  Amelia Urrate, owner of Brunings, whose home was across the 17th Street Canal, reported a "ball of fire" coming through the roof of Swanson's.  Her son, Sam Urrate, ran across the pedestrian (gap) bridge but the fire was already out of control.  Firefighters brought the blaze under controll at 5:30 but it flared again when after a gas line broke.  Fire Chief William McCrossen said his men did an outstanding job of containing the fire and keeping it from spreading to Jaeger's restaurant, only 20 feet away, which suffered littled damage and Papa Roselli's Restaurant across Roadway Drive.  David Mayer, whose family owned the buidling, said it had be closed about five years since the death of his brother Danny Mayer Jr. who had operated the business.

The Swanson family legacy lives on. In 1975 Frank and Julia's grandson Dennis Lacoste and his wife June opened Dennis' Seafood on Lorino Street, some 4 1/2 miles from the original Swanson's Restaurant. (Images from the Jefferson Parish Yearly Review - Text from Legendary Locals of Metairie)

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Actress Shirley Rose Prestia (August 18, 1947 – October 8, 2011) was born in New Orleans and graduated from Mount Carmel Academy. She guest starred in a number of notable television series including Family TiesCheersSt. ElsewhereThe Golden GirlsThe Facts of Life227Mr. BelvedereBabylon 5L.A. LawNYPD BlueStep by StepThe Practice and other series. Prestia also had recurring roles on the sitcoms Home Improvement (as Delores) and Dharma & Greg (as Janet). She appeared in the films Final Analysis (1992), Hoffa (1992), Species (1995), Leave It to Beaver (1997), Wag the Dog(1997) and What Women Want (2000). (Wiki)

Middendorf's beloved restaurant in Akers/Manchac received little damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. On September 14, 2008, however, Hurricane Ike caused a ten foot storm surge on the western shores of Lake Pontchartrain. This high surge was the result of Ike's extremely large wind field and the persistent east-southeast winds that drove water into Pass Manchac. The hurricane was never within 200 miles of the area, yet this was the highest storm surge since the Hurricane of 1915, which destroyed the logging settlements of Frenier and Ruddock along the western shores of Lake Pontchartrain. At the water's highest point, four feet of water inundated the old restaurant.  The newer Middendorf's building reopened for the first time since the flood on October 8, 2008.

On October 8, 1995, the  International Motor Sports Association Grand Prix du Mardi Gras GTS-2 street race was run on the 1.43-mile circuit around the Louisiana Superdome. The winner of the 41.47 miles/29 lap race was Bill Auberlen with Kevin Buckler and Jorge Trejos finishing 2nd and 3rd. (Wiki)

The Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge (also known as the Luling-Destrehan Bridge) is a cable-stayed bridge over theMississippi River in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. It is named for the late United States Congressman Hale Boggs. The bridge was dedicated by Governor David C. Treen and Bishop Stanley Ott of Baton Rouge and opened to traffic on October 8, 1983 connecting Louisiana Highway 18 on the West Bank and Louisiana Highway 48 on the East Bank. (Wiki)

 Happy Birthday, Angus Lind
Born in New Orleans on October 8, 1944 


Born in New Orleans on October 8, 1944, Angus Miller Lind's byline first appeared in The Greenie -- the student newspaper of his school, Isidore Newman.  He then wrote for the Tulane Hullaballoo.  His first professional job in journalism was as a sports writer for the Meridian Star (Meridian, Mississippi) where he became the sports editor who covered the Southeastern Conference and the college careers of Archie Manning and Pete Maravich. 

In December of 1970 he moved back home for good and began working as a general assignment reporter for the States-Item (the after-noon paper) where he covered (among other top stories) the plane crash of U.S. Representative Hale Boggs in Alaska, the Downtown Howard Johnson sniper incident, the Rault Center and the Upstairs Lounge fires, and the construction of the Superdome and unique stories such as alleged vampire and UFO sightings, and the nationally popular streaking phenomena at Tulane.  Regarding his time at the Item, he said, "We worked hard, getting in at the crack of dawn, making three different deadlines, and then we partied -- almost every day. We all seemed to have the attitude that in New Orleans, if you die of old age, it's your fault."

His first column was published on April 18, 1977, titled "What's a Yat?", and is generally acknowledged as the first printed account of the expression "Where y'at?".  When the States-Item merged with the Times-Picayune in 1980, Lind stayed onboard and included in his columns real New Orleans characters, such as "Black Cat" Lacombe, "Leapin' Lou" Messina, Buddy Diliberto (and the "torn lee knigaments" of Saints quarterback Dave Wilson), Abdul D. Tentmakur, Morgus the Magnificent (Sid Noel) and horse racing afficandos Hard Times Vince, Cream Cheese Louie, Rooster and The Mullet. His original creations included Deep Float (distant cousin of Watergate informant Deep Throat) who infiltrated Carnival dens, stole mystic secrets and parade themes, and leaked them as well as Karnak the Magnificent, who was the keeper of mystic secrets about Tulane and LSU football. 

On May 31, 2009, he announced his retirement in his final column titled "Thirty-nine years and 6,000 columns after he started, Angus Lind holsters his golden quill and rides away".  He recalled that during his long and much loved career, "I met a lot of interesting and colorful and quirky people, and I learned that they almost all have a story, whether they know it or not."  After retiring, Lind authored Prime Angus: Readers' Favorite Columns Reprinted From the Pages of The Times-Picayune.  He continues to live in and love New Orleans.

Charles Lindbergh, flew the Spirit of St. Louis into Alvin Callender Field on October 8, 1927, less than five months after his triumphant  trans-Atlantic flight. Greeted by the Mayor , city officials, naval officers, and an official reception committee, he motorcaded to Tulane Stadium, where 15,000 school children waited for him in the rain. After a brief address, he paraded through town to the Roosevelt Hotel. 'Throngs surpassing in spirit the Carnival crowds lined the streets. . . , ' the Picayune reported, 'and from his seat on the tonneau of a touring car, unmindful of the pelting rain, the Lone Eagle looked down into waves upon waves of shouting men, women and children.' That night, 700 New Orleanians gathered at the Roosevelt to honor him at a banquet--the program of which is seen here.  From the New Orleans Public Library.

New Orleans attorney Dean Adams Andrews Jr. (October 8, 1922 – April 1981). during the trial of Clay Shaw, was questioned by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison regarding his Warren Commission testimony in which he had mentioned a man named Clay Bertrand having called him shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy asking him to represent Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas. Andrews was portrayed by John Candy in the 1991 Oliver Stone film JFK.

Photo -- West End streetcar on Esplanade Avenue between St. Claude and North Liberty Street, October 8, 1921.

Under an ordinance approved October 8, 1904, a new commission, the Public Belt Railroad Commission for the city of New Orleans, was created to supervise the construction and operation of railroad property. Also, certain city property was dedicated for use as railway property. (NOPL)

Norbert Rillieux (March 17, 1806 – October 8, 1894), a Creole American inventor and engineer, is most noted for his invention of the multiple-effect evaporator, an energy-efficient means of evaporating water. This invention was an important development in the growth of the sugar industry. Rillieux was a cousin of the painter Edgar Degas. (Wiki)

Clarence Williams (October 8, 1893 – November 6, 1965) was an American jazz pianist, composer, promoter, vocalist, theatrical producer, and publisher. By the early 1910s he was a well regarded local entertainer also playing piano, and was composing new tunes by 1913. Williams was a good businessman and worked arranging and managing entertainment at the local African-American vaudeville theater as well as at various saloons and dance halls around Rampart Street, and at clubs and houses in Storyville. Williams started a music publishing business with violinist/bandleader Armand J. Piron in 1915, which by the 1920s was the leading African-American owned music publisher in the country. Clarence Williams' name appears as composer or co-composer on numerous tunes, including a number which by Williams' own admission were written by others but which Williams bought all rights to outright, as was a common practice in the music publishing business at the time. Clarence Williams hits include "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate" (as publisher - not composer), "Baby Won't You Please Come Home", "Royal Garden Blues", "Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do", "Shout, Sister, Shout", You Rascal You, and many others. Clarence Williams also is the author of Hank William's 1949 hit My Bucket's Got A Hole In It, a song that was later recorded by Louis Armstrong. In 1970, Williams was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Thirteen-year-old Eliza Barry was perhaps the first Louisiana student to be punished for refusing to join in a public school Bible reading in New Orleans on October 8, 1850. In an angry reaction, her Irish-Catholic father blamed the spirit of Know-Nothingism (American Party) in the city for what he termed "tax payer supported religious intolerance." From

Nicholas Girod (1747–1840) was the fifth mayor of New Orleans between 1812 to 1815 took office on October 9, 1812. His private residence in the French Quarter is now known as the "Napoleon House". 

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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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