Friday, May 31, 2019

100 Years Ago This Week

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer of May 31, 1919. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

The History of St. John Catholic Church - Folsom

Over the years, several articles and a history has been written about St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Folsom, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in May of 2021.

From the church's website, here is the text telling about the history of the church:

A New Old Church for St. John the Baptist

It was 1920 when Fr. Odilo Alt, OSB traveled north from St. Joseph's Abbey in Covington, LA in search of Catholics. Just west of Folsom, LA he found much more than he thought possible.

He found a settlement of over 60 people who called themselves Catholic, although only the very oldest had been baptized and none had seen a priest for over 40 years.

A local barn was converted into a temporary mission church and the task of baptizing and teaching began. Fr. Odilo said the first Mass in the Mission Church of SJB on April 11, 1920. The Parish was established in 1921.

In 1934, the nearby Chinchuba Institute suffered a devastating fire. All that remained was the church awaiting a new home. In 1939, the church was dismantled and reassembled in Folsom. The transition started in 1939 and culminated in the dedication which occurred on May 13, 1940.

The Little "Cathedral in the Woods"

Dedication of the New Church

On a May morning, 1941, Dedication services for the new church recently erected at St. John the Baptist Mission near Folsom were held with the Rt. Rev. Columban Thuis. O.S.B., Abbot at St.Joseph’s Abbey, at St. Benedict, delegated by Most Rev. Joseph F. Rummel, Archbishop of New Orleans, and with many visiting clergy in attendance.

The procession, headed by the cross-bearers and the St. Joseph’s Seminary band, under the direction of Rev. Robert Laplace, O.S.B., with the St. Joseph’s Abbey cantors chanting liturgical music, marched to the front of the church where prayers were sung. Parishioners and friends were at the dedication of the new St. John the Baptist mission church with Father Odilo Alt.

Dedication of the church was followed by Solemn High Mass with Rev. Odilo Alt, O.S.B., pastor of the church, celebrant, assisted by Rev. Aemilian Egler, O.S.B., Rev. David Melancon, O.S.B., Rev. James Erickson, O.S.B. of Abita Springs, subdeacon and Rev. Athanasius Brugger, O.S.B., of St. Joseph Abbey, as master of ceremonies. Rev. Martin Barre, O.S.B., of St. Joseph’s Abbey delivered the sermon, paying tribute to Father Odilo for his accomplishment in building up the mission.

According to the church's website, the mission was started in 1921, some 98 years ago, when Father Odilo, riding horseback through what was then virgin pine woods in St. Tammany parish, came upon a little group of children and found that they knew nothing of church nor school.

Filled with Apostolic zeal, Father Odilo first held services in the open, giving instructions along the roadside. Later he found a barn in which to hold classes and then erected a simple church. Approximately 50 children now attend the school daily and almost 250 people, representing 34 families, make up the congregation of the mission.  Father Odilo obtained permission from Archbishop Rummel to dismantle the church at the old Chinchuba Deaf-Mute Institute on the Covington-Mandeville Highway and transfer it to the mission.

In 2003, Louis Lavedan created a pamphlet on the history of St. John’s.  Click here to view the pamphlet as a PDF file.

In June of 1969 Extension Magazine ran an article about Father Alt. Here is the text from that article:

It's Wholesome in Folsom
by George Lundy 

"My Sunday collection used to average between 20 and 252. After a baptism, the people would offer sweet potatoes and peanuts. "This," said Fr. Odilo Alt, O.S.B., "was extremely gen­erous for such a small commu­nity fifty years ago."

The 78 year old priest coaxed some action out of his corncob pipe with a wooden match and then recalled some of the more exciting experiences of his life as a missionary in Folsom, La.

There was an evening, for in­stance, when Fr. Alt was return­ing from a sick call astride his faithful horse, Chief. Two men jumped from behind trees and grabbed the horse's bridle. Chief reared up and kicked one of them, causing a painful outcry. Though they were hooded and unidentifiable, Fr. Alt was sus­picious of one local citizen who had a limp for a month after the incident.

Although there were other problems involving hooded men, Fr. Alt prefers recalling the more pleasant aspects of his long and fruitful missionary career at St. John the Baptist in Folsom.

One of his favorite topics is the team of EXTENSION Vol­unteers who have been working with him during the past year. Jeanmarie  Troy  of Highland Park, 111. and Kathy Lauer of Winona, Minn, literally carry Fr. Alt's CCD and social work load.

The girls came to Folsom in the summer of 1968 with the primary assignment of teaching CCD, and the hope of Fr. Alt that they could find time to do social work.

The results of their year in Folsom have been very gratify­ing to the entire community. They are teaching CCD . . they set up and are operating a kin­dergarten program . . they orga­nized a teen club and promoted
recreational equipment for it . . and they were able to "find time" for social work. Their ca­pacity for accomplishment far exceeded Fr. Alt's fondest dreams.

The mission buildings of St. John the Baptist in Folsom are old by any yardstick . . but they look comfortably settled into the woody area they occupy. The only shelter that breaks the pattern of antiquity is the mobile home that Kathy and Jeanmarie reside in.

But an old mission area is more than log cabins and horse drawn plows. St. John the Bap­tist came into existence official­ly in 1920 after Fr. Alt had done the necessary spade work. It was in that year that EX­TENSION sent a grant to help with the construction of a small frame chapel. After the chapel ;was complete, EXTENSION, through her benefactors, sent vestments, candlesticks, chalice, ciborium and other necessary furnishings.

Fr. Alt, St. John's first and only pastor, keeps a special in­tention in his masses for EX­TENSION benefactors because as he points out, the span of Extension help runs from 1920 through 1969.

When the original chapel was replaced, it was not torn down. For many years it was used as a schoolroom. It was reactivated again by Extension's volunteers and now houses the teen club.

St. John's kindergarten and teen club are open to the en­tire community regardless of race or religion. This reflects an attitude that Fr. Alt brought to Folsom fifty years ago. "We are all God's children and should be treated as such." 

Be­cause Fr. Alt has practiced this Christian tenet, he has earned a reputation for being eminently fair to everyone. With the help of Extension Volunteers, Kathy Lauer and Jeanmarie Troy, it has become a community by­word . . . with the inevitable result, "It is truly wholesome in Folsom."

A New Home for an Old Bell

The church's bell arrived in Folsom on February 24,1922. It was ordered from Huckstede Bell Foundry, St. Louis, MO on February 1,1922, a 330 pound tone "A".

The bell was blessed on May 28,1922, and Fr. Odilo said, "It sure sounds good."

On November 22, 2015, a new home in front of the church was built and the bell was re-dedicated. The letters on the bell are made as the arms of a cross on the Benedictine medal.

See also:

The History of Folsom

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rivers, Bayous Vital To Local Economy

The importance of St. Tammany's waterways to a variety of local business enterprises was spotlighted in a detailed article published in the July issue, 1986, of the "Business Report" newsletter of the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation. 

The article featured an across-the-parish tour gathering information about marinas, ships' stores, and marine services businesses, all from some thirty-three years ago,  so it's NOT up-to-date, but of interest from a historical perspective.

Marina del Ray, Madisonville

Rivers, Bayous Vital to Local Economy
July, 1986

How many rivers and bayous are there in St. Tammany Parish? 8, 12, 22? If you said over 50 you are probably correct. If you add creeks, branches and sloughs to that, the number goes well over 100. St. Tammany has at least 18 waterways that empty into Lake Pontchartrain and the Rigolets.

All of this water hasn't gone without use. A large section of the economy of the parish is based on those rivers and bayous. This article at­tempts to take an economic tour and show how the river pumps money into St. Tammany.

The east side of the parish begins with the three river Pearl River system. The Goehagan Canal off of the west Pearl River had at one time been the location of a oyster factory. The river is the base for several shrimpers.

At the foot of the canal where it empties into the Rigolets and Lake Borne, a former boat yard is being converted into a marina and condominium complex. Ma­nager David Hursey said that this ship's store there, has been open for about a month, although construction work outside on the dock is still going full pace. The marina features 32 covered slips with 10 more planned on the way. A yacht club will be opening upstairs that will offer an expansive view of the lake and marsh nearby.

Hursey says  that the marina is already popular because of its location near some of the area's best fishing spots. He knows the store will do well there because there is no place nearby to buy ice or a six pack of soft drinks, etc. 

A couple miles up the canal is the Harbor Boat yard, which at the time was doing bottom work on a large fully outfitted shrimp boat.

Salt Bayou which empties about midway up the Rigolets has also been a base for a number of shrimpers. It has the new Miss Sandy's Seafood, St. Tammany's only dockside seafood wholesaler. The business is open just two months but Dommick Bruno who handles buying and selling the shrimp said that there just isn't enough shrimp to meet the demand. 

The business also buys and sells oysters, fish and crabs. A north Mississippi businessman is hanging around the dock waiting for more shrimp to come in. He is making a minor repair to his refri­gerated truck.    Does he come down to Slidell with a list of what he needs? He says he comes to buy whatever he can, but he may have to go back today with only a partial load.

Next door is the Salt Bayou Marina, just a small ships store with beer, ice and food. There are also numerous shrimpers along Salt Bayou. These are all family op­erations.

The next inlet, Grand Lagoon serves as the entrance for Eden Isles Marina. Also in the Eden Isle canal system and fronting on Hwy 11 are Trawls by Gus, Ducote and Lee Marine, the ships store and Northshore Marine.

Continuing westward, one comes upon the Northshore canal, which most people are familiar with. Not only does the canal have numerous restaurants, but it is the home to one of the oldest con­tinuing operating businesses on the water systems of St. Tammany: Gilbert Cousin's. Cousin has been renting boats and selling bait at the shop for 53 years.

His work-force includes his three sons. While a weekday may be slow, Gilbert says that on a summer weekend, he will rent out all 17 of his 18' fiberglass boats with motor and gas for $25 a day. Add another $1 per life jacket to that rental if you don't bring your own. (These are all 1986 prices- Ed.)

On the opposite side of Hwy 11 and backing up to the Eden Isles canal are several boat dealers including Ducote and Lee Marine, Northshore Marine and LofLand Yachts. There is also a store spec­ializing in supplies for, shrimpers:   Trawls by Gus.

At LofLand Yachts, Allen LofLand sells new and used boats, runs the ships store, has classes in sailing and even occasionally charters a boat. It keeps about 6 people employed full and part time.

The sailing school has been particularly popular. The participants spend five hours of class room study and four trips of three hours each out on the boat. The whole sch­edule fits into about a two week period.  

Just up the bayou is VAC Marine, a do-it-yourself boat yard. Owner August Maurer also runs Ozone Shells, a water-dependent company which is now 16 years old.

Across the way is a prestressed concrete firm which salesman Ray Schueler describes as being in the business of building concrete platforms and concrete barges mostly for the oil companies. Employment is now at about 14 down from 24 a few mon­ths back. Next door, coal is being unloaded from barges and loaded on trucks.

Further up the bayou is Chamale Cove Marina. Real Estate Broker Ted Terry says construction has begun on a boat store there which will feature boating supplies and a fuel dock. The marina has 138 slips.


Bayou Castine —This languid bayou offers some of the nicest scenery anywhere in the parish. And perhaps because the bayou has no fuel facilities, it has specialized in sail boats, hundreds of them.

Well over 800 slips are available in the two miles from the Mandeville municipal harbor to Hwy. 190. Many of those built in just the past few years.

"We're doing all right," says Denis Bechac of Colbert's Cove Marina. With 70 percent of its 175 slips occupied, the marina is doing well. A sec­tion of the marina was sold off to The Port a waterfront condominium project that fea­tures a slip with each condo. He says that the area between Bayou Castine and the Causeway is like a fairway to New Orleans.

At the 29 slip Frosch's Cypress Cove Marina, Mrs. Newell Frosch sees customers from all over the area—even from Baton Rouge and New Iberia. She has just one vacancy.

Sarah Prieto at Prieto Marina which started 50 years ago credits the beauty of the sleepy bayou with its popularity. Fountainbleau State Park with its unspoiled splendor lines one side of the bayou and the boats rise in splendid silhouette on the other. She says her 250 slips which are in three sections of the bayou stay pretty fulL "Maybe 9 vacancies," she says.

She also has the Yacht Works, a full service marine shop and marine store. It features a 15 ton marine travel lift and a 5 ton stiff leg crane that is used mainly for hoisting masts and engines on and off of the boats.

Also located in the Yacht Works Yard is West Wind Sales. The 5 year old company, one of the few waterfront manufactures expanding in the parish, makes sails, cushions and biminis for sail boats.

The company recently purc­hased two new industrial sewing machines and now has a six person work force. Owner David Bolyard says he got into the business as a life-long sailor.   "Most of our business is in racing and cruise sales," he says. His ad in a local sailing publication lists an impressive number of trophies won by ships with his sails.

Mandeville Harbor

Mariner's Village—The Pilot House, a retail marine supply store that sells all types of ship's supplies including elec­tronics, cleaning supplies, and foul weather gear, is run by Minta Dietrich and her husband. Mrs. Dietrich says most of her customers are men who own their boats. She says maybe 40 percent are from out of the parish.

The location at the foot of the causeway may have something to do with that.She got into the business after her husband bough t into a boat yard in Slidell several years ago and found out that this shop was available. They have since sold their interest in the boat yard.

Mrs. Dietrich doesn't see how her store can have much impact on the economy of St. Tammany parish but can see how out of town boaters bring revenue into the parish. "When they drive over (the cau­seway) to go boating, they buy groceries and eat out and things like that."

She says the problems with oil related industries are evident in her business. After all, many boat owners work for oil related businesses.
Nunmaker Yachts, also located in Mariner's Village sells Carver and Formula boats and brokers used boats for others. 

Nunmaker Yachts is now located in Madisonville

Kevin Nunmaker says that much of the customers for the business owned by cousin Mike Nunmaker are owners buying up to a large size boat. "Nobody buys down." They sell only power boats with cruising yachts from 26 to 42 feet and performance boats from 20 to 35 feet.

The business has been in several locations in St. Tammany in the past but moved to the present location one and half years ago.

Marina del Ray swimming pool, Madisonville
The big boat builders in Madisonville are quiet now. Equitable Shipyards is sitting mostly idle. Jahncke Shipyard which sits on the Tchefuncte River just down from the municipal dock is also idle. The property has a for sale sign and according to Marcia D'Amico with Latter and Blum has been sold. There is no word on how the property will be used. (The property was recently purchased and will be building boats again - Ed)

But a series of condomi­nium projects has the feel of hustling and bustling on the west bank of the river with construction crews at work. Nestled in all that activity is Cook Marine that has been in operation under that name for a year and half.

Doug Cook says his 25 ton crane and the fact that he can get about six boats out of the water at the same time puts him as the largest yard on the west of the Causeway. The firm does all types of repairs: fiberglass, steel and wood. Does he also build boats?

"Not right now. We have done some in the past." He says he specializes in building in fiberglass.  "If its fiberglass, we can build it whether its a boat or a box or whatever."

Business is slow because of state's problems with oil related industries. "Some how everybody (in Louisiana) is related to the oilfield. "

Marina Beau Chene

Five miles up the river and back closer to Madisonville is is Marina Beau Chene. Gayle Leslie looks over Marina Beau Chene. This marina features a lot of live aboards. People who have opted to use their boats for more than pleasure. Or if you will, to extend their pleasure to full time.
Ms. Leslie says the 24-hour security and slip side parking have a lot to do with that. "We are also the most protected. Being five miles up the Tchefuncta shields us from the effects of hurricanes and storms."

The Swamp Tours

And back in 1986, there were also the swamp tour operations. Did pirates of old really bury treasures in the Honey Island swamp? That may never be known. But there is definitely a treasure there.  It awaits only the explorer.

At least three St. Tammany businesses offer the chance to explore the treasure of the most unspoiled swamp in the United States: Honey Island Tours, River Rat Enterprises and the Bogue Chitto Outfitters.

Sue Wagner of Honey Island Swamp Tours says her husband Dr. Paul Wagner is fulfilling a life-long dream. Their former environmental consultant started the business part time from the back of his house. Both Wagners and Robert Charbonnet work full time at the tours. They use a 16 and 20-seat boat, both with outboard motors. 

Tours are now loaded at the Indian Village restaurant to keep the traffic out of the residential neighborhood. "We enjoy dispelling the myths of the swamp as dark and gruesome. My husband is able to show the flora and birds and generally interpret the life of the swamp. It comes alive in their (tourists) minds."

Cameras, binoculars even video recorders are encouraged. Visitors come from all over. "We had a writer for a French magazine do a story on the tour. Now not a week goes by that someone from France does not inquire."

Just up the road a way Buzz & Magarita Knowles run River Rat—canoe tours of the swamp and canoe rentals. The tours run from four to five hours.  You can rent a canoe and explore yourself overnight or a weekend.

North in Talisheek, Bill Magee, Robert Purvis and Gary Alexander run the Bogue  Chitto Outdoor Center, outfitting canoe and camping trips and offering guide services. The firm offers two tours: An overnight tour of the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge (they are official concessionaires) or an overnight tour of the Bogue Chitto River.  Included in the rate are canoes, paddles, life jackets, tents, dinner, breakfast, guides and transportation to and from the river.

Guides are CPR certified and certified canoeing instructors. Also the group operates a 350 acre primitive campground on the Pearl River Canal with fishing and skiing. "There are some really nice white sandy beaches," says Magee. 

Today's Pearl River Swamp tours..



Tuesday, May 28, 2019

NPAS Sings Billy Joel & Elton John

The Northlake Performing Arts Society presented in concert the music of Billy Joel and Elton John this past weekend at the Furhmann Auditorium in Covington. Here are some pictures, provided by Tom Ballantine.

Click on the images to make them larger. 


See also:

Northlake Performing Arts Society Website

Monday, May 27, 2019

Veterans Appreciation Reception

A Veterans Appreciation Reception was held at the Bogue Falaya Hall at Covington City Hall Monday morning. The special event welcomed more than 100 armed forces veterans for food, refreshments and musical entertainment.

The program was sponsored by the Covington Heritage Foundation and the City of Covington. 

Here are some photos. Click on the images to make them larger. 

Mayor-elect Mark Johnson greeted veterans at the door.

Gina Hayes, president of the Covington Heritage Foundation and Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Covington, welcomed those present, thanking the sponsors of the event. Sponsors included Coastal Environmental Services, C. J.'s Florist, Champagne Beverage, Gallagher's Grill, Heritage Bank of St. Tammany and Zoe's Bakery. Covington High School Talented Music Program provided the music.

Alice Couvillon led the prayer.