“The Captain and his Crew: The Elks Club Story”

The Story of a Renaissance man who was a trombonist, mayor, and a beloved public figure.

Champion Slide Trombone
“Champion Slide Trombone Artist Billed For Circus”  Times-Picayune, December 11, 1918

As mentioned in the article, one “Captain John Fitzpatrick” is a “World Celebrated Trombonist”. But thanks to outside sources and further research, I made the connection that he happens to be the former Mayor of New Orleans as well! This man was an active individual, having lived an eventful life and accomplishing many great things. Chief among them, was his expertise at the slide trombone which one friend of forty years remarked as being jaw-dropping and crowd-attracting. He was booked to play the the New Orleans No. 30 Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, where his talents brought with it a large gathering that viewed from the windows and streets to hear him play up on a Canal Street balcony.

Temp Home of Elks
Picture of the Temporary Home for the Elks. Retrieved from the Louisiana Digital Library

This was notable because the newer generation of Elks were finally able to hear the legendary Captain John Fitzpatrick blow on his brass. Something to mention, the Elks Lodge was an elite, all white-male club primarily composed of politicians and savvy business types. It was the place to be if you were someone with loads of money and power. The administration that Fitzpatrick was at the helm of was (unsurprisingly) filled with corruption where key members were indicted for accepting bribes. However, being a multi-talented man, he was also able to do some good for the city. He founded the current public library system still being used, a library on Camp and Lafayette, and was named the “Father of the Sewerage and Water System”. So he juggled many things in his career.

Another noteworthy appearance he had alongside his fellow Elks, was when he marched in the Parade they had as a former exalted leader of the organization. The “exalted leader” title is the highest rank or status anyone in the club can achieve, which is a high honor for someone who would go on to become the Mayor of New Orleans.

Mayor Martin Behrman and President Ben Casanas heading Elks Parade. Times Picayune, 

All-in-all, John Fitzpatrick lead an interesting life in the bustling city of New Orleans and did many things to help advance the common and elite folk.

Works Cited:

Administrations of the Mayor’s of New Orleans: Fitzpatrick. http://nutrias.org/info/louinfo/admins/fitzpatrick.htm. Accessed 11 Dec. 2018.

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