I was privileged to be one of the initial organizers of the very first Justice For All Ball way back in 1989, and worked on a number of Balls through the years. I will always remember the year of the first Ball was 1989, mostly because my middle daughter was born a week or so before that date.
My most vivid memory of the Ball is also my worst nightmare. When we were planning the first Ball, I was fortunate enough to get a contact at a local liquor wholesaler, Glazer, who agreed to donate all of the liquor for the Ball. We were all very excited about that incredible kindness!
As it turned out, about two hours before the doors were to open at Gallier Hall while I was home getting dressed in my tuxedo (yes, even the very first Ball was Black Tie), I got a call from a fellow young lawyer organizer, you might know him as David Bienvenu, saying that Glazer had not shown up yet with the liquor.
At first, I thought David was just joking. I finally realized he was telling me the truth. Cell phones were not popular in 1989, the business day was over, and I had no way to contact anyone at Glazer. Obviously, a New Orleans party with no liquor is no party at all!
Fortunately, we had the foresight to hire a professional caterer to coordinate the first Ball. The caterer met me at Martin’s Wine Cellar uptown, and we were able to buy enough liquor to accommodate the 500 guests we expected that evening. In fact, I had to use two different credit cards because the large purchase exceeded the credit limit on one of my credit cards.
The caterer and I showed up about a half hour before the doors opened and we quickly unloaded all the liquor and wine. Then, all of a sudden, about the time the front doors to Gallier Hall opened, the Glazer’s truck finally showed up at the service entrance to Gallier Hall carrying all the donated liquor and wine.
We were able to get the liquor inside Gallier Hall and the Martin’s purchased liquor out before most party-goers arrived. Then, we were able to return most of the purchased liquor to Martin's the next day! Disaster averted and my credit cards relieved!
Whew! What a night and what a memory! Hope the liquor makes it on time this year!
- Elwood Cahill, Inaugural JFAB Committee
1st JFAB, 1989
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