I heard that the Louisiana state motto used to be "Land of Dreams" or "The Dream State." Is this true? If so, was the motto inspired by former New Orleanian Randy Newman's album Land of Dreams? And when and why did Louisiana officially become "Sportsman's Paradise"?
Am I Dreaming
The official state motto is -- and has always been -- "Union, Justice, Confidence." It appears on the official state seal adopted in 1902; you know, the one with the pelican feeding her three nestlings.
While most of us know that Louisiana is a place where dreams can come true, Randy Newman's album Land of Dreams was not released until 1988. However, in 1981 local musician A.J. Loria composed, produced and performed the tourism theme song, "Louisiana, A Dream State." Of course, in those days, Louisiana was doing its best to sell itself and the upcoming 1984 Louisiana World Exposition. The Louisiana Office of Tourism was sending out all sorts of press releases and public relations materials containing phrases such as "from Louisiana, a dream state," "Louisiana -- traveling in a dream state," and "Louisiana -- featuring a dream state."
As for state nicknames, we've had a bunch of them. Louisiana has been nicknamed the "Child of the Mississippi" because it was built up by deposits from the Mississippi River on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. It's hard to believe that the gulf once extended as far up the river as Cairo, Ill. Other descriptive nicknames include, the "Creole State," the "Sugar State," the " Bayou State," the "Cajun State," the "Mardi Gras State" and the "Pelican State."
A couple of our nicknames have appeared on license plates over the years. In 1958, we first saw the nickname "Sportsmen's Paradise" appear on license plates. Then in 1964, the plural spelling became singular, and we had "Sportsman's Paradise." It seems like a good choice of nicknames, considering the variety of sports our great state has to offer.
For a while, beginning in 1974, the nickname "Bayou State" appeared on license plates. Then this nickname disappeared, and in 1983 and for a time after, you could get a plate commemorating the World's Fair. But we soon went back to the "Sportsman's Paradise" plates. Now, this nickname has been superseded by the cool new bicentennial plate available that commemorates the Louisiana Purchase.
Every time I hear about the Ozanam Inn at 843 Camp St., I think about when I was a teenager. (I'm now in my 70s.) I used to go dancing there. It was called the Druids Hall, and there was a dance hall on the top floor. In recent years, I haven't heard any more about it. Can you give me the lowdown on this? I had great times dancing there!
The Ancient Order of Druids was one of the first fraternal orders established in Louisiana. The organization -- a moral, social and beneficial organization -- moved into its new home on Camp Street in February 1911. To celebrate, there was an enormous "housewarming" attended by more than 4,000 folks.
The Druids had purchased the 10-room, three-story building, renovated it and added an adjoining modern building, 80-by-51 feet and built of steel and brick. There were parlors, banquet halls, a billiard room, reading room, large and small lodge rooms, and drill grounds.
The Druids were still there when they celebrated their 75th annual May Festival in 1931. Like the Druids of ancient Britain, they celebrated the advent of spring with elaborate secret rituals and public rejoicing. The local group invited the general public to the grounds of Holy Cross College to spend an afternoon and evening of games, sports, speeches and dancing, with a special visit by the Supreme Arch of the Druids of the United States.
The Druids, who had their first Carnival ball in 1897 and paraded from 1921 to 1934, moved out of their home on Camp Street about 1957, as I recall. Ozanam Inn was a few doors down the street and eventually took over that property as well.
I hope you have found a new place to dance!