By Oliver Spector
During the carnival season of 1921, King Rex, “The King of Carnival,” had made his regular fictional voyage from his “Oriental Capital” to Nouvelle Orleans in time for festivities. This year’s theme would be “Porcelain in Fact and Fancy” which would put lots of beautiful pottery and porcelain on display and is the reason for the “Oriental” background of the voyage. The local newspaper, Times-Picayune, had been reporting and delivering messages sent by the king’s crew during his journey to the people of New Orleans. Each article described a new part of his journey ultimately concluding in his arrival at carnival.
The first article, titled “His Majesty, Rex, Heralds Nouvelle Orleans Visit,” was published on January 16th and began by setting up the story of the voyage and then presenting a message from the Royal Scribe, El Hamid. The ship had left for its voyage four days before the message was sent and everything seemed to be going smoothly. The weather was favorable and they had expected to make it to the Arabian Sea by the next day. The journey had started a bit rough and the ship had needed a bit of repairing but other than that, things were going well. Some of the crew went to get the Royal Guards ready to work but the Royal Guards had heard that the cost of living had gone up and believed they deserved more compensation. After being given the extra money they wanted, they continued to work on the ship. They had painted and decorated it with white, gold, and red accents along with banners. The Royal Yacht was now looking much more royal. At this point, the only worry aboard the ship was their potential lack of supplies. There was a scarce amount of food and medicine so the crew would have to be careful to use it sparingly while still having enough people fed and well for the remainder of the journey. At this point the Royal Mixologist had decided to quit his job because he didn’t believe he was good enough at it but made up for that by helping elsewhere. El Hamid ends the letter by assuring that there will be great festivities for carnival time and that King Rex is already planning them.
On January 23rd, another article was published in the paper titled “Rex Crowds Sail for Joyous Haven.” This article contained a message from the Royal Scribe, Al Hamed. At this point, the Royal Yacht was on schedule and things were going as planned. There was a bit of uncertainty as to whether or not they were on schedule until they were finally able to see the coast of Egypt. The commandant of the Royal Guards was Pasha, Fal Sou and he was largely responsible for the success of the trip so far. Much of the crew had heard that there was good shopping to do in New Orleans so they wanted to port early. This put more stress on the commandant as he would have to speed the voyage up in order to make time. Some of the crew believed they were making good time already and there was no point in worrying. Once they saw the coast of Malta, they were all reassured that they were making good time. Some more light-hearted news was shared about the crew member, Khalif Hu Mac, and his puns. One that was shared was a part of a conversation that went like this: “Khan Wal Tur Ser?” Khalif Hu Mac replied with, “I am sure I don’t know. Can he?” Lastly, the message provided information about a new pilot being added to the crew because the maps needed to navigate were not available. King Rex called for new maps to be made and the new pilot insisted that he was able to get them to New Orleans, so from that point, he had control of the boat. As the message closed, their position was in the Atlantic ocean with Malta behind them.
The third and final article was published on February 6th titled, “Rex Passes Cuba With Reluctance,” and it contained more information about the voyage delivered by El Hamed. The Royal Yacht was on the final stretch of its journey planning to make an arrival on the upcoming Tuesday which would be the 8th. At the time of the message, they were located along the Cuban coast and beginning to enter the Gulf of Mexico. The crew was very excited to have made it to this point and had become very eager to arrive in the Carnival Capital. Khan Al Jan Fer was the first to spot land and the crew very excitedly tried to figure out if their eyes were deceiving them or not. Once it had been announced that they had in fact spotted land, they were all ready for the end of the voyage. Just a couple days away from docking, El Hamed ends the final message.
These three articles make up the entirety of King Rex’s voyage aboard the Royal Yacht to New Orleans for carnival. This multiple part story gives the participants of Mardi Gras some entertainment to excite them in the weeks leading up to carnival.
“His Majesty, Rex, Heralds Nouvelle Orleans Visit Merry Monarch Undismayed by Reports of Disappearance of.” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), January 16, 1921: 20. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current
Library of Congress. “Mardi Gras, REX Yacht.” New Orleans Jazz Club, Circa 1900.
“Rex Crowds Sail For Joyous Haven King of Mardi Gras Sends Felicitations for ‘Fifth Season.’.” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), January 23, 1921: 24. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current
“Rex Passes Cuba With Reluctance King of Carnival Confronted With Mutiny on Voyage Hither.” Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), February 6, 1921: 6. NewsBank: Access World News – Historical and Current