Smiley: Keeping the blues alive

When I was an LSU student, I had a night job loading trucks at the Swift meat company.

As the youngest guy on the crew, I got the job of going to Bernard’s Chicken Loaf House in the next block and picking up fried chicken and Nehi soda pop for our dinner break.

We’d sit on the loading dock munching chicken and talking about our plans for the future.

One of the guys, Tabby Thomas, said he’d like to get into show business and told us he played music and would like to do it full time.

I lost track of Tabby after I left Swift, but when I heard of him again, he was running his beloved Blues Box, just down the street from his old job and Bernard’s, and was well on his way to becoming a beloved figure in the Baton Rouge music scene — the guy who devoted his life to the blues.

Just about everybody in Baton Rouge who loves the blues has a story about Tabby, so I won’t try to repeat them all here. (For instance, my current wife, Lady Katherine, played tambourine at his blues jams years before I met her. …)

When I heard that Tabby “got his hat,” as the saying goes about the death of a blues guy, I recalled that long-ago night when he told of his dream of becoming a musician.

Tabby had a dream, and he made it come true.

You can’t ask much more of life than that. …

Take your seat

After our recent hiatus, Marvin McConnell helps this column resume its silliness:

“Your mention of the song ‘Purple People Eater’ reminded me of what someone asked me many years ago:

“What could be another name for an usher in the Catholic church?

“The answer was ‘a papal people seater.’ ”

Nostalgia Corner

Herb Rogers says, “I have tried to explain to my wife, a Kentucky woman, the joys of my dining experiences at the Toddle House restaurants in Baton Rouge in the ‘old days.’

“In fact, we tried to replicate their chocolate ice box pie from a recipe I found on the Internet.

“It wasn’t exactly as I remembered, but neither are a lot of things in my mature years.

“Do you have any information concerning the old locations in Baton Rouge (I remember Third Street, Florida Street downtown, Scenic Highway and Plank Road) — and most importantly, an authentic recipe for the chocolate pie?”

Rough translation

“Mary Med” says when J.W., of Watson, sings the Spanish-flavored Christmas song “Feliz Navidad,” it somehow comes out as “Cooking leaves in a pot. …”

Happy returns

A reader offers a tale of honesty:

“I lost my wallet, with all my Christmas money in it, in the Dollar Tree in Hammond Square.

“I did not know it until I was in another store, so I hurried back to the stores I had been in.

“When I went into Dollar Tree and asked if a wallet had been turned in, the lady said, ‘Yes.’

“Thanks to the honest lady who found and turned it in, and also the honest people of Dollar Tree.”

Triple gifting

Trudy Parrish goes right from Christmas shopping to some serious birthday shopping:

“Our grandson was born on Dec. 30; his mother was born on Dec. 30 and his grandmother was born on Dec. 30.”

Special People Dept.

  • Naomi Flowers celebrated her 99th birthday Dec. 22.
  • Mattie Gerald celebrated her 96th birthday Dec. 25.

    Mary Maxwell, of Liberty, Miss., celebrated her 95th birthday Monday, Dec. 30.

    Carroll C. Gromer, of Village Woods Retirement Community, celebrated her 93rd birthday Dec. 25.

    Helen Catherine, of Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Scotlandville, celebrated her 93rd birthday Dec. 24.

    Ben and Katrina Wicker, of Central, celebrated their 69th anniversary Dec. 20.

    Clyde and Jean Meyers, of Denham Springs, celebrated their 67th anniversary Dec. 22. He is a Navy veteran of World War II.

    Ira and Vonseal Veasey, of Harahan, celebrated their 62nd anniversary Tuesday, Dec. 31.

    E.J. and Emma Duval celebrated their 61st anniversary Saturday, Dec. 28.

    Verta Lee and the Rev. Jesse Bernard Bilberry Jr. celebrated their 60th anniversary Dec. 23.

    George and Beth Provost, of Denham Springs, celebrated 60 years of marriage Dec. 24.

    Blake and Ruby Nell Roberts Collins celebrated their 56th anniversary Dec. 26.

    Jimmy and Sybil LeSage celebrated their 55th anniversary Dec. 27.

    Marion and Linda Brignac, of Springfield, celebrated their 50th anniversary Dec. 21.

Aim to please

T. Med Hogg says, “Many years ago my Grandma Nance, fixing their house for Christmas, removed the old spittoon from beside Grandpa’s chair and didn’t put it back.

“Grandpa chewed tobacco and smoked cigars.

“He complained to Grandma, ‘I miss that old spittoon.’

“Grandma said, ‘You always did.’ ”

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.