Feast your eyes on these natty Texas Longhorns, travelling to Louisiana for a football game in the fall of 1947. I love their fedoras and cowboy hats, the curve of the cars, that one wide pointed black collar, and the teacup with saucer. Do you use saucers? I have some palm tree ones that go with my palm tree teacups, but we only use them separately now. It’s a perfect size for some buttered toast. I imagine these blokes had a nice cup of café au lait and beignets, the signature items of the Morning Call.
The sign says it’s the “most famous coffee drinking place,” but I have never heard of it before. “Coffeehouse” would have taken up less real estate on the sign, but I imagine that word didn’t exist yet.
Morning Call opened in 1870, eight years after the more powerful and still thriving Cafe du Monde, who crushed them in a bidding war last year, which led to their final closing. Having never been to either, I can’t say as I understand the allure of deep fried dough sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Why not just have a donut? Donuts come in all sorts of flavors, and they’re less messy. Then again, in Texas, we consume more breakfast tacos than donuts, so we’re getting our protein and dairy as well. Perhaps the combination of sugary coffee and beignets led one doctor last year to declare Louisiana as “the obesity-diabetes heartland of America.”
Still, it’s hard to say goodbye to tradition, especially after 149 years. These guys were sad to see it go.
1914, New Orleans. The Public Health Service, created in 1902, helped suppress an outbreak of bubonic plague by mobilizing this team of rat-catchers to eradicate the filthy beasts which spread the disease. Seems like backbreaking work to me, one that would not necessitate a hat and tie.
An army of 380 workers swept across the city to carry out the campaign. In a single week, they inspected 6,500 railcars and 4,200 buildings, fumigated 101 ships, trapped 20,000 rodents, laid nearly 300,000 poison baits and discovered 17 infected rats.
Using good scientific protocols, workers recorded data for each trapped rat, and when a laboratory analysis identified an infected specimen, its point of origin was subjected to a scorched-earth campaign of fumigation, burning, and in some cases, complete leveling.. Tactics like these went on daily, citywide, for months.
Ground Zero in the geography of rats proved to be the Stuyvesant Docks, where that first infected specimen had been found two years earlier. Here, mechanical conveyors transferred Midwestern grain among railroad cars, ships and elevators. Coupled with the warm fresh water of the nearby Mississippi River and ample nesting opportunities, the Stuyvesant elevators were a veritable rat nirvana. The campaign made them into a rat graveyard.
Death to the Black Death!
Bonus rat fun fact: Cagney never actually said, “You dirty rat.”