Bill Quinn says the late Hokie Gajan was known as a football star at Baker High, LSU and the Saints, but he was quite a softball player too:

“Thirty years ago, I pitched a softball to Hokie. At this time, softballs were so ‘hot’ that some pitchers were killed when line drives hit their heads (after two years, this ball was banned).

“I played with the Parkview Baptist Church team, and we advanced through our state tournament and won the right to go to the nationals in Norman, Oklahoma.”

To get ready for Oklahoma, says Bill, they played a team that included Hokie:

“Most of the time, a good pitcher will catch a line drive only by reflex. I threw a nice high arching pitch to Hokie. He jumped on it and smashed the ball toward my head. My reflexes were perfect, and I went to get the ball from the glove — but it was gone.

“I turned around and saw my outfielder chasing the ball. I looked at my glove and found that all of the leather laces were ripped out.”

Dead reckoning

Zoe says, “While touring New Orleans one year, I met a newlywed couple. Out of curiosity, I asked them why they had selected to spend their honeymoon in New Orleans. Without hesitating, they replied, ‘Oh, we’ve always wanted to visit the cemeteries!’ ”

Rough translation

In the Tuesday column we had a story about mispronouncing “Melancon.”

Gene Guidry, of New Roads, adds another one: “I once knew a man by the name of Melancon. He said while in the Army, his drill sergeant yelled at him one day, ‘Hey, Melon-can!’ ”

Tower history

Bob Benedict, commander of American Legion Boyd-Ewing Post 58 at LSU, says Saturday marks the 90th anniversary of the dedication of the Campanile (Memorial Bell Tower) at LSU. The 1926 tower honors the memory of “Louisiana’s sons and daughters who died in World War I.” Gen. John R. McQuigg, national commander of the American Legion, dedicated the structure.

And Tuesday, April 26, marked the 40th anniversary of its rededication to all veterans by Boyd-Ewing Post 58.

Bob says two plaques on the entrance to the tower tell its story: “The Campanile is the primary landmark of LSU, and most who pass by have little or no knowledge of the tower’s significance. …”

The soccer guy

Dave Layman, co-anchor at Baton Rouge’s WBRZ-TV with Andrea Clesi in the mid- to late-’90s, is now a corporate communications consultant in Rhode Island, where “we returned in 2000 after nearly six great years at WBRZ so we could raise our little girls where we had a lot of family and friends.”

Dave wrote me about Craig Baker, who died at 66, “one of Baton Rouge’s biggest soccer advocates and promoters. … I know because he recruited me at WBRZ when he found out I had been a lifelong soccer player. There are a lot of Baton Rouge-area adults who started playing soccer years ago as kids because of Craig’s enthusiasm for the game. He taught good sportsmanship every day, on the soccer field with kids and off the soccer field with adults. Baton Rouge and the world need more people like Craig Baker. …”

Cookies for clergy

Doug Lee, of Prairieville, thanks “the person in front of me at the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A, who paid for my order and drove off. What they didn’t know was that those cookies were for Clergy Appreciation Week for our parish priest, Father Martin, and the office. Sometimes God works in not-so-mysterious ways!”

Special People Dept.

Lorraine Chance Austin, a “Golden Member” of Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church, celebrated her 95th birthday on Thursday.

The ban wagon

Ronnie Stutes has had quite enough: “After listening to months of media reports on the delegate selection process for the national political party conventions, I think we can all agree that one thing must be done before the next cycle of primaries and caucuses.

“Without a doubt, strict federal controls must be instituted on the use of the term ‘up for grabs.’ ”

Pleasure Island

Tommy Watts says, “I thoroughly enjoyed Dudley Lehew’s account (in the Saturday column ) of the unique arrangement between the states of Louisiana and Mississippi, whereby Mississippi was able to skirt its dry laws to the benefit of all parties and entities in both states that could possibly have any interest in the issue.

“Dudley didn’t elaborate on the mechanics in carrying out the physical transfer of the beverages between the river parishes and counties.

“As I pondered this question, I recalled that there are at least a couple of islands in the river between the two states and wondered if the politicians in those areas, around election time, touted their willingness to work across the isle.”

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.