Smiley: Tigers in Ethiopia

Andy Martin, of St. Francisville, says, “Walter Hill’s recent passing brought back my most exciting LSU football memory.

“It was Oct. 25, 1969, and I was a young Peace Corps volunteer posted to a tiny village in the mountains of northern Ethiopia.

“It had been a huge leap from my LSU graduation the previous May to a mud hut in east Africa, and the only link I had to any part of the life I had just left was a little Sony short-wave radio.

“That stormy October night in Debre Sina, I turned on my radio — and who did I hear but Walter Hill and John Ferguson from Tiger Stadium, broadcasting the LSU-Auburn game over Armed Forces Radio.

“Just as I was settling into the special glow of the moment, there was a knock on my door.

“Three of my Ethiopian colleagues, fellow teachers at the village school where I was the entire English department, had been caught in the rain, and asked for shelter until the storm let up.

“Caught between wanting to savor the game and acting the perfect host, I decided to introduce my friends to American football, explaining John and Walter’s play-by-play to them.

“Unfortunately, first downs, field goals, passing situations and all the other intricacies of the game completely mystified them, and after 30 minutes of my ‘play-by-play,’ the rain let up and they were very glad to move on.

“And I was left with John and Walter, my two special companions for the evening.

“And a terrific game it was. The Tigers won, 21-20.”

Half-dollar crawfish

Melvin J. Daigle says the crawfish situation illustrates the law of supply and demand:

“As a youngster in Assumption Parish, I remember catching crawfish in ditches.

“I had a No. 3 washtub with about 30 pounds of crawfish for sale for 50 cents (not by the pound, but the whole tub).

“I couldn’t sell them at that price, so I turned them loose in the ditch to be caught another day.

“The only people in the ’40s who ate crawfish were local people in our area.

“Now, as you know, they are in demand by many. Look at the $4-plus a pound this year for Easter boils.”

“Night” moves

Ken Toups, of Lafayette, keeper of our Ancient Music Archives, tells about the 1950s R&B classic “One Night,” mentioned recently in the column:

“On Oct. 26, 1955, Smiley Lewis entered Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Studio in New Orleans and recorded ‘One Night.’

“Composer credit was given to producer Dave Bartholomew and writing partner Pearl King.

“Elvis Presley loved this minor hit. On Jan. 24, 1957, he recorded the song in Hollywood.

“However, RCA Victor and Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker, agreed that the lyrics were too risqué — ‘one night of sin is what I’m now paying for.’

“The track was shelved, and Elvis fans did not hear him sing the troublesome line till this version was released in 1983.

“But Presley did not give up on the song; while filming his second movie, ‘Loving You,’ he decided to change the words to ‘one night with you is what I’m now praying for,’ and the song was released in 1958.

“Surely, all three powerful versions of this classic ‘ain’t never did no wrong.’ ”

Worthy causes

  • The Mental Health Association for Greater Baton Rouge has a “Beat the Odds Casino Night & Silent Auction” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Capitol Park Welcome Center.

Guests receive $250 in play money for blackjack, craps, roulette and poker games — with a chance to win prizes. There is a silent auction and food by Heirloom Cuisine.

Proceeds support programs and services for individuals with mental illness and substance addictions.

Tickets are $50, available at mhagbr.com, by calling (225) 929-7674 or at the door.

    The folks at Community Coffee report that more than 850 schools earned more than $315,000 for their students through the “Cash for Schools” program. There will be a celebration at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the company’s Baton Rouge headquarters, 3332 Partridge Lane. The top-earning schools will be announced and checks will be presented.

Special People Dept.

  • Nede Petrovich, of Metairie, celebrated her 99th birthday on Friday.
  • On Monday, Sylvia Peak celebrates her 91st birthday.

Laughing at Louisiana

Once again, a lawmaker from our state makes national TV — and not in a good way.

State Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, was featured on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central for his failed effort to establish “chicken boxing” as an alternative to cockfighting.

Host Stephen Colbert had a lot of fun with the idea, flashing pictures of chickens wearing boxing gloves and rephrasing Marlon Brando’s famous line in “On the Waterfront” — “I coulda been a contender” — as “I coulda been a chicken tender.”

As I’ve said before regarding our legislators, you can’t make this stuff up. …

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.