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1826 North Broad

A cure for all that ails you

ARTHUR NEAD Illustration

Sometimes the greatness of an individual can be measured by the poetry of his words. Consider these three quotes on the subject of winning:

“Nothing can seem foul to those that win.” - William Shakepeare

“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” - Winston Churchill

“Stay with Al Scramuzza and you’ll never be a looza.” - Al Scramuzza

What can be said of a state that created Edwin Edwards, Tom Benson and Al Scramuzza in the same year, 1927? Each celebrated his 90th birthday this year with great fanfare. Nineteen Twenty-Seven also produced the Great Flood, which, come to think about it, is also part of the story, more later.

Edwards, Benson, Scramuzza—a triumvirate in which each member can claim great accomplishments; for Edwards the current state constitution; Benson has a Superbowl ring; and Scramuzza, by his account, made the crawfish popular.

Once regarded as a junk food,  the little red critters did not begin achieving widespread consumer recognition until the 1950s when Scrmauzza began selling them. Such a conversion of tastes required marketing, and here Scramuzza was a master. By the 1980s, he was starring in a series of seafood commercials some of them showing him dressed as a doctor playfully proclaiming that crawfish was good for just about all that ails a person—a fact that even the great Dr. Ochsner apparently missed. While he delivered his message the chorus sang those memorable words, “Seafood City, very pretty” touching on the fundamental truth that customers expect beauty from seafood joints. Lest there should be any doubt where Scramuzza’s store, Seafood City, stood, New Orleanians were infected with singing the jingle’s punch line, “1826 North Broad!!”

Added to the appeal was that Scramuzza had a look, featuring a pencil thin moustache beneath a prominent proboscis, and a name that were made for merriment. Edwin Edwards spent much of his career facing voters and jurors; Benson dealt with bankers and team owners; Scramuzza-- he faced the mighty tide of those with a craving to suck heads.

Now back to 1927: Many Louisianans were sent to Red Cross relief camps that year as they waited for the water to recede, The story has been handed down by relatives that when their kinsmen returned to their farms in central Louisiana they were dismayed to see that the water had driven crawfish all over their lawn. They were poor people, nevertheless this was a food that they did not eat, but these were hardly times for being picky. The wild crawfish were plopped in pots, seasoned with salt, and boiled until they turned red. It was the plight of refugees to have crawfish boils forced on them.

Even in hard times, they were never loozas.



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