I was raised in a home where Huey Long and his brother Earl were frequently discussed. One subject that came up often was the whereabouts of Huey's famed "deduct box." The location, description and contents of this box were spoken of in hushed tones that reflected a concern equal to the speculation on when the "Rooshens" were going to drop an "atomic bum" on us. What is known about Huey's precious deduct box? Do you have it?
Patrick Morrill Burke
You don't believe that if Old Blake had the deduct box or knew of its whereabouts I would ever reveal it? I promised to take this knowledge to my grave. But I can tell you a little about this most unusual piece of Louisiana history.
Huey Long's powerful organization was corrupt, and one reason was the enormous sums of money collected in order for Long to remain in power. The money came from contributions, donations and deductions from the salaries of state employees. Some of the money ended up in the greedy hands of the men who collected it. Most, but not all, of the money, however, ended up in Long's campaign chest, or deduct box (so named because most the money came from the salary deductions).
Gov. Long spent a great deal of time in his suite at the Roosevelt Hotel, and it was in a safe there that the governor kept the box. When he left New Orleans and went to Washington as Sen. Long, it is believed by some that he took the box with him and kept it in a safe in the Mayflower Hotel, then later moved it to a vault in the Riggs National Bank. There were whispers, however, that the box was in safe keeping back in New Orleans.
This box needed to be safeguarded because in 1935 it was said to contain more than a million dollars as well as a great deal of damaging information on Long's political enemies, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Then one Saturday in 1936, Long and his friend and confidant Seymour Weiss had just finished a game of golf and returned to the Roosevelt Hotel where Weiss was manager and principal owner. Long told Weiss that he had moved the deduct box. Weiss thought the box was still in the bank in Washington, so he was eager to learn of its new location. A telephone call for Long interrupted the conversation, and Sen. Long never mentioned the box again.
The next morning, Sept. 8, Long traveled back to Baton Rouge. That night would prove to be fatal. Huey Long was shot in the capitol by Dr. Carl Weiss (no relation to Seymour Weiss), who was then shot many times by guards.
Long was taken by car to a nearby hospital, where doctors operated in an unsuccessful attempt to save his life. His injured kidney caused internal bleeding, and his condition worsened rapidly. On Monday his condition caused him to go from bouts of unconsciousness to periods of complete rationality.
The crowd at his deathbed grew quite large and included doctors, politicians, Long's wife and children, his brothers and sisters, and his father. At times Long was actually lucid enough to carry on conversations. It was at this stage that Seymour Weiss approached the dying senator and asked a critical question. "Huey," he said, "you've got to tell me. Where is the deduct box?"
The only response he ever got was "Later, Seymour, later." Later never came, however, because Long died before revealing the whereabouts of the million-dollar box. Long's widow was legally entitled to the box and its contents, and she sent representatives to cities in the United States and Canada looking for it.
But the box was never found.