Smiley: Rice fields meet pine trees

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It has often been pointed out that as you travel west out of Ville Platte on La. 10, you can observe a dramatic change.

As you head toward Oakdale, suddenly the prairie ends, the pine trees begin, and the names on the mailboxes change from French to English.

And just like that, you’ve left Acadiana.

Terri Karam Willett says growing up in Oakdale left her “culturally confused:”

“In Oakdale the city limits sign reads, ‘Where Pine is Queen and Oak is King.’ We were proud lumber and pulpwood people.

“My confusion stemmed from our parish seat, Oberlin, a mere 15 miles down the road.

“They raised rice, danced to Cajun music and knew what to do with both ends of a crawfish!

“To add to my confusion, my family often trekked to the Florida Panhandle to visit my Mom’s clan.

“Daddy always packed Community Coffee and ‘good Oakdale water’ to make our morning brew. He said Mamaw’s coffee tasted like … well, you can’t print that!

“Driving to Florida, we often stopped at Diesi’s Little Capitol restaurant in Krotz Springs after driving past endless rice fields.

“Daddy always ordered ‘a hamburger with everything, but hold the rice.’

“He would explain to the poor confused waitress that since Cajuns ate rice with everything, he felt safer asking for no rice on his burger!”

Objectivity, please

Cootsie, of Slaughter, claims to have found a bit of bias in a story on “post-50 divorce” in the Wednesday Advocate.

In it, a matrimonial attorney says, “The kids are gone, the marriage has been over for a while and one spouse decides SHE can’t take it anymore.”

Cootsie asks, “Are us older guys really that bad, Smiley?”

(I’ll let you know when I get to be an older guy, Cootsie …)

Nice People Dept.

Lowney LeBlanc, of Gonzales, was riding in an electric cart at Wal-Mart when he got in the check-out line behind a lady.

She noticed his World War II veteran’s cap, and thanked him for his service:

“We chatted a bit while the clerk tallied her purchases. After she took her cart and departed, the checker put my purchases in my cart, handed me the receipt and told me the lady had paid for them.

“I sincerely appreciate the kind gesture.”

Worthy causes

The Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response Center (STAR) presents “The Vagina Monologues,” Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, Tuesday at the Manship Theatre.

A silent auction is at 6 p.m. and the performance is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25; $20 for seniors and students.

The play is presented in conjunction with the National V-Day Campaign to end violence against women and girls.

Proceeds aid STAR services, such as a 24-hour crisis hotline, hospital advocacy, counseling and community outreach and education. Call (225) 344-0334.

All that jazz

Dutchtown High’s Band Boosters host a Jazz Brunch Sunday at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Prairieville at 8 a.m. Pancake breakfasts will be served, followed by jambalaya lunches from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Both are $5. The Dutchtown High Jazz Band provide music.

Prom primping

New or “gently used” prom dresses and formal gowns, plus men’s suits and tuxes, are sought by Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle for the “Fairy Godmother Prom Extravaganza” through April 12.

Drop off garments at the Governmental Building, 222 St. Louis St., Room 351 (contact Cheryl Mitchell) or the Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Community Center, 4000 Gus Young Blvd., second-floor council office (contact Twahna or Desherica).

Bling alert

Lane Regional Medical Center Auxiliary in Zachary hosts a $5 jewelry and accessories sale from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday. Call (225) 658-4309.

Special People Dept.

  • Mary P. Nichols celebrates her 90th birthday Saturday.
  • Bob and Betty Guchereau, of Lafayette, celebrate their 57th anniversary Sunday.
  • Ben and Geneva Newburn, of Denham Springs, celebrate their 54th anniversary Friday.

Portable fire escape

Tom Toddy says around 1900, when his dad was a fairly young man, “his job required him to do much traveling and spending many nights in hotels.

“In those days, many hotels were wooden structures and not so fireproof. Sprinkler systems were unheard of, and usually there was no fire escape.

“My dad’s phobia was getting trapped in a burning hotel with no way out.

“To relieve his stress to some degree, he always checked in with TWO suitcases.

“One held his clothes, and the other was filled with a VERY LONG ROPE.

“He never said exactly how long that rope was, but he did say he would never check into a room so high up that his rope would not reach the ground!”

A personal note

So long, Ed; we’ll miss you …

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.