Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Special events booklet from a 1973 VFW convention in New Orleans

Thirty-nine years ago, this staplebound booklet was distributed to delegates and guests at the Veterans of Foreign Wars' 74th national convention in New Orleans.

The event was held from August 17-24, 1973.1

The booklet contains mostly advertisements (and discount offers) from Louisiana businesses that were hopeful the convention would bring increased traffic.

There are also "greetings" pages from VFWs across the state, including the posts in Westwego, Chalmette2, Harvey, Harahan, Houma, Gretna and Arabi.

Here are tidbits from some of the more interesting pages from the booklet:
  • VFW Metry Post 6640 hosted a free beer bust on August 21, with the beer being donated by Miller Brewing Company. A beer bust is exactly what it sounds like. According to the Urban Dictionary, it is "a large gathering for organizations, clubs, college students, etc. where beer is the sole beverage served, and is consumed in large quantities." Other events sponsored by Metry Post 6640 during the convention were two dances, a red bean luncheon and "Seafood Galore." Also, importantly, the Post's bar opened at noon every day.
  • The Million Dollar Pageant of Drums was held on August 22 at City Park Stadium. Admission was just $1.50 if the coupon from the booklet was used.
  • There is an advertisement (pictured at right) for the Miss International U.S.A. Beauty Pageant. Somehow, I don't see VFW delegates and a beauty pageant mixing. But I guess anything was possible, especially after the beer bust.
  • The Louisiana Maritime Museum in New Orleans offered "free doubloons." The museum featured displays on naval heroes, ship models, antique nautical instruments and the "wheel and engine-room telegraph of the old Navy destroyer U.S.S. Merrill."
  • The New Orleans Jazz Museum offered special VFW convention rates of 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. (Perhaps that is why it soon went bankrupt.3)
  • George Chiasson, a World War I veteran from VFW Post 3793 in Kaplan, Louisiana, bought a page in the booklet in memory of his loving wife, Agatha L. Chiasson, who had died on April 27 of that year.
  • The advertisement for Broussard Restaurant and Napoleon Patio stated that the restaurant "in heart of Vieux CarrĂ©" was open every day but Wednesday. (Today, it operates seven days per week and has a $36 Louisiana Bouillabaisse as one of the centerpieces of its dinner menu.)
  • Finally, there was this advertisement (shown below) for Gemelli's, which offered "distinctive men's wear" at 117 Camp Street in New Orleans. The clothier specialized in convention formal attire, including tuxedos, the Prince Edward Shaped Tux, brocades and something called "Full Dress Orleanian." It carried sizes from 34 cadets to 66 X Lg.

1. While this convention was being held, Todd Helton, Sergey Brin, and Dave Chappelle were born, and Paul Williams of The Temptations died. Also, during the year 1973, Anne Rice finished writing "Interview with the Vampire," which is set in and around New Orleans. It was not published, however, until 1976.
2. Chalmette had a 46% drop in population between 2000 and 2011 because of Hurricane Katrina. Etymologists might also be interested to know that, according to Wikipedia: "The community was named after plantation owner I. Martin de Lino de Chalmette, whose surname is, in turn, derived from the French word 'chalmette' (meaning 'pasture land, fallow land') and has been traced to the Proto-Celtic word '*kalm'."
3. According to Wikipedia, the New Orleans Jazz Museum included "many instruments used by New Orleans jazz greats, perhaps most famously Louis Armstrong's first cornet. In 1969 the museum relocated to the Royal Sonesta Hotel. In the early 1970s the hotel changed ownership. The museum then relocated in 1973 to 833 Conti Street, but soon went bankrupt. The collection went in storage and was then donated to the Louisiana State Museum [where it still resides] on September 15, 1977."

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