Inside The Tool Kit, Delgado's Classic Newsletter From 1920s And Beyond

by: Bob Monie
In 1921, the first year of Delgado Trades School, Louis A. Dodge, the secretary for the Delgado Board of Administrators and the school's publicist, wrote a four-page newsletter called The Tool Kit for the students, administrators, teachers, and clerical staff to get them off to a congenial start. Both students and faculty members,  especially in the printing department, liked the idea so much that they adopted the newsletter as their own, gladly taking the burden off Dodge's shoulders, enlarging the format to 15 pages or more per issue,  taking care to include activities from every department. The revamped Tool Kit was published regularly from 1922 to at least 1927 and sporadically thereafter. Preserved copies of the newsletter in the Delgado College archives and the Louisiana collection of the New Orleans Public Library have begun to yellow and turn brittle with age, so they have been made available electronically here

    Let's open a few copies and have a look; they offer a unique view of Delgado's first decade of operation:

January 1922 Issue, edited by Robert Brydon, Jr., William Schultz, and C.W. Culbertson

H. G. Martin, the director of the trades school, counsels students that although Delgado exists for their benefit, “we are not going to sprinkle” their “path with roses.” “Much hard work and discipline” will be required to emerge from Delgado as a young man prepared to make a living in a trade. Assistant Director O. J. Davieson assures students that in the aftermath of World War I the U.S. offers qualified tradesmen many more jobs than Europe is able to offer.  A contributor congratulates Student Lahare “for organizing a successful Halloween dance,” and someone boasts that the school auditorium on the third floor can seat 1,200 and is “the most beautiful auditorium the state of Louisiana.” O.J. Davieson has designed golden Delgado Trades School (dTs) lapel pins that he would like all students to wear. They are available from Miss Ragas in his office at 75 cents each. The night school reports “over 500 men enrolled and many names yet remain on waiting lists.” One night school student was seen attending class “in a tuxedo” perhaps on his way from one party to another or one job to another.  A snatch of poetry emerges from the carpentry shop: “Within this hive of busy bees/ Skilled men are modeled for industries/ To fit the boy to earn a living/ Was the object of Delgado's giving.”  A “vocational guide program” allows boys as yet undecided on which trade to learn to try out several trades before making a choice; and “sightless student,” Tom Slough, “invented a machine that uses steam to remove the wood spline from the seats of cane-seated chairs.”  C.W. Culbertson, sports feature writer, notes that “strictly speaking athletics at this school is yet unborn” though students interested in running cross-country were invited to hike along the 17th Street Canal, the Lakeshore, and the Orleans Canal in a try-out for the future program. Anyone who can play a “band or orchestra” instrument is invited to “report to Miss Ragas in O. J. Davieson's office” where plans are underway to form a Delgado band.

Early '20s photo of key administrators and assistants
Upper Row - Louis A Dodge, O. J. Davieson
Lower Row - Miss Ragas, Miss Mason, and H. G. Martin
February 1922

The cover features a quotation from Benjamin Franklin: “Sloth makes all things difficult, but Industry all easy.”  Ten musicians reported to O. J. Davieson's office, and a piano was soon made available to them. Delgado celebrates the opening of the electric shop and the “triumph of electricity, telephony, wireless,” and other electrical fields. The school building (today Building 1) was “open to inspection every week day” by the public, who were cordially invited to visit. Students are urged to “yell ‘Gold and Green! Gold and Green! Delgado! Delgado! Make it Seem!’” as an official school cheer. In a cartoon sketch appears a grinning Delgado student proud of his Delgado (dTs) lapel pin. The trades school receives high praise in a letter from Douglas Anderson, dean of the engineering department at Tulane University and a member of the Delgado Board of Managers since Delgado opened. He considers the establishment of Delgado Trades School “one of the most important and progressive steps taken in recent years in the advancement of education in the City of New Orleans.” Thanks are given to the Tulane University YMCA for donating “complete sets of equipment for baseball, volleyball, basketball, and tennis.”  An editor looks back at the short but vibrant history of the school:

“It was only in the summer of 1921 that the first students were enrolled.  The ceremonies incident to the formal dedication of the school were held in the auditorium on November 23, [1921].  His Honor, Andrew J. McShane, presiding, and many prominent educators and hundreds of other citizens attending.”

Ben Franklin's Maxim on Cover

Cartoon of Delgado Student With Lapel Pin
March 1922      

Director H. G. Martin reports that 780 students are attending night school; 265 more are on the waiting list. Instructor A. Max and his sheet metal students are featured, along with photos of fantastic flower pots fabricated from sheet metal by Max's students. If any of these still exist, they are collector's items. New members of the faculty make their debut.  Frank Roccisano, an Italian tailor, is on board, along with Henry C. Adams, a drafting instructor.  Chef John Henry Breland makes his first appearance.  He will remain at Delgado for decades, to run the school restaurant, dubbed “Breland's Beanery” or “Hotel Breland” by students, teach commercial cooking classes, and achieve fame for his series of nationally-distributed cookbooks. Delgado instructors use “lantern slides,” the latest visual technology equipment—a precursor of the slide projector—to illustrate their lectures. Instructor Behre entertains his cabinet-making students with a lantern slide presentation on cypress wood.  In athletics, Delgado's great rival or “natural enemy” is Warren Easton High School.

The Sheet Metal Shop
Fantastic Delgado Flower Pots

John Henry Breland Arrives at Delgado

Chef John Henry Breland 22 Years Later
Cover Of Breland's Salad Book
Excerpt From Breland's Salad Book

April-May 1922

The machine shop and tailoring programs are featured. Students who aspire to attend engineering school in college after graduating from trades school are told to first learn their basic science and mathematics at Delgado.  Drafting students have created a clever cartoon called the “wopdoolie” (a mythical animal of the scientific age?) from the drafting tools used in class. A handsome portrait  appears of Edgar A. Christy's main Delgado building inscribed in an oval and it is mentioned in passing that, in addition to its local sister school, Francis T. Nicholls, Delgado has another sister school in Mexico.

The Machine Shop
Rendition of Building 1 in Oval Frame - 1922
Drafting Students Unveil the "Wopdoolie"
June 1922

The cabinet-making program takes the spotlight in photos and a cartoon showing instructor J. C. Behre wielding a saw. An article by Tulane engineering dean Douglas Anderson characterizes Delgado and Tulane “working side by side.” A visitor recalls seeing a machine shop student happily hammering away on a block of metal while whistling the “Wang-Wang Blues” to keep time. The visitor concluded that Delgado was “a wonderful school.”  One student recalls that fig pie, a Chef Breland creation, was a favorite selection in the cafeteria.

J. C. Behre's Cabinet Shop
Students' Cartoon of J. C. Behre's Cabinet Shop
July 1922

Seymour Weiss, a member of the first Delgado Board of Managers, owner of the Roosevelt Hotel and crony of Huey P. Long, is mentioned. Students in the interior decorating department pose with their wall and tapestry designs. O. J. Davieson recalls that “on August 17, 1921, we opened the school with approximately 75 students, and on the afternoon of the same day, actual shop practice was begun and has been going on ever since without any unnecessary delays.”  In summer 1922, a wireless receiving set was installed in the electricity lab, and the school announced that “1300 men” had received training at Delgado Central Trades School since the day it opened.

Coming To Grips With the Latest Automotive Technology
Plaque Celebrating Enrollment of 1,300 Students
First Delgado Baseball Team (1922)
Delgado Crowd Cheers During Faculty-Student Game
December 1922

Instructors H. Arnold and J. Casiragh present the print shop program, with photographs of linotype and monotype machines.  They remind the reader that the printing program typically takes three years to complete, and the Delgado print shop produces The Tool Kit. On November 23, 1922, Delgado Trades School celebrated the birth of its founder, Isaac Delgado.  Shops and classes were closed at noon.   After lunch (in Chef Breland's cafeteria) all the students and faculty, headed by H. G. Martin and Elleonora Moss, made their way to Metairie Cemetery to place a bouquet of flowers on Mr. Delgado's grave.  The ceremony was brief but impressive. Heads bared, the several hundred students listened to “brief eulogistic words by Mr. Martin and the gracious words of Miss Moss, after which the students and class representatives deposited their floral offerings upon the grave of their benefactor.  The students were then dismissed for the day.”  On the back cover of the newsletter appears one representation of the Delgado lapel pin.

Delgado Printing Department
Backcover Drawing of Delgado Golden Lapel Pin
January 1923

Delgado cafeteria photos highlight the stewardship program of William Shultz and John Henry Breland.  Guest posers from Nicholls High School in New Orleans, “open to girls 14 or over” model the fashions they have created.

J. H. Breland's Cafeteria Staff Ready To Serve
May 1923

A cartoon shows the Delgado Athletic Association gladly accepting a gift from its sister school, Nicholls.  The well-known New Orleans surgeon Dr. Joseph Cohen offers free first-aid classes at Delgado, and jewelers lobby Delgado to add classes in horology (watch and clock making and repair).

The Pattern-Making Department
Nicholls Girls' School Presents Gift to Delgado Athletic Program
July 1923

Student A. Wink, whose name will appear on several Delgado publications in the 1920s, designed the cover.  Donors joined forces to improve the bare-field appearance of the Delgado campus.  Florist P. Chopin donated enough luscious American Beauty roses to cover 150 linear feet of garden; the Steckles Seed Co. lined the Delgado walk with green landscaping plants; Miss Elleonora Moss provided two colorful crepe myrtle trees for the driveway entrance, and the City Parkway Commission  supplied oleander and azalea bushes. New Orleans school board leader Nicholas Bauer, whose writings a decade earlier may have inspired Elleonora Moss to suggest that Isaac Delgado endow a boy's trade school, delivered a lecture on June 20.  Nicholls girl's school raised $200 for Delgado Trades School.

1 comment:

  1. Delgado provides a wonderful opportunity for students of all ages in the New Orleans Metro Community. Education is offered in all sorts of areas such as nursing, business, and many arts programs. One of the arts programs that I have personally experienced is the interior design program. The program covers a wide variety of information on interior design from CADD to detailed design layouts. Therefore, a student can learn a little for personal design use all the way to a complete interior design associates degree. Interior Design is not just figuring out where to put your furniture in a room. It also covers the material choices for construction like types of doors and then it also covers Color and lighting. The opportunities in this field are boundless and for those out there who love art but cannot paint or draw, this may be an opportunity for you. Check out the interior design program you may just be the next big designer.