Smiley: Riding the rails

Joel d’Aquin Thibodeaux says our train tales remind her of the men who rode freight trains during the Great Depression:

“In the early 1930s, when my late father John d’Aquin was about 10, he and his family lived on Boyd Avenue (now Spanish Town Road), about six blocks from the railroad.

“Dad’s big brother Ansel B. Ives (also deceased) was in his early 20s.

“My dad told me Uncle Ansel was adventuresome and very curious, with a big heart.

“Ansel often caught rides on freight trains, and met other gentlemen who rode the rails.

“He convinced their mom that these men were not hobos, but rather honest, hard-working men who could not find steady work.

“He asked his mom to help, so every day at lunchtime she would cook enough for an extra plate or two. Just about every day, one or two of the rail-riders would find their way to 972 Boyd Ave. seeking a hot meal.

“Ansel would greet them, and they would sit outside on the front porch and eat lunch.

“Ansel always claimed he learned so many valuable things talking to these men, who had been successful executives and businessmen.

“Thank you for helping bring these times back to life with your railroad memories.”

The Runza connection

More on Runza meat pies, mentioned by a reader:

Wendy Rasmussen, originally from Lincoln, Neb., says in 1949 her grandmother, Sarah Everett, started the Runza restaurant chain, with some 80 locations in the Midwest.

She plans to bring Runza to Baton Rouge — with a little more spice in the recipes.

She says, “I would like to host a Runza-LSU baseball dinner in Omaha, to introduce the team to this unique and tasty German-Russian sandwich.” She’s a baseball fan — her dad played baseball for Nebraska.

Wendy says if there’s a Runza in Baton Rouge, it may involve the help of her husband, Bob “Dr. Razz” Rasmussen, who “will be retiring from LSU soon and need extra work anyway.”

A toast to Frank

William Taylor, of Thibodaux, says Frank Davis, a fixture on New Orleans’ WWL radio since 1977, is battling an autoimmune disorder called CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy).

Frank is a true New Orleans original, in the tradition of Hap Glaudi and Buddy Diliberto.

He’s done outdoors and cooking shows on WWL radio, plus a morning cooking show and a “Naturally Nawlins” segment on WWL-TV’s 6 p.m. news show.

William offers a toast to Frank: “Here’s to his health improving real soon, because the community needs to be reminded of so many good things that are ‘Naturally Nawlins.’ ”

Baseball and Cannonball

Perry A. Snyder says our seminar on train songs carried him back six decades to Saturday afternoons in Hammond, when he and neighbor Bobby Funderburk would watch the one televised baseball game of the week:

“Most games, Jerome Herman ‘Dizzy’ Dean would entertain partner ‘Pee Wee’ Reese and millions of
viewers with the ‘Wabash Cannonball.’ ”

Worthy causes

​On Saturday the Acacia Shriners have a Children’s Fishing Tournament in Amite for kids under 18. Cost is $10 per child, and registration starts at 7 a.m.

The proceeds will be used to offset transportation expenses for patients going to and from the Shriners’ burn units and orthopedic hospitals in Shreveport and Galveston, Tex.

Call (225) 926-4814.

Special People Dept.

On Friday Bertha Prochaska O’Neal celebrates her 100th birthday.

Isabelle Carter celebrates her 93rd birthday Saturday.

Brother Eldon Crifasi celebrated his 91st birthday Thursday.

Earlan Gaudet Ourso, of Bayou Vista, celebrates her 90th birthday Friday.

Curtis Charrier celebrates his 90th birthday Friday. He was a POW in World War II.

Ed and Ina Ashley, celebrate their 67th anniversary Saturday.

Sam and Linda King celebrate their 55th anniversary Saturday at Conejos River Ranch near Las Mesitas, Colo. Sam, former Advocate sports editor and outdoorsman, says the ranch is “kinda like Graveyard Island and Belle River, but not nearly as crowded.”

John and Janell Richard, of Brusly, celebrate 54 years of marriage Sunday.

Thought for the Day

From Tom Adams: “Today is the tomorrow you put off everything until.”

A matter of priorities

Tom Toddy says he learned the hard way that “if a situation arises where one must handle a hysterical cat, first wrap the animal in a heavy towel to prevent being severely clawed!”

He says he learned this in the early days of his marriage, when his new wife’s cat somehow got its collar wedged into its mouth:

“I put the cat on a table and commenced to try to get the offending collar off.

“To show its appreciation for my efforts, the cat raked my hands mercilessly with its sharp claws.

“All the while I am experiencing the pain being inflicted to my hands, my wife is yelling: ‘DON’T HURT THE CAT!’”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.