Dear Smiley: With all the publicity surrounding the LSU Tiger Band’s trip to Ireland, perhaps your readers would enjoy another story of “the old days.”
In 1953, the Tiger Band (90 players, 6 majorettes) rode three Greyhound buses to Gainesville, Fla., for the LSU-Florida football game.
The long, hot ride was made even longer because of bus trouble.
After finally arriving at the gym (no hotel — slept on cots), it was far too late to think about getting anything to eat.
Assistant band director Oscar Barnes took a bus to find hamburgers and did not return until the next morning.
It seems no one would believe that a guy in a bus was ordering 125 burgers to go.
There were no travel stipends, but we all survived the weekend and, on Sunday morning, returned to Baton Rouge — very tired and very hungry.
It must have been a good trip home, because that is where my wife and I began our relationship, which has lasted all these years.
It’s good to be the king
Dear Smiley: An article in your column about a shortage of batteries during World War II reminded me that when I was 6 or 7 during the early ’40s, my grandfather owned a drug store in uptown New Orleans.
We lived in Maple Ridge, a small subdivision off Airline Highway in Metairie.
During the war, we would visit my grandfather about once a month, and on one occasion he gave me a box of Double Bubble Gum.
When I got back to my neighborhood and showed my friends (I didn’t realize how many friends I had), I was the Bubble Gum King — as long as my box of gum lasted!
Grandma in paradise
Dear Smiley: A recent vacation to St. Maarten with husband Buddy and friends to enjoy its annual regatta reminded me of one of my favorite pastimes while on vacation.
After watching hundreds of majestic sailboats race on the beautiful sapphire-blue water of the Caribbean, Buddy browsed items at the street market while I read slogans and messages on T-shirts.
As grandmother to 6-week-old Kenley Marie, this year my favorite was: “HELP! Mommy’s Having a Bad Day, Call 1-800-GRANDMA.”
Dear Smiley: A recent story in The Advocate about St. Patrick’s Cathedral reminds me of our principals’ convention trip to New York in the late ’70s.
Our group attended Mass one day at St. Patrick’s.
As the Mass proceeded, we looked up, and the only Jewish member of our group was passing the collection basket.
It was your friend Ben Valentine, from your Natchez days.
Sundays with Elvis
Dear Smiley: We are so blessed in the Ville Platte listening area to have radio station KVPI to listen to on Sunday mornings as an alternative to talking heads yelling at each other on the tube.
At 9 a.m. we get The Beatles. At 10 we get Elvis. Both programs have music, inside stories and trivia. Great stuff about great entertainers.
It’s better for my nerves to read the news (in The Advocate, of course) than to have it hollered at me.
ALEX “SONNY” CHAPMAN
Dear Smiley: At noon on Christmas Eve, when I was working at the Port of Baton Rouge, the office would close.
On the way home I would stop at the Western Auto store, which would reduce its prices on toys, dolls and other Christmas items by 50 percent at that late date.
There I would buy additional Christmas gifts for our family, supplementing presents already under the tree.
T. MED HOGG
Dear Med: It’s nice to know there are others who Christmas shop like I do…
A customer’s revenge
Dear Smiley: Back in the day there were pay phones on every corner.
REALLY back in the day, a call was a dime.
If your party didn’t answer, you got your dime back when you hung up.
If you didn’t get it, you called the operator (for free).
She would say, “If you’ll send us a self-addressed, stamped envelope, we will be happy to refund your dime.”
Of course the cost of two stamps was more than the dime, so the phone company had quite a racket.
Well, one time I hung up after a call and the phone started spewing out money! And this wasn’t even Vegas!
While I was scrambling around stuffing dimes into my pockets the phone rang. It was the operator.
She said, “That was a mistake. Please redeposit that money.”
I said, “If you will send a self-addressed stamped envelope. …”
As I hung up, the operator was hollering, “Aw, come on!”
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.