Dear Smiley: During the holidays this year, the family was reminiscing about years gone by and being grateful not to be alone at Christmas time when one of our sons reminded us of his experience many years ago that we almost forgot.
He was in the Air Force, and it was a month before Christmas when he received his orders to go overseas during the conflict in Iraq.
The whole family knew this was a bad time of the year, but more than that, we were worried about his safety.
He tells of arriving in a country so different and so scary — and being so alone.
The captain told them not to wear their uniforms when off-duty because of snipers, and to just mingle around the camp.
He had just arrived and didn’t know anyone, so he just walked out of his tent, put on his Saints cap and looked around.
At just about the same time, another soldier was walking out of the tent next to him — and was putting on an LSU cap.
They looked at each other and began to laugh so hard, and became good friends.
Two Cajun boys were not alone for Christmas that year!
No prima donna
Dear Smiley: I heard Donna Douglas (Doris Smith) speak on her Christian faith in Plaquemine after she left “The Beverly Hillbillies” to return to our area. I do not recall the exact year.
I heard an unassuming, sincere person.
She was still pretty and, in honor of Elly May, wore her hair the way it appeared on the show, her only acknowledgment of her fame.
I expected someone who would be dynamic and exciting, but she was just another speaker who had a firm faith and wanted to share it.
She was not a promoter, but a sharer, who impressed others with her humility and grace.
She stood out in the field of stars who self-promote, and will be remembered as a person unafraid to be herself.
Her funeral was private, but her fans are legion.
Dinner with Bob
Dear Smiley: I would like the last word on the Bob Hope “Cow Palace” show.
I was doing the Morning Show with Roger “Ravin’ Dave” Davison on WJBO radio at the time.
Roger was asked to be master of ceremonies and introduce Bob and the Les Brown Orchestra. It was a marvelous show.
Later a few of us from WJBO and WBRZ-TV were invited to have a late dinner (baked quail) with Bob and a couple of his entourage at Doug Manship’s house.
Doug and Bob talked of marlin fishing off the coast of Peru like old friends.
Bob was the epitome of style and grace. I asked him “What’s the secret?”
Bob said, “Always leave them wanting more, kid, and go where the action is.”
With that he said, “We’re off to New Orleans for the night; I have an early flight back to my Dorothy.”
CHARLES K. WINSTANLEY
Dear Smiley: The announcement of the closing of Redemptorist High School in Baton Rouge is a big local story.
The school was established in 1947, at a time when I was riding the moody oceans of the world aboard the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge.
Ten years later, in 1957, I was the young president of the Redemptorist Athletic Club.
It was a fledging time for the young school, with the Redemptorist priests painting the bleachers in the football stands alongside the club members.
The inspiration of the early supporters of the school was the fact that a religious order, dating back to 1732, was investing in our community where the hunger existed for a Catholic school in that area.
It would be a good guess that I am the oldest living member and president of the Redemptorist Athletic Club.
The Redemptorist spirit will live on!
Dear Smiley: About your readers’ WWL stories:
I remember listening to WWL from New Orleans in the late ’30s or early ’40s in rural west Texas, 906 miles from New Orleans — providing the sandstorms were not blowing, in which case I only received static.
WWL was broadcasting from the Blue Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans.
This was when I was using a standard AM radio with a clothesline wire with insulators on both ends (broken from necks of Coke bottles) tied to the house and the other end tied to the barn.
We could receive two radio stations, again when the sand was not blowing — WWL and a station broadcasting from Chihuahua, Mexico.
I now live in Lafayette, thankfully, where the sand does not blow and FM and AM stations come in regardless of the weather.
Talk to Smiley
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.