Friday, March 31, 2017

100 Years Ago This Week

What was going on 100 years ago this week? The following link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service. CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer edition of March 31, 1917. 




The Madisonville Bank Statement from March, 1917

Dedication of New Covington City Hall - 1959

This picture shows the dedication of the newly-built Covington City Hall on Columbia Street in 1959. Click on the image for a larger version. 


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Covington Fire Department in 1966

This group photograph shows the men of the Covington Fire Department as they were in the year 1966, some 51 years ago. Click on the image for a larger version. 



John Akers - The Wildlife Environment Artist

John "Jack" Akers was a renowned Covington area artist who took preserving the Louisiana marshland environment to heart, preserving them for many admirers in his well-appreciated paintings. 

In November of 1977, Sharon Rickard wrote this article below that was published in the St. Tammany News Banner. Click on the images below to make them larger and more readable.




Here is the text from the above newspaper article:

John Akers: One Man Show

BY SHARON RICKARD

     John Akers, a Covington landscape artist, will open a showing of 40 of his paintings at the Picture This studio in Covington with a reception on Sunday, December 4 from 2 to 5 in the afternoon.

     The week-long showing will be Akers' first professional showing in Covington, although he has made his home here for the past 14 years. Akers has shown his paintings throughout the South. 

     He has just completed a very successful show in Lafayette, and will show at the Gallery D' Arts in Houma December 10-17.

     Akers' work is displayed in some of the finer galleries in Louisiana and Texas and hundreds of homes, offices and churches throughout the United States. His first major one-man show at the Antique Print Gallery in New Orleans was a tremendous success.

     Although he enjoys pen and ink drawing, and plans to try some etching in the future, Akers works primarily with acrylic paint at the present time. He took up painting after seeing a friend's efforts while he was in college. He dabbled in oils, pastels and watercolors before settling with acrylics.

     Painting for an average of 10 to 12 hours each evening, five days a week, Akers enjoys his chosen livelihood and says he feels more like he's playing than working.

Producing nearly 300 paintings a year. Akers concentrates primarily on Southeastern Louisiana bayou scenes, saying, "I want to become known as the South's leading bayou artist, that's my goal in life."

     A painting may take several hours to complete if it is a small one, or as long as several days, but the artist works on one at a time. Explaining that in the beginning he needed to be in the "mood" to paint, Akers said that with practice he is now able to produce good paintings on a daily basis and even finds that he gets restless if he isn't able to paint for several days.

     Akers is a completely self-taught artist and feels that this is a definite asset as far as his style is concerned. Experts say that his paintings are instantly recognizable, no matter where they are displayed.

     "I receive a great deal of satisfaction knowing that my style is mine, achieved through years of hard work and not influenced by any institution or individual past, present or future. I'm pleased with my work but never completely satisfied. I've painted only a short time and have witnessed a gradual growth month after month and year after year. When I stop growing, I'll stop painting because it will become a boring job and not the absolute pleasure it is now," Akers said.

     At home in a comfortable corner of Covington, Akers works afternoons and evenings in a cozy studio. He plans to build a house next year for his wife, Sylvia, and his three step-sons. Mrs. Akers works for the Public Health unit in Covington, and the artist shares the responsibilities of family life by doing all the cooking .

     Akers moved to Covington in 1964 and later set up shop as Arts, etc. where he sold art supplies and gave art lessons. Akers eventually closed down to devote all his time to painting, and has found his paintings increasingly well accepted since that time.
   
     The Akers are fond of bottle collecting on weekends, and it is then that many of the scenes the artist paints are captured. Akers carries a camera when he and Mrs. Akers put on their waist-waders and explore local swamps looking for old 
glass. The photos he takes on these trips are often used in his paintings.

     Besides the weekend jaunts, Akers takes three or four photo trips every year, using guides with boats or taking advise from friends who have particular bayous they'd like to see him portray.

     Akers is also very concerned about wildlife preservation and wilderness conservation and hopes to take a trip into the Atchafalaya Basin next spring with photographer Clyde Lockwood to try to bring the basin's plight to the eye of the public.

     "I'm very fortunate in that the area in which I live offers an abundance of subjects for my work," Akers said,  "With every turn of the river, a new world opens for me to paint. This beautiful area with its magnificent sunsets is fast changing and will soon be gone."

(End of Sharon Rickard Article)

     Eight years later, in this installment of my weekly "Talent Bank" column from 1985, I spoke with Akers of Abita Springs about his great diversity of art portraying St. Tammany Parish wildlife and outdoor environments. Here is the text from that article:

The Talent Bank: Artist John Akers, June 6, 1985

Artist Jack Akers of Covington has a habit of combing the woods and swamplands of the South, taking pic­tures and then transforming those pictures into portraits of landscapes, mystic scenes that have earned him a considerable reputation.



Akers has been painting now for 20 years, 14 of those as a full time pro­fessional, and his current efforts are aimed at picturing ducks and other wildlife in native habitats for various duck stamp competitions around the nation. He recently plac­ed third in the Indiana Duck Stamp competition, where there were over 400 contenders submitting artwork.


His early work concentrated on bayous and landscapes, something that is still close to his heart. He en­joys canoeing through the isolated areas, making sketches and taking pictures for frames of reference for future works of art. His wanderings take him from the Bogue Chitto River to the marshes of Lake Pontchartrain to the Stock Island refuge near Talisheek and even as far as Texas.

 

Jack Akers drawing in Belize

"Some of the photographs are good enough where they would make a nice painting with just a few changes," he said, "but generally I put a combination of photographs together with the wildlife." He also goes out and photographs his own egrets and raccoons and herons. "I do a lot of raccoon paintings," he commented, saying that the public really likes raccoon pictures. He is planning a series of prints featuring them and other wildlife subjects.

This and several other projects will keep Akers busy all summer as he hopes to have them ready by the fall. Anyone who thinks that free lance artists just sit around all day waiting to be inspired hasn't check­ed into Akers' schedule. He and other notable artists in St. Tam­many Parish keep their noses to the grindstone, putting out a lot of work. It helps the general public remember who they are and what they can do and keeps up demand for their work.


Akers said that his late night pain­ting sessions are frequent now that he has challenged himself into deadlines.


Time Crunch

He likes to finish his works in pro­gress and get started on something else as soon as possible. While he uses acrylics to a great extent, he started out in traditional watercolors. "I'd like to experiment with different media," he said, "but I don't have time. There are several techniques and papers I'd like to get into, but I just don't have the time."


He added that he will reach the point eventually where he will have the time to get into the media and techniques that he's been wanting to try.
In the future, he'll be entering other duck stamp contests, including the national Ducks Unlimited title this fall and the federal duck stamp competition. He also does cop­perplate etchings every other month, and between putting out the etchings and the prints and the duck stamps and the landscapes, he's pretty busy.


Akers is well known in Covington circles for his work, his classes and his art supply store of several years ago. His is a name that brings to mind picture-perfect paintings, a style that has stirred comment among local art observers for years but has paid off for Akers, whose work is now featured by one of Cov­ington's newest art galleries and frame shops.


St. Tammany Parish has a lot to offer in scenic swamp tableaus and backwoods wildlife environments, and Akers is just one of dozens of artists and photographers who have sought to capture its beauty on film and on canvas for the rest of the world to enjoy.




Akers found what his talents were and the best way to utilize them. After that came the production of scores of paintings and prints which were very well-received by the art-buying public. When he says he didn't have time to explore any other papers or techniques, it was because his work was very much in demand, a situation any artist can appreciate. 


Akers painted the cover image for the 1981 Chamber Magazine


He was especially successful in winning competitions for the artwork used on duck stamps and wildlife preservation posters. His 1990 print for the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans was very popular. He signed and numbered 5000 of them, and the art was also used on a stamp. 



To view additional artwork by John Akers,  CLICK HERE.


 Swallow-tailed kite, lithograph by John Akers

Prints of the painting above are being sold to help raise funds for the Northlake Nature Center. CLICK HERE for more information.


A signed and numbered John Akers print for the Louisiana Sportsmen's Show in 1985
 
 
 
A description of the artist and his art reprinted from Worthpoint.com:

     "The Art Of John Akers -  John Akers, the renowned Abita Springs artist, is known for his unique style and palette. His prints and paintings are instantly recognizable regardless of where they are displayed. He once said that he got a great deal of satisfaction knowing that his style was so distinctive, achieved through many years of hard work and not influenced by any institution or individual, past or present. 
 
      For many years he concentrated on the study and painting of wildlife, waterfowl, fish, coral reefs and florals. He performed the tremendous research and also developed the skill and patience required to paint these subjects accurately and realistically. His duck paintings are among the very best, as evidenced by his being named Artist of the Year in 1985 and 1989 by Ducks Unlimited. He was selected, for several years, to design and paint the official annual Louisiana Sportsmens Show poster. 

      In addition to wildlife scenes, John produced his bayou country works. His very intricate paintings of oyster boats, shrimp trawlers, and peaceful bayous and water ways are in ever-increasing demand. Says John: 'I felt the need to record these scenes through my paintings before their innocent beauty is lost to encroaching civilization. Because
of my feelings for these subjects, I am able to paint with both emotion and realism.'


John Akers at an outdoor art sales exhibit on Columbia Street (Photo by Jeanie Marsolan Bazer)


John Akers at the Wooden Boat Festival (Photo by Jeanie Marsolan Bazer)

     Akers' works are on display in many fine galleries in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. His works also hang in thousands of homes and offices throughout the Unites States. Johns paintings are in collections in England, Australia, South America, Mexico, Africa, Europe, Russia, Japan and in many other countries. He is listed in American Artists of Renown, the book of who's who in American art.






Akers died on Tuesday, November 14, 2006, at Lakeview Regional Medical Center in Mandeville at the age of 62. He was a native of St. Louis, MO. and a longtime resident of Abita Springs, LA.

John Akers (1944-2006)

According to Artworks of Louisiana website, Akers was known for his unique style and palette. His prints and paintings are instantly recognizable regardless of where they are displayed. Jack, as he was known by his friends, produced wildlife scenes, bayou country works, oyster boats, shrimp trawlers, and peaceful waterways in ever increasing demand. 


Jack Akers Covington High School Yearbook Picture


He was also one of the few artists that still created copper plate etchings. Jack always stated that "Because  of my feelings for these subjects I am able to paint with emotion and realism."

Stamps and Prints

His painting of a jaguar at a Mayan temple in Belize was selected for one of the country's conservation stamps. It was entitled "Spirit Guardian."


The print was issued in 1991. Fifteen hundreds prints were available in the signed and numbered edition, with 150 Artist Proofs. The original painting was 13 inches by 18 inches and prints were made by Harvey Press in New Orleans.


In their promotion of the print and stamp, the National Museum of Belize wrote that Akers had been a professional artist for 29 years (starting in 1963), that he was self-taught, and that he did a tremendous amount of research for each painting to make it realistic and unique. 

His list of honors included being selected by the National Wildlife Show in Kansas City, MO, to display and market his work. Additionally, he was invited to show and sell his work at the Wild Wings, Wildlife in Miniature Show in Lake City, MN.

Akers was the Louisiana Ducks Unlimited Artist of the Year in 1985 and 1989, was tapped for the Louisiana Wild Turkey Federation Stamp and Print in 1986, and in 1990 was chosen to produce the first ever Reef Conservation Stamp and Print for the Reef Keepers of America, in addition to his Aquarium of the Americas (New Orleans, LA) first official stamp and print. 

 
Some of Akers' wildlife paintings are shown below
 


 
A beginning sketch of a flamboyance of flamingos



For a Google search of the paintings of "John Akers - artist" CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Oak Tree Service Station

Many years ago, there was the Oak Tree Service Station on the southeast corner of the Boston St./Florida Street intersection in Covington. In later years it was renovated and became home to the Greyhound Bus Station, the Western Union Office, and now the Superior Tire Co. across from Subway sandwiches. 

Click on the image below to make it larger. 


Many Covington residents remember getting on the bus to go down to Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, riding it home on the weekends after being in school all week, and taking off on the bus to visit relatives in far-away places during the summer. 





The Greater Covington Chamber of Commerce

Before the St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce, there was the Greater Covington Chamber of Commerce.  Col. Earl Wilson was hired as the first Director of the Chamber of Commerce. That office was on Boston Street just a few doors down from Hebert Drug Store. 

Along with a handful of other business people and professionals, Colonel Wilson helped form the Krewe of Olympia. He went on to become the first Principal of River Forest Academy. 

Later, the chamber moved its office into the side of the Kentzel Printing building on N. New Hampshire. In 1972 an article about the chamber, its civic leaders and community involvements was printed in Pathways magazine.

Click on the image below to enlarge the text for reading. 



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mrs. Miriam Barranger, Artist

The first president of the St. Tammany Art Association was Mrs. Miriam Barranger. It was an appropriate choice because of her drive, her community involvements, and, not the least of all, her reputation as an outstanding artist. 



Here is a detailed article written about her in a 1972 issue of Pathways Magazine. Click on the images below for a larger version. 




 Miriam Barranger
 
 

 


Monday, March 27, 2017

The History of St. Tammany Parish Hospital

The history of St. Tammany Parish Hospital goes back to the mid-1940's, with a ground breaking ceremony finally held in 1953. The doors were open for the first time in late 1954.


The Women's Progressive Union of Covington began talking about the need for a hospital in 1946, and after eight years of members promoting the idea by speaking to churches, missionary groups, farmers and sewing circles, plans were made to go ahead with the project. 

In the early 1950's the M.C. B. women's group sold its library building to Christ Episcopal Church for use as a parish house, and the M.C.B.'s, undaunted, centered their attention on a local hospital, should one ever be built here.

The police jury called for a bond issue vote, and together with federal funding, a ground breaking ceremony was held on May 4, 1953.


Groundbreaking ceremonies with, from left, Maurice Duplantis, Norma Core, Ike Champagne, L.L. Landon and Gus Fritchie.


The groundbreaking ceremony is pictured above. From left to right are Louis Voss, Archie Singletary, James Thompson (in the rear), Eugene Esquinance, Fred Mizell, Joseph Stein (in the rear), Eugene McIntyre (in the rear), Norma Core, Lucille Glisson, Walter Clairain, Oliver Hebert, Ike Champagne, Gus Fritchie, H. A. Davis, August Perez, Jack Tannehill (in the rear), Cecile Hebert, George Broom, Baxter Pond, Jessie Bankston, Father Tim Pugh, Maurice Duplantis, and L. L. Landon. 

The hospital opened its doors to patients 18 months later in December of 1954. It cost $365,000 to build, with an initial inventory of 15 beds. Almost immediately expansion projects were started, with another 15 beds added in 1958.

In 1954, the St. Tammany Parish Hospital was dedicated, with the faithful M.C.B. Club among its staunchest supporters. A check was presented from' the club to outfit the nursery with two incubators and eight basinettes and furnishings for a de luxe private room. 

Later the club gave a steam table, for keeping meals hot to the hospital. They also gave a literal donation toward an iron lung.

Because of its many contribution to the hospital during its early years, when the M.C. B. Club disbanded in 1959, each member was made a life member of the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Guild at a cost of $425 for the then 17 active members.

Hospital Expands

Expansions of the hospital continued throughout the 1960's and 70's. Many of the additions were funded in part by donations and contributions by individuals and community organizations. Soon there were private rooms, the nursery, pediatrics, operating rooms and more parking lots. 


A 1977 expansion

The hospital now has 232 beds following the completion of a major renovation and expansion project three years ago. 

CLICK HERE to see an aerial photograph of the hospital in 1975.





Dr. M. J. Duplantis