Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Victory Garden Advice Holds True Today

Joe Knowles Skaggs with Terry Joe Skaggs working in the garden. Nannie Joyce Knowles Skaggs Collection: 2003.028.044.
During the second world war, victory gardens became a necessary way of life, and today, more people have begun gardening this year due to food supply anxiety related to the pandemic. For those of you who have recently taken up gardening and are wondering about what to plant for fall crops, please enjoy the following article of advice from Lettie Van Landingham, found in the Bossier Banner Thursday, Aug. 9, 1945.

“Last call for gardeners for 1945! Make wise use of your planning time during the next two months and you will have lots of fresh vegetables all fall and well into the winter.
 Purple top White Globe.

“Clear the weeds, grass and old plants from that part of your plot not in use as a fall garden and sow a winter cover crop. This crop, turned under during the early spring, will add nitrogen to the soil and help to keep the soil in good condition.

“What to plant during September and October:

“Mustard: Florida Broadleaf or Tendergreen. Sow on row. Make frequent plantings.

“Broccoli: Italian Green Sprouting. It’s too late to sow the seed, but if you can buy plants and set them out during early September, a dozen or so plants will provide all the broccoli a family can use.

“Cabbage: Charleston Wakefield. Sow in seed bed. The small plants should be ready to transplant six weeks later.

“Radishes: Scarlet Globe and White Icicle.

“Carrots: Louisiana Danvers.

“English Peas: Creole. Plant September 1st (South Louisiana Only).

“Beets: Crosby’s Egyptian and Detroit Dark Red.

“Onions: Creole and Bermuda. Sow seed for later transplanting.

“Swiss Chard: Lucullus.

“Irish Potatoes: Triumph and Katahdin (certified). South Louisiana only. Between September 1st-10th. Plant whole small potatoes.”

With each type of vegetable, Van Landingham mentions the varieties that work best in Louisiana. Over the years, new and better varieties are created, to know what varieties work best today, contact a local 
nursery or the LSU Agricultural Center.

In another article, Van Landingham advises what chores to do during the fall and winter for a better garden. She admonishes that “First, a garden must have a good fence, tight enough to keep out chickens, live stock, and rabbits. So, if the fence is in poor condition, get busy. The fence doesn’t have to be expensive woven wire. Good fences can be made of hand-spilt pickets placed close together.”

Next, she instructs the readers that they “should get the soil in good condition. That part of the garden not planted in winter vegetables, or in cover crop, should be cleared of all old plants, grass and weeds and then plowed. Barnyard manure, if available in quantity, can be cast over the ground to be worked into the soil later. Loads of leaf mold from the woods, scattered over the garden help to add necessary humus and keep the garden soil in good condition.”

Finally, she recommends to “get out the seed catalogues, pencil and paper. Plan a garden for next year which will provide an adequate supply of fresh vegetables and a surplus for canning, so that you and your family may do your part toward America’s first line of defense by being well fed, healthy and happy. For your garden to be adequate you must plan to have available at all times (either fresh, stored or canned) something from each of these five groups:

“Group I: green leafy and yellow vegetables, such as mustard, spinach, lettuce, cabbage, collards, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, yellow squash, yellow sweet corn.

“Group II: Other vegetables, such as turnips, eggplant, beets, English peas, green butter beans.

“Group III: tomatoes (enough to serve them five times a week) either fresh, canned or in tomato juice.

“Group IV: Dried beans or peas, and Group V: Irish and sweet potatoes.”

Lettie Van Landingham was the first Bossier Parish home demonstration agent, serving the community for decades. Her sage advice was always available in The Bossier Banner. To learn more about her work, visit the Bossier Parish Library History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Happy Birthday, Holiday Lanes

Holiday Lanes neon sign by Henrietta Wildsmith, photographer. Source: The Times Dec. 31, 2014.
Did you know that bowling has been around for hundreds of years? The first mention of bowling in Bossier Parish newspapers was Thur., Jul. 10, 1930, when an article appeared in The Plain Dealing Progress. According to the article, W.R. Goodwin of Forest, Miss. was lauded for popularizing the bowling game in Plain Dealing. The bowling alley was located in the McKellar Brothers hardware store, which was formally the J. P. Keeth general store.

Then on Fri., Oct. 24, 1930, the following announcement appeared in The Planters Press, “Mr. R.T. Grounds took up his new duties as manager of the Bossier City Bowling Alley Monday morning. Mr. Grounds is the brother of L.O. Grounds, who opened the Bossier City Bowling Alley and is now in Winnsboro, Texas, where he is completing plans for opening a Bowling Alley in that town. Mr. Grounds comes from Minden, La. where he has been managing a Bowling Alley. He will be assisted by Miss Arline Foster of Stamps, Arkansas.” 
Also, in 1930, advertisements can be seen in The Planters Press for Pony Bowling, which was a version of bowling that was played on lanes that were 30 feet long versus 60 feet for a ten-pin alley. The pins were smaller, as were the balls, which were wooden, fitting in one’s palm. This pony bowling alley was located next door to the Planters Press in Bossier City. 

In the fall of 1935, another entrepreneur came to Bossier City to open a bowling alley, T.J. Henry came from Franklin Parish. He set-up his bowling alley at 309 Barksdale Boulevard, which was formerly the Broussard Store. In the Planters Press, Henry was quoted in saying, “Bowling is among the most healthful recreations.” Not only was bowling a popular sport among men and women, but it was touted as a way to shed a few extra pounds and to stay fit and trim.  

In the mid-1940s, George H. McDonald, of Benton, Ark, owned and operated a ‘min-a-golf’ that included an outdoor double ten pin bowling alley in downtown Bossier City, at 1001 Barksdale Boulevard. 

If you have noticed, all of the bowling alleys were brought here by businessmen that relocated here to open these bowling alleys. The reason for this is because the bowling alley industry was on the cusp of the golden age of bowling (1940-1960). By 1945, bowling had become a billion-dollar industry, and every entrepreneur was working on getting a piece of the pie.

In 1959 a group of local investors announced their intentions of opening a modern bowling alley in Bossier City. Architects Frey Huddleston and Associates of Shreveport designed the contemporary building of concrete, brick, and glass construction. This 32,000 square foot bowling alley was the largest clear-span bowling center in Louisiana when it was completed sixty years ago. This design eliminated any visual supports, which tend to distract bowlers and blocks the view of spectators.
Architects drawing of Holiday Lanes 1959. Source: The Times, Oct. 4, 1959.

Holiday Lanes boasted many features, including Brunswick automatic pinsetters complete with subway ball returns. Every detail was tended to, such as the acoustic treatments to reduce noise and the elevated spectator seating for better viewing. Keglers could shop for all their bowling needs at the pro shop, including being expertly fitted for a bowling ball. There was a glass-enclosed restaurant that seats 100 people and offered a view of all the lanes. They even provided a supervised nursery during the day for bowling mothers. 

Mr. Ausbon Stokes winner of Holiday Bowl trophy for being
the first person to bowl a perfect score at Holiday Lanes.
Stella Stokes Collection: 1997.042.014.

Holiday Lanes is celebrating its 60th anniversary this month. While it started as a 32-lane alley, it was expanded to 44-lanes in 1974, making it the largest bowling establishment in the area. They have also worked to make bowling accessible to everyone by offering bumper rails for children, wheelchair ramps, and ball ramps for people with disabilities. Holiday Lanes has always focused on building  community while providing fun for the whole family.

What do you want to know about Bossier Parish history? Visit, call or email the Bossier Parish Library History Center for help with your research. We are at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City, 318-746-7717,

By: Amy Robertson

Saturday, August 1, 2020

This Month in Bossier Parish History

August: Through the years

Aug. 1902:  Benton was incorporated

Bellevue, Louisiana
14 Aug 1902

W. Benton Boggs became the first mayor of Plain Dealing on April 5, 1890.   He was also a founder and the 1st president of Plain Dealing's first Bank, and he later became a state senator.
1997.062.332 Turnley Collection
Old Jailhouse at side of old Benton Courthouse.
1968: Map of Benton.
2005.006.001: Jennings article

Aug 4, 1951:  In Memory of Rev. John J. Harris (1887 - 1951)

Aug. 15, 1966: Bossier city's first link to I-20 was near completion. 

The Shreveport Journal
15 Aug 1966
June 19, 1962  I-20 Bridge Construction

Aug. 26, 1920: 100 years ago today 
              · Mr. W.E. Swindle secured a contract for the Heifner school building
              · About everyone has gone fishing
              · Mr. Tom Stinson was reported on the sick list
This picture of students and instructors of the Heifner School at Chalybeate Springs was taken in approximately 1900. It was submitted by Jean Barr whose mother, Ruth Heifner Brown; grandfather, Charles Andrew Heifner; and grandmother, Alice McLemore Heifnes; are all pictured: Front row, left to right, Robert Malone, Sammy Malone, Dayton Rodgers, "Dec" Charles Wright, A.S. "Dick" Wright, Mamie Malone Covington, Treebie Barnette, Lula Malone Morgan, Pearl Johnston Hudson (holding Fannie Mae Heifner), Ruth Heifner Brown, Lilla Daws Davis, Ottalee Heifrier DeMoss (holding Clotile Rodgers,) Bessie Barnett DeMoss; second row, left to right, Joe Rodgers, Willie Johnston, Harvey Malone, Henderson Brock, Jenny Brock, Letha Brock Collins, Viola Allen Caraway, Alena Rodgers Montgomery, Vera Rhodes; Auri Mae Rhodes, Maggie Nabors Turnley, Leora Nabors, Jim Johnston; third row, left to right, Charley Heifner, Ruby, Rodgers, Emma Daws DeMoss, Eleanor Allen Gleason, Zuma Malone Chamlee Gilford Wright, Gid Robertson, Abner Heifner, Dan Rodgers, unidentified, Johnnie Walker; Dallas Allen, Alice McLemore Heifner, Mrs. Cora Coile; fourth row, left to right; Jeff Malone, Wash Malone, Mattie Malone, Nancy Brock, Pearl Barnett, Professor Jess Cheshire, Pauline ' Allen Wingate, Frankie Lester Malone, Bertie Barnett and Mary Rodgers Sprouce.
2003.026.134  Corley Collection 

C.1950’s: Vara (Farrington) and Marie (Roberson) fishing at Crawford Camp.
1999.141.051 Hart Collection 

C.1910’s. Thomas W.W. Stinson was the third generation Stinson to live in Bossier, but the first born here. His father, Robert, established the Rough and Ready Plantation that is still owned by the Stinson Family. T.W.W. Stinson was primarily a farmer and rancher, but was also a founding member of the first public school in Benton in 1890 and served on the Levee Board in 1900.
0000.004.010 Scanland Collection 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

1950s Watershed Project Revives Plain Dealing

Signage for Upper West Fork Cypress Bayou watershed. Plain Dealing Library Collection: 1997.031.043.

On Jul. 25, 1888, S. J. Zeigler, founder of Plain Dealing, auctioned off the lots that now comprise the town. For decades this flourishing little town endured an average of four floods per year, costing residents and business owners an average of $41,884 in damages annually. The town suffered nearly $16,000 worth of damages to streets, bridges, and other property each year.

Damages to farmland were approximately $4,000 annually, and with the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act passed by Congress in 1954, farmers on the upper west fork of Cypress Bayou became interested in the agricultural benefits of a watershed project for Plain Dealing. After many meetings, applications and votes concerning the Upper West Fork of Cypress Bayou watershed were approved by the Soil Conservation Service of the USDA, Mar. 1958.

Demoss livery stable, during a flood in Plain Dealing, c. 1910s. (located at Palmetto Road)
Bryce Turnley Collection: 1997.062.172.

It was estimated that the project would cost $505,000, with Federal contributions of $333,800 and local costs of $172,000. Local contributions also included the land, easements, and rights of way, as well as operation and maintenance of the project after completion. The Louisiana State Department of Public Works provided engineering services and funds for construction. In 1956 the citizens of Plain Dealing unanimously approved a bond issue for $52,000 to fund the cost of paving roads to the lakes.

The project included the damming of three lakes: one for flood storage, one for a water reserve, and the third for recreational purposes. Once completed, the 5,500-acre watershed would provide flood protection, municipal water supply, as well as fish and wildlife development. The benefits of investing in this massive project also ushered in a growth spurt for Plain Dealing.

According to an article appearing in the Shreveport Times on May 4, 1969, Gene Warren quoted Mayor Leon Sanders exclaiming that the “three watershed dams helped save his town.” That since the completion of the project in 1961, the value of those dams to Plain Dealing was “close to half a million dollars,” according to Sanders. Not only did the town realize the previously mentioned benefits, but it also made the town more appealing.

Sanders told Warren “that since the structures were built, over a dozen new businesses have opened up in town,” including a new bank, a new hospital, a new clinic, a library, and a plywood mill that employed over 200 local people. A new subdivision was developed on the outskirts of town with 15 to 20 new homes. New roads were constructed and new churches formed.

While one of the three lakes were not named, because its sole purpose was to provide flood control, the other two were named Lake Dogwood and Lake Plain Dealing. Sanders stated, “The city bought 64 acres around the edges of the lakes and developed facilities for swimming, picnicking, and camping.” He also reported that “close to 3,000 people per day from all over north Louisiana have used the lakes.” Thanks to the Louisiana Wild Life and Fisheries Commission, the lakes were stocked with fish, making the lakes ideal for fishing.

With the new recreational areas to offer and with the fear of annual floods gone, Plain Dealing became revived for the first time since the 1930s. Businesses and people saw Plain Dealing as a town with potential rising, moving there to live the American dream.

To learn more about Plain Dealing, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Be sure to follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on FB.

By: Amy Robertson

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Bossier Biographies: Lettie van Landingham

In our new video series, Bossier Biographies, learn about individuals who made important contributions to Bossier Parish.

Our first biography is about Lettie van Landingham, a woman who served as Bossier's Home Demonstration Agent for 31 years.

Click the link to go to our Youtube channel.
Lettie van Landingham biography