Being that I was born at Earl K. Long Memorial Hospital in Baton Rouge, this article by Morgan Peoples quickly captured my attention. The article “Earl Kemp Long: The Man from Pea Patch Farm”, was perfect for the lingering curiosity I have had for the man whom the hospital in which I took my first breath was named after. Being that Earl K. Long hospital was a Charity Hospital, I always assumed that there had a to be a good reason it was named in honor of him, and Morgan Peoples clearly confirmed my assumptions. Earl K. Long was so well known for reaching out to the common people and my mother surely fell under that category.
This is what enlightened me to the fact that this hospital was actually continuing the practices of Governor Long even after his death. Peoples covered a wide range of information on the personal and political life of Earl K. Long in this article. He began by giving a brief introduction on the latter years of Long, and continued to elaborate on this energetic man’s life with explanations, stories and a number of quotes. Peoples expressed that “Earl Long had three great loves: politicking, plain people, and his Pea Patch Farm. Plain people liked him because he was one of them. ” (p. 66) He continued to describe the Governors Pea Patch farm and the meaning behind it. Peoples explained that according to Long, “The Pea Patch Farm was a good place to enjoy the sweet fruits of victory and to map future political strategy, a process referred to by long’s fund campaign treasurer, Lewis Gottlief, as ‘making catfish bait’. ” (p. 567) It appears to me that Earl K. Long used this farm to stay connected with the common man, and a in a way maintain a more humble attitude toward life, while doing what he loved. He continuously used strategies in his campaigns that would remind the common people that he was just like them.
Peoples shows an example of this when he says “Early in his career, Long was referred to as a representative of the common man. On platforms all over the state, the rustic politician faced thousands of Louisiana’s poor people and solicited their support. “Vote for a man,” he exhorted them, ‘that looks like ye, and works like ye-and smells like ye on Saturday’. ”(p. 567) The article explains that Mr. Long was not only a humorous man, but very intelligent, hard-working, was not strictly in politics for the money and not prejudice or racists.
Peoples expressed most of these qualities when he quotes Earl K. Long when he said “I’m not against anybody for reasons of race, creed, or any ism he might believe in except nuttism, skin-gameism, or communism. I’m in favor of every religion, with the possible exception of snake chunking…(they) deserve what’s coming to (them). ”(. 569) I actually laughed out loud when I read this, and I would love to see a video of this man giving a speech. Peoples continued to explain Long’s relationship with the colored people and his connection with them.
There were skeptics as always, but I believe the good that he did outweighed anything the critics could come up with against Long in his prime years. Peoples tells us that Long never had children, spent some time in a mental hospital in Mandeville, and had a special love for gambling, especially horse racing. (p. 572) He continues to express this by telling the story of the first time Long played the horses saying “while there, he placed a dollar bet on a horse and it won, thus, creating within him the eternal yearning to “watch the ponies run. He thereafter regularly attended the track in New Orleans”. (p. 572) After spending some time living in New Orleans myself, I have also been curious as to whether or not Earl K. and Huey P. Long were related, and Mr. Peoples clarified that question as well. He directly answered this question and made it clear that they were brothers when he wrote “Late in 1931, Earl and Huey had a bitter parting of ways.
Earl ran for lieutenant governor of Louisiana against strong opposition from his brother, who believed that one Long at a time was enough in a high state office”. p575) I found it very interesting when Peoples tells us that “Earl took boyish pleasure in performing certain crudities-spitting, cursing, and rump-scratching- to accentuate his position as leader of the poor people”. (p. 574) It appears to me that the Governor may have had a mental disorder such as bi-polar and may have needed treatment. Peoples also tells of heart attacks such as the one in the Alexandria hotel as well, which may have contributed to such behavior. (p. 576) Peoples concludes the article by describing the simple death of Earl K. Long.
He tells us that his death took place in September of 1960 and speaking of Long “According to his nephew and attending physician, Dr. Robert U. Parrot, Earl awoke, drank a cup of coffee, coughed once or twice, turned over and died”. (p. 577) I believe that the author of this article did a fabulous job and was very unbiased in many ways. He clearly stated many facts, examples and quotations about Earl K. Long, while still providing the opinion of the opposing side. This allows the reader to form his or her own opinion of this influential Louisiana Governor.
After reading this article, I feel that this author did very good job portraying the life of Long. I really enjoyed learning about this man and all he has done for the state of Louisiana, but mostly the poor people. I don’t think there is anything that Peoples could have done to make this a better article; I found it to be very entertaining and resourceful. This article is without a doubt very relevant to Louisiana history. Peoples covers a number of memorable events in Louisiana history that involved Earl K. Long.