Smiley: Mules to the rescue

I always figured this column appealed to big-city sophisticates, but a recent influx of mule stories makes me wonder about our demographics.

Dudley Lehew, of Denham Springs, offers our latest mule tale:

“I used to spend some time in the Arkansas Ozarks, where a friend of mine, Dave McMahon, owned several mules.

“He was a member of the American Mule Association, which had serious mule competitive events around the nation and even ‘scenic mule rides.’

“He also owned an all-terrain vehicle dealership.

“Dave told me that one day some of his staff came up to his farm, unloaded their ATVs and proceeded to ride in and out of one of his ponds.

“Well, they all got stuck.

“So the guys hooked up their four-wheel-drive trucks to pull out the ATVs — and the trucks got stuck too!

“‘That’s what I was waiting for,’ said Dave. ‘So I hooked up my mules and pulled them ALL out!’ ”

Roasting the coach

It’s just called the Spring Luncheon, but the annual event put on at Drusilla Seafood by the Rispone brothers and their merry band honors more than just the arrival of spring.

It celebrates “what’s good in Baton Rouge,” LSU and Southern football, being Catholic, being Italian and being from Redemptorist High, more or less in that order.

Speakers at this year’s event included Bishop Robert Meunch, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Southern’s coach Dawson Odums, LSU’s coach Les Miles and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux.

Those singled out for special honors included LSU President and Chancellor Dr. William Jenkins, Southern Chancellor Dr. James Llorens, Attorney Gen. Buddy Caldwell, District Attorney Hillar Moore, LSU football star Warren Rabb, Southern’s head athletic equipment manager Derek Price, civic leader Richard A. Lipsey, Parkview Baptist head coach Kenny Guillot and LSU’s new offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron.

It’s a light-hearted event with lots of teasing. But emcee Sammy Rispone saved his best shots for Les Miles.

Noting that Henry Ford had also been called the “Mad Hatter,” Sammy says Henry and Les had a couple of things in common: They both earned more than $4 million a year, and some fans “thought Coach Miles’ offense ran like Henry Ford’s Model T, that had to be hand cranked and sputtered at times in the fourth quarter …”

Later Sammy said his group had been trying to find if Coach Miles had any Italian heritage, “and the closest we have come to seeing any Italian descent are some of his statements that could have him likened to a modern day Yogi Berra.”

Thank-you note

Dale Ulkins gives “a quick public thank-you to Action Printers and owner Tammy Brantley.

“I needed some quality printing done quickly, and Tammy went way out of her way, working late into the evening to get the project done for me.

“It’s nice to know that some businesses still care deeply for their customers. I’m also sure her late father, Jerry Brown, founder of Action Printers, would be most proud.”

Scam alert

Loraine Bruner says beware if you get a call claiming to be from a family member who has had an accident, is in jail and needs money wired to him.

In her case it was her grandson who supposedly called (the caller told her he had a cold to explain why his voice was not like her grandson’s):

“He said he was in jail and to get out he had to pay the other people money. This was to be sent by money-gram. They did not get the money.

“Later I heard that a friend got the same kind of call. He didn’t lose his money either.

“So people, be warned.”

For the vets

A “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans” event is being held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday by the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial and Museum.

Ceremonies at 11 a.m. will include speakers, food vendors for levee picnics (or bring your own), free admission to the Kidd Museum for vets and families, music by Big River Express and an exhibit on women in the military.

Footloose in BR

Robbie Phillabaum says “Dancin’ in the Streets,” Baton Rouge Ballet Theater’s annual fundraiser, is Saturday at Perkins Rowe. Food, drinks and music are included in the $25 ticket price. Go to rphill@bellsouth.net.

Special People Dept.

Lena Catanzaro Canella celebrates her 90th birthday Wednesday.

A claim to remember

The above-mentioned Dudley Lehew has one more story about his Arkansas friend and mule owner Dave McMahon:

“One morning I came out of Dave’s house and noticed that there were long scratches on the hood of my new car.

“Turned out that several mules wandering loose had seen their reflection and tried to bite what they thought was another mule.

“Believe it or not, my insurance covered the damage — even though my reason for the damage was listed as ‘Bitten by mules!’ ”

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.