Mardi Gras 1956: "Through my father's lens" (Boing Boing Video)

(Watch video: on YouTube, on Dotsub, or download an MP4)


Today's episode of Boing Boing Video features rare and historic film from Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 1956. Artist Mar Dore stumbled on a box of slides in her family's home in Texas a few years back, and inside, discovered photographs that her father, John Mizenko, took of the parades back in the era of "Mad Men." That box of slides was like a time capsule, Mar says, and opened a door into history—the history of New Orleans, and of her own family.

I've blogged one of his photographs here on Boing Boing before (you can buy prints now), but in today's Boing Boing Video, we explore the personal story behind them, and we travel back in time through "found" video footage of that same parade.

Below and after the jump, Mar (who, it should be noted, is a member of my family) shares the story behind this video:

My father was born in the small town of Covington, Louisiana in 1921. He was a chemical engineer, inventor and builder, and an amateur radio operator. He worked for major oil companies and we had to move around a lot.

He shot the photos you see in this video in 1956 on February 12th and on Mardi Gras Day, February 14th, on the Mid-City route and on Canal Street in front of Miller-Wohls Department Store, which is no longer there. A lot of the New Orleans you see in this video is no longer there.

The film was shot close to where my father was taking photos. I keep looking for his face in the crowds. He discovered that he had lymphoma cancer in 1990. His work as an engineer at oil companies had exposed him to toxic chemicals for decades, chemicals that caused cancer. It claimed his life in 1991.

These photographs celebrate his memory, and even though I've not yet found his face in those crowds, the photographs themselves illustrate the joy he took in capturing the spirit of Mardi Gras and its wonderful celebration of life.

Mar runs an art gallery called Galleria Mar Dore, and she is selling large-format, archival quality prints of these photos.

View a gallery of these photos here. And more about the photographer here. Scans of the original hand-drawn sketches for the costumes you see on the floats are here.