In a previous issue you mentioned the circus at Avenger Field. As a kid, I, too, went to that circus. I, too, played ball there and watched members of the American Legion play there. At one time, there was a sign identifying the field. How did it get its name?
You're probably going to be surprised to learn that Avenger Field was named after a baseball team. The team needed a park, and the city provided one. There was a grandstand that seated 300 fans and a 20-foot scoreboard furnished by the Jackson Brewing Company.
On July 30, 1944, at 2 p.m., the public was invited to the dedication of Avenger Field on Tchoupitoulas Street and Calhoun Avenue. Presiding over the ceremony was Earl Smith, representing Mayor Robert E. Maestri. The highlight of the afternoon was a baseball game between the Avengers and the Gulatta Stars.
Avenger Field's name was changed in 2002 to David Berger Field. Berger was a Tulane University graduate and Olympic weightlifter was killed in the Munich Massacre on Sept. 6, 1972.
I know there used to be more than one daily newspaper in New Orleans. Could you please explain the various operations and the timelines for their closings, merging, etc?
During the early 19th century, newspapers in New Orleans sprang up like weeds. Most of them were written in French. Throughout that century and into the 20th century, dozens of newspapers came and went. I will tell you about some of the most important ones.
The very first newspaper in New Orleans was the Moniteur de la Louisiane, published in 1794 by Louis Duclot, but it was not a daily. The official newspaper of the Spanish government, it lasted for about 20 years.
The Louisiana Gazette was one of the first English newspapers to be published, starting on Sept. 24, 1804. In 1837, there were six dailies in New Orleans: The Picayune, the Louisiana Courier, the Louisiana Advertiser, L'Abeille, the True-American, and The Commercial Bulletin. Competition was ferocious.
Other papers such as The Daily Delta, The Daily Crescent, and the True Delta appeared briefly. But by the time the Third Infantry left New Orleans on April 24, 1877, officially ending Reconstruction, there were five daily newspapers to tell the story.
The oldest of the lot was L'Abeille (the Bee). Established on Sept. 1, 1827, it was written entirely in French. The paper was purchased by the Times-Picayune in 1921, which operated it until December 1923.
After the Bee came The Picayune, first appearing on Jan. 25, 1837. Published by Francis Asbury Lumsden and George Wilkins Kendal, the paper was patterned after the northern penny press. It was sold for a small Spanish coin worth 6 1/4 cents " a picayune " and treated the news less seriously than its competitors. The clever publishers of the paper made use of a Pony Express to get news from the East quickly.
Foreign-language papers were popular, and the German Gazette " the Deutsche Zeitung " was first published on Aug. 1, 1848, and continued until 1907.
Two other dailies in 1877 were the Times, founded in 1863, and the Democrat, founded in 1875. In 1881, a merger created the Times-Democrat.
The German and French newspapers were victims of changing times, but the three English papers survived and merged into one. In April 1914, the Daily Picayune merged with the Times-Democrat and became the Times-Picayune, Louisiana's oldest and largest daily newspaper.
Another daily that many of us remember is the States-Item. For a while it was New Orleans' only afternoon paper. It was the result of a merger of the Daily City Item, which began in 1877, and the Daily States, which started three years later.
In 1962, Samuel I. Newhouse bought the two remaining daily papers and merged them in 1980. Until 1986, the paper combined both names: The Times-Picayune/States-Item. And then there was one.