I've been a horse racing fan most of my life and as a kid read the book Black Gold. I am curious about his regular rider who was J. D. Mooney, a New Orleans native. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Black Gold and J. D. Mooney were indeed the subject of a popular book written in 1957 by Marguerite Henry. And well they deserved that recognition. John Mooney, whose date of birth is not certain, was the son of an Irish riverboat man on the Mississippi. He rode the famed Black Gold to victory in the 1924 Kentucky Derby, and in the same year also guided Black Gold to wins in the Louisiana, Ohio State, and Chicago Derbys.
Mooney's riding career lasted for 10 years, and during that period his record included 261 victories, 258 seconds, and 280 thirds. He was in the money 30 percent of the time. He also won the 1923 Louisiana Derby aboard Amole. Mooney is deservedly a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame.
In 1958 a race was named in honor of Black Gold at the Fair Grounds. And a tradition began with the winning jockey placing a wreath of flowers at Black Gold's burial site in the infield. For many years another part of that tradition included J. D. Mooney. He would be there to accept the wreath from the jockey, walk to the gravesite, and place the flowers. It was a time to remember a great horse and a great jockey, who died in 1966.
Could you tell me if there ever was a drive-in theater in the area of Canal and Robert E. Lee boulevards?
If you drive through Lakeview, it is difficult to imagine that there was ever a drive-in theater at the intersection you are asking about. That's because there never was one. Lakeview began to develop as a residential section almost 100 years ago. The area was drained, swamps were cleared, and roads were built. The New Orleans Land Company began advertising and selling lots. Schools were built, churches were built, and, in about 1926, the area started to gain a reputation as a prestigious neighborhood. Commercial areas grew around Harrison Avenue and the intersection in question, but Lakeview has remained, for the most part, a beautiful, quite residential neighborhood.
We hope to take this custom to Roanoke, Va., for a wedding, so I am interested in knowing the origin of the "second line."
A very simple explanation of "second line" is the group of dancing spectators who follow the folks in a parade -- the "first line." But this unusual way of celebrating has an interesting origin.
Second lining is a special kind of street dancing that came from the traditional African-American parades. After the Civil War, when it became easier to get musical instruments, African Americans began to form brass marching bands. Some of these were associated with fraternal groups and burial societies, and competitions would take place to determine which group could send off one of its members with the greatest style.
After the ceremony was over, the procession would move slowly from the church to the cemetery, and the band would play sad hymns and dirges. However, on the way back, the music became more upbeat. They played joyful songs, and the second liners -- usually sporting umbrellas and handkerchiefs -- danced with wild abandon. This has now become traditional at jazz funerals.
But the term can also apply to an entire event or the distinctive, syncopated rhythm of the music. And the fun of second lining is very popular at weddings where you might see a jazz trio leading the newly wed couple and their guests around the reception hall. As the celebrants dance and strut to the music, they twirl decorated parasols and wave souvenir napkins.
New Orleans celebrates just about every occasion with a parade, so second lining at an event is quite common. But I can't image what the folks in Roanoke are going to think when you bring this Big Easy tradition home.