The Man That Won The War

First Question: What does a ‘Chain’ restaurant and an amphibious war craft have in common?

Second question: How did lumber from Brazil and a war between China and Japan save American lives?

Let’s ask Andrew Higgins for the answers…

“Thank you for meeting me here Mr. Higgins. It’s a lovely restaurant.”

“No worries. I used to have one of my machine shops on this here land.”

“Right on St. Charles?”

“Durin’ the war all sorts of places were put to use. This was an old repair station for the street cars out front. Scuuse me. Yea, you. We need a snort here. Whatya’ drinkin’ little lady? Iced tea? Aah come on now girl. Live a little. That’s better. Two whiskey’s straight up.”

“So, Mr. Higgins, tell me how you began. I mean how your company began.”

“Well, I was workin’ in the import lumber business down on the docks. I was young but full of ideas. The guy I worked for was an idiot- he could only see the hand in front of him- not the fingers. Import period. Pay everyboda else to get the stuff to you. Stupid.”

“What was your idea? This is delicious.”

“Why not own the ships that carry the goods? Why not cut the deals with the guys climbing the trees? Who needs middlemen? Women in da’middle, but not men, if ya know what I mean. Ha ha ha.”

“Okaaaaay…, so you began your own company with your own ships.”

“And not just ocean worthy. Nah, I was buildin’ boats for oil rigs and trappers in da bayou. Ya’ can’t just take any old kinda gal for a ride in the bayou- she needs to run fast and shallow- just like a like my whiskey. Ya wanna notha pull?”

“No. Oh…Thank you. The ceiling is rotating. So you became a shipbuilder then.”

“Well, hell yea! The Coast Guard was knockin’ on my door. Payin’ me full dollar for boats I was already buildin’! They thought they’d clean up the rum runners in the swamps. Like that could happen. You ever try to find a still on stilts? You ever danced with a moccasin swingin’ from the Spanish Moss?”

“I can’t say I have.”(hiccup)

“Well, I can tell you there ain’t no way to find those coon-asses, less they invite you in for a possum pot luck, and then you’d better have a gun.”


“Aah, never no mind city gal. They just kept comin’ asking for more and I kept fillin’ the orders. Then the Hun got angry and the Marines came a callin’, and about our steaks- hey you, now!”

“The Marines?”

“Yea. Love those boys. They heard about a kinda boat the Jap’s were floatin’ in their bathtubs. Ya ever hear how a Jap family washes behind it’s ears? First the husband, then the boy children, then the girl kids, and then when it’s cold and dirty, the wife. Sounds to me like the Chinamen have the right lineup. Ha haha…”

“China men and Japanese are not the same people. As for the order in which…

“All looks the same to me. If it quacks like a duck… but it’s steak and I’m goin’ in. How bout you?”

“Delicious. How many knives do you see there?”

“Anywho, the Japs were seen usin’ some kind of flat bottom riff in some kinda scuffle they were having with the Chinamen. And the Marines thought they should take a look at my boats and see if we couldn’t come up with some kinda craft thata carry our boys to a beach if it came to that. Damn Huns. I don’t mind tellin’ you I was eager as all get-out to do anything to beat the piss out of that mustachiod Kraut.”

“You mean Hitler.”

“Yea. That guy. Mine Camp, and all that shit. Invades the Pollocks and then spects everybody to just sit back and let ‘er rip! Now, everybody knows the Poles can’t fight, hell they have trouble with light bulbs (hahahaaa) but ya don’t piss off the English. Those stiff dicks will march on yo Mamma’s grave!”

“Yes, well, my mother never really loved me…”

“So, the Marines show’d up at my shipyard with a photograph and I draw out a modification on a napkin and call my engineer and tell’m to have one built by the time I get back.”

“Where were you? Where am I?”

“On a expeeeensive ladeeda vacation with the misses in Hawaii. Mary Mother of Jesus- have you seen the size of those volcanoes? They’re some big ass stink holes. If only the little lady could’ve harnessed some of that heat in the…”

“So, Mr Higgins. You met with the Marines in Hawawho, I mean Hawaiiii?”

“Yea. R’ tax dollars at work. Nice digs. They mix rum with pineapple and put little umbrellas in them. As a matta a fact, You! Fix us up soma’ those fancy pants drinks with the little parasols. Pronto.”

“Oh no I couldn’t… Oh what the hell. And the boat was built upon your return?”

“Of course it was. More then one. We took ’em out to Ponchartrain and ran ’em hard. The Bigwigs timed it. Broke the speed record for it’s weight and girth. Came right up on shore and back out again! It nearly brought me to tears gator size.”

“And you began manufacturing these modified landing craps, I mean crafts, for our War Effort to be used against, the, the, people over there that are fighting and causing all this trouble and stuff? God. My head hurts.”

“Why yes I did. And torpedo boats with all the fix’ins. ‘Bout 20,000 of them all total.”

“That’s an impressive number.”

“I’m an impressive man. Just ask Ike.”

I had the most amazing behind the scenes tour of the restoration of an
Original Higgins PT Boat
at the
National World War II Museum
in New Orleans

One of the engineer’s desks
with an original
inspirational sign.

A fully refurbished Higgins PT craft on display
in the Museum’s foyer.

A wonderful photograph on the Museum’s wall.

Houston’s Restaurant

Where a Higgins Shop once stood.
1755 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans

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