Thursday, January 21, 2021

100 Years Ago This January 22

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer Issue of  January 22, 1921. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.  

Neuhauser Store Robbed

Thelma Glass Obituary

Society News

Fair Officers 1921

Light Poles Being Put Up Along Roads

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Katie Planche Friedrichs

 Katie Planche Friedrichs of Covington was born on May 19, 1929, as Catherine Planche. Her grandfather left New Orleans for the northshore during the Civil War, and as descendants of a French-born immigrant her family spoke Parisian French.

"As a child I can remember my parents and aunts abruptly switching to English when I entered the room," she once said.

Her father was Maurice P. Planche who, with his business partner E. J. Frederick, opened the St. Tammany Ice and Manufacturing Plant in Covington, making and selling ice and later producing and distributing the first electricity in town. The plant had the largest flowing water well in the state at one time. Her father was also a partner in the first Ford dealership in Covington. 

She was a native and lifetime resident of the Ramsay area and lived for many years on land alongside the Bogue Falaya River which had been settled by her family. As a young girl, she was reported to be the first female to show cattle with 4-H in Louisiana.

She was graduated from Saint Scholastica Academy and Louisiana State University with a Masters degree in Physical Education and Dance, and she later studied at Columbia University in New York. 

Ms. Katie Planche Friedrichs was a founding
member of Playmakers Theater in Covington.

     Katie Planche married Andrew V. Friedrichs Jr., and they lived in Covington. 

    She was the first dance director at Southeastern Louisiana University, beginning her work there in 1951 and retiring in 1984. Friedrichs built the SLU dance department virtually from scratch and is credited with bringing modern dance to Southeastern.

According to Martie Fellom, Friedrich's successor at SLU,  Friedrichs brought dance legend Charles Weidman to Southeastern for several artist residencies during her tenure at the college. Weidman is known as one of the big four pioneers of modern dance, along with Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Hanya Holm, Fellom explained. Friedrichs studied dance with Wiedman, Holm, and Graham, three of the big four.

     A group of early dancers who were under the instruction of the university's original director of dance instruction Katie Planche Friedrichs

      Friedrichs credited Southeastern’s first dance instructor, Dorothy Hoyle, with nourishing her love of modern dance.

     “She instilled in me the love of modern dance,” Friedrichs said. “She talked my parents into sending me all over the United States to study – Columbia University in New York, Colorado College, and the University of California at Berkeley. Fortunately, my parents could afford to send me.”

     According to Fellom, "If she had not brought modern dance to Southeastern with a degree program, I probably would not have attended. I was the third or fourth dance major to graduate in the program.”

Speaking to a professional group in 1975

     In 1972, Ms. Friedrichs led a session at a conference on "Preparing the Elementary Specialist" held in the Ozarks of Missouri which was sponsored by the Task Force on Children's Dance. In 1980 she contributed to a significant publication on Childrens' Dance that presented research from dance professionals across the nation. It was published by the National Dance Association (Society of Health and Physical Educators).

     Among Katie's many accomplishments was an acting part in the movie "Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long" which was filmed in Louisiana in 1995. 

     On April 2, 2009, the Southeastern Louisiana University dance program presented the university’s first tap dancing concert and dedicated it to "Professor Emeritus of Health, Physical Education and Dance Katie Planche Friedrichs."

     She died at 80 years of age on October 17, 2009, in Ramsay, Louisiana, and is buried in the cemetery at St. Joseph Abbey. 

     In 2012, the Playmaker's presentation of "Bell Book and Candle" was dedicated to her in recognition for her contributions to the organization and her giving the play's director Melanie Hayno her first role in Playmaker's 1978 production of "Gypsy."

See also:

A Katie Story

Mill Bank Farms



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Fair Parade Instructions 1975

Forty-five years ago, here were the people and their places in the 1975 St. Tammany Parish Fair Parade.

Lining Up Instructions

Jefferson Avenue
1. Mandeville Band
2. Lt. Governor & Fair Officials
3. State Representatives & Mayor Ernest Cooper

22nd Avenue
4. Senior Citizen line up on 22nd Avenue
5. Salmen Band
6. Police Jurors
7. Baby Contest Winners
8. Mayor Peter Giz & other Dignitaries
9. Slidell Band

23rd Avenue
10. Business & Professional Women's Club line up on 23rd Avenue
11. Miss St. Tammany
12. St. Paul's Band
13. Beauty Contestants
14. Covington High Band
15. Mayor Paul Cordes
16. Mandeville Saddle Club

Time: Line up at 8:00 a.m. Friday, October 24, 1975. Arrive Fairgrounds and enter grandstand at 10:00 a.m. Opening Ceremony over at 11:00 a.m.                   

Each band group must march on into the Grandstand ready for the National Anthem. Please bring the music. They will be called upon to play a selection as well. Dignitaries should go directly to the platform. Horses and others should proceed on to East 33rd Street and disband.

SOUVENIRS: This year we area again offering official fair souvenirs. A special rate is being offered these in the parade. They will be sold at 10 cents each, but you can buy them for $5.00 per hundred from Mrs. Pat Gutowski, who will be at the point of origin of the parade.


See also:

Parish Fair Doubloons

 Fair Parade Pictures - 1983

Fair Parade Highlights

St. Tammany Parish Fair History



Monday, January 18, 2021

Dr. James Stafford

Dr. Norman James Stafford, Jr., is a great example of educators who started their careers in St. Tammany Parish, then advanced to work with colleges across the state and even serving on state-level educational organizations.

A native of Franklinton, he was graduated from Franklinton High School and earned his Bachelor's Degree in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. Later he received a  Master's Degree and a Doctorate of Education from Louisiana State University. He was the son of Norman James Stafford, Sr. and Etna Lindsey Stafford.

Here is a video-taped interview with Dr. Stafford when he appeared on the Channel 13 educational program "Reflections" with host Marian Arrowsmith. The interview covered his many accomplishments in education across the state, and how he started it all in St. Tammany Parish.

CLICK HERE to view the video.

He started his career in education by teaching in St. Tammany Parish school and then was appointed Principal of Franklinton High School from 1966 until 1977.

At the state level, he was named Assistant Superintendent of Education for the State of Louisiana in Baton Rouge for eight years before becoming Superintendent of the Monroe City Schools and an Associate Professor at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

For 16 years, he served with the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education after which he retired to his home town of Franklinton. 

According to his obituary, Stafford was known as "Mr. Education" within the state because of his extensive experience in the field of education. Many people recalled that he "was always admired for his ability to work with so many fellow educators on the ultimate goal of the betterment of the lives of countless young people."

When he retired, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and the outdoors. He died August 1, 2020, at the age of 87. The above information was found on his obituary

Dr. James Stafford

 Robin Fambrough, writing in the Morning Advocate, said that Stafford had served as the parliamentarian for the LHSAA for 47 years, starting in 1967. His last LHSAA convention was in 2013, she said.

"Dr. Stafford has most assuredly made his mark on Louisiana education in several ways,” said Kim Gaspard, a former LHSAA president and the former principal at Bossier City’s Airline High. “As an assistant superintendent of education, he was one of a group of men who led the charge in improving vocational education in our state," she commented.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Boat Schedule 1912

 The passenger and express boat "Belle Isle" offered a busy schedule up and down the Tchefuncte River in 1912. Click on the image to make it larger.


One of the stops between Covington and Madisonville was Demourelle's. It was a brickyard in the early 1900's, probably about halfway between Madisonville and Covington. By 1909 it had a school of its own, and later had a drinking establishment. In 1916, there was a Marine company encamped there for a while. 

Pineland Park

Pineland Park had a 1,500-acre farm and a resident physician. Available activities included boating, fishing, swimming and horse races. All of this was available for $1.50 daily, $10 weekly or $35 per month. A portion of the Beau Chêne Oak Golf Course is located where the racetrack was. The popularity of Pineland Park was short-lived. The railroad came and as a result lake trade and boat excursion business declined. Unfortunately, Samory soon was bankrupt.

A gentleman named Harrie Hayden bought Pineland in 1905. He had a 103-foot yacht built in Boston to carry guests to the resort. It was named the “Pineland”, captained by Joe Ballam of Madisonville.

Hayden eventually ceased to operate Pineland, and later moved into a home above a lumber mill. He operated the mill store and post office in Houlton, an area west of Beau Chêne. In 1930, he sold the Pineland home and 10 acres to Frank Otis, who called it Fairview. Today, it is a museum adjacent to Fairview State Park, located one mile west from the Beau Chêne Marina gate.

The acreage that made up Pineland Park is now called Beau Chene subdivision. 
One of the busiest places on the Tchefuncte River was Houltonville,  a little upstream and around the bend from Madisonville. Houltonville was a community created when the Houltons, Charles and William, from Duluth, Minnesota bought Jay’s Sawmill and the Otis house from W.T. Jay. Houltonville had a general store, post office, schoolhouse, and 3 churches – including Penn’s Chapel. 


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Abita Springs Basketball Team 1914


The 1914 basketball team players from Abita Springs
Click on the image to make it larger

Friday, January 15, 2021

Elizabeth Malone

 Elizabeth Malone cared a lot about Covington. She had a vast knowledge of the faces of many area residents, since she hand-colored the black and white portraits of many of them taken by photographer Hazel Ogden. She was also very active in a number of community organizations. Here is an article about her from 1992...

Click on the image to make it larger and more readable.

She wrote the poem "Ode To Covington" which was published in the Greater Covington Area Chamber of Commerce magazine in 1985.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

100 Years Ago This January 15

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer Issue of  January 15, 1921. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions. 

Bank Employees Dine at Gabe's

Mix Your Own Paint

Society News

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Dr. John Foster

Educator John Foster was a well-known figure in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System. Here is an interview with him several years ago with Marian Arrowsmith, host of the Channel 13 educational television program "Reflections."

 CLICK HERE to view the video on Vimeo.

  He was a classroom teacher from 1955-1968 and a principal at Southeast Hospital School from 1968 to 1980. He was an avid golfer and was very active in the Gideon Ministry. He had a PhD in Special Education and was guest speaker at hundreds of educational and church ministry meetings throughout America.

Following his retirement from the school system, Dr. Foster was still very active, being elected president of the St. Tammany Retired School Employees Association five times between 1989 and 2006. During his service to that group, he launched the "Retired Teacher of the Year Award" and the "Lifetime Achievement Award," winning both of them in later years.

His work in recruiting members for that organization earned him statewide recognition, and he was asked to address retired teachers from 47 states at a conference in Austin, TX, regarding his pilot program for membership recruitment. He was commended with an award from Governor Rick Perry of Texas for his work with retirees in that state.

He also served as district president for the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association. Later he served as president of the statewide LRTA, served on its executive committee for seven years and its executive board for nine years. He was instrumental in helping LRTA members obtain AMBA benefits.

Highway Improvements

In addition, he advocated for improved parish and state highways, including new traffic signals where needed. He served local residents as a board member of the Goodbee Civic Association and was a spokesman on zoning issues affecting the community. 

Through his efforts the newly-built district livestock facility in Covington was named in honor of Bobby Fletcher, Jr., and he helped to raise money for a monument to Bobby Fletcher, Jr. on the St. Tammany Fairgrounds. Foster sang bass in a gospel quartet with Fletcher. Foster wrote gospel songs as well and gave his permission for one of the gospel songs he wrote to be included on a record album.

He also assisted in the preservation of area historical landmarks.

Among other interesting career highlights was when he was asked to produce the school records of Lee Harvey Oswald for the FBI in 1963 while he was acting principal at Covington Elementary School. 

His interests included playing softball, serving as a basketball referee and a softball umpire, as well as bowling. 

Wrote Books, Poems

He wrote six books, two short stories and, had one of his poems published. One of his most memorable educational efforts was taking his fifth and sixth grade classes on a field trip to Florida for 10 consecutive years from 1958 to 1967.

In the classroom

Dr. John Foster

At the age of 50 he rode his ten speed bike from Hammond to Ruston, and later rode the same bike from Baton Rouge to Alexandria.

Foster died on Thursday, May 11, 2017. He was survived by his wife of 60 years Rosemary and their three children.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Student Portrait 1912

This student group attended Covington Grammar School in 1912. Click on the image to make it larger. Some of the students are identified.



Covington Middle School Teachers 1960

 Here's a group photograph taken by Gene Guccione of the 1960-1961 faculty members of Covington Middle School on Jefferson Avenue, which is now the C. J. Schoen School System administration offices.

Click on the image to make it larger.

Over on Facebook, the names of some of the people in the picture were said to be Alfred Dubussion, Troy Jackson,  Mrs. Audrey Alexius, Mrs. Webb, Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mr. Creek, Ronnie Pogue, Mrs. Borne, Ms. Spinks, and Johnny Foster.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Martin Attends School Birthday

 In 1994 Schoen Middle School on Jefferson Avenue celebrated its 80th birthday. One of the special guests in attendance was Chester Martin. 

Click on the above image to make it larger. 

Chester Martin attended school at the Jefferson Ave. location of Schoen Middle School between 1918 and 1923. He was a guest of honor (shown above) at the school's 80th birthday and May fair celebration held in 1994.

St. Tammany 4-H Executive Committee - 1966

 In 1966, Sharon Core was named President of the St. Tammany Parish 4-H Club Executive Committee, while Susan Moore was vice-president, Denise Morgan was secretary, Beverly Wales was reporter, and Greg Myers served as treasurer.


Click on the images to make them larger.


Saturday, January 9, 2021


 Once upon a time there were plans to build a major amusement park attraction in St. Tammany Parish. It was to rival Disneyland in its grandeur and creativity. Disney World in Florida hadn't even opened yet when the Louisiana version of a giant theme park was announced in 1967.

That 400 acre park, filled with every kind of ride, restaurant and revelry, was to be called "Hemisphereland," with geographic-themed attractions of every conceivable kind. I came across a couple of articles about it in local newspapers printed in 1967 and 1968, and they are found below.

And interestingly, before the huge park development was announced for St. Tammany, its original location was going to be over in Denham Springs, near Baton Rouge. Developers felt the huge open spaces north of Lacombe were perhaps a better location. The area near Hillcrest subdivision was also mentioned.


Here are excerpts from reporter John Fahey's Times-Picayune account of the Hemisphereland venture proposed for the middle of St. Tammany, as published June 16, 1968, some fifty-three years ago.

The headline read St. Tammany to Get 'Hemisphereland' and it told how plans were for final papers to be signed in a few days, dedicating 400 acres in St. Tammany for the building of a $12 million theme park.

The individuals involved were Regional Recreations Inc. Chairman Thomas Zammit and President Thomas A. Maher.

"Zammit and Maher had held a meeting in St. Tammany Parish on April 20 at which time public officials, chamber of commerce officials, and businessmen attended to learn what this project would bring to St. Tammany and to find out how they could help," Fahey wrote.

The location of the property was kept secret, but would be revealed after the signing of the documents. Gov. John J. McKeithen supported the project, comparing it to the beneficial impact of the soon-to-be-built Superdome. (Note: the Superdome was also first proposed in 1967 and became a reality in 1975, so it, too, was a project still in infant stages.)

The theme park would need 700 permanent employees with an additional 1,500 part-time employees, Fahey stated in his article, with most part-time employees being senior high school students and college students.

Maher was quoted as saying that St. Tammany was chosen as the site (although several sites across the state had been considered) because of nearby interstate highways and the Causeway. (Note: Interstate 12 wasn't completed all the way across St. Tammany Parish until 1976)

Fahey reported that "Regional Recreations Inc. is made up of a group of Baton Rouge businessmen, and Maher reported that $2.5 million in stock has been sold."

Operational by 1970

The article also noted that Zammitt had stated that once the site location was secured, it would be announced and he felt that Hemisphereland will be operational by summer of 1970.


For a longer and more descriptive account of its proposed slate of planned component parts, we turn to an article in the St. Tammany Tribune newspaper published in February of 1967, a year earlier. More than 15 newspapers across the state ran the same article, some accompanied by advertising of stock for the proposed venture. 

This Tammany Tribune article tells of the original plan for Hemisphereland to be located in Denham Springs, not St. Tammany.

The 1967 article/press release reads as follows:


Hemisphereland, Louisiana's answer to Disneyland and Six Flags over Texas, is now a reality.

(from the St. Tammany Tribune Newspaper, February 1967)

The 400 acre recreational park, located 13 miles east of Baton Rouge at Denham Springs, has already had 279,000 shares of stock registered by the Commissioner of Securities for the state of Louisiana and are being sold at $10 each.

Actual construction of the park is slated to begin in four or five months.

Governor John J. McKeithen  has assured the Regional Recreations, Inc., corporation that he will do all he can to see that Hemisphereland is a success.

At a special meeting with officers of the corporation, Gov. McKeithen stated that the development should "be a great thing" when paired with the New Orleans domed stadium.

The Park has already received endorsement by lawmakers of East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parish, as well as well-wishes from scores of other officials throughout the state.

In a special statement, the East Baton Rouge lawmakers said:
"We think that a development of this type has long been needed in this area. It not only provides recreation, but jobs for residents of East Baton Rouge and Livingston Parish and will attract tourists which is to the benefit of all Louisiana."

President of Regional Recreations Inc., is Thomas A. Maher. L. D. Kelleher is vice-president and secretary-treasurer is Thomas E. Zammit. All are from Baton Rouge and feel that the park will give Louisiana a huge boost on the tourist attraction map.

The recreational development will offer between 2,000 and 2,600 job opportunities during its months of operation. The group has already been contacted by several banking firms wanting to offer long-term financing for $5 million after the first 250,000 shares of stock are sold.

Hemisphereland will be a fun and fantasy park for young and old. It will offer color excitement, high adventures and breathtaking beauty. It is planned to be a storybook land for children; it will offer exotic foods, live entertainment, and curios for the adults; thrilling rides and excursions into the past and future for all.

Some 110 stores and shops in the park will be developed and already scores have been leased as well as various groups. seeking leases of one sort or another in the park. An additional $3.5 million is expected to be invested in service stations, motels and an amphitheater on the fringe of the park development.

An Imaginary tour -- one that you may actively take in the not-too far distant future-- follows.

The Entrance
The entrance to Hemisphereland sets the overall theme-- the Western Hemisphere. An outline of this portion of our world will be traced in a huge circular Hemispool, and the surrounding area will be colorful mass of flowers, trees and shrubs. Towering nearby will be the Hemisphere Skylift -- a 230 foot shaft on which visitors will be transported high in the sky to view all of Hemisphereland. Special lighting effects are planned to enhance the entrance at night.

Going on into the park, visitors can take any of several routes to make either partial or complete tours of its many scenic attractions.

For instance, near a dock at the park's entrance will be the "Volcanic Mountain River Boat Ride." Here, launches will board up to 20 "explorers" for a voyage over the major waterways of the hemisphere. As the trip progresses the boat crosses a broad expanse of water into a "Haunted Cavern" inside the mountain.

Next it enters the "Yukon River," complete with icy climate, Eskimoes fishing in kayaks, and polar bears. At the "North Pole" youngsters will thrill at seeing Santa Claus and his busy elves.

A complete change of scenery next confronts the boat travelers, as the launch moves through a transitional area into the underground "Mexicala River of Old Mexico," then emerging into the open water again. Rounding a bend, they come upon the "Old West" a burning trappers cabin surrounded by war-whooping Indians.

The river continues on, and the lush vegetation of South America's mighty Amazon comes into view. Jungle sounds, Jivaro head hunters, vicious and voracious piranha, sun-bleached skeletons, even a missionary tied to a stake are realistic parts of this subtropical landscape.

Nearing the end of their journey, passengers skirt a giant whirlpool, formed by paddles beneath the water. A headhunter figure is caught in the deadly pool, circling half-submerged in the whirling water and unable to break its deadly grip.

As this trip is completed. back near the main entrance, the visitors disembark near a bridge fashioned as a Chinese Junk. This is the pedestrian approach to Old San Francisco's China Town. Entering, they will see a reproduction of the great and furious San Francisco Earthquake, complete with fissured streets, tumbling buildings, broken water mains, people screaming.

Old Mexico

Also, nearby is another part of Old Mexico, "Tobasco, the Topsy Turvy Tamale Town." Scaled to 65 per cent of actual size, this little village presents authentic scenes of Old Mexico caballeros. Early Mexican Architecture and senoritas. The buildings in Tobasco will be constructed with unusual angles to accentuate the "topsy-turviness" of the little town.

Also, in the Old Mexico section, tourists will welcome the chance to purchase authentic Mexican handcraft and artifacts, and to enjoy Mexican food prepared by expert chefs. A Mexican Silver Mine and a Mexican courtyard are also planned for this area.

Near this section, a complete change in time and scenery is experienced as visitors enter the "Time-A-Rama" area through a time-machine, destined to take them into the land of tomorrow. By a novel quirk, an "error" made by the machine lands them in One Million B.C. After they watch animated cavemen, dinosaurs, etc., the machine corrects itself and then takes the visitors far "Into the future," and they see how our world might look in 2000 A.D.

Exiting from the time machine through a revolving wind tunel, one can see two more major attractions of Hemisphereland -- Giant Land and Miniature Land. The entrance to Giant Land will be through the mouth of a huge animated human head protruding from the side of a hill. Once inside, the viewer Is confronted by all manner of anatomical marvels - giant teeth, a big tongue, gigantic bones, enormous eyes. Traveling through the giant's windpipe, down to the ribcage, you come to the exit — a giant hand which forms an archway.

Flying Saucer Whirl

In Miniature Land, the effect is just the opposite. Tiny figures, buildings and exhibits create the illusion of being a giant in a land of little people. In this area, a "Flying Saucer Whirl Ride" is planned.

Proceeding further into the park, the Hemisphereland visitor enters "Dixie City," a four-block grouping of picturesque shops and store buildings that would have been seen in the Old South a century or so ago. At the entrance is Orleans Square, a beautiful plaza opening onto a main thoroughfare intersected by side streets filled with other attractions. 

In Dixie City will be shopping facilities of all kinds ,- souvenir shops, antique, gift and novelty shops, snack bars, ice cream parlors, a wax museum, an old livery stable, a museum and a private dungeon. Several of the buildings here will be service facilities - rest rooms, barber and beauty shops, first aid station and rental lockers.

On one of Dixie City's side streets will be located one of the most unusual and entertaining attractions - "Big Las Vegas." Through a huge replica of a slot machine, the visitor comes to an amusement area in which the rides resemble giant gambling apparatus. On the "Big Roulette Ride," they whirl on a huge, fast revolving roulette wheel.

Down another Dixie City street, the tourist comes to Pirates' Lane. Down still another is a "Sugar Mill" of the type common to the Old South. A blacksmith's shop, sugar cane and cotton fields are part of the nearby landscape.

A short distance from the end of Dixie City's main thoroughfare will be Jefferson Davis Plaza, gateway to the Old South of the ante bellum era. Here will be still another boat ride, the "Mississippi River Boat," on a simulated Mississippi River.

On this ride, passengers see a plantation home, a battle between a federal gunboat and a confederate fort, an accurate replica of famous Port Hudson, and the old Natchez waterfront. This simulated "Father of Waters" will circle an island, move boat voyagers into the dark and forbidding "Devil's Swamp" area.

Devil's Swamp

Convicts attempting to free themselves from quicksand, huge hulking alligators, and buzzards add to eerie atmosphere in this area of dense vegetation. Penetrating further into the swamp, you come upon a pirate's camp, the home of Jean Lafitte.

Disembarking from this ride perhaps you'd enjoy a tasty meal at "Crawfish Bill's Waterfront Restaurant," where seafood dishes are a specialty. Or, perhaps you'd like to go on board the Mississippi Show Boat permanently docked nearby and presenting nightly entertainment of top-notch variety.

The famous "Dueling Oaks" of Jim Bowie fame furnish a glimpse of history, with an actual duel taking place right before your eyes. The unlucky loser of this "Code Duello" is transported by pallbearers selected from the audience to a replica of the Old St. Louis Cemetery of New Orleans.

Leading the funeral procession is a Dixieland band playing mournful tunes, just as they used to do in old New Orleans.


One of Hemisphereland's principal restaurants will be located in the Old South section in a typical imposing Southern Mansion, and will feature just as typical menu items such as fried chicken, black-eyed peas and the like.

One of the most impressive and memorable sights in Hemisphereland will be the "Hawaiian Volcano" from which will rumble fire and belch smoke. The ominous bulk of this volcano will loom over thatched lints of a Hawaiian village situated near its lava-strewn base. A cavern will lead into this fire mountain, and visitors come upon a scene from Hades -- leaping flames, animated 'devils' and even 'sinners.'

Since space limits a full description of many attractions of the proposed Hemisphereland, a listing of the major ones will have to complete our imaginary tour until we enjoy the park in reality when Its actually completed. And the list is imposing, including: Realm of the Ancient Mayans with a Mayan Temple and sacrificial pool; Treasure Island, with a beached ship entrance and treasure maps to lead youngsters to dig for actual treasure; a cypress log ride; an antique car ride, 'Hollowstone Park,' with Old Fate-ful,' a motorized geyser;

(pause to take a breath)

a Teen Town Dance Pavilion; Hemisphereland Railroad, completely encircling the park; a sports car ride; Old MacDonald's Barn, with a silo slide to thrill the children; an animal petting zoo; Robinson Crusoe Island, with a large tree house and a stockade; Fort Custer, an Army outpost of the Western Frontier; a wagon train; an Indian village; canoe rides; a Western-type steak house; a Conestoga Wagon Ride; a replica of the legendary 'Lost Dutchman Gold Mine', a swimming pool; a bowling alley; an amphitheater which will feature musical and theatrical productions; a Hemisphereland greenhouse, to assure good maintenance of the beautiful landscaping that is planned; restaurants and shops of every conceivable type, convention facilities -- even a heliport!

End of Tammany Tribune newspaper article


So there you have it, Hemisphereland's list of attractions. Instead of driving 10 hours to Disneyworld, residents of St. Tammany could have just driven to Lacombe for everything listed above and added a new T-shirt to their souvenir collection.

Since the same press release as above was published by more than 15 newspapers across southwestern Louisiana in 1967 (sometimes accompanied by a large advertisement telling about the stock for sale in the Hemisphereland development corporation), newspaper readers in Lafayette, Opelousas, St. Martinville, Columbia, and numerous other towns all read the same information about the proposed amusement park.

The proposal was even discussed by the New Iberia Rotary Club.

Click on the images to see a larger version.


A picture taken by Covington photographer Hazel Ogden around that time showed Thomas Maher, president, and Thomas Zammit, secretary-treasurer, both with Regional Recreations Inc., in a meeting with landowners Lester Wainer and W. R. Core at Covington City Hall. According to the caption, they were meeting to discuss an agreement for the use of 300 acres in St. Tammany Parish for the construction of the $12 million Hemisphereland amusement park. 

(Note: in 1968 San Antonio, Texas, hosted the Worlds Fair at a downtown location called Hemisfair. That site is now a public park with many attractions of its own. It's interesting that Hemisfair and Hemisphereland sounded similar and came at about the same time.) 

Hemisphereland was never built, however.

Disney World?

Whenever people hear about the proposed Hemisphereland project , it brings up considerable discussion about the time when the Disney organization investigated building Disney World in the New Orleans area instead of Florida.

Several people in the know at the time (the early 1960's) recalled efforts to buy land for what would become Disney World being located in St. Tammany Parish, possibly in the area of Bayou Sauvage, Abita Springs or Ramsay. This possibility caused some residents considerable concern about what the project would do to the environment, the quality of life, and the impact of traffic and population.

Apparently Louisiana politics was too demanding, according to several accounts. Land price was a critical factor, and Florida swampland was less expensive than St. Tammany high ground, especially since Disney officials took special care to keep it a secret from Florida interests what they were buying the acreage for at the time, as revealed in published reports over the years.

See also:

Disney World Was Supposed to be In New Orleans

Why Walt Disney Chose Orlando Over New Orleans

The Jetport Proposal 


Friday, January 8, 2021

Krewe of Olympia 1st Parade in 1966

 The Carnival season in Covington got even more exciting when the brand new Krewe of Olympia launched its parade on February 20, 1966, joining two other parades already scheduled for the Mardi Gras season. 

Here are some articles and photographs that chronicled the coming of the Krewe of Olympia, its King, Court, and festivities. Click on the images to make them larger.


Here is the text from the newspaper article describing the inaugural ball
Inaugural Ball Is Held Sunday
Article Written By Margaret Sloan

The Mystic Krewe of Olympia presented its first annual carnival ball Sunday night at the St. Paul's high school student union building after a glittering torch-lit parade through downtown Covington.

"The Land of Oz", theme of the parade, was carried out in an impressive tableaux enacted before a gold and red velvet throne backed by purple, gold and green swags gracefully draped from tall white columns.

Beginning festivities of the evening, Krewe Captain Earl Wilson, in glittering attire, made a spectacular entrance. His garb consisted of a gold and sequined satin coat with matching gold metallic trousers and rows of rhinestones extending the length of the pants legs. His cape was of white velvet, heavily-outlined in borders of gold and silver sequins, with rows of rhinestones within the outer border. Swirls of gold beautifully decorated the center of the cape, which was outlined with rhinestones and silver sequins.

His headpiece was heavily ornamented gold sequins, outlined in rows of brilliant rhinestones topped with white and blush pink plumes. Completing this magnificent attire were his boots of gold, trimmed with rhinestones. He carried a gold and silver jeweled scepter.

The krewe, dressed in costumes reminiscent of the lovable people of Oz, turned out en masse to join in the festivities and welcome the royal guests who had come to celebrate the occasion.

With fanfare and roll of drums, the captain presented George C. Darr, King Zeus 1, ruler of Olympia. attired in white satin Edwardian coat heavily ornamented in sequins and rhinestones. His trousers were of matching white satin and he wore white leather boots. The floor length mantle of white velvet trimmed in white mink and featured swirls of green, gold, yellow, pink, rose and orange velvet beautifully outlined in matching sequins.

Wearing a high arched silver crown of rhinestones highlighted with a jeweled Maltese cross in its center and carrying a jeweled scepter, he presented a magnificent figure.

First of the maids to enter was The Wise Witch of the South, Miss Maureen Helen Illing, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Warren J. Illing, escorted by The Guardian of the Emerald City Gates. Her blush pink gown featured a collar of carnival purple highlighted with an emerald green midrift. She wore an elaborate purple headpiece outlined in green sequins with a matching flowing train sprinkled with rhinestones.

The Wicked Witch of the East, Miss Sheridan Marie Stewart, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lomis E. Stewart, was escorted by the Royal High Sheriff of Oz. Her bouffant gown of burgandy net over black peau de soie had a purple bodice and long sleeves.

A cowl neckline and high collar of forest green illusion highlighted her costume. Her headpiece was of lavender satin sprinkled with rhinestones.

Third maid to enter was The Green Maiden of Oz. Miss Elizabeth W. Baldwin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Baldwin, escorted by The Wizard's Court Jester. She was beautifully attired in a gown of forest green net over white satin featuring a bodice of satin and matching green net puffed sleeves sprinkled with rhinestones. Her soceress headpiece was of green satin and chiffon.

Miss Freida Fusilier, daughter of Mrs 0. Fusilier, portraying The Beautiful Sorceress, Gavelette, was escorted by Prince Quelala. She was costumed in a gown of green satin featuring white mink trim about the coat and outlining her full floor-length skirt.

Her headpiece, in keeping with the character she portrayed, was of green and white sequins and had a floor length veil of olivette chiffon cascading from the center of the crown.

The fifth maid to enter was Glinda, The Good Witch. Miss Theresa Deano, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Guy L. Deano, was escorted by The High Priest of Oz. Her gown was of daffodil yellow chiiffon and silk brocade emphasized by a full puffed skirt and elbow length sleeves beautifully trimmed in gold sequins. She wore a yellow tulle and gold sequined bakers hat.

Dorothy, portrayed by Miss Karen Louise Foil, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ray Foil, escorted by The Wizard of Oz, was the sixth and final maid to enter. Her white peau de soie and cranberry velvet bodiced gown featured a round neckline and elbow puffed sleeves. The white skirt was circled by eyelet entwined with cranberry ribbon and velvet bows scalloped about the hemline. Her headpiece was of white satin topped with a rich red plume.

Escorting the maids werel Messrs. Siegfried B Christensen, Lomis E. Stewart, Max J. Derbes, Jr., Guy L. Deano, Ray Foil and Dr. Lloyd M .Magruder.

As the much anticipated moment arrived, his majesty rose to welcome his daughter, Queen Carabel Darr, who was radiantly attired in a magnificent gown of white brocade fashioned along empire lines featuring panels of white satin over her floor length sheath skirt and wrist length sleeves, ending in a point over the hands.

Her elaborate mantle of rose pink velvet bordered in white mink, was centered with swirls of silver embroidery, outlined in brilliants and sequins.

Her circular crown was of silver and rhinestones and was beautifully tipped by teardrop crystals falling from its many spires. She carried a scepter of silver and rhinestones. Miss Darr's mother is the former Miss Ama Norfleet of Shreveport, whose grandmother. Mrs. Ama Ford Vance, ruled as the first queen of carnival in Shreveport The queen's aunt, Mrs. John H. Hearne, was the first Queen of Cotillion of Holiday in Dixie in Shreveport.

Pages to her royal highness were her sister, Miss Margaret Marion Darr and Miss Debra Ann Wilson, daughter of Col and Mrs. Earl Wilson. They wore identical ankle length white satin and peau de sole dresses and rhinestone tiaras.

Pages to his royal highness were Master Warren John Illing II, son of Mr. and Mrs. Warren J. Illing. and Master James Patrick Wilson, son of Col. and Mrs. Earl Wilson. Their costumes were of white satin bordered with rows of silver and gold sequins and matching canes lined with purple satin. Their hats were of white satin topped with white plumes.

Entertainment was furnished the court by Mrs. William Greer, who sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," the June Greer Dancing School performed "The Dancing Munchkins," and the Stevie Romano Dancers dancing "Stormy Weather."

Bouquets of red roses were presented to his majesty's wife, Mrs. George C. Darr and Mrs. Earl Wilson, wife of the krewe Captain.

Tableaux music was furnished by Jay Zainey, and his orchestra who also furnished the music for the revelry at Covington Community Center following the Grand March and several call outs.
Article published on Friday, February 25, 1966, in the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper. 



Over on the Krewe of Olympia website, this account is given of the group's history:

The History of the Mystic Krewe of Olympia

In 1965, a group of friends were having lunch at The Galley Restaurant across from the Covington Courthouse. Among them were Lieutenant Colonel Earl Wilson, Warren Illing, Sr. pharmaceutical sales manager, H. M. “Ollie” Olson, a Delta Airline Pilot, and James Heinritz, a local insurance agent. It was shortly after Mardi Gras, and the conversation turned to the Lions Club parade on Mardi Gras morning in Covington.

Colonel Wilson commented that many St. Tammany residents in rural areas probably had never seen a “New Orleans style” parade, adding “wouldn’t it be great to bring one to the community?” By the end of the meeting, plans were under way to form a carnival organization in Covington. Each participant in the project was given the task of signing up 25 members for the organization. By the end of the week, approximately 100 enthusiastic members had formed the Mystic Krewe of Olympia.

The 2016 Krewe of Olympia Video
See also:

King of Olympia - 1973 

Krewe of Olympia Court - 1979 

Krewe of Olympia 1976 

Olympia Mardi Gras History 

Mardi Gras Parade Preparations