Smiley: A taxing situation

Jess Walker says he was cleaning out file cabinets when he came across some old newspapers from San Luis Obispo, Calif.

In addition to ads for a pound of Hacienda coffee for 36 cents and a two-pound carton of Del Monte prunes for 14 cents, he found this column by Will Rogers from March 18, 1932:

“I see where a bunch of ‘em are trying to defeat the sales tax … The idea that a tax on something keeps anybody from buying it is a lot of ‘hooey.’

“They put it on gasoline all over the country and it hasn’t kept a single soul at home a single night or day.

“You could put a dollar a gallon on and still a pedestrian couldn’t cross the street with safety without armor.

“We are three billion in the hole, and will be three more next year, and not a Congressman has got the nerve to ask his voters to pay part of it.

“You can talk hoarding, you can talk lack of confidence, but the biggest handicap to a return of prosperity is that there is an election this fall.”

Jess asks, “Does it sound familiar?”

Leave ’em laughing

Over the years I’ve met many of the folks who contribute to this column, but I always regret not having met contributors before their death.

I especially wish I had met Judge Ben Clyde Bennett Jr.

His son, Billy, told me of his dad’s death and reminded me of the last joke Clyde sent to me, about the pool table installed in his bedroom so he and his wife, at 88 and 87, could still have fun there.

Billy described his father as the “last living candidate for statewide office from the 1950s. He ran for attorney general twice. Came out second! (He worked for Earl Long).

“He was a retired state court judge, but still working as judge for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe.

“He will be missed by many, including his dog — Barack O’Bennett! When he named the dog he sent an email to President Obama telling him that he could name HIS dog Clyde!”

Billy says at his parents’ 65th anniversary four years ago the family, totaling 70 or more, posed for a group photo:

“Dad and my mom were sitting holding hands and I told him, ‘You are responsible for this large mass of people,’ to which he quickly replied, ‘That is because your mom would not leave me alone.’

“His sense of humor never left him. …”

Inquiring Minds Dept.

Frank Power, of Liberty, Miss., has a couple of questions about a recent Advocate headline: “3 missing tubers found safe on sandbar.”

1. Was the day it ran an especially slow news day?

2. Were the potatoes returned to their home or were they roasted right there on the sandbar?

The flag lady

Cindy Abadie says, “As long as I can remember, Marlene Grouse, a patriotic Sherwood Forest resident, has decorated our neighborhood streets with flags for the Fourth of July.

“This was her last year, since she is moving out of state to be with family.

“Marlene is truly an example of what it means to be a good neighbor.”

Good Samaritans

Toby says when he got a call from his 16-year-old son (who recently got his driver’s license) saying he had been in a wreck, the lad seemed “unharmed but obviously very shaken from his first accident.

“After assuring him that everything would be OK, I realized he had the only vehicle, so I literally ran out of the house to get to him.

“I got about a quarter-mile down the road before I realized that despite my desperate desire to be by his side as quickly as possible, I was in no shape to run two miles.

“After unsuccessfully trying to flag down a couple of cars, I spotted a car stopped at a stop sign.

“I walked up and the lady in the car slightly cracked her window. When I explained my situation, she quickly agreed to drive me to him.

“She had no reason to trust me, no requirement to help, but she did.

“She told me she was a parent, grandparent and great-grandparent, visiting from Walker.

“I didn’t get her name, and was so focused on getting to my son that I didn’t properly thank her.

“I want her to know how much I truly appreciate her kindness. She renewed my faith in people.”


John Hu says my column seems to have edged over to the “Readers’ Views” section of our editorial pages.

He cites a recent letter to the editor suggesting larger holes on golf courses as the kind of suggestion that could have only come from one of my column’s contributors.

Failure to communicate

Rose Rolfsen says at a family breakfast one Sunday years ago, the conversation turned to Madonna, and Rose said she had never heard of her.

One of the kids said, “Oh, you know, she’s the one who sings ‘Like a Virgin.’

And Rose said, “Oh, do virgins sing differently?”

Says Rose, “It got a big laugh, because I was serious.”

Write Smiley at Smiley@the He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.