This motorcycle motorcade of Louisiana State Police officers escorted Governor Earl K Long to Mandeville, Louisiana, in 1959.
Governor Long In The Spotlight
Earl Kemp Long served as the 45th Governor of Louisiana and was known for his "Uncle Earl" personality, which consisted of a folksy demeanor and “colorful” oratory.
According to Wikipedia, “Long was well known for eccentric behavior, leading some to suspect that he had bipolar disorder. In his last term in office, his wife, Blanche Revere Long , and others attempted to remove him on the grounds of mental instability.”
Governor Long was subjected to a lunacy hearing in the Summer of 1959 held in Covington at the Junior High School (now the School Board Office on Jefferson Ave.)
“For a time, Long was confined to the Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville, but Long was never formally diagnosed with any mental disorder.”
While confined in the psychiatric hospital, Long kept his political machine running via telephone. After leaving the hospital, (he fired the hospital superintendent and the state director of hospitals to bring that about), he stayed for a short rest and took meetings at the Southern Hotel in downtown Covington, naming it the temporary “state capitol of Louisiana.” But after the hearing was over, he made the Pine Manor Motel his headquarters south of town on U.S. 190 for several days, the second “temporary” state capitol.
As a result of all the commotion, Covington, the site of the hearing, became a media circus. News media from all over the country came to cover the hearing, with much of the action centering on the Southern Hotel .
The late Mary Busby Frindik found this photo in her Andrew Erwin Collection of Photos. She loved the Southern Hotel and stated, “If those walls of that majestic building could only talk, we would hear generations of history that would touch many of us!” The following photo was taken by Art Lemane for The St. Tammany Farmer and published on July 3, 1959, showing Governor Earl K. Long sneaking out the side door of the hotel to avoid the press.
Click on the images to make them larger and more readable.
Covington was mecca last Friday for one of the nation's most sensational events -- a scheduled habeas corpus hearing in district court here to show cause Why Gov. Earl K. Long should not be released from a mental ward at Southeast Louisiana Hospital in Mandeville.
The hearing was never held. It was dismissed by Judge Robert D. Jones upon motion by Long's attorney, Joe Arthur Sims.
Since Long was plaintiff in the action, the judge had no alternative other than acquiesce to Sims' motion. And as plaintiff seeking release from Southeast Louisiana Hospital, Long had no need for court procedure after he had been formally discharged from the institution by clever manipulation of human pawns in the dramatic action of the Louisiana State Hospital Board.
Here is the way it worked—simple but sure:
(1) The hospital board met in special session in the police jury room at the temporary courthouse here at 9 a.m.
(2) The board recommended discharge of Jesse. H. Bankston, director of institutions. The letter was signed by Gov. Long, Lt. Gov. Frazar and William Cleveland, president pro-tem of the senate.
(3) The above three men prepared a letter naming Charles Rosenblum as director of institutions succeeding Bankston.
(4) Rosenblum then fired Dr. Charles Belcher, director of Southeast Louisiana Hospital (in Mandeville), with OK of Long, Frazer and Cleveland.
(5) Rosenblum then named Dr. Jesse McClendon new acting-director of Southeast Louisiana Hospital.
(6) Dr. McClendon recommended release of Gov. Long from the hospital.
(7) The governor was now a free man. He had no need for a hearing to affect his release.
(8) Long's attorney asked for a dismissal of the suit.
(9) Judge Jones granted dismissal.
"The very next morning splashed on the front page of the Picayune was a large photo of Earl K. Long exiting the 'courtroom'...and there in the foreground, smiling so pretty at the camera, was baby Elizabeth Cordes over her mother's shoulder. Betty had been 'caught'.
By the end of the Governor’s visit to Covington, all the state officials, news media, and half the nation were familiar with the name of the Southern Hotel, the temporary home of Gov. Earl K. Long and “state capitol of Louisiana” for a day.
A Pastor's Counsel
Rev. Baxter Pond, a beloved area pastor at the time, recalled his meeting with Governor Long during those troubled days. It was perhaps
one of his most notable counseling sessions. Rev. Pond was called to the Governor's motel room, and "When
I went up to his room, the smoke was three feet high. Earl was sitting
up in bed."
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