Rabalais’ Political History: Mayor Maestri’s Lunch With Franklin Roosevelt

While this week marks the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans, it is also the annual commemoration of a less heralded event in the city’s history that humorously embodies its unique flavors, particularly in politics and fine cuisine.

On April 29, 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made his first official visit to the Big Easy. En route to a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico, Roosevelt was in town to meet with state officials and to dedicate the new Bonnet Carré spillway built by his New Deal programs.

The presidential visit was largely a diplomatic gesture as well, meant to signify a new working relationship between the state and the White House after years of conflict between Roosevelt and late Gov. Huey Long.

According to documents at the FDR Presidential Library, Roosevelt and his entourage (including mistress Missy LeHand) arrived in New Orleans via train at 1:30 p.m. The president then rode in an open-air vehicle through the city with sitting Gov. Richard Leche and then-New Orleans Mayor Bob Maestri before taking in a pre-scheduled lunch at Antoine’s, the famed French Quarter restaurant.

In his book Louisiana Hayride, Harnett Kane recounts the day in detail. On the ride over to the restaurant, FDR and the governor had conversed, but Maestri sat silent, having been instructed not to speak to the president. Organizers had thought that the the mayor, who had only a third grade education and a thick “Yat” accent, would embarrass them in front of the president.

Over their lunch of Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine’s, however, Maestri broke his silence, turned to the president and asked, “How do ya like dem ersters, chief?”

Roosevelt supposedly went on to tell the mayor about how much he enjoyed the food and how he wished that he could have similar dishes served at the White House on a regular basis.

Maestri followed up by asking, “So ya liked ‘em?”

The resident responded with more effusive praise for his meal.

When a friend later asked the mayor for his impression of Roosevelt, Maestri candidly observed, “Aw, he’s full of bull.”

Issue 1206

By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS | May 23, 2019 | Issue 1206 | News@LaPolitics.com | @LaPoliticsNow | LaPolitics.com ABORTION

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |   May 21, 2019    |    Issue 188   | 

Issue 1205

By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS | May 16, 2019 | Issue 1205 | News@LaPolitics.com | @LaPoliticsNow | LaPolitics.com You’ve Been

Issue 1204

By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS | May 9, 2019 | Issue 1204 | News@LaPolitics.com | @LaPoliticsNow | LaPolitics.com Keeping the

Issue 1203

By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS | May 2, 2019 | Issue 1203 | News@LaPolitics.com | @LaPoliticsNow | LaPolitics.com Double

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    April 30, 2019    |    Issue 185  

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker {  S P O N S O R E D   B Y   H A R R I S ,   D e V I L L E   &   A S S O

Issue 1201

By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS | April 18, 2019 | Issue 1201 | News@LaPolitics.com | @LaPoliticsNow | LaPolitics.com What Will

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    April 15, 2019    |    Issue 183    |    News@LaPolitics.com    |    @LaPoliticsNow    |   

Issue 1199

By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS   |   April 4, 2019   |   Issue 1199   |   News@LaPolitics.com   |

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    April 2, 2019    |    Issue 181    |    News@LaPolitics.com    |    @LaPoliticsNow    |   

Issue 1197

By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 21, 2019    |    Issue 1197    | 

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 19, 2019    |    Issue 179 

Issue 1196

LaPolitics Weekly B y   J E R E M Y   A L F O R D   &   M I T C H   R A B A L A I S Issue 1,196  

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

   By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais    |    March 12, 2019    |    Issue 178 

Issue 1195

By   JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS Issue 1,195                        

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS February 26, 2019   |

Issue 1194

B y   J E R E M Y   A L F O R D   &   M I T C H   R A B A L A I S Issue 1,194        

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

The Tuesday Tracker Sponsored By Harris, DeVille & Associates By JEREMY ALFORD & MITCH RABALAIS February 19, 2019

POD: Donelon, Disco & the Dividends of Defeat

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/donelon-disco-the-dividends-of-defeat  In the latest episode of The LaPolitics Report podcast,

Issue 1,193

Issue 1,193 - February 14, 2019 By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais Dollars & Question Marks Abraham’s ante, Gumbo coming

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

ROLL CALL St. Tammany emerges at center of gubernatorial campaign… John Gallagher talks 2019 municipal races… A look back at the

Issue 1192

Issue 1192 - February 7, 2019 By Jeremy Alford & Mitch Rabalais Keeping Their Powder Dry GOP wants to see movement in

The Tuesday Tracker, Sponsored by Harris, DeVille & Associates

February 5, 2019 — Issue No. 174 By Jeremy Alford (JJA@LaPolitics.com) & Mitch

Son of a Preacher Man: Bob Mann Speaks

https://soundcloud.com/lapolitics/son-of-a-preacher-man-bob-mann-speaks For our latest episode of The LaPolitics