Paul Major says, “The recent expunging of various members of the Benson family from all media having to do with the Saints and the Pelicans brings to mind the actions of the old Soviet Union.

“Party members who had fallen into disfavor would have their images removed from pictures; all references to them would be deleted from books — and they, themselves, would occasionally disappear.

“Should the affected Bensons be thankful that there are no gulags in Louisiana?”

Juke joint blues

After I mentioned colleague John Wirt’s book, “Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues,” I heard from Francisco Loman with this tale:

“Record producers were not the only ones to rip off Huey ‘Piano’ Smith. The local sheriffs would lay in wait for Huey and his ragtag group of musicians to leave a juke joint after playing a gig.

“They would pull them over on some bogus traffic violation and fine them out of their night’s earnings.

“Huey got wise to this, and at times, they were able to elude the cops by leaving out the back door of the clubs and driving through cane fields with their funds securely in their pockets.

“They were survivors for sure.”

Read all about it

The above-mentioned Francisco Lomas says the book on Huey “Piano” Smith by John Wirt is one of several about “early movers and shakers of the music that came out of New Orleans.”

He mentions Tom Aswell’s “Louisiana Rocks” as another in that genre.

And he adds, “And let’s not leave out ‘Louisiana Saturday Night’ by Alex V. Cook.

“Alex took it upon himself to write about his visits to Louisiana’s many juke joints.

“He writes that he was ‘just looking for a good time in south Louisiana’s juke joints, honky tonks and dance halls.’

“I am sure Alex saw some sights!”

Show of respect

Judy Tumas says she went with a friend to the VA clinic in New Orleans “just in case he needed me to drive back to Baton Rouge — and for a good lunch.

“As we waited for the elevator, several vets showed up. They all nodded to each other. As we entered the elevator, a new vet arrived.

“You could tell he was an officer. He said ‘Good morning’ in that officer voice.

“All the other veterans responded by standing up straighter and answering ‘Good morning’ with respect in their voices.

“It didn’t matter what branch of the armed forces they were from, they all responded the same way. I thought that was pretty amazing.”

Nice People Dept.

Charlette Hill says she and husband Bruce are “some of those transplanted Katrina New Orleanians who LOVE Baton Rouge.”

She thanks “Mr. and Mrs. Warren Webb who, like my husband and I, were customers one weekend at Goodwood Hardware.

“My husband had an unexpected medical emergency and started to faint in the store. The Goodwood employees and the EMS workers who came quickly when called were wonderful, but the Webbs were even more so — coming to our rescue and even staying with us until the medical technicians had the situation well in hand.

“We exchanged names, and the Webbs took the time to look us up and call that evening to check on us.

“By that time, we were, fortunately, back home with my husband feeling much better. Their kindness to strangers was greatly appreciated.”

Cartwheeling captain

The above-mentioned Charlette Hill says she and husband Bruce were among the many Louisiana folks living away who got their LSU football over WWL radio.

She says one night in the 1970s, Bruce, stationed by the Air Force in Colorado Springs, listened to the LSU-Ole Miss game on their car radio in their driveway — the only way they could get the station:

“When LSU beat Ole Miss with one second left, Bruce exited the car cheering and turning cartwheels on our front lawn.

“All our neighbors looked out to see what was going on and thought Capt. Hill had surely lost his mind and gone berserk!”

The sweetest sport

Tookie Hendry sent over a clipping and told me, “Smiley, I found this clipping in an old file — probably around 30 years old.

“I evidently did not go to the opening. I would certainly have remembered it if I did!”

The clipping tells of a two-day “grand opening” event at the Town & Country Club on La. 1 in Donaldsonville.

Events included a “Cajun country concert,” a “go-go contest” and a “beer guzzling contest.”

But the event that caught his eye (and mine) was “bikini Jell-O wrestling.”

You have to wonder how they mixed up that much Jello-O — and what flavor did they use?

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.