Dear Smiley: My grandmother, Aline Mendelsohn,was deaf.
So my father, Lawrence Mann, rigged up a radio with earphones so she could finally hear a broadcast.
That night was one of FDR’s (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt) fireside chats.
After the program, my father asked her, “Well, what do you think of that?”
She replied that FDR would never be the man Teddy was!
Love on the line
Dear Smiley: Laura Robertson’s story about party lines brought back fond memories.
I was raised on a farm near Hazlehurst, Miss.
Our first telephone was on an eight-party line.
My high school boyfriend, Jerry Weeks, lived in Wesson, which was long distance.
We dated on weekends, but during the week he would hitchhike to Hazlehurst once or twice and call me from a pay phone at the Millsaps Hotel.
When we were lucky enough to get the line, we would talk for hours.
We knew if we gave the line up we probably couldn’t get it again that night.
Needless to say, the other party liners were not happy with us.
Fifty-six years later Jerry called me again, after finding me on the Internet.
We now have the same phone number — and will celebrate our second wedding anniversary Monday.
LAVERNE MATTHEWS WEEKS
Dear Smiley: The comments about telephone party lines bring to mind my years growing up in the small community of Vacherie.
Few people had telephones. Everyone had a mailbox.
My grandfather, Dr. Lionel Waguespack, who began medical practice in 1900, made daily house calls.
He traveled the river road looking for white flags attached to mailboxes.
The flag was an indication that someone in that household needed medical attention.
There was no natural gas line in Vacherie.
If someone needed their butane gas tank filled they attached a red flag to the mailbox and the salesman knew where to stop as he made his daily run.
So much for the “good old days.”
JOAN WAGUESPACK BARR É
Dear Smiley: Regarding the mention of the Cajun comedian/cook Justin Wilson:
While a senior at Catholic High in the late ’70s, Mrs. Breen assigned a paper on “Americana.”
I picked Justin Wilson as my research topic.
I found his number in the Livingston Parish phone book; I called and he invited me to his house on Pete’s Highway for an interview.
He was so kind to let a 17-year-old tape-record him for over an hour, talking about the arts of storytelling and Cajun cooking.
Instead of typing up the interview, I handed in the tape itself, selling my teacher on the idea that Justin’s stories had to be heard to be fully appreciated.
It worked; she gave me a 100. Thank you, Justin, and Mrs. Breen!
Round and round
Dear Smiley: All the talk about traffic circles and roundabouts reminded me of an incident back when I was the business writer for The Town Talk in Alexandria.
The state had appropriated $15 million to replace the south traffic circle in Alexandria. (Alexandria once had two traffic circles).
However, some of the store owners in the Alexandria Mall were opposed.
They said traffic patterns in the proposed changes were too complicated and would deter shoppers.
A state highway official sitting next to me whispered, “We missed our exit. Now we won’t be able to shop till we get to Lafayette.”
The regional advisory board defeated the plan by a single vote, and the traffic circle remains.
I’m also told that the south traffic circle was originally built to teach Army truck drivers.
I’ll leave it to the historians to determine if that’s true.
Dear Smiley: When daughter Laura was about 6, her music class learned to sing “America the Beautiful.”
In their art class they were to draw a picture illustrating the song.
She brought home her picture, which showed an airplane with apples, bananas, oranges, etc., hanging from it.
I asked her what that was.
She said, “That’s the fruited plane!”
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.