Sunday, January 21, 2018

Old Mandeville Griffin Bakery

The Griffin Bakery was a landmark in early Mandeville, a central gathering place for the community. The building was constructed in stages, and then all linked together for the various purposes it filled throughout its 100-year-plus history.

In 1996 Mandeville resident John Fineran took on the task of renovating and restoring the building at the corner of  Lafitte and Jefferson streets in old Mandeville.  Here is the story of the original bakery and the efforts 22 years ago to restore the building. Click on the images to make them larger. 

A 1997 View of the Structure

Below is the 1997 article in the St. Tammany Farmer telling about the renovation of the building and its significance in Mandeville history. 

Today the structure is occupied by 
Lama's St. Roch Family Restaurant and Market

The History of Griffin's Bakery

This account comes from a printed history in the window of the building:

The three separate buildings that were connected together to make Griffin's Bakery were built sometime beginning in 1900 and developed into its current layout around the middle of the 1930's. One of the first references to the structure took place when the building was indicated on the 1915 Sanborn map of businesses. 

The Griffin family bought the property from the E. H. Baudot family in 1920 and turned it into a bakery. The Sanborn map for 1926 showed an attached structure called "the bakehouse," located a few feet in back of the main group of buildings.

Although the exact construction date of the main building is not known, it looks to be around the turn of the century as indicated by the style of architecture. 

The two bay windows are "something of a mystery" since they are supported by highly-decorative brackets in the "Italianate tradition," with a scalloped band ornament at the top. These would seem to have been popular around 1900, according to architectural research, but they may have been added to the building later. 

The gallery front porch, wrapping around the corner front entrance, was a common feature of Louisiana commercial structures. 


It is one of the few buildings left that give an indication of the once vibrant commercial section of Olde Mandeville. That distinction allows it to be a unique representative of the historic downtown character of Mandeville. The Old Mandeville Griffin's Bakery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places database on December 1, 1997. 

 Photos from 1997

The brick oven

Photos from 2018
301 Lafitte Street, Mandeville
Lama's St. Roch Family Restaurant

The Scientist Entertainer - Dr. Daniel Posin

One of the most interesting professional scientists to ever live in the Covington area was Dr. Daniel Q. Posin. His professional science career spanned many decades and touched upon many aspects of science and physics, but he was best known for his efforts to explain space exploration and atomic energy to the public. 

Dr. Dan Posin talking to a Covington audience

Here is an article from the October 3, 1996, issue of the St. Tammany Farmer.

In August, 1996, his presentation on the fascinating fields of science and physics entertained and informed his Covington audience, but he had done that sort of thing before, nearly 3000 times before, winning awards, earning nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, and hosting numerous children's television shows on science and its future promise. 

Born in Russia, he fled the Revolution there on a cattle boat, coming to America where he eventually became a nuclear physicist, one of the best known scientists in the country. He met, and gained the respect of, Dr. Albert Einstein who personally encouraged him to continue his mission in bringing knowledge about the peaceful uses of atomic energy to the public's attention. That mission included dozens of children's television shows where he explained the mysteries of science and particularly, space exploration.

Shown above is one of the more than 30 books he wrote for the popular market about science. They had titles such as Dr. Posin's Giants: Men of Science,Out of This World, Mendeleyev: The Story of a Great Scientist, Exploring and Understanding Our Solar System, What is a star, What is Chemistry, What is Electronic Communication, Science in the Age of Space, Chemistry for the Space Age, and Find Out! First Step to the Future.

The race to space began in the middle of the 1950's, and his expertise was sought out when he signed on as scientific consultant and adviser for the CBS radio and television networks. He produced three television shows and one radio program weekly. Among his programs were "Out of This World," "Dr. Posin's Universe" and "On the Shoulders of Giants." His face was well known as his programs were advertised and promoted far and wide. 

Posin presented science in an enjoyable and entertaining way,. His friends and acquaintances knew that on any given day, Posin "could be found dancing energetically around whichever studio he was working in." His presentation skills were aimed at school children, but the adults could also feel the excitement when he explained space travel with the roar of the rockets and the wonders of the solar system.

"He was this darling little guy with a mustache like Groucho Marx, dancing around and showing the planets," said his daughter, Kathryn Posin.

An account of his life stated that he was born in 1909 in Russian Turkestan in a village by the Caspian Sea. He was six years old when his family saw the Russian Revolution coming and began its three-year flight to the United States. He and his mother made their way to Mongolia and finally got passage on a ship to San Francisco. He traveled in steerage next to the cows.

Despite arriving with not a word of English, he soared through school, sold newspapers and worked in restaurants and camps, won scholarships and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley with a Ph.D. in physics. His father had died young of tuberculosis while working as a janitor in Russia.

In 1943, at the age of 34, Posin became president of the National Academy of Sciences and moved to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conduct research on radar and radioactivity. It was there that he met and became friends with Albert Einstein. Both men were deeply shaken when the atomic bomb was used in World War II. Einstein, who recognized Posin’s gift for explaining physics to ordinary people, urged him to use his talents to teach the world.

As his education progressed and his fame grew, Posin gave more than 3,000 lectures in the United States and England on nuclear power and its dangers and benefits. His arguments against using it for war won him six nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. His book "I Have Been to the Village," about world-altering decisions starting at the village level, had a forward by Einstein, who wrote: "Dr. Dan Q. Posin's book bears eloquent witness to the sincere and self-sacrificing way in which the ablest among the scientists try to fulfill their duty toward the community."

In 1967 he started teaching physics at San Francisco State. He taught until he was 87, after which he moved to the New Orleans area to be near his son, Daniel Jr. In 2003 he died at the age of 93 in New Orleans, LA. 

Dr. Posin, at right, was introduced to the Covington audience by Dr. Richard Harrison with the Delta Regional Primate Center. 

See also:

Before Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, There Was Dan Q. Posin

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Student Environmentalists 1987

Some 31 years ago, in 1987, more people were becoming aware of the environmental issues facing St. Tammany Parish, due primarily to its rapid growth and the desire to maintain the "quality of life." Below is an article about a high school student group that was beginning to investigate what the environmental movement was all about. 

Click on the images to make them larger and more readable. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

100 years ago this week

 What was going on 100 years ago this week?

CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer edition of January 19, 1918. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the images below to see larger versions.


Folsom's Fiddler

Whenever the topic comes around to fiddlin', then Curt Blackwell's name is sure to be mentioned. Here's a late 1970's article about him that was published in the New Orleans Times Picayune. Click on the images to make them larger. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Junior Auxiliaries

In this picture from the late 1970's are, standing from left, Donna Sharp and Karen Appe, and sitting from left to right, Shawnell LaCroix, Pamela Brown and Angela Brown. The photo was labeled "Junior Auxiliaries."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bill Strain of Abita Springs

Robert Harry "Bill" Strain was elected a state representative from the Abita Springs area in 1970. He was a member of the Budget and Agriculture Committee. Strain earlier served as a member of the St. Tammany Parish School Board representing Ward 10. He was born in Abita Springs in 1941, graduated from Poplarville High School in 1961, and earned a football scholarship to Pearl River Jr. College. His family was active in the timber business. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Key Covington Corner

When Columbia Street was the main commercial street in Covington, its intersection with Rutland Street was a key location due to the nearby boat landing. The daily boat arrivals and departures brought many people and much cargo into town, and many people boarded the vessels along with numerous boxes and bales of farm produce to head down the river and over the lake to the big city. 

Here are several views of the northwest corner of Columbia Street, looking from mid-block southward towards Rutland St. Click here to see the location on Google Maps.

The picture above is from the 1970's, when White's Stores occupied the location. The blue building on the other side of Rutland St. is Poole Lumber Co. It was located in the area where formerly there had been a blacksmith and buggy shop.

The second picture is from the early 1980's when the building was renovated for use as a car dealership. In 1975, Poole Lumber company had moved north of town to a new facility on 60 acres. 

Today, 2018, the corner view looks like this, with Heritage Bank occupying the key location. On the other side of Rutland is the entrance to the Columbia Landing Park.

A Business Map from 1898 

 An early view northward up Columbia from Rutland St.

 The view southward on Columbia from Boston St. towards Rutland

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Photographers

The Covington area has been home to a number of talented professional photographers over the years. The first one I remember is Hazel Ogden, and after that came Art Lemane

Professional photographers over the 45 years include Emile Navarre,  Alice Fielding, Harriet Blum, and Leslie Taylor. Jack West and Marie Cobb did horse show photographs as well as other pictures. Armin Diblin was quite active in the chamber of commerce, and Earl Wilson did some photography out of Photo-Sonics. Some of them had studios, and others preferred outdoor settings and lighting.

Anyone who dabbled in photography in St. Tammany Parish over the past 50 or so years knows the name of Jack Swanson. He taught photography classes at the St. Tammany Art Association in Covington and took thousands of pictures of local events and people.

He inspired The Jack Swanson Annual Photographic Exhibit at the art association. 

Jack Swanson, right, with artist Claire Rohrbough

A couple of the earliest photographers in Covington were Fred Reichard and Fred Darragh.

Self Portrait of Fred Reichard taken in his studio circa 1960. According to his daughter Tanya Reichard Voorhees, Reichard also did freelance work from his backyard telescope for Astronomy magazine in the 1970's after he retired from his studio. He took pictures of solar and lunar eclipses.

A Horse Show photograph by Jack West, featuring
August Schoultz riding Buttermilk Too, a quarterhorse mare

I worked with Emile Navarre on the Mandeville Banner newspaper before he opened his own photography studio in Mandeville in 1976. He was so proud when a picture he took of an accident on the causeway was printed on the front page of the New York Times. 

Emile Navarre's portraits showed his studio lighting and darkroom skills

Hazel Ogden turned out a large number of black and white studio portraits, each with her own style of lighting and lens focus. Her studio was on N. New Hampshire,  a few doors north of Rutland Street.

 Hazel Ogden's portraits featured unique lighting and focus effects

Elizabeth Malone worked for Hazel Ogden and hand colored many of the portraits that came from that studio.

Harriet Blum went on to become a well-known landscape photographer specializing in hand-tinted black and white images. Her work is in demand for its uniqueness and nostalgic leanings.

Bob Taylor did crime scene photography for the Covington police department and the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper. David Grunfeld and Lionel Cottier Jr. were photojournalists for the Picayune. Over in the society section, Elizabeth Moore has taken thousands of pictures of smiling people enjoying themselves at local events. 

Nick Cognevich took a number of photos at athletic events, and Paul Salvant was always out and about taking sports pictures. I apologize ahead of time if I left out anyone taking a serious number of professional pictures in the 1970's and 1980's.

Today in 2018 the Covington/Mandeville area has a number of amazing photographers. What kind of photography do they do? Well, there are weddings, engagements, high school senior portraits, family portraits, house portraits, real estate photos, aerial photos, legal photography, microphotography (at the research labs), nature photography, Astronomy photos, horse show and rodeo photography, newspaper photojournalism, architectural photography, commercial and product photography, and event photography such as ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings and graduations. 

Let's not forget that most resilient and durable photographer of all, the professional who takes all those school classroom pictures and student portraits for yearbooks.

Sometimes I will drive through downtown Covington, and there will be one or more professional photographers and their photo subjects walking around the downtown buildings, using them as backgrounds for portraits. When it comes to portrait backgrounds, it's hard to beat downtown Covington's buildings, wall surfaces, and posing spots.

See also:

How I Learned Photography the Old Fashioned Way

Covington Grammar School Classes - 1936

This photo portrays the sixth and seventh grades at Covington Grammar School in the year 1936. Click on the image to make it larger. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

100 years ago this week

 What was going on 100 years ago this week?

CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer edition of January 12, 1918. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the image below to see larger version.

 The Redlight District Ordinance To Be Enforced