Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Campaign Against Litter Creates State Law

It's National Keep America Beautiful Month, which is about the shared responsibility we have in building and maintaining clean, green, and beautiful spaces. Improving our environment includes planting trees, flowers, and gardens and applying a fresh coat of paint on fences, decks, and buildings. It also involves reducing waste by repurposing and reusing old items, recycling, and picking up litter on our streets, highways, and in our communities.

While the initiative for keeping America beautiful began in 1953, Bossier Parish's strong efforts started in 1929 when Lettie Van Landingham came to Bossier Parish to start her long-time career as Bossier Parish Home Demonstration agent. In a Bossier Press article written by Van Landingham, she talks about her fight against litter in this parish.

(L to R) Mrs. Cason, Mrs. Dalrymple, Mrs. Kilgore, and Miss Lettie Van Landingham
Baton Rouge, 1933

“’Thank you’ is not enough to say to the Bossier City Quota Club and all of the other people who have been so wonderful to help carry out our civic programs.

“Therefore I shall give a brief history of my work along this line.

“As a little county girl I attended Minden High School. At that time Mrs. Joe Miller was president of the Minden Civic Club. This club had annual spring clean-up each year.

“This being in the day of one horse delivery wagons, owned by the grocery stores, the merchants furnished the drivers, and all school children assisted in picking up litter surrounding the school and the downtown area and putting it in the wagons.

“Therefore, I was like the little nine-year-old boy whom I picked up one day when he was on his way to the auction barn. He said, ‘I’m going to the auction, you know once you get it in your blood you can’t get it out.’

“The first group I organized was in 1918 in a small town that needed everything. This organization was made up of high school boys and girls. We followed Mrs. Miller’s plan and the town was greatly improved. The remains of wood walks and outdoor toilets were piled and later carried away by the merchants.

“When I came to Bossier in August, 1929, one of the first things the rural women asked was to please help to get the people not to throw their litter on their roads and land.

“Plain Dealing led the way with a good clean-up program. The report was sent to a magazine which awarded them with a plaque. This was placed in the Bell Hotel where the Lions Club held their meetings. Like many other valuable things, it was burned with the hotel.

The home demonstration club women and I worked in many ways to improve the sanitation and beautification of the parish. The members of the Police Jury also assisted and on April 8, 1949, passed ordinance No. 182. A few years later, through our efforts, the state passed a law prohibiting dumping litter on the highway.

“In 1953 Mrs. M.E. Tipton had the idea of getting the heads of the departments together and trying to accomplish more. This was done, the meeting being held at the State Highway building with representatives of the Police Jury, lumber companies, highway department, women’s organizations and others present.

“The name ‘Keep Bossier Beautiful’ was selected for the organization and Harry Balcom was elected president. We worked closely with the state organization, ‘Louisiana Associated Clubs for Roadside Development, Inc.,’ with Mrs. H.H. Harris of Alexandria as chairman.

“This organization, ‘Keep Bossier Beautiful,’ has worked continuously since it was organized and has contributed much to the improvement of highway beautification and sanitation.

“Thier first meeting of the 1967-68 year was held at the Amber Inn October 11 at 12 noon.

“Again thanking all of those individuals and organizations who have assisted in making our parish a more beautiful and better place in which to live.”

Keeping Bossier beautiful has been important to Bossierites since its beginning. Looking at newspapers from the late 1800s, you will see admonishments in there like "Clean up your yards" and "Clean up the front yard; tack on that loose board or picket, slick up and make home and its surroundings as neat and cheery as possible. You will live just as long, have just as good crops and feel a great deal better if you tidy-up a bit. Try it."

What do you want to know about Bossier Parish's 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

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