Jimmy Varnado likes to mess with people’s minds.
He tells of going out to a doughnut shop one morning:
“I still had my pajamas and slippers on. When the lady was filling my order, I said in a rather loud voice, ‘Those people are not going to keep me in that damn nursing home anymore!’
“One elderly lady gave me two thumbs-up.
“The place was packed, and when I left, everybody was standing up looking at me.”
Thanks a lot, kid
Paula Fabre tells of the 6-year-old at a summer reading program trying to guess the age of the school principal.
“She asked the 60-something principal what number in the 100s was her age!
“The principal is now feeling much older than before the inquiry!”
Carol Stutzenbecker, of Kenner, shares these Cold War memories:
“In the 1950s, as a student at A.C. Steere Elementary on Youree Drive in Shreveport, we students and teachers practiced safety tactics often in case of an air raid — since Barksdale Air Force Base was located near the city.
“One tactic was going out in the halls, sitting against the walls, drawing our legs up, putting our heads down and hands over our head in case of an air raid.
“The school’s evacuation plan was to have a list of mothers who would be willing to come to the school in their cars and evacuate the children to a predetermined place of safety. I remember going through a practice run of the schoolchildren actually getting in the cars.
“My, how different the ’50s were!”
The plane truth
Ken Best, of Baton Rouge, pointing out that I am “by far the best resource available in our community for trivial and/or worthless information,” asks about the jet plane at the Interstate 12 Satsuma exit:
“It is painted in Navy colors as opposed to Air Force or Marines. As a former Marine naval flight officer and Vietnam vet, I’d like to know the story behind it getting there.”
Here’s the story I got from Heidi R. Kinchen, The Advocate’s Florida Parishes bureau reporter:
“The jet was bought and placed there by developer Garry Lewis, a retired Navy captain who owns land in the Satsuma area, including around the I-12 exit where the plane is located.
“According to the Livingston Parish Tourism Commission’s website, it’s a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II — ‘a tandem twin-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft.’
“The website says Lewis served as a Phantom fighter pilot aboard the USS America.”
Warren B. Braud, of New Roads, asks, “Have you noticed how frequently the phrase ‘at the end of the day’ is used?”
White Kitchen memories
Before Interstate 12 connected with Interstate 10 at Slidell, the most famous junction there was the meeting of U.S. 90 and U.S. 190. And the most famous landmark was the White Kitchen restaurant, an almost mandatory stop for motorists going to and from the Gulf Coast.
One recent weekend, we were coming back to Baton Rouge from a visit to Long Beach, Mississippi, to see daughter Tammy and son-in-law Boyce at their new home there.
Hearing of a wreck on I-12 that had westbound traffic tied up, we took U.S. 90.
At the intersection with U.S. 190, although I knew the White Kitchen was gone, it was still a shock to see bare space where the famed stop used to be.
Jackie Carr, of Slidell, has an idea to restore at least part of the White Kitchen for the 300th anniversary of New Orleans.
She would like to see the restaurant’s “cooking Indian” sign restored — a neon sign showing a Native American kneeling over a fire cooking a piece of meat on a spit, with the neon flames in motion.
Jackie says the new sign could use solar power, and she hopes to launch a fundraising drive for the project.
You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut, says, “Back in the olden days when public schools offered music and art classes, my daughter’s second-grade class sang ‘America the Beautiful’ then did drawings about the song.
“Kathryn brought home a picture of an airplane with bananas and apples hanging off it.
“I asked her what that was, and she said, ‘The fruited plane.’ ”
Heather Rolfsen says this happened shortly after the death of her grandmother, Rose Rolfsen:
“My almost 3-year-old daughter, Andree, asked me:
“ ‘Mommy, where’s GG?’ (Andree called Grandma ‘GG.’)
“I told her, ‘GG is with great-grandpa,’ but Andree wanted to know where.
“I said, ‘They’re up in heaven.’
“Andree asked, ‘They’re at God’s house? Is Mrs. God gonna make them dinner?’ ”
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.