Smiley: Ugly trees need love

As always, when I take off a few days around Christmas, I miss some stories of holiday memories.

After one of my last columns of the year mentioned the ugly pine Christmas tree my dad once cut on a visit to Grandma Anders near Gloster, Miss., I heard from my first cousin, Bettye Richard.

She recalled the last Christmas tree she and husband Joe saw at our grandmother’s house:

“Near the piano in her living room we saw a scraggly looking 2-foot Southern pine ‘tree’ sitting in a galvanized water bucket filled with sand — not sitting very straight, but looking quite festive and happy with its string of lights shining brightly.

“When Joe asked, ‘MaMa, who cut down this tree for you?’ she replied with a huge smile on her face, ‘I DID!’

“He located the little hatchet she used to cut the tree, and remarked that it was so rusty and dull ‘She must have worried that little tree to death!’ ”

Another tree tale

Janet Swain Blazo, of Colorado Springs, Colo., tells how her family got their Christmas tree every year:

“Two weeks before Christmas, when I was growing up in Laurel, Miss., my mother would take Wayne, Carol and me to Mr. Tal’s woods that adjoined my grandparents’ place.

“Mr. Tal had lots of Christmas trees on his property, and being a good friend of the family was always receptive to our search for the perfect tree.

“Mother would have the three of us walk in different directions and excitedly choose the one we thought was ‘the prettiest ever’ (She didn’t let us stray too far from her!).

“Once they were selected she would be the judge, looking over each tree carefully and explaining the good and bad points of each.

“When we left for home we were all in agreement that the one chosen was the perfect tree.

“That evening she would make a big pot of hot cocoa and fix a plate of her wonderful tea cakes for us to enjoy while we happily decorated the tree.

“Funny how I don’t remember much of what was under the tree, but I do remember so clearly that special family time we shared.

“I’m thankful that my mother believed in making memories together as a family, and that I can reminisce fondly today about those special moments!”

Cajun Christmas

Marie Marshall, of Opelousas, comments on our mention of Cajun musician Hasa Ortego’s Christmas music:

“Thank you for mentioning my Uncle Hasa’s record ‘Christmas Eve on the Big Bayou.’

“Every year he would go read his poem on KLFY-TV’s ‘Passé Partout’ show.

“Floyd Soileau asked him to make a recording of it. Side A is in English, side B en français.

“Then some other fella came up with his version and put it into a picture book that is still sold today.

“But the artist made poor Santa too thin.

“No true Cajun is thin, and neither is Papa Noel or Santa Claus.”

The traveling antlers

Nancy LeBlanc says one night she and daughter Katie, after attending a dance performance at the Manship Theatre, found a pair of “auto antlers” on the ground next to their car:

“Since we used these type of antlers last year, I was familiar with how they would fall off every time you rolled down the window, and I assumed that is what happened to these.

“So I put them on my driver’s side window.

“Then we went to the drive- thru of CC’s Coffee House at Bluebonnet and Airline.

“As I got back on the road, my daughter remarked that the antlers were missing and must have fallen out when I rolled down the window.

“I didn’t go back, but wish I had set up a website where people could post where they found the antlers.

“I hope the next recipients get to keep them a little longer than we did.”

Happy returns

A reader thanks the anonymous person who found and returned the purse she had left in a shopping cart:

“This random act of kindness, honesty and consideration will not go unheeded — the best I can do is another random kindness by donating to the Food Bank and other worthy causes.”

Special People Dept.

Wilbert Terry, of Slidell, celebrates his 91st birthday Monday, Jan. 6. He is a World War II veteran.

Flo Cragin will be 90 on Monday, Jan. 6, a milestone celebrated Saturday, Jan. 4, at Mansur’s on the Boulevard in Baton Rouge.

Turn about

Hal W. Gould says our recent story about the kid moving up to the “big table” at a family holiday dinner when an older aunt died “reminded me of the comedian I heard once.

“He told the story of an elderly aunt who would always poke him in the ribs at family weddings, saying with a grin, ‘You’re next!’

“As a confirmed bachelor, he was irritated by this, so he decided to do something about it.

“Quoting him, ‘She stopped doing that to me at family weddings after I started doing it to her at family funerals.’ ”

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.