I can think of at least three New Orleans mayors in recent history with nicknames: Chep Morrison, Dutch Morial and Moon Landrieu. What’s the story behind those names?
DeLesseps Story “Chep” Morrison, who served as mayor from 1946 to 1961, was born in New Roads in 1912. He was named after an uncle, deLesseps Story, who also had the nickname “Chep.”
Story raised the future mayor’s mother, Anita Olivier, whose parents died when she was a child. “My grandmother always spoke very lovingly about her uncle Chep, who was quite prominent as well,” Corinne Morrison, daughter of Mayor Morrison, said in an interview with Gambit in August. In his book DeLesseps S. Morrison and the Image of Reform, Morrison biographer Edward F. Haas wrote, “The Morrison family simply liked nicknames.”
The name deLesseps is a tribute to a distant family relative: Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French diplomat best known as the developer of the Suez Canal.
The city’s first African-American mayor, Ernest Nathan Morial, was born in New Orleans in 1929. He was the youngest of Walter and Leonie Morial’s six children. According to Mayor Morial’s December 1989 obituary, when Ernest was a child, an older brother was using a can of Dutch Boy while painting at home. When his father saw the picture of the Dutch boy on the can, he noticed a resemblance to his youngest son and started calling Ernest “Dutch.” The name stuck. Ernest was elected mayor in 1977. In 1981 he legally changed his first name to Dutch.
As a child, Maurice Edwin Landrieu, born in New Orleans in 1930, was known by the nickname “Ricie.” In December 1969, after he was elected mayor, his mother Loretta sorted things out for States-Item columnist Tommy Griffin. “He got the name ‘Moon’ from his older brother Joseph, who sort of bequeathed it to him when they were children. The kids used to play ball in the street in front of the grocery store we operated at 1814 Adams St. Joseph had a big face so the boys called him ‘Moon.’” She explained that when Joseph got older, he tired of the name and gave it to his brother. During his 1969 mayoral campaign, Maurice legally changed his name to Moon.