Smiley: Bottom line

Some of my more mature readers may recall the days when Jefferson Parish was Little Las Vegas — and not because of elaborate shows.

Gambling was pretty much the official parish pastime.

Richard Herr, of Harahan, was reminded of those wild old days when we mentioned telephone party lines:

“After my wife and I were married in 1950, we rented a small house in rural Jefferson Parish.

“We could only secure a two-party phone line.

“We soon found it was constantly in use in the afternoon by the other party.

“I listened in and learned that people were placing bets on the horse races.

“I interrupted a call and advised the other party that I would report him to the phone company.

“He asked me not to put him out of business, and that it would be worth my while if I held off until he could get a direct line.

“For several weeks we received a $20 bill in our rural mailbox.

“Since my salary was $200 a month, this was greatly appreciated.

“It was a sad day for us when he got his one-party line.”

Which reminds me

Years ago, when I was covering business news for the Morning Advocate, I went to New Orleans for a story, and wrapped it up late in the afternoon.

In those days we typed up the story, then put the paper in a transmitter that hooked into a telephone. (This is the device Hunter S. Thompson called the mojo machine.)

I went to a Gravier Street bar frequented by reporters and wrote the story on my portable typewriter.

But when I went to use the phone to transmit it, I discovered that it was being used to place bets.

After some haggling with the disgruntled and potentially threatening patrons, I finally got permission to send the story — if I kept it short.

My editor must have wondered why I spent all that time down there and came up with such a skimpy story. …

Worthy causes

“Painting a Brighter Future” is the theme of the Mental Health Association for Greater Baton Rouge’s free art show from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the LSU Journalism Building’s D. Jensen Holliday Forum.

The show features the work of clients with chronic mental illness who take part in the Alliance House Drop-in Center’s “Arts for Wellness” program. The work is available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the MHA and the artists.

Contact Jenny Ridge at or (225) 266-2697.

The Sunday game

Karen Poirrier, of Lutcher, says she and husband Buddy discovered that as kids they had both played marbles with their siblings and cousins who visited to enjoy the weekly family Sunday dinners:

“I remembered that we called the large marble the ‘wheelie.’

“Buddy couldn’t remember what they called the large marble, so I surfed the Internet and learned that it is also called the ‘grandfather.’ ”

She wonders if YOU played marbles at Sunday dinners.

Alarming conversation

Maw Maw Betty, of French Settlement, says unwanted calls from telemarketers were the reason she switched to a cell phone from a landline:

“We would get calls every day from a company trying to sell us a home alarm system, and every day I would tell them we were not interested and please do not call back.

“But the calls continued.

“One day they called, and after telling the lady again that we were not interested, she asked if we already had an alarm system.

“I told her we did. She asked what kind we had, and was it being monitored.

“I told her it was a 125-pound Rottweiler, and as long as I kept him fed he worked just fine.

“She proceeded to tell me that if I could put him away, they could make an appointment the next day to show me an alarm system.

“I hung up.”

Good Samaritans

Willie and Judy Thousand thank T.L., a patron of Heads & Tails Seafood restaurant, for a “random act of kindness:”

They say he not only took Willie’s walker from their vehicle for him, but also paid for their meal.

Says Willie, “Here’s hoping you read this column. THANK YOU!”

Soulful cuisine

As I lunched the other day with some cohorts at Pappa’s Soul Food restaurant, I looked at my plate — pork chops, rice and gravy, greens, sweet potatoes, cornbread — and realized my mom was a soul food cook and didn’t know it.

Thou shalt chuckle

Here are a couple of items from church bulletins found by Joe Guilbeau, of Plaquemine:

“Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.”

“The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.”

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