Calhoun Allen

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Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr.​

In office
1970​ – November 27, 1978​
Preceded by Clyde Fant
Succeeded by William Thomas "Bill" Hanna​

Shreveport Public Utilities Commissioner​
In office
1962​ – 1970​
Preceded by L. E. "Ed" Phelps​
Succeeded by William A. "Bill" Collins​

Born February 8, 1921​
Shreveport, Louisiana​
Died February 23, 1991 (aged 70)​
Shreveport, Louisiana​
Nationality American​
Political party Republican-turned-Democrat ​(c. 1962)
Spouse(s) (1) Mary Miller Allen (married 1948-1975, her death) ​

(2) Jacqueline Spell Schober Allen ​

Children L. Calhoun Allen, III​

Frances Olivia Allen
​ Two stepchildren:
​ John K. Schober
​ Lisa Schober Smith​

Alma mater Clifton Ellis Byrd High School

Centenary College of Louisiana​

Occupation Businessman

United States Navy captain in World War II and Korean War

Religion Episcopalian

Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr., known as Calhoun Allen (February 8, 1921 – February 23, 1991), was a two-term Democratic mayor of his native Shreveport, Louisiana, the third largest city in the state. From 1962 to 1970, he was for two terms the municipal public utilities commissioner, a position abolished in 1978. He also served some two months as a "District B" city council member after his election in the fall of 1990.

The racially moderate Allen presided over a formerly segregated Shreveport, but there was much unrest in the black community during his tenure. Public Safety Commissioner George Wendell D'Artois, Jr. (1925-1977), had resigned in a swirl of corruption accusations though none reached directly to Allen. By the end of Allen's tenure, City Hall controversies produced a sense of stagnation even though Allen had worked for industrial development and public works projects, one of which bears his name.​

Family heritage

​ Allen preferred to use the first initial "L," rather than the unusual name "Littleberry." He was "Calhoun Allen" or "L. Calhoun Allen, Jr.," to the public, not "Littleberry Allen" or some other combination. "Littleberry" had been his grandfather, who was born in Virginia in 1862 and had relocated to Alabama and then to Shreveport near the end of the 19th century. Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Sr., who used the designation "L. C. Allen", was a businessman, a Shreveport city council member, a grand master of the Masonic lodge, and a Baptist, who staunchly opposed liquor use and sales to the extent that he would support Prohibition Party causes and candidates, rather than the heavily favored Democratic nominees. L. C. Allen established what became Allen Manufacturing Company and Caddo Lumber Company. Littleberry Allen died of Bright's disease early in the 20th century. Therefore, L. Calhoun Allen was really L. Calhoun Allen, III, but he instead used "Jr.," because his contemporaries did not know his grandfather as "L. C. Allen, I." And Calhoun Allen named his son, "L. Calhoun Allen, III".​

Allen graduated in 1938 from Clifton Ellis Byrd High School in Shreveport. For a time, Allen attended Tulane University in New Orleans. However, he graduated from the Methodist-affiliated Centenary College in Shreveport. He also attended Louisiana State University Law School in Baton Rouge. He was an associate with Allen Construction Company until he became utilities commissioner in 1962.​

32-year Navy veteran

Allen served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946 during World War II and again from 1950 to 1954 during the Korean War. He retired with the rank of captain from the U.S. Naval Reserve after more than three decades of total service. He was a former member of the Council of the Navy League of the United States, the Naval Reserve Association, and the Reserve Officers Association. Allen was a past commander of the Lowe-McFarland American Legion post in Shreveport. And he was chairman of the naval affairs committee of the Louisiana American Legion.​

Republican campaign for Congress, 1956

In 1956, Calhoun Allen was a 34-year-old Republican, a supporter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's reelection, and his party's candidate for the 4th congressional district seat long held by the popular Democrat Thomas Overton Brooks (1897-1961). Allen's campaign was directed by his friend, Shreveport businessman and civic leader Charles Thomas Beaird, who earlier in the year had been elected as a Republican on the Caddo Parish Police Jury (renamed in 1984 as the Caddo Parish Commission). Political advertising showed World War II veterans Eisenhower and Allen shaking hands and outlined their points of similarity. Allen stressed the need for two-party politics and said that the one-party South could benefit from an infusion of Republicanism. He attacked Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson of Illinois as "radical" in nature, while Eisenhower, he said, was "moderate on civil rights.[1]

Congressman Brooks, who had served since 1937, endorsed Stevenson: "I have always been a Democrat and am too old to change now." Allen questioned Brooks' constituent services. He asked why there was inadequate postal service in Springhill in northern Webster Parish. Roy M. Fish, a Springhill attorney and then the chairman of the Webster Parish Republican Party, said that Brooks appeared to be attempting to coast to victory "on the coattails of both parties." Clem S. Clarke, the Shreveport Republican oilman who had unsuccessfully challenged the election of Democrat Russell Long to the U.S. Senate in the 1948 general election, declared in an Allen advertisement: "We need a Southern Republican." Allen also won some Democratic support but not nearly at the level needed to win the election.[1]

In addition to the Allen campaign, Republicans in 1956 offered a congressional candidate in Louisiana's 2nd congressional district, which then encompassed parts of New Orleans and suburban Jefferson Parish. He was George R. Blue, an attorney. Attracted to Blue's candidacy but still a Democrat was a young Metairie attorney, David C. Treen, who would later become the first Louisiana Republican to win a seat in Congress[2] and to hold the governorship as well, beginning in March 1980.​

Eisenhower easily won Louisiana in 1956, the first Republican presidential victory in the state since the disputed election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. He led in 43 parishes and polled 329,047 votes (53.2 percent) to Stevenson's 243,977 (39.5 percent). The[States' Rights Party of Louisiana received 44,520 votes (7.2 percent).[3] Stevenson ran nearly 100,000 votes behind his showing in Louisiana four years earlier.​

In the Fourth District House race, Brooks won every parish and easily defeated Allen, 40,583 (68.1 percent) to 19,041 (31.9 percent). Allen's strongest support was in his native Caddo and in neighboring DeSoto Parish, where he received 34.6 and 34.5 percent, respectively. Brooks' margins were even greater in the parishes of Bienville, Bossier, Claiborne, Red River, and Webster.[3]

In the Second District, incumbent Thomas Hale Boggs (1914-1972) defeated George Blue by a margin only slightly less impressive than Brooks' triumph over Allen, 69,715 (64.5 percent) to 38,344 (35.5 percent).[3] Like Allen, Blue would later switch to the Democratic Party. Whereas Allen became a city commissioner and then mayor and even later briefly a city council member, Blue was elected in 1964 to an at-large seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives from Jefferson Parish.​ ​

Election as mayor

From 1962 to 1970, Allen was the elected public utilities commissioner under the former commission form of municipal government. His colleagues included veteran members H. Lane Mitchell at public works and John McWilliams Ford at finance, and newcomer George Wendell D'Artois, Jr. (1925-1977), at public safety, who in 1962 had unseated the two-term commissioner J. Earl Downs. Allen cited those eight years of municipal experience when he launched his first mayoral campaign in 1970. Incumbent Democrat Clyde Fant, stepped down after five nonconsecutive terms in part because of health considerations.​

Allen first won a lopsided victory in the Democratic primary over KEEL radio general manager Marie Gifford (1917-2004), a native of Oklahoma who stressed downtown revitalization and civil rights.[4]

Then in the general election on November 3, 1970, Allen defeated Shreveport businessman Edward Leo "Ed" McGuire (1914-1983), the first Republican since Reconstruction even to run for Shreveport mayor. A native of New England and an in-law of Shreveport 1st Judicial District Judge Thornton F. Bell, McGuire was a one term six-year member of the Caddo Parish School Board. He served alongside two other Republicans, Billy Guin and Joel B. Brown. They were all elected at-large, laetr by specific districts.[5] Allen's margin over McGuire was by landslide proportions, 63-37 percent. He forged a winning coalition of African Americans, blue-collar whites, and local businessmen that would dominate Shreveport politically for most of the remaining years of the 20th century. Elected with Allen in 1970 were Public Utilities Commissioner William A. "Bill" Collins, Public Works Commissioner Donald Edgar Hathaway, Sr., Finance Commissioner Dwight Saur, and Public Safety Commissioner George D'Artois.

Not until 1990 did a Republican, Hazel F. Beard, win the mayor's race. When she stepped down after a single term in 1994, another Republican, Robert W. "Bo" Williams succeeded her. Williams was then unseated by the Democrat Keith Hightower in 1998.​ Beard is an aunt of long-term Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator.​

Allen led his city during a time of transition and racial moderation. The city population grew, particularly the mostly white outlying residential areas. And new industry came to Shreveport, but critics said it was never sufficient to provide jobs for all who sought work. In time, blacks became the majority of Shreveport's population and a political force of immense proportions within the municipality. Caddo Parish, as a whole, however, remained majority white.​

Charles Scott, a native of Natchitoches, Louisiana, began his judicial career in the Allen administration as an assistant city attorney from 1971 to 1973. He was subsequently a long-term state court judge and from 2009 until his death in office on April 22, 2015, the Caddo Parish district attorney.[6]​ ​ In 1971, a Republican, George A. Burton, won a special election in Shreveport for the vacant position of finance commissioner created by the death of Dwight Saur. A Certified Public Accountant, Burton ran again in the regular 1974 elections. That year, he had the tacit support of "independent" Mayor Allen, who swept to an easy reelection. Burton polled 17,488 votes (68.8 percent), while the Democrat (later Republican) David R. Carroll (1926–2011), a Mississippi native and a Caddo Parish police juror,[7] received 7,938 ballots (31.2 percent). Burton's running mate, Billy Guin, polled 43.7 percent in his second contest—the first was in 1970—against incumbent Democratic Public Utilities Commissioner William "Bill" Collins, who had succeeded Allen in that position. A civil engineer and a businessman, Guin also entered another special election for utilities commissioner in 1977, when Collins resigned the post. Guin won with 51 percent of the vote and served the remaining year and a half of Collins' second term. He implemented many reforms in the department and then ran unsuccessfully in 1978 as a Republican candidate for mayor under the new form of city government.​

In 1976, Allen joined neighboring Mayor James Cathey of Bossier City in hosting U.S. President Gerald Ford, in a question-and-answer session for local officials. At the time Ford was in Louisiana campaigning against former Governor Ronald W. Reagan of California for the Republican presidential nomination.[8]

Allen did not seek a third term in 1978, although he was eligible to have done so. Several factors are believed to have contributed to his decision to step down:

  • (1) troubles in the public utilities department, which Guin had largely rectified,
  • (2) an ill-fated plan to purchase new city water meters, and
  • (3) his tenure as a full-time city official had already reached sixteen years.​

In 1978, Shreveport changed from the commission system to the mayor-council single-member district format with term limits. The newly elected mayor, Democrat William Thomas "Bill" Hanna, Jr., a former Ford Motor Company automobile dealer who defeated fellow Democrat Don Hathaway, hence exerted executive powers to a "legislative" council of seven members, where a divided 4-3 vote could often prove decisive. Hanna was elected as a "reform" candidate.​ ​

Personal life

In addition to his political activities, Allen was a strong civic leader. He was a member of the Louisiana State Fair Board, chairman of the State Fair Stadium Commission, and a commissioner of the since renamed Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. He was vice president of the Red River Valley Association, which pushed successfully for the navigation of the Red River south of Shreveport to the junction with the Mississippi River. He was a vice president of the Louisiana Municipal Association, chairman of the Shreve Area Council of Government, and a member of the Shreveport Airport Authority and the Parks and Recreation Council. He was a past president of the executive board of the Norwela Council of the Boy Scouts. Allen was also a member of the ArkLaTex Ambassadors, Holiday in Dixie, Kiwanis International, Joppa Lodge, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.[9]

When he vacated the mayoralty, Allen became the coordinator for planning and development of Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport, having served in that capacity from 1979 to 1988. Allen even staged a brief political comeback in 1990, when he won one of the single-member council seats under the mayor-council form of government. He served only a few weeks, for he died soon thereafter of a sudden illness at the Schumpert Medical Center in Shreveport.[9]​ ​ Allen was twice married. In 1948, he wed the former Mary Miller. From this marriage were born a son, L. Calhoun Allen, III, then of San Antonio, Texas, and a daughter, Frances Olivia Allen. The marriage lasted until Mary's death in 1975. Thereafter, Allen married Jacqueline Spell Schober and acquired two stepchildren, John K Schober and Lisa Schober Smith.[9]

Allen's funeral service was held at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Shreveport. Burial was in Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport.[9]​ Allen was honored by the L. Calhoun Allen Exposition Hall on the Clyde Fant Parkway. The facility was part of the Red River convention complex but was considered too small for conventions but suitable for gun shows and similar events, but the acoustics rendered it undesirable for concerts. The facility was hence renamed StageWorks of Louisiana.​ ​

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Shreveport Times, November 4, 1956, p. 2B.
  2. Grover Rees, III, Dave Treen of Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Moran Publishing Company, 1979), p. 40.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Louisiana Secretary of State, General election returns, November 6, 1956.
  4. Marie Battey Gifford Wright. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on May 8, 2013.
  5. Shawn Bohannon (May 9, 2014). Edward Leo McGuire, Jr.. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on March 3, 2015.
  6. John Andrew Prime (April 22, 2015). DA Charles Scott's death 'huge loss' for area. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on April 25, 2015.
  7. David R. Carroll obituary. The Shreveport Times (July 27, 2011). Retrieved on August 4, 2011.
  8. The Daily Diary of President Gerald R. Ford. fordlibrarymuseum.gov (April 27, 1976). Retrieved on December 24, 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 The Shreveport Times, February 24, 1991.

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