Your newspaper's readers were informed in the Saturday edition that Carl Weiss Jr. had died at 84. Staff writer Jacqueline Derobertis described him as the “son of Huey Long assassin.” But did his father fire the shot that claimed the life of the “Kingfish”? Scholars, journalist and others have long studied and will continue to debate what happened inside the State Capitol on that fateful Sunday evening in September 1935.
Dr. Weiss Jr. believed that the “court of public opinion” would render a final verdict. It is highly unlikely such a verdict will ever be reached. Too much time has passed and too much evidence lost or probably destroyed.
That being the case, the public has no alternative than to rely on anecdotal “evidence.” It is evidence of the anecdotal variety that I share with your readers.
My maternal grandfather, Dr. Smylie Anderson of Hammond, was a Tulane Medical School classmate of Baton Rouge physician Webb McGehee. Shortly after Long’s death, McGehee told his brother Lucius, also a Hammond physician, and my grandfather that he could not imagine Dr. Carl Weiss Sr. killing a fellow human being.
Dr. McGehee related the following to his former Tulane classmates, "Mid-afternoon on Sunday, Carl called to remind me that a surgery I was to assist with had been moved to Our Lady of the Lake." He added, "It is beyond my comprehension that he would have called me about a patient and an operation mere hours before shooting Huey Long. He was looking forward to the next day."
For readers wanting to learn more about Huey Long and his alleged assassin, I recommend William I. Hair’s "The Kingfish and His Realm: The Life and Times of Huey P. Long" (LSU Press). It was not until after Hair’s book was published in 1991 that I shared Dr. McGehee’s reflections with my Florida State professor.
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” So wrote William Faulkner in "Requiem for a Nun." How well the Nobel Prize winner captures the legacy of Huey Pierce Long.
Perry A. Snyder