Smiley: Shelter from the storm

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Jackie Upton says the tornadoes in Oklahoma take her back to her childhood there:

“My dad worked for Carter Oil Co. when they built houses for their employees.

“Each company ‘camp’ had its own sewer system, water tank for running water and, best of all, storm cellars.

“I cannot tell you how many times we sheltered in them waiting for the ‘all clear.’

“When the storm season began, the women would clean the cellars out, get rid of the mouse debris, cobwebs and spiders and fill the kerosene lanterns.

“I can recall many a night being bundled in a quilt and carried to a cellar by my dad.

“On one occasion I insisted on taking our dog Teddy, a Pekinese of uncertain temperament. Teddy objected to being hauled out of his sleep, and bit me on my lower lip.

“So there we were, in a bad storm in a cellar with a bawling child with blood streaming from my face.

“My mother lived in Oklahoma the rest of her life, but always made sure she had access to a storm cellar.

“When bad storms threaten now, I mentally assess our home for a sheltering spot. Haven’t found a good one yet.”

Cajun surprise

Tom Toddy says, “Long years ago, Uncle Sam selected me and a number of my fellow Baton Rouge area residents to serve in the Korean War.

“Many in my group sported names such as Arceneaux, Badeaux, Chevallier, Fryoux, Hebert, Sonnier, Langlois, etc.

“All along the route to our California basic training destination were regular roll calls.

“Each time we’d snicker among ourselves as roll-callers stammered and slaughtered the pronunciation of the names.

“When we arrived in California, a crusty old master sergeant had us gather for yet another roll call.

“We were anticipating the usual comical pronunciation attempt but, to our surprise, he rattled off the names perfectly and without hesitation.

“When he finished, seeing our amazement he smiled and said, ‘I was raised in Breaux Bridge.’ ”

Nostalgia Corner

Marvin Verbois, of The Villages, Fla., asks, “I wonder if any of your readers remember having a birthday party at the Holsum bakery where the multicolored fountain lights were?”

Highway heroes

Beth Money says she and friend Paula Plaisance were on Interstate 110 in separate cars after tailgating at an LSU baseball game “when I noticed smoke coming from Paula’s car and a rear tire wobbling.

“She felt it, and started to pull over. I turned on my flashers and pulled behind her, waiting to be rear-ended any moment.

“Within a minute, a man in a DOTD truck pulled up behind me with lights flashing.

“He walked to my car and watched the traffic until I could get out. Then he did the same for Paula.

He told us to get to the rail quickly, away from traffic.

“He went back to his truck and put cones down to make traffic move away from us.

“He changed Paula’s tire and told her to drive slowly going home. He wouldn’t take anything for his time, trouble, and putting his life on the line for two ladies in distress.

“He was our guardian angel in that crazy, fast traffic. I didn’t have the presence of mind to get his name.”

Worthy causes

  • Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers has donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross to assist in relief efforts for those affected by the Oklahoma tornados.

The Baton Rouge-based restaurant chain has several locations and hundreds of employees in the area devastated by the storms.

Through Sunday, more than 150 of its restaurants will collect cash and credit card donations. Visit http://www.raisingcanes.com.

  • Josie Messina of the American Legion Auxiliary says American Legion veterans will be out at several Baton Rouge businesses on Saturday seeking donations to help disabled veterans and their families.

Special People Dept.

  • Louis Spragio, of Addis, celebrates his 94th birthday Thursday. He is a World War II veteran.
  • Wesley A. Denham, a World War II Navy veteran, celebrates his 92nd birthday Thursday.
  • Cotton and Lee Tarter celebrate their 54th anniversary Thursday.

’Tis a puzzlement

Louis B. Gaudin wonders how “the TV camera can follow the golf ball when it is hit into the air, when most duffers I know can’t even follow their own ball after they launch it.”

No mistake

As you may know, I sometimes drop a “mistake” in the column just to see if you people are paying attention.

My latest “mistake” was having Merle Haggard instead of Johnny Cash singing “Folsom Prison Blues.”

As Doug Johnson, of Watson, told me, “Johnny Cash is probably rolling over in his grave …”

Yes, I’d have to be an idiot to make that error. But I’m a graduate of an accredited Louisiana high school, so obviously no idiot.

Thanks to Doug and the others who responded to this test of reader alertness …

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.