Smiley: The Great Flood

This is one of our stranger nostalgia stories:

After Ray Smith, of the Hawk’s Nest, recalled a water ski show in Baton Rouge’s Memorial Stadium, I heard from a ton of readers who remembered the event.

Colleague George Morris unearthed a June 7, 1970, Morning Advocate story about plans to flood the stadium for the show.

The story by John Boudreaux said promoters of the show were Gordon Ogden and Jerry Comeaux, and “many Baton Rougeans are unhappy, skeptical and fearful of the idea,” concerned that the more than 3 million gallons of water would harm the grass for football games later that year.

But according to many readers, the show — a fundraiser for the Lakeshore Lions Club — did go on over a weekend, and did draw a crowd.

Some comments from those who remember the show:

Lakeshore Lions member Gordon Barney recalls that, “It was one heck of a water bill. Fortunately the late Bob Johnson, who was the vice president at Baton Rouge Water Co., was also a club member. We did raise some funds to help the needy and for other projects locally and worldwide.

“This was the craziest project we have ever done. …”

Charlene Wolf says, “My husband, Bill, and I were young parents when Memorial Stadium was filled with water. We took our two children to watch the water skiing and some of the skiers threw sponge balls and toys to the crowd. Our son caught a small football. It was a very entertaining event.”

Rob Payer says Grit, resident curmudgeon at Phil Brady’s, told him how a plywood dam was built at the open south end of the stadium, and 3 or 4 feet of water was pumped in over two days:

“The emcee was Jerry Comeaux who, between events, would entertain the crowd by talking with ‘the hermit who lived under the ski ramp,’ who would emerge to scream at the skiers as they jumped over it. That hermit was Grit.”

Mary Sue Meador says, “I served on the BREC program committee when the controversy arose about flooding the football field at Memorial Stadium. Gene Young, superintendent of BREC, was very worried as to how the water would affect the field. As it turned out, the water must have helped. After it drained off, the grass was beautiful.”

The sound of silence

As we’ve mentioned before, the regulars at the Patio Lounge can answer any question you might pose to them — just not always correctly.

Mike Patterson reports that owners Terry and Stacey Sweatfield tell him this has changed:

“One of the regulars brought up the question, ‘Before the invention of the railroad, how did the early settlers describe what a tornado sounded like?’

“Will your loyal legion of readers help us out on this one? Because no one at the Patio is going to say ‘I don’t know,’ and the silence of the BS is utterly deafening.”

From Vienna with love

Ivy Alford, of Denham Springs, says this happened years ago when he told Sam King, former sports editor of The Advocate, that he was going on a tour of Austria:

“Sam asked me to bring him back some Vienna sausage.”

On his return, Ivy did indeed present Sam with a can of the delicacy — which I strongly suspect had not been procured in its namesake city. …

Open for business

Bradley T. Hayes says he can help Bob Downing, who wants to return a can of malfunctioning de-icer he bought at a Western Auto store some time ago:

“There is at least one Western Auto still open: Trippe’s Western Auto in Natchez, Miss., whenever he’s ready to make the drive!”

Nice People Dept.

A reader, who says she’s 75, thanks “the fine gentleman in the black truck, wearing an LSU shirt,” who stopped and picked her up after she fell into a ditch on the side of Joor Road and got tangled in the briars and vines.

She says, “Thank God he saw me — it was nearly dark.”

Special People Dept.

Woody and Marilyn Brown celebrate their 50th anniversary on Wednesday, March 5.

Leap of faith

Linda Dalferes says, “A friend told me this story about her grandson, Meyer, 7:

“Meyer’s dad asked him if he had taken a bath, and Meyer said he had.

“His dad said, ‘I didn’t see you take a bath.’

“Meyer replied, ‘Jesus said that it’s better not to see and still believe.’ ”

Do you speak Bama?

Cyndy Forman tells the ultimate Southern accent story about a guy from Alabama:

“Frank was a wiry, righteous, Yosemite Sam dude who owned a Harley Davidson.

“One night Frank asked me for a ride home because his motorcycle was broken.

“This is how the conversation sounded:

“Frank: ‘Can you give me a ride home?’

“Me: ‘Sure. Where do you live?’

“Frank: ‘In Biker.’

“Me: ‘Whoa! You bikers have your own town?’

“Frank: ‘No. I live in Biker — right before you get to Zachary.’ ”

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.