JULIA STREET WITH POYDRAS THE PARROT
THE PURSUIT TO ANSWER ETERNAL QUESTIONS
Dickey’s Potato Chip Factory , 501 Elysian Fields Ave. November 1956
photo courtesy of the Charles L. Franck Studio Collection at The Historic New Orleans Collection
I fondly remember Dickey’s potato chips but know nothing about the company itself. When and where did they begin? Did they make anything other than potato chips?
In 1922, Mississippi native William W. Dickey (1899-1972) founded the Dickey’s Potato Chip Company and began selling its Vita-Seald™ chips from a shop at 131 South Rampart St. By the early ’40s, the little potato chip company had grown in popularity and set up business at 1523 Canal St., before moving into a manufacturing plant and retail store at 1407 Canal St. In ’45, Dickey’s built a new factory, moving its headquarters to the corner of Elysian Fields Avenue and Decatur Street.
Although most often remembered for their potato chips, Dickey’s also produced other products. These included corn chips, Julienne potatoes and Krun-Cheez™ brand cheese snacks.
In 1956, Dickey’s Potato Chip Company became the Dickey Foods Division of the Sunshine Biscuit Company. Although Dickey Foods continued operating following its founder’s retirement and death, the brand appears to have gone out of existence in the ’80s.
My friends and I greatly enjoy the YLC’s Wednesday at the Square series, unfortunately now over for the year. Lafayette Square is only a block Uptown from the street named for our favorite parrot.
We are used to the trick question, “Where is the statue of Lafayette in Lafayette Square?” Of course there is none. There is a statue of the great statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin, the statue of Henry Clay, which many years ago used to be on Canal Street, and a charming bust of John McDonogh surrounded by children, but no Lafayette statue.
I got to wondering, in a city where the memory of the Marquis de Lafayette is so highly revered that a street and a charming park (square) are named for him, why not a statue? There is also alleged to be a city somewhere in Louisiana named for him, but where’s the statue to this man? Lafayette should always be remembered for the aid he brought to our infant nation in its most desperate time, in our war for independence from the British. But is there a statue? I know pigeons are more expert when it comes to statues, but Poydras surely can help find this statue if it exists.
There were, in fact, two Louisiana cities named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. One, of course, is the Acadiana city that was originally known as Vermilionville. The other was around for only about 19 years. Incorporated in 1833 as a Jefferson Parish city lying between Felicity Road and Toledano Street on the outskirts of New Orleans, the City of Lafayette was annexed to the City of New Orleans in 1852, becoming the city’s 4th Municipal District.
The Marquis de Lafayette may not be depicted in local outdoor sculpture, but he has been memorialized in a piece of publicly owned art. A sculpture showing the uppermost part of his body has been state property for more than half a century. In February 1964, Freemasons from the Sesquicentennial Committee of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana donated to the Louisiana State Museum a bronze bust honoring the Marquis de Lafayette. But a bronze bust in a museum isn’t quite the same as a bigger-than-life statue in a public square.
Dear Julia and Poydras,
I remember reading somewhere that the neutral ground in front of Gretna City Hall was once called Logical Point Park, but nobody can tell me why such a peculiar name was chosen for a public park. I can’t think of any logical reason why “Logical Point” might be a catchy and appropriate name. I hope you can shed some light on this mystery.
The name referred to a pre-World War I promotional campaign. Beginning around 1910, the New Orleans area lobbied very hard in an effort to be selected as the host city for the ’15 Panama Exposition, a world’s fair which would celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. There was a Logical Point monthly magazine, a Logical Point Pleasure Club in Algiers and Logical Point Park in Gretna as groups all over the metropolitan area jumped on the promotional bandwagon and proclaimed the hot new “Logical Point” slogan.
New Orleans, its neighbors and supporters proclaimed, was the “Logical Point” to host the 1915 world’s fair. It was felt that the city’s proximity to the Panama Canal, then under construction, was a key selling point. Moreover, promoters praised New Orleans’ central location, port facilities and rail connections as factors that placed the Crescent City in an ideal position as a preferred travel, trade and distribution hub to serve new trade routes and markets expected to emerge upon the opening of the Panama Canal. In other words, it was hoped that anyone crossing the Gulf to Mexico to conduct business would find New Orleans to be the “Logical Point” to make travel and trade connections.
Gretna officials formally dedicated Logical Point Park on Sept. 5, 1910. It was located on the Copernicus Avenue neutral ground in front of Gretna City Hall. Copernicus Avenue was later renamed Huey P. Long Avenue.
Despite strong efforts to lure the Panama Exposition to New Orleans, the 1915 expo was instead awarded to rival bidder San Francisco, which hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition from Feb. 20 through Dec. 4 of that year.
Win a restaurant gift certificate
Here is a chance to eat, drink and have your curiosity satiated all at once. Send Julia a question. If we use it, you’ll be eligible for a monthly drawing for a tour and Creole breakfast for two at Degas House or a Jazz Brunch for two at The Court of Two Sisters. To take part, send your question to: Julia Street, c/o New Orleans Magazine, 110 Veterans Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005 or email: Errol@MyNewOrleans.com. This month’s winners are Rosie Agee, Harvey; and Richard Hayeed, New Orleans.