Charlie Manson|!!| aka “Dr Nut|!!|” making his way in front of a Carnival parade.

The Man Who Ran Before the Parades

Ed. Note: In our April 2011 issue, Julia Street answered a question about an elderly runner who used to precede Carnival parades. In our May 2011 issue, a reader provided more information about the runner. However, his identity still wasn’t determined. As a response to that letter we ran an Editor’s Reply asking if anyone had more information. Since then we have learned that the man’s name was Charlie Manson (yes, that’s correct). Below is information from his granddaughter and a photo of the runner along a parade route.

The old gentleman who ran in front of the Mardi Gras parades in the 1940s and ’50s was Charlie Manson, my maternal grandfather. He was an avid runner long before jogging was fashionable and belonged to the New Orleans Athletic Club (NOAC), and captured many awards for his efforts.

He was well-known in New Orleans for running in front of Mardi Gras parades. Most people didn’t know his name, but when the old gentleman in his running shorts appeared with his medicine gear and an oil can which he used to feign “oiling his joints,” they would know that the slow mule-drawn – and often behind-schedule – Mardi Gras floats weren’t far behind. He sported the name “Dr Nut,” the name of a local soft drink, and wore a sign that said “Life Begins at 75,” or whatever age he may have been that year. He still worked well into his 70s and possibly early 80s. His last job was with the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) and he ran to work each day. He died at age 85 in 1960.

I took this picture (above) at a Carrollton parade.

Audrey Baumgarten Planchet

Remembering Ferrara Supermarket
I wanted to compliment the New Orleans Magazine staff on including such a great topic in this last edition – Sicilian corner groceries are certainly a significant part of New Orleans history. My family was sad to see, however, that our store, Ferrara Supermarket, wasn’t mentioned. It was the oldest family-owned grocery in New Orleans until it was ruined by Hurricane Katrina (1906-2005, just shy of its 100-year anniversary). It began in 1906 on Spain and Chartres streets, and always maintained a loyal following even at its most recognizable corner of Elysian Fields Avenue and Robert E. Lee Boulevard location. My grandfather, Merrill Ferrera, who grew up on the second story of the old store, passed away shortly after Katrina. My father, Brian, and brother, Gregory, kept the history of this Sicilian corner grocery alive until the storm.

Amy Ferrara Smith
New Orleans

Ed. Reply: Thank you for your comments. Ferrara Supermarket was certainly an important Gentilly-area landmark.

Cover to Cover
Re: New Orleans Magazine, June 2011 issue

I just received the (June 2011 issue of New Orleans Magazine) and was astonished. Is it the same one that has been around for ages? I couldn’t put it down and read it cover to cover. I loved it. Keep up the good work

Elaine Boudreaux
New Orleans

Ed. Reply: We blush. Thanks. And now that we have undergone our re-design we think we’re even better.

Categories: LL_Letters