Dear Smiley: The storm that canceled the LSU-McNeese game reminded me of the fall of 1961, when I was the sports editor of the Daily Reveille.
As was the custom in those days, the LSU Athletic Department arranged to take the Reveille sports editor to one football road game. Athletic Director Jim Corbett gave me a choice, and I picked the Florida game in Gainesville.
Immediately after the game, which we won, I flew back to Baton Rouge in a small plane piloted by one of the Hair brothers, who owned a flying service. Seated next to me was the legendary LSU coach Harry Rabenhorst. Another passenger was a big LSU supporter whose name I cannot recall. Finally, there was the man himself, Jim Corbett.
All went fine until we got near Mississippi, where we ran into a big storm. That little plane bucked and dropped and twisted as the wind howled and lightning lit up the sky.
Finally, we made it through and landed at Ryan Airport. Waiting there was Annette Hargroder, who in a few months would become Mrs. Thomas Murrel.
“How was the trip?” she asked.
I said it was great except for the flight back: “If that plane had crashed and we had all been killed, I would have been part of a national story. My name would have come up as ‘also on board.’ ”
Dear Smiley: Here is a true story told to me by Donaldsonville friend Calvin Casteigne:
“In the summer of 1955, I had a part-time job with a survey crew out of Belle River, working in knee-to-waist-deep water clearing survey lines with briar-hooks, heavy sharp blades with 6-foot handles.
“One morning a crew member, Alvin Hebert, was crossing a shallow slough and stepped on what he thought was an old log. It turned out to be a 10-foot alligator that hurled Alvin off its back.
“Another crew member, Mr. LaCoste, had been an alligator hunter. He began imitating the mating call, which to my amazement brought the gator to the surface. He swung his briar-hook, but the blow was deflected by an overhanging branch and hit with the flat of the blade.
“Now the gator was mad and near me! After aggressive urging by fellow workers, I raised the blade and swung with all my strength. The force of the swing caused me to lose my balance, and I fell directly onto the beast. I was later told I was literally ‘running on water’ to get away.
“The gator’s neck was almost severed, and I was the hero, ‘Alligator Slayer.’ ”
A man’s place
Dear Smiley: For the first time ever, I had the opportunity to sit in a men’s barber shop and chat for two hours while my brother Dale (whom I accompanied because of his recent surgery) waited to get a haircut.
Dialog between the barber, Sal, and customers was light-hearted and humorous; sometimes about sports, hunting and fishing, and sometimes about life in general: children, wives, mothers-in-law.
The atmosphere was relaxed and inviting: a football game (the volume almost mute) playing on TV while men shared stories of wisdom gained from the hard knocks of experience.
No framed pictures on the wall and no vases of ivy and flowers; no game shows, talk shows or soap operas on the TV. And the price of a haircut was only $15.
Hell of a note
Dear Smiley: You had to do it! Now here is my best spoonerism:
I was in a heated argument with my husband at the time. I don’t know what he said, but after I yelled back at him he started laughing and said to me, “Do you know what you just said? ‘People in ice water want hell!’ ”
That warm feeling
Dear Smiley: It was time for baby’s bath, and my “helper” saw me putting my elbow in the water. Responding to her inquiring eyes, I explained that I was “testing to see if the water is tepid.”
The next bath, she hurried to test the water herself. She exclaimed, “Yes, the water is timid.”
ELAINE T. MURHAMMER
Dear Smiley: I have a dear friend who has a little trouble sometimes getting the right words out.
Many years ago, she got a job with a local newspaper to correct any words misspelled.
She told us they had hired her as a “preaf rooder!”
Dear Smiley: Years ago my wife, Linda, needed a few courses to complete her degree in education. After one class at UNO, she overheard two students discussing recent test results. One complained, “I didn’t know anything about that WW ELEVEN!”
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.