Dear Smiley: Back in the day, my wife, Annette, was quite the young singer.
She was a “Yamette” at the Yamiblee in Opelousas, and sang on the old Dezauche Blue Room Show on KSLO.
One night Little Jimmy Dickens came to town and performed at the old Opelousas High gym.
While there, he held a talent contest, and Annette won.
For years I would tell my four kids, “You know, your momma won the Little Jimmy Dickens contest a long time ago.”
My two oldest, Gary and Melissa, who weren’t big country music fans, would roll their eyes and smirk, as kids of that age would do.
Much later, they were in college and came home from LSU for the weekend.
Country music videos were big then, and we sat in the den watching them.
Vince Gill’s video came on, and he prefaced it by saying that his childhood hero had agreed to sing with him: “Please welcome my pal, Little Jimmy Dickens.”
Gary and Melissa stared in disbelief. Finally Gary spoke up: “Melissa, there really IS a Little Jimmy Dickens!”
The Hanger King
Dear Smiley: Heloise, in her column about wire hangers in The Advocate, took me back to when I was a kid in need of spending money.
When I turned 12 in 1949, the price of a movie ticket went from a dime to a quarter.
For that quarter I could see a Western, a mystery (Charlie Chan, Boston Blackie, etc.), newsreel, cartoon, a comedy short (Three Stooges, Arthur Kennedy, Behind the Eight Ball, etc.), a 12-part serial and coming attractions.
Popcorn was a nickel a bag; candy bars and soft drinks were a nickel as well.
Money was tight for the folks, so I had to figure some way to get my own money.
I found that the local laundry would pay 1 cent for every two clean, unbent clothes hangers.
Since those mostly went in the trash, housewives would willingly part with them if I asked politely.
Walking the neighborhood, I could obtain a couple of hundred of them in short order.
I could live like a king on a single dollar.
The clean life
Dear Smiley: While reading Kim Seago’s story of working as a janitor while attending seminary in Fort Worth, I was reminded of a story told to me by one of his classmates.
The young man was struggling to make ends meet while attending Southwestern Baptist Seminary when he was approached by the pastor of a good-sized church and told there was a job open there for a janitor.
The pastor explained that the janitor’s job at his church paid more than the pastorate at many of the small churches that hired seminary students.
“If you take the job, we could call you the minister of sanitation,” the pastor joked.
My friend did answer the janitorial calling.
Dear Smiley: Stories about playing Red Rover brought back memories from the 1940s.
In the Nashville housing project where we lived, we played another game, “Old Witch.”
The person playing the mother would say, “I’m going to town to smoke my pipe and I won’t be back ’til Saturday night. If you let the Old Witch in, I’ll spank you red, black, and blue with my old rubber shoe.”
Then the Old Witch knocks on the door, asks for sugar, a book, etc., and snatches a child.
Mother returns, finds a missing child, spanks the ones left, repeats the rhyme and the game continues.
When there are no children left, mom goes looking for them. When she finds them, she kills the Old Witch.
What the heck are kids doing today for amusement?
Dear Doug: Playing video games — which don’t sound as violent as Old Witch.
Dear Smiley: As a child, I heard the “Cajun Pete” commercials many times on the radio.
My favorite line of his was, “If you use Dr. Tichenor’s, you won’t be scared to kiss nobody!”
GENE M. GUIDROZ
Dear Smiley: One time I needed a ride to perform in a show.
A friend said her dad would pick me up, then pick her up and we’d go to the theater.
She said his car was light blue.
In order to speed things up I applied my stage make-up at home.
I noticed a light blue car slowing down out front, so I tore out and jumped into the car.
Turning to the driver, I said, “I’m ready!” — only to see the startled face of a total stranger taking in my heavily made-up face, complete with false eyelashes!
I got out before he decided that maybe he was “ready” as well!
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.