Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The First Bossier Parish Fair

The first mention of having a "country fair" was in January of 1899 when a farmer wrote "The Bossier Banner," expressing the importance of having a fair. He asked readers to consider the idea of planning one for the fall and inviting farmers to discuss it at the following Farmers' Institute Club in Benton. When the meeting took place on the 8th of March, it was motioned and seconded that the Farmers' Institute Club would hold a fair that fall.

In June, the club met and elected seven executive committee members to plan the fair, one from each ward of the Parish and Ward 1 of Caddo. The following were elected: Ward 1, J.W. Atkins; Ward 2, J.W. Jeter; Ward 3, N.W. Sentell; Ward 4, W.J. Johnston; Ward 5, J.T. Manry; Ward 6, G.S. Majors, and Ward 1 of Caddo, J.M. Sentell. The committee elected N.W. Sentell as chairman, Dr. C.H. Irion as secretary, and W.H. Scanland as treasurer.

That August, details of the plans for the fair began appearing in "The Bossier Banner," building the excitement. The fair would take place in Benton on Sept. 12th, 13th, and 14th. When announcing the dates, the writer admonished, "Every citizen in this parish should feel an interest in the fair and do all in his or her power to make it a success." The desire was to have an exhibit of something from every farm in the parish.

Preparation for the fair required a lot of construction. The exhibition hall was forty by eighty feet and two stories tall with a sheet iron roof that hung over several feet, providing shade and wire netted sides. There was a regulation half-mile track with grandstands to seat over 500 for viewing races and baseball games. There was an 'eating house" where the ladies of the Presbyterian faith served all kinds of delicacies, raising monies for the building of a Presbyterian church in Benton. Stalls and pens were built to house livestock.

The fair opened with an address from Mr. Rydon D. Webb when Governor Foster when circumstances prevented him from attending. The state agricultural association held a farmers' institute during the fair. A black brass band from Shreveport was in daily attendance. Each day a baseball game was played between the Ivan and Benton teams; Benton won each game. There were horse races, sprints, and other entertainments.

A beautiful oak grove near the fairgrounds was reserved for campgrounds for travelers who wished to camp out during the fair days. Local hotels offered reasonable rates. And special rates were arranged with the railroad; the Cotton Belt Route sold tickets at one and one-third fares, with a minimum of 50 cents.

After the fair, it was reported that "The attendance was greater than any one anticipated, even surpassing the most sanguine expectation of the managers. There were in attendance both Tuesday and Thursday fully 1000 people, and to say that there were 1500 present on Wednesday would be placing it at a low estimate." Wednesday was Veterans' Day, with special programs prepared on their behalf.

The first Bossier Parish Fair was a success in every way. To learn more about the history of the Bossier Parish Fair, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center, 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Can't come in, call 318-746-7717 or email history-center@bossierlibrary.org with your request. Follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on Facebook, @bplhistorycenter on Tiktok, and check out our blog, http://bpl-hc.blogspot.com/.

By: Amy Robertson

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The War on Rats

Rats have proven to be prolific human colonizers, repeatedly influencing disasters within human populations. They have leveled civilizations with their epidemics, brought about wide-scale biological extinctions in fragile ecosystems, depleted food resources, and cost governments billions of dollars annually in control.

Throughout history, wherever civilizations form, there have always been nuisances that plagued them. Among these nuisances are rats and mice, which have stood the test of time, and somehow, they manage to survive, despite man's many attempts to eliminate them through countless wars waged against them throughout every nation on earth. Community leaders and public health boards have often promoted these wars. The federal government has also funded them from time to time.

One example of federal funding on the war on rats was in 1967 when the Senate approved a $40 million, two-year authorization under which local governments could wage war on rats. The provision was part of comprehensive public health legislation. With or without federal funding, when communities experience excessive rats in the area, they call on all community members to join the war and call on others for help when necessary.

In 1909, a report in "The Bossier Banner" appeared announcing that "Five thousand American cats have been shipped to Japan to aid in the war on rats. Other shipments are to follow."

In 1917, a suggestion appeared in the local paper of tasking schoolboys in Alden Bridge with killing rats on the school grounds. At that time, they calculated that one rat destroys a cent's worth of property every day.

In 1936, Mayor Mack Phillips of Plain Dealing declared war on the rats of Plain Dealing through a proclamation. The following announcement and the proclamation appeared in "The Plain Dealing Progress" on Oct. 1, 1936.

"Due to a noticeable increase of rodents in Plain Dealing over the past several months, Mayor Mack Phillips has issued a proclamation declaring war on rats and mice here and asking the people of his city to put out rat poison on the same night−the evening of Monday, October 5th.

"Everybody having rats in their house, store, barn, smoke-house or what have you, is urged to participate in this worthwhile movement. Put your poison out on this date and each night thereafter until our town is rid of these destructive pests. There are literally thousands of rats and mice in Plain Dealing at this time, and they MUST DIE. It is up to the individual to do his or her part if we are to be rid of them.

"In our war on rats and mice the mayor suggests that we all use some kind of poison that will not endanger the lives of anything but rats and mice. K.R.O. (Kills Rats Only) is a brand of rat poison that is said to be harmless to anything but rodents. It may be secured at any drug store and most mercantile stores for only 85¢ per can, and is already prepared for putting out."

The previous year, Shreveport waged war on rats. During their efforts, the city's board of health reported the following:

 "Five hundred seventy-nine pounds of red squill−a poison fatal only to rats−was mixed with 4,372 pounds of hamburger meat, 3,157 pounds of oatmeal and 1,441, pounds of corn meal and distributed at 20,816 places, of which approximately 20,000 were residences."

"The work required 25 working days, on each of which approximately 60 men were employed. Total cost of materials was $1,449.31. Total cost of labor was $3,500. Men were employed through the E.R.A."

At that time, government agencies estimated that rat campaigns of this magnitude were only eighty percent effective and required repetition due to the high reproduction rate among rodents.

By: Amy Robertson

Friday, October 1, 2021

This Month In Bossier Parish History

 October: Through the year!



Oct.1: It's National Poetry Day!

* Please enjoy some of the poetry from a few of the citizens from our parish. 
 

    



Oct.14, 1928:  Land in Bossier City was inspected and found satisfactory for the new location of the south's largest airport. The location for the new attack wing of the nation's air service (Barksdale Field/Barksdale Air Force Base) could bring in 3,00 airmen and 500 officers.

*Please enjoy the newspaper article and photos.






14 Oct 1928

The Times















Barksdale Field before construction in the 1931

2011.053.001-36 Hardin collection

 





1937: Barksdale Air Force Base, on Barksdale Field in 1937. A Presentation of Colors to General Martin is pictured.

2002.027.004 DeField Collection





 Barksdale Air Force Base B-18 Plane.

2002.027.001 DeField Colection

 






1934: Barksdale Air Force Base, Barksdale Field.

2002.027.003 DeField Collection




Oct.19, 1977: Parkway Panther's news from 40 years ago. 

        * All clippings are from the Oct. 19, 1977 issue of the "Panthers' Print" and the photos are             from the 1978 Parkway High School Yearbook  

  • Panther’s Print newspaper staff


· 1977-78 Homecoming Court


· Mark Thomas sews his apron


· Girls volleyball wins over Bossier: 15-9


·  Football: Parkway vs Bossier, the Panthers takes the win: 14-7


· Panthers’ featured athletes of the month:  Kevin Wood and Mark Thomas


· P is for Personality: 1977 Panther Personalities were David Saylors and Maureen Meredith


· LSY’s “Most Outstanding Member” award goes to: Robert Ray McKellar, Diana Dahlberg and John Long


Oct. 27, 1921:  Weekly news from 100 years ago. 

            * the weekly news are form the Oct.27, 1921 issue of the Bossier Banner and the photos                 are from our database

  •  Beulah Dennis spent the week with her daughter.

    Beulah Cornelius Bass Dennis, and baby is Doris Gleason.


  •  Linton Community: The hour of singing was change from 8 o’clock to 3 o’clock. The   reason being, it is getting cold at night.

    1908: Students of Linton School, Teacher Miss Emma Hulme.


  •  Miller’s Bluff School was progressing nicely with 40 pupils enrolled.

    C.1900’s: Millers Bluff School


  •  The Plain Dealing cotton gin would only be operating on Fridays and Saturdays due to the   closing of the season.

    Cotton Gin, Plain Dealing


  •  One of the big features of the fair was a free airplane ride.

    c.1900's: Early airplane which offered rides at the State Fair.  Plane was kept in the center of the Race Track.  One view is of plane flying.  The other view is of plane on the ground.

     



Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Bossier City's First VFW Post


The announcement came a few days after the Second World War ended. The first local chapter of the "Gold Stripe" veteran's fraternity, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, would be chartered in Bossier City. A representative from the VFW national headquarters, Jack Dillard, came to assist the local committee in rounding up the necessary quota of members required to obtain a charter.

In an interview, Dillard mentioned that "As there are now a great many Bossier veterans of both World War I and II who have had overseas military service the prospects for a large list of charter members are very good." The all-veteran committee included Hoffman L. Fuller, Raymond C. Sergeant, and Harry L. Clark.

Commander Morris G. Vascoe
1st Commander of the Gandy-Brown
VFW Post, Bossier City
Their first meeting was at the Bossier City Municipal building on Sep. 12, 1945. They elected Morris G. Vascoe as commander; Harry L. Clark, vice commander; Norman W. Culbertson, junior vice commander; Hoffman L. Fuller, judge advocate; Arte J. Mangum, chaplain, Paul Spears, Charlie Ford, and James G. Glasgow, trustees. At the first meeting, they had 27 charter members. The hopes were to reach a membership between 200-400 members for the Bossier City Chapter.

Commander Vascoe made the following statement in an article he wrote concerning the need for veteran welfare services. "Predicting that public interest in the welfare of the veterans will virtually disappear in the post war area, and that the rehabilitation of returning veterans will become primarily a responsibility for established veteran organizations, representatives of the new Bossier City Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, states that these worries had promoted the idea of organizing this local V.F.W. unit."

The following month, the post was named. In a report appearing in "The Planter Press," written by Post Commander Vascoe explains, "The name of a comrade of the first World War and World War 2, who paid the supreme sacrifice, were elected."

The comrade of World War I was Guy Ira Gandy, a resident of Bossier City for several years before he went into active service in the Army. He served in France as a Private in Co. "3" 306 Infantry, 81st Division Supply and Ammunition train, and died of pneumonia after being mortally wounded at a little town of Chatillion Ser Seine in France Oct. 5, 1918.

"The second name was submitted for a Bossier City boy who is widely known throughout Bossier for his winning smile and charming personality. He was employed by the City of Bossier water dept., and a fireman of Bossier City before his entry into active service. His name was James Francis Brown, known to almost everyone as Frank."

Brown enlisted in the Marine Corps on Feb. 10, 1942, and worked his way up through the ranks and became a Sergeant. He served with the famed "Fourth Marine Raider Battalion," a member of Company "F" 2nd Batallion. Brown was killed in action on May 20, 1945, in the battle of Okinawa in the South Pacific. Sarah Richlar, Brown's Grandmother, was chosen as "Post Mother."

When the Gandy-Brown VFW Post No. 4588 was officially chartered, 69 veterans from World Wars I and II were listed on the official charter roster. The Post's membership doubled over the next two years. Today, it is still a vital part of our community for our veterans and their families.

Each year on this day, Sep. 29th, National VFW Day is celebrated at Posts and in communities around the world. We can celebrate National VFW Day by remembering our troops, donating to veteran-support organizations, and promoting groups that help with post-military careers and medical treatment. 

To learn more about the history of VFW Posts in Bossier Parish, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Can't come in, call 318-746-7717 or email history-center@bossierlibrary.org with your request. Follow us @BPLHistoryCenter on FB, @bplhistorycenter on Tiktok, and check out our blog, http://bpl-hc.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Bossier Native Survives WWII Prison Camp, Part 2

As you will recall from last week's column, Pittman requested to be assigned to a combat crew rather than play football for the Army here in the states. The following is a summary of his experience in combat and as a POW.

Jan. 16, 1945, was a day that he would never forget. It was his crew's 13th mission, and Berlin was their primary target. According to Pittman, "it was nearly impossible for bombers to get in and out without casualties. It was actually impossible at that time because they had the whole city surrounded with anti-aircraft." His crew took the lead in the mission, and before they knew it, they took on heavy German "flak" (anti-aircraft fire).

B-24 Liberator Through flak and over the destruction created by preceding waves of bombers, these 15th Air Force B-24s leave Ploesti, Rumania, after one of the long series of attacks against the No. 1 oil target in Europe. (U.S. Air Force photo)[1]

The aircraft was going down, and the crew had to bail out of the plane. Fellow crew member Moose Meyers, the tail gunner, was bleeding profusely and appeared to be mortally wounded. Pittman pulled him out and asked him if he could bail out. When Moose said yes, he helped him to the escape hatch and watched as his parachute opened. All of the crew members bailed out, and by the end of the day, they had all been captured by German soldiers, becoming prisoners of war.

After being captured, they took him to the Gestapo Chief, where he was interrogated and beaten. Next, they forced Pittman to remove all of his clothing. They allowed him only to wear his thin gabardine flight suit, which offered no protection from the bitter cold. They put him in a dungeon where most of his crew members were. From there, they went to a jail where he was shown kindness by the jailer, who saw how cold he was, seating him near a radiator for warmth and giving him a cup of hot soup and a blanket.

The following day the Burgermeister (which roughly translates to mayor) and other dignitaries came to the jail to look over the prisoners. The same jailer that showed Pittman kindness went into his cell and kicked him while his back was turned, lifting him off the floor. After the dignitaries left, he apologized for his actions; the jailer said it was because "he had to put on a front" while the dignitaries were there.

Next, the prisoners boarded a train which took them to the Central Interrogation Center for all of Germany in Frankfurt. According to Pittman, it was really rough there. They were professional interrogators with the facilities needed to torture men for information. Pittman was put on another train and taken to Wetzler, a small POW camp about 20 or 30 miles north of Frankfurt. Over the next few days, most of the members of his crew arrived there as well.

Pittman described this camp as a permanent POW camp that did not feed the prisoners; they were all literally starving to death there. A few weeks later, they were moved to a large POW camp in Nuremberg, where conditions were even worse. Many of the men there were sick, and some were dying. These sick, malnourished men were taken to a new location, this time on foot. Unbeknownst to them, General Patton was nearby on the Rhine River.

They marched for about two weeks, during which they stole food from local farmers, taking anything they could get their hands on. During this time, Patton began sending a plane over every morning and dropping leaflets providing reports of the war to the prisoners. In his messages, he urged the men to "stick together and don't try to escape," that they were right behind them and would come and get them just any time.

Source: Robert D. Reeves - Peoria to Munich - A Prisoner of War
http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/ree7eng.html

Their march brought them to an overcrowded POW camp in Moosburg. It contained thousands of prisoners, many having to sleep outside. One afternoon a rumor began to circulate that Patton and his men were just across a small ravine and would come to get them the next morning. Sure enough, Pittman woke to the sound of a gun. Being outside, he quickly saw that the front gate had been pushed in by a big tank and drove right up to the barbed wired compound he was in, and General Patton jumped out of it. A few days later, the war ended.

General Patton on liberation day at Camp Stalag VII A, 29 Apr 1945
Before returning to the states, the men were brought to Camp Lucky Strike in France, where they were disinfected, bathed, given haircuts and clean clothes. For some, this was their first bath since being captured. Pittman fondly remembers being allowed to bathe in the Danube during their march to camp Moosburg—his first bath since arriving in Germany. From there, the liberated prisoners were either placed on a ship or plane to return home.

View of Camp Lucky Strike - Saint-Valery, France. 1945.
Source: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.
<https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/136556>.

Pittman tells his audience that "during our captivity—it was the roughest part of my life! The combat was bad, the flying combat was very nerve-wracking, everybody was tense, and you were literally scared! But to me, staying there in that prison camp and being tortured with hunger, I think, was probably the worst experience I had. We were threatened several times with our lives, but that didn't bother us too much. It was just the dream of food, and it was wanting food and not being able to get it that was a nightmare! You would go to sleep, and you'd dream about food. When you'd wake up, and you were talking, all you would talk about was food!"

Pittman lost 50 pounds during his imprisonment, but other survivors who had been there longer being reduced to skin and bones. Some would consider being shot down on the 13th mission bad luck, but Pittman felt it was good luck because he lived to tell about it.

To read the full transcript of Pittman's story and the discussion that followed after his talk, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City. Donations are a large part of our collection and are vital in helping us preserve 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, history-center@bossierlibrary.org.

By: Amy Robertson