Saturday, January 2, 2016

Antics at the Governor's Mansion


The "old" Louisiana Governor Mansion (1930 - 1961) was rich with history.   Though not historically acknowledged,  here are two personal stories that may have some entertainment value.

One Sunday in the early 1930s my late Aunt Francis Landry and her husband, the late Jules Landry were taking a leisurely stroll down Royal St. toward North Blvd.  Suddenly they heard an outburst of angry invective coming from the front portico of the Governor's Mansion.  What they saw they would never forget.  Governor Huey Long was on the porch angrily berating Richard W. Leche who would succeed Long as Governor shortly after Long's assassination in 1935.  Though Leche was a Democrat as was Long, that's where their likeness ended.  They detested each other.

Francis and Jules would later learn that Huey's outburst had been heard for blocks away.  There had been some speculation among the electorate that there may have been a connection between Leche and Long's assassination.  But of course this was never proven.


Then nearly 2 decade later in 1948 my brother, Louis Wayne Leggio, and our cousin, Rodney ("Smokie") Bourgeois  were best of friends.  Our paternal grandmother's ("Gramaw's") home was located at the corner of America St. and Royal St. behind the Governor's Mansion which faced North Blvd in Baton Rouge. 

The Mansion's guest entrance was accessed via an oval drive that rose from Royal St. and descended to St. Charles St.  Over the years this drive had evolved into a favored plaza for roller-skaters, two of which were brother Wayne and cousin Rodney.  Wayne and Rodney were both the same age and had both developed their skating skills so well that when, from the top of that drive, they could rapidly descend without ever rolling into the street.  Such skill and such fun they had.

On one occasion as they enjoyed their weekly romps up and down that drive, suddenly the front door of the mansion opened and an elderly gentleman who appeared to be a janitor or maintenance man appeared on the stoop and demanded "you boys take those skates off right now."  They instantly obeyed.  "Now put them here next to this column."  Again they obeyed.  "Now come with me." They entered the mansion in the company of this old gentleman. "Now go in there and sit down."  They went into a room off to the left of the vestibule. "I'll be right back."  Wayne and Rodney became nervous while awaiting his return speculating that Gramaw would begin to get worried.

The old gentleman returned carrying 2 bottles of Coca Cola.  Giving each one a bottle, he said "I've called your Gramaw and told her you're with me and will be home in a little while."  He then stepped over to a round screen black and white TV set, turned it on and said "Now you boys help me watch Howdy Doody."

Upon returning to Gramaw's house, Wayne and Rodney would learn that they had been entertained by non other than Governor Earl K. Long who obviously was a great fan of the ever popular Howdy Doody program.


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