Paul Vincent Sr. says last week’s Les Miles saga reminded him of the time Charles McClendon was fired as LSU football coach, largely because he couldn’t beat Alabama (sound familiar?).

Paul says a neighbor in Sunset Acres, where Coach Mac lived, was helping the coach and his family get ready for their move out of Baton Rouge, and remarked to the coach that he wondered where all those folks were who had been putting up “Help Mac Pack” signs, now that the actual packing had to be done.

“I’m sure he and Coach Mac had a laugh about that remark,” says Paul.

(Of course, Coach Mac, a fine coach and a fine man, came back to Baton Rouge when he retired and became a revered presence in the community — including the LSU community.)

Bankston and “Butte”

On Sunday, at the memorial service for longtime Advocate editor Bill Bankston, I recalled what a tenacious bulldog of a police reporter he was in his early days with the State-Times, Baton Rouge’s evening paper.

I learned about Bankston (nobody I knew ever called him Bill) when I was working for the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce and found in our mail (among requests from kids for information about the city for class projects) a handwritten note from a guy in jail in the Northeast (upstate New York, I think).

I assumed he was writing to any place in Louisiana where he could get help. He admitted to having a criminal record, and said the police up there had arrested him for a robbery. But on that date, he wrote, he was spending the evening with a lady who ran a bar in “Butte,” across the river from New Orleans.

Curious about Butte — not exactly a Louisiana name — I went to a map and found Boutte in St. Charles Parish, just where he said he’d had his rendezvous.

I took the letter to Jim Hughes, city editor of the State-Times, and he turned it over to Bankston.

Bankston found the bar and the lady in Boutte, went down there and interviewed her, and when she confirmed the man’s story contacted the authorities up north.

After that it was a matter of lawyers, depositions, judges, etc., leading to the eventual release of the guy.

It resulted in a great front-page story for Bankston, and I remember his glee when I saw him after the story came out.

But Bankston was always a realist. He told me, “That guy is probably back in jail for something else by now — but what the hell, we got him out the one time he WAS innocent!”

Just horsing around

“Desperate & Broke” sent me this lament:

“After reading about several horse races in your column I am hopeful you can help me.

“A ‘friend’ gave me a tip on a sure thing named ‘Red Beans N Rice.’ Let’s just say the horse started last and then it got worse.

“Losing hard-earned money was the first problem, but that passed. The lingering problem is every time I eat, see or hear the words ‘red beans and rice’ the negative thought of that horse enters my mind.

“Any suggestions on how to not think about something you don’t want to think about?”

(Dear D&B: Just been glad the horse wasn’t named “Crawfish Bisque” or “Filet Mignon.”)

A quiet kindness

Acts of kindness don’t have to be big deals. Sometimes the smallest of gestures can be touching.

Sue Sperry, of Metairie, tells of one:

“One afternoon, I went outside to pick up my mail. All three of my dogs managed to slip out as I opened the door, and started running all over the place.

“A driver in a red SUV heading down Jeannette Drive pulled over and waited for me to round up my misbehaving critters before continuing on her way.

“That was a quiet kindness she bestowed, and I thank her for that.”

Special People Dept.

Vivian Marix Kelly, of Pride, celebrated her 99th birthday on Sunday, Nov. 29.

Ida Mae Rome Alonzo’s 91st birthday was on Thursday, Nov. 26, an event celebrated by her family on Sunday, Nov. 29.

Bernard and Maxine Maglone, of Slaughter, celebrated 69 years of marriage on Sunday, Nov. 29.

Michael and Di Anne Blouin celebrated their 55th anniversary on Nov. 24.

Aging process

Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, says, “You know you are getting old when people in commercials for Alzheimer’s, joint pain, ED, Medicare, etc., all look young.”

Thought for the Day

From Francis Celino, of Metairie: “I really need a day between Saturday and Sunday.”

Holiday stuffing

A post-Thanksgiving thought from Steve Kelly, of Mandeville:

“After eating Thanksgiving dinner (what a feast!), it looked like 10 pounds on my stomach. I’m just glad I can still see my feet.

“Oh, that’s right, I’m sitting down.”

Contacting Smiley

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.