I was wondering about the history of the Zulu coconut.
There are Mardi Gras throws and there are Mardi Gras throws, but the most original and sought after is the Zulu coconut. It even has a name: the Golden Nugget.
Around 1910, a year after William Story reigned as the first Zulu king, the first coconuts appeared. They were not decorated as they are today, but tossed from the floats in their natural, hairy condition. Zulu historian Clarence Becknell explains the concept of using a coconut for a Mardi Gras throw: "In earlier years these guys worked and they were laborers, so they really couldn't afford to buy the beads, the masks, the elaborate costumes. So everything was very creative, and everything was made from scratch."
It was some years later that the idea of scraping and painting the coconuts became popular. Lloyd Lucas, a Zulu krewe member, started shaving the coconuts in the 1920s, and another member, Walter Vance, started the tradition of painting them in the 1940s.
Everybody wanted a Zulu coconut, but when you shouted 'Hey, Mister, throw me something," and what you got was a coconut thrown at you, you ducked or suffered the consequences. Believe it or not, lawsuits resulted " lots of them. When Mardi Gras of 1987 rolled around, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club was unable to get insurance, so it was a parade without coconuts.
After much lobbying, the "Coconut Bill" was passed by the Louisiana Legislature. SB188 excluded the coconut from liability for alleged injuries arising from the coconuts handed, not thrown, from the floats. Then-governor Edwin Edwards signed the bill into law on July 8, 1988. Now the "throws" are not thrown any more; they're handed to lucky folks who get a piece of Mardi Gras history.
The Zulu coconut is significant in Mardi Gras lore because the Zulu krewe was the first to feature a signature throw. When you get a Zulu coconut, you can be sure it is a one-of-a-kind work of art, not something from Hong Kong that is bought by the gross.
In addition, the Zulu organization was the first group of African Americans to parade during Carnival. It also was the first krewe to integrate " and the first krewe to have a celebrity monarch: Louis Armstrong in 1949.
I want to know the name of the sons of Barthelemy Lafon.
In a testament dated Sept. 4, 1809, Barthelemy Lafon named two natural children. Only one of them, Pierre, was a son. The other was a daughter named Carmelite. He also named the mother of these offspring Modeste Foucher, a free woman of color.
Some people believe that Thomy Lafon, a businessman, real estate investor and philanthropist, was also one of his sons. Thomy Lafon's mother was definitely Modeste Foucher, but Barthelemy Lafon did not acknowledge Thomy as his son.
Barthelemey Lafon was born in 1769 in France and came to New Orleans about 1789. He became very successful as an architect and city surveyor. He subdivided the Faubourg Marigny and the five plantations of Annunciation, Soulet, LaCourse, Nuns and Panis as well as designing plans for Donaldsonville. It was Lafon who gave us all of the Greek street names in the Lower Garden District.
After the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, Lafon did not return to the business of architecture. Instead, he took up with the likes of Jean and Pierre Lafitte, engaging in piracy and smuggling. When Lafon died of yellow fever in 1820, he was a very rich man.
I remember going to Royal Castle. What ever happened to them? Are there any in other states?
Royal Castle was a Miami-based chain of restaurants founded in 1938 by a family from Ohio. At one time, there were hundreds of stores that sold palm-sized burgers, but now there is only one at Northwest 79th Street and Unity Boulevard in Miami.