Smiley: Dietzel’s gift

Reading about the death of Paul Dietzel unleashed a torrent of memories of my days as an LSU student when he arrived to coach the Tigers:

When tall, blond, handsome “Pepsodent Paul” landed on campus, women who didn’t know a punt from a bunt suddenly became football fans.

As Dale Brown later did with LSU basketball, Dietzel made LSU football not only popular but fashionable.

Where once students had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about football, now to miss a game was unthinkable.

With LSU football on the national stage, the big-time media types of the day flocked to the campus.

As a student, I was hired as a spotter for Movietone News for a game. (Some of you may recall movie newsreels. …)

As Dietzel’s Chinese Bandits caught on nationally, Jack Sabin handed out straw hats to promote the glorified third-stringers — and his Goal Post restaurant.

Enraged when United Press International’s poll failed to follow The Associated Press and rank undefeated LSU No. 1 midway through the 1958 season, a bunch of us in the Journalism School made a UPI dummy and burned it in front of the Field House, stirring up the student body. (It was possibly the only time a wire service was burned in effigy.)

There was anguish and anger among fans when Paul left LSU for Army, but he later returned to Baton Rouge to be forgiven and even loved. He could have lived anywhere in the country, but he chose our town.

Those of us who lived through Paul Dietzel’s glory days at LSU will never forget the excitement of that championship season and the pride in the achievement by our fellow students.

It was his gift to us, and we continue to cherish it. …

What’ll ya have?

Elizabeth Miner says, “My husband and I have a mini-fridge in the kitchen for our adult beverages.

“Last night, we were occupied in the house while our almost-4-year-old was playing when we heard him call out ‘Does anybody want a beer?’

“When he’s in college, he is going to be everyone’s best bud. But in the meantime, I’m locking that fridge.”

(Tell me, Elizabeth: Is “best bud” a pun?)

Ancient marketing

Dudley Lehew, of Denham Springs, adds to our list of memorable commercials with one that aired on Baton Rouge TV stations:

“My late brother-in-law Lloyd McLeod, of ‘Purple Building on the Airline’ notoriety, once aired a commercial shot from the ground of him standing atop his building holding a (now extinct) roof-mounted TV antenna.

“He was featuring a sale on the big antennas, and his closing line was, ‘And with this antenna, you can pick up New Orleans TV stations and not have to see me!’”

Circular reasoning

Our seminar on traffic circles gets more comments:

Larry Sylvester says, “You say we could be getting roundabouts designed by Americans who learned the roundabout trade from an Englishman. …

“We all know that the English drive on the wrong side of the road — any chance these roundabouts will go the wrong way around?”

Gary E. Penton, of Pineville, says after high school in Franklinton, he had small jobs in Baton Rouge.

He had to hitchhike back home occasionally, and was not a fan of the traffic circle at Florida and Airline when he was trying to catch an eastbound ride:

“I had to either walk a long way on Florida past the circle before catching a ride, or catch a ride at the circle and see which way the driver was headed, hopefully east.”

Nostalgia Corner

Ward Oliver recalls school days in the late ’30s and early ’40s, when Coca Cola passed out blotters, rulers and pencils.

He sent over a photo of him, circa 1939, “with my well-chewed Coca Cola pencil in my pocket in Mrs. Taylor’s classroom in the two-room school in Stapleton, Ala.”

The pencil he mentioned is sticking out of the top pocket of the bib overalls worn by a grinning young Ward.

He has the look of a future ag major, but he wound up with a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Special People Dept.

Lotcha Jones celebrates her 104th birthday Wednesday with six generations of her family.

She is a member of Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church of Scotlandville.

Ola Mae Tweedy celebrates her 93rd birthday Wednesday.

Sadie Giambrone was 90 on Tuesday, and will celebrate Saturday with family and friends. She is the retired owner of Buster’s Blue Ribbon Supermarket.

Bud and Shirley Sutton, of Zachary, celebrate their 60th anniversary Wednesday.

Weighty topic

Harriet St.Amant says, “In light of the interest expressed by the White House in childhood obesity, which can lead to adult obesity, I thought this little tidbit was timely:

“The government will be requiring new food labels that are more specific. Products will now be labeled ‘No fat,’ ‘Low fat,’ ‘Reduced fat’ and ‘Fat … but a great personality.’ ”

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