Smiley: Dangerous gifts

With the approach of Christmas, I was thinking of a couple of gifts I got when I was 6 or 7 and we lived in Natchez, Miss.

One was a Daisy BB gun, which I received along with warnings from my grandmother that I was going to “shoot my eye out.” (Why does that sound familiar?)

It wasn’t a Red Ryder, like the one in “A Christmas Story,” but a cheaper model with a blond wood handle.

Years later, I came to realize that even that model must have strained my parents’ meager budget at that time.

I ran through the wooded bayou behind our house, searching for bad guys but finding only poison ivy.

Another gift was a wooden “sled” with wheels instead of runners, for going down hills.

You lay down on it and steered it with bars on each side of the front wheels.

It had no brakes, and only stopped when you ran out of hill.

We lived on the side of one of the steepest hills in Natchez, and I’d go zooming down it, coasting to a stop at the cross street at the bottom of the hill that ran into our street, Washington Street.

Luckily it was a short street, with almost no traffic — which is why I’m still here. …

Back then, parents didn’t think twice about giving their kids gifts that could maim or kill us.

Were they trying to send us a message?

Breaking news

Speaking of childhood accidents, Alan J. Melancon, of Slidell, tells this tale about Monkey Hill at New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo:

“My father told me this story when he bought me my first bike, to impress safety on me.

“Seems he and three other kids tried to go down Monkey Hill on one bike — one on the handlebars, one on the cross bar, one on the seat and one on the rear fender.

“Well, about a quarter of the way down the front wheel came off!

“Everyone on the bike broke something — my father fractured his arm, two other kids fractured their wrists and the cross bar rider broke his ankle.

“Believe me, I never tried that stunt!”

Cheers South

It was a place where everybody knew your name.

Ellis’ Lounge, a Government Street watering hole, closed 35 years ago.

But its loyal patrons have been gathering annually to remember their favorite bar and mourn its passing over good food and root beers.

This year’s event will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at The Hawk’s Nest.

Features of the reunion are listed as “lies, rumor, gossip, innuendo.” And the usual rules apply: “No arm wrestling. No dangerous pets.”

Where’s Santa?

Children’s Hospital Outpatient Center of Baton Rouge needs a volunteer Santa Claus for its “Holiday Star” Christmas party for its patients (the REAL Santa is quite busy this time of year and can’t make it).

The party is Monday, Dec. 23, at the American Legion hall on Wooddale Boulevard.

Go to

From the ashes

Judy Williams Hood says the F.S. Williams Red Boot Deli was part of 80-year-old F.S. Williams Country Store on La. 19 in Ethel, which burned two years ago.

Now the daughter of one of the owners, Jennifer Williams Templet, has opened the F.S. Williams Red Boot Deli in Clinton, dispensing po-boys, soups, salads etc.

Worthy causes

The Oaks and Red Stick Kiwanis clubs’ charitable work benefits from proceeds of the “Santa Claus Fun Run” before the 63rd annual Cortana Kiwanis Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 14, in downtown Baton Rouge.

The 1½-mile run starts at 5:15 p.m. Visit for details.

Special People Dept.

Adele Jewell “Maw Maw Blanche” McKinney, of Central, celebrates her 96th birthday on Monday, Dec. 9.

About time

Susan Koehler says, “My husband’s best friend was dating a girl in college when another guy asked him for her phone number, fully aware that he was dating her.

“This clueless guy bugged our friend so much for the girl’s number that he finally relented and gave ‘Clueless’ a number.

“He said, ‘You can call her, but I don’t know if she will give you the time of day.’

“The number was the one you would call in New Orleans to find out the correct time. He was never asked for her number again.”

Aging process

Karen Poirrier, of Lutcher, says after her recent birthday, she was offered philosophies on aging by four friends and her husband Buddy

From her friends:

  • “Age is a number, and mine is unlisted.”
  • “During conversations, spell the word ‘a-g-e’ instead of saying it.”
  • “70 is the new 50.”
  • “Good health is the most important birthday gift to receive.”

And, from Buddy, “A cowboy gauges the health of his horse by its teeth.”

Karen’s still trying to figure that one out. …

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.