Today is the day that one of Northeast Louisiana’s most respected investigative journalists is laid to rest. I remember seeing Mr. Booth on my TV screen as a kid. I knew he was a reporter for KNOE and had seen some of his reports on the news. When I started working for the library, I didn’t realize I would become a background part of one of his investigations!
One of the things Mr. Booth uncovered was the misuse of public funds. In one of his reports, he said something to the effect of, “…and public funds were used to frame a marriage license!” I knew immediately what he was talking about. At the time, we had finally uncovered the marriage register of Sidney and Annie Livingston Saunders in St. Louis. No need to tell you who they are, since they are a well known legend around these parts! I used my own money to get a digitally scanned and color printed copy for us. I had it framed to hang for public display on our department wall for all to see. Nothing came of it, but inside I was seething! He was friends with my Dad’s childhood best friend, so when we were invited to watch the Mardi Gras parade at the friend’s business, it made things a little awkward. I kept my distance. The friend thought it was hilarious!
Well, one day, Mr. Booth came in doing some research he needed our help with and I helped him out. At the end of the day, I took down the license from the wall and asked him if he remembered the kerfuffle over a framed license using public funds. He did. I plopped it in front of him and told him that was it. After a close examination, he just said, “Oh. I’ll be darned.” That was that. Mr. Booth came in several times over the years, always sticking his head in the door on his way through from Arizona to say hi or calling us for some project or another.
We were very proud to help him research his book on the Sheriffs of Ouachita parish which is now a part of our collection. He even thanked us in the Acknowledgments section. When I created this blog, he was one of the ones who complimented me on it. I was proud to have called him a friend. Rest in peace Mr. Booth. You will be missed.