Dear Smiley: I thought The Advocate did a great job in its retrospective on the 50th anniversary of civil rights struggles in Plaquemine, but there were two items I don’t recall being mentioned that certainly deserved recognition.
The televised editorials on WBRZ by Douglas Manship were accurate and courageous.
He declared that “cattle prods are for use on cattle, not people.”
And he showed a photo of a law enforcement officer with his badge number covered by black tape and asked, “Is this man ashamed of what he is doing?”
The Smithsonian had, and I believe still has, an exhibit showing the first 30-minute network weekday newscast, on CBS, in 1963.
It led off with the situation in Plaquemine.
Dear Smiley: I’m sure many of your New Orleans readers remember LAS’s television commercial from many years ago.
It featured a sad-looking man named Oscar, sporting a sign around his neck urging us to “PUT THIS MAN TO WORK.”
That man, known affectionally as Mr. Piggy, lived in New Orleans across the street from my parents.
One Mardi Gras Day my brother Bobby decided to mask as the out-of-work ad man. Wearing work clothes, a cap, and the sign with the famous quote around his neck, Bobby walked across the street and knocked on Mr. Piggy’s door.
They both enjoyed a good laugh at his clever costume.
This got me to thinking — New Orleans readers, how many local commercials and spokespersons do you recall?
One that comes to mind was Dick Bruce advertising for McKenzie’s Bakery.
Dear Smiley: Your recent discussions bring to mind a memory of a slightly different kind of “car song.”
My parents, Warren and Necia Waggenspack, would pile all seven children into the station wagon for outings.
They would immediately begin leading us in song.
Members of the greatest generation, Dad was in the Army, then the Army Reserve; Mom was a WAVE (Navy).
All of us can still sing the songs for each branch of military service, as well as big band era and children’s songs.
They didn’t tell us until we were adults that they did it to keep order in the car.
It worked most of the time. Happy people, happy times!
ELAINE WAGGENSPACK DEAN
Dear Smiley: When Chapman Morgan was reminiscing about the Coca-Cola pencils and rulers, and the scratch tablets that were handed out to students in “the early years,” he forgot to mention there were two types of scratch tablets.
There was the very familiar rough paper tablet, and then there was the tablet of “slick paper.”
A prize when you could get one.
Dear Smiley: My youngest son, when he was just learning to talk, always called my briefcase a “bye-bye.”
We figured out it was because I would pick it up on my way to work and say bye-bye.
Matt is now a sophomore at Texas A&M Kingsville, and we still call my briefcase a bye-bye!
Dear Smiley: As new subscribers to The New Orleans Advocate, we certainly enjoy your column.
Tell Keith Horcasitas that a dear friend of mine and I ate lunch regularly at the Bright Star — and bar none, they served the best fried oysters in New Orleans, which is no small feat.
Dear Smiley: I’ve been subscribing to The Advocate for a few months now, since not long after it entered the DAILY market in New Orleans.
Morning coffee just isn’t the same without fresh newsprint.
I was pleased to note Keith Horcasitas’ recollection of the venerable Bright Star restaurant, formerly at the corner of Panola and Burdette in the Carrollton neighborhood.
I used to frequent this bygone establishment for the very best oyster po-boys (butter, pickle and lemon) and Dixie longnecks when I worked at the old Whole Food Co., a few blocks away at Cohn and Adams.
Alas, the Bright Star has long since faded.
The building now houses The Panola Café, an excellent eatery run by the Riccobono family, but po-boys are no longer on the menu, and neither are longnecks.
The building took on three to four feet of water during Katrina, but the café quickly reopened, being among the first uptown restaurants to return during those dark and hungry post-Katrina days.
I’m glad to know that the Bright Star lingers in others’ memories.
Write Smiley at Smiley@the advocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.
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