Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Discoveries in Jones Hall-- hot dogs

What do you think of when if you hear “New Orleans” and “hot dogs” together in the same sentence?  Some will think of the traditional or trendy lunch delicacies served by Lucky Dogs or Dat Dog.   Others will remember one of Ignatius Reilly’s attempts at employment in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.  

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 124 (Orleans Parish School Board election scrapbooks, 1945-1963) holds a variety of papers collected and donated by Marta Barnes Lamar (1902-1996).   Researchers interested in the history of American public education and Louisiana politics will find the overall collection useful, by reading the correspondence, reports, minutes, advertisements, election posters, brochures, a handbook for school employees, a voting guide, booklets and numerous mounted and loose clippings about working conditions, teachers’ pay, school integration, and other pressing issues of the day.

Clippings, often considered redundant in our current research environment, may bring to light unexpected stories.  One such case in point-- numerous newspaper clippings in this collection feature a 1950 incident having to do with the questionable contents of hot dogs being served to children in New Orleans school lunchrooms. 

Grand Jury to Be Asked to Act, Says Darden
[5/3/50] Times-Picayune

     The Orleans parish grand jury will be asked to investigate the sale of adulterated wieners to the city’s public schools.
     District attorney Severn Darden said Tuesday that he will turn the matter over to the jury soon—but did not give a date.
     Darden said he was passing the inferior “hot dog” case to the grand jury “because of the widespread public interest.”
… made by representatives of the Great Gentilly civic council, whose president, J. H. Burton, earlier said that “we intend to look at the books for several years back to see if there has been any collusion in purchases.”
     Joseph Bowen, head of the Bowen Packing Co., said he had been selling inferior wieners to the Orleans parish school board for “about five years.”  The wieners contained but 15 per cent meat.  The bid called for all meat.
     The wieners he sold the schools were made by McConnell and Snider Sausage Manufacturing Co., closed recently for unsanitary conditions.  A quantity of horsemeat and mislabeled imitation sausages were found in the…

An online newspaper search of the scandal reveals that, although there was general concern for the schoolchildren’s well-being, the issue was not brought to light because of health concerns as much as by the discrepancies in bookkeeping.   Someone realized that the price being paid for the inferior hot dogs over five years was too low a price for all-meat hot dogs.

The odds are very good that John Kennedy Toole, born in New Orleans in 1937 and raised locally, actually consumed some of these lunchtime offerings during the late 1940s.   The public controversy and somewhat humorous journalistic treatment of the situation may have inspired his young imagination.

Post and photographs by Susanna Powers

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lt. Col. Bryan Black

Bryan Black (1872-1962) of New Orleans was an officer in the 140th Field Artillery (Washington Artillery), American Expeditionary Forces, stationed at Messac and Valdahon, France during World War I. He and his wife and three children lived on Arabella St. during the time period of this collection. After his military service, Bryan Black went into the insurance business.

LaRC Manuscripts Collection 97 holds the personal, military, and collected World War I papers of Lt. Col. Bryan Black.   In 1962, his son and daughters donated to Tulane University these documents and memorabilia, including handwritten and typed correspondence, numerous collected post cards, greeting cards, military papers, financial documents, a diary, family and military photographs and negatives, a published boxed set of stereographic photographs depicting scenes of World War I, telegrams, programs, items of social ephemera, printed pictures, advertisements, tags, tickets, fabric, medals, a cloth doll, military collar ornaments, buckles, buttons bearing slogans, ribbons, pins, books, pamphlets, newspaper clippings and other printed items. The long descriptive letters, predominantly written by Lt. Col. Black to his wife, concern family matters as well as his daily activities while stationed in France.  

To see a list of LaRC archival collections which include writings of American soldiers, see results of an advanced catalog search for archival collections specifying the subject heading "Soldiers' writings, American." 

This collection will be of interest to researchers in American and French history, and daily life in New Orleans during World War I.   Additional military and personal papers and photographs of Bryan Black are available in the Cummings and Black families papers, 1842-1960 (Manuscripts Collection 98).  

Captions:  items in Manuscripts Collection 97:  top, photographs of Lt. Col. Bryan Black on target range, and an unidentified woman in New Orleans; center, a Christmas letter to his wife ...   "Happy Christmas ...  Gee but I wish I could...." with a decorated handwritten Christmas dinner menu at Camp du Valdahon, France, December 25, 1918; bottom, a button "Welcome home, Soldiers and Sailors" and a "U.S." pin, printed pamphlets, a poem "November Eleventh" by Pvt. Hilmar R. Baukhage A.E.F. from the booklet "I was there! with the Yanks in France."    Images of items in the Louisiana Research Collection may not be re-published without permission.

Posted by Susanna Powers