Louisiana, ca. 1980

During the time that Generation X was growing up, Louisiana had a population of 4.2 million people, nearly 1.1 million of them under age 15. This means that the GenX population in the state was higher than average, about 25% as opposed to around 20% in other Southern states. 

No GenXers had yet finished high school in 1980, but to look at Table 201B in the Detailed Population Characteristics: Louisiana census report, there were about 65,000 fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds in high school in 1980, alongside 1,700 thirteen-year-olds, 224 twelve-year-olds, and 24 eleven-year-olds. (Those along with another 9,500 sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds who would have been born before 1965.)

For whatever reasons, population growth in Louisiana was almost nihil in the 1980s. Though the state population grew from 3.644 million in 1970 to 4.206 million in 1980 – a 15% increase – there were only 4.219 million in 1990. That means that growth in the 1980s only amounted to 0.5%— basically stagnant. (As a comparison of how low that number is, Louisiana’s population in 2000 was 4.468 million, which constituted growth of 6% over 1990.) 

Compared to states like Alabama and Mississippi, Louisiana had a more diverse population. In the state, 2.92 million people (69%) were white, 1.24 million (29%) were black, and just under 100,00 (2%) were Hispanic. (Asians / Pacific Islanders did not show up as group on this report.) Over 85,000 Louisiana resident were “foreign born,” and about half of them lived in New Orleans. Nearly one-quarter of the state’s immigrants were Europeans, though over 22,000 people had moved to Louisiana from Asia, more than 21,000 from Central or South America, and over 2,000 from Africa. 

Among the events in Louisiana in the early 1980s that garnered national attention were the 1980 Lake Peigneur disaster and the 1984 World’s Fair. The former event was described this way by US News:

A Texaco oil rig in the middle of the then-shallow lake punched a hole in a subterranean salt dome being mined by Diamond Crystal Salt. The oil rig began listing, causing those aboard to head for shore. They looked back to see the rig disappear into the lake and saw a whirlpool that sucked the entire lake, including 11 barges, into the vortex. It also pulled in 65 acres of lakeshore, including Bayless’ new home and much of the garden.

The latter was also described as a disaster in its own way. Despite real effort put into its planning, attendance was low, a failure attributed to the fact that it was scheduled at the same time as the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Outside of those two events, Super Bowls XII and XV, in 1978 and 1981, were played at the SuperDome, which opened in 1975.

Perhaps Louisiana’s most famous GenXer would be Shaquille O’Neal, if he were actually from Louisiana. Though he played basketball at Louisiana State University (LSU) from 1989 until 1992, Shaq was born in 1972 in New Jersey. If not Shaq, then the most famous might be any of these native New Orleanians: Harry Connick, Jr. (born in 1967), Tyler Perry (born in 1969), or recently appointed Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett (born in 1972). Country singer Tim McGraw and Phil Anselmo (of the metal band Pantera) are also late-’60s babies from Louisiana. 


 

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 14: the mid-’90s edition

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


Top-ranked Tennessee Vols lose to Memphis in a shocker, 1996

It was November. Tennessee was ranked in the top ten, had Peyton Manning as their quarterback, and were eyeing a national championship as the season was winding down. Then they lost to cross-state rival Memphis.

Mississippi ratifies the Thirteen Amendment, 1995

It only took Mississippi 130 years to take action on ratifying the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery in the United States. Of course, the amendment had taken effect in the years after the Civil War when a majority of states agreed about the issue at that time, but perhaps bitter about their defeat, the Magnolia State held out. In an additional aspect to the story, though, the legislature didn’t actually complete the paperwork for the ratification in 1995, but that was not discovered until 2012. Mississippi, thus, officially ratified the amendment, by completing the process, in 2013.

Window tinting in Alabama, 1996

Alabama’s statewide law on car window tinting took effect in August 1996. This may not seem like a big deal, but it was at the time. People – among them, many GenX teenagers and twentysomethings –  who had tinting already had to take their cars to have it checked to see whether they would be in violation, and those whose windows were too dark would have to have the tinting removed or redone, which wasn’t cheap. And there were so many people who needed a redo that auto shops had lines and wait lists.

from The Montgomery Advertiser, July 14, 1996

The Telegraph remembers the Flood of 1994

Macon, Georgia’s Telegraph newspaper compiled a video, which is posted online within this story, showing comparative images of flooded areas in 1994 to then-current shots of the same places in 2019, twenty-five years later. At the time, Hurricane Alberto stalled over Georgia and dumped massive amounts of water onto the state.

“Highway One: Lost Louisiana II” from Louisiana Public Broadcasting, 1994

The video below is a nine-minute section of the longer program. Clicking the link the header will take you to the full 42-minute program.


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera 13

tidbits, fragments, and ephemera is a usually weekly but not always, sometimes substantial but not making any promises glimpse at some information and news related to Generation X in the Deep South.


“50 years ago, the color barrier was broken for Alabama”, July 16, 2021

excerpt: “Still, it was 1970 before Wilbur Jackson became the first Black player to receive a football scholarship from Alabama. Jackson first played in the 1971 season and rushed for over 1500 yards at Alabama [ . . .] Jackson is a native of Ozark, AL where the mayor has ordered a soon to be completed 86-foot mural of Jacksoncelebrating the 50th anniversary of his accomplishment.”

“Burrell Children. Mississippi, August 1976.”

This photograph by African American photographer Ronald L. Freeman is part of the photography series Southern Roads/City Pavements, held by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The series is available on online, so other photos of Mississippi in the 1970s are available, too. His work can also be viewed on the website of the Ogden Museum.

Hurricane Hugo hits South Carolina, 1989

Herschel Walker wins the Heisman, 1982

In the 1980s, the Deep South (so, the SEC) had two of the greatest running backs in football history: Auburn’s Bo Jackson and Georgia’s Herschel Walker. The conference produces many great players, but these two stood out even among that group.

Dash Rip Rock in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame

Founded in southern Louisiana in 1984, Dash Rip Rock was inducted in the LMHOF in 2012. The band had a hit in the ’90s with “Let’s Go Smoke Some Pot” and is often lumped into the subgenre “cowpunk” or “country punk.”


level:deepsouth is an online anthology about growing up Generation X in the Deep South during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The anthology is open to submissions of creative nonfiction (essays, memoirs, and reviews) and images (photos and flyers), as well as to contributions for the lists.