We know Walter, but who’s Russ?
Dear Smiley: In keeping with the government’s twin objectives of humiliating the public and making them feel safe rather than actually making them safer, the folks at the State Capitol complex once made everyone sign in before entering an office building.
Since they could never explain why that made the building more secure, nor did they ever check to see whether the name you signed was even your own, I decided to begin signing in as Walter Cronkite (as a broadcast journalist Cronkite was my personal hero, and had retired from CBS News a few years earlier).
I did it for several months, but on the way to a BESE meeting I pointed it out to another reporter, and the uniformed officer apparently overheard.
A few minutes later I was “escorted” out of the building by a couple of burly folks in uniform, which quickly caught the attention of some of my fellow reporters.
A few days later one of the middle-schoolers in my Sunday School class said she’d noticed that I’d made the paper, and asked me to tell the class what happened.
I told the tale, explaining that no one should have had to identify themselves to the “authorities” in order to attend a public meeting in a public building. At the end of my story, another class member raised his hand.
“Mr. Russ,” he asked, “who is Walter Cronkite?”
Dear Smiley: Last week I was in New York City working on my bucket list.
Since I was already there, I walked over to stand on the curb at the “Good Morning America” show in Times Square.
I thought an appearance on national television would be a bucket list bonus.
While there, host Robin Roberts came out to greet the audience on a camera break.
What a gracious lady she is. As she posed and chatted with each person it seemed they were the only person in her world for those few seconds.
She has a real gift for making people feel special.
She spotted my LSU hat and shirt and said, not in a quiet voice, “Ell ess YOU; ell ess YOU.”
Then she stood patiently with me as the person with my camera was fumbling to find the shutter — but we finally did get the picture.
As she moved away I said, “Robin, Louisiana loves you.”
She replied, “And I LOVE Louisiana.”
Dear Smiley: I was traveling south on La. 15 one Sunday afternoon many years ago, tagging along behind a long line of cars as we passed through Sicily Island.
After getting through the village, the cars ahead of me sped up and were soon out of sight.
About a mile south of town I noticed in my mirror that a car some distance back had a red light flashing.
Then I noticed he was blinking his headlights.
After a bit he pulled up behind me, and I pulled over.
The car was a long-ago worn out State Police car with the decals removed. The siren didn’t work and the radiator was steaming.
It was driven by a man in overalls but with a nice policeman’s hat, who introduced himself as the town marshal.
He said I had been speeding through his little town, going 37 in a 35 mph zone.
He must have had a keen eye for speed, because he didn’t have radar and I know that he hadn’t been following close enough to time me.
I asked why he had stopped only me, as there were several cars ahead going faster.
His reply was, “You were the only one that would stop.”
Dear Smiley: All white gravies are not created equal.
One summer we were on a trip and stayed at a motel that offered breakfast for its customers.
We got to the dining room early, as we had a long drive ahead of us that day.
As we walked in, the help was “making” the white gravy to go with the baked biscuits.
She had a box of dried gravy mix with dried sausage added. She added hot water, stirred it and said, “Gravy is ready!”
It looked more like wallpaper paste.
I wouldn’t touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole myself.
LINDA H. WHITMAN
Dear Smiley: It’s time to really get serious and name the New Orleans basketball team!
Team name: The Crescent City Commandos.
Mascot: Rambeaux, dressed in camo with combat boots and fatigue cap.
Cheerleaders: Rambettes, dressed in cute camo outfits, cheering “Choot um, CCC; choot um for three!”
Dear Robert: I agree that it’s time to get serious about naming the team.
When do you want to start?
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.