A story of a solemn ceremony gone awry:

Kim “Pops” Seago, of Columbia, Tennessee, says, “In the 1970s, John, a friend from seminary, was minister of youth at Central Baptist Church in Clovis, New Mexico.

“On several occasions a church member would call requesting his assistance at funerals.

“This particular day the senior pastor was not available, so John agreed to officiate at the graveside service.

“Wearing suit and tie, holding a dripping umbrella, he was reading from the Bible when he realized he was slowly sliding down under the casket.

“The funeral director and the two grave diggers were unable to stop his slide or pull him out by his arms while he lay on his back.

“Turning over onto his stomach, with their assistance he was able to crawl out head-first from the end of the grave.

“Trying to contain their laughter (they were the only four living, breathing persons there), the service was ended immediately with a prayer.

“John, covered in mud top to bottom, front and back, drove home, undressed in the garage, walked into the kitchen, handed his wife his clothes and said, ‘You will never believe what I’m about to tell you.’”

Steering them wrong

Faye Melancon says of our recent “urban legend” about a driver who forgot he was driving his motor home brings to mind this true story:

“In Dublin, Georgia, we were turning left off I-16 onto a busy four-lane road to get gas at the Pilot service station.

“The big RV, ‘Ole Acey,’ began the turn — with my husband as pilot, me as co-pilot and daughter as back seat driver.

“Ole Acey, into the turn, drifted slowly. We, as assistants, said together, ‘Go faster, here comes traffic!’

“He said, ‘I can’t turn left.’ ‘You gotta turn left!’, I yelled.

“Still drifting, slowly turning, we, Ole Acey, and the tow car, Miss Viv, with three inches to spare, bumped over the curb and landed at the Pilot.

“The steering stabilizer had failed.

“Once again, in our over 300,000 miles of wandering America in the subcultural camping life, we had eluded catastrophe.

“The Lord takes care of us foolish folks. I’m glad.”

Getting together

Chick St. Germaine tells of the 37th annual Tabs Club meeting he hosted on Holy Thursday at Smilie’s restaurant in Harahan with Danny and Dwayne Aucoin and Gene Cobb, attended by 62 members. (I can’t tell you the origin of the name in this family newspaper.)

This long-running event reminded me of other occasions where friends get together for no particular reason — just because they’re friends.

There’s the annual Ellis’ Lounge reunion in Baton Rouge, where for 36 years former patrons of the Government Street watering hole have been meeting to swap stories.

And years ago Dudley Lehew invited his LSU Journalism School buddies to a monthly luncheon.

The group was known at the AAA, with the first word “Aging” and the third word “Association.” (You don’t need to know the second word.) But once ladies joined, this no longer seemed an appropriate name...

It’s my kind of group: no officers, no minutes, no goals.

The crying game

Our recent discussion of chemicals led James R. Madden to offer this explanation about onions and tears:

“Onions produce precursor chemicals containing sulfur. When the onion is damaged, i.e., sliced, the cells are disrupted and a number of reactions ensue, one of which produces propanethial S-oxide, C3H6SO, a lachrymator, a substance that irritates the eyes and causes tears to flow.

“However, a Vidalia onion is a sweet onion of certain varieties, grown in a production area defined by Georgia law and by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. They are named ‘Vidalia’ due to where they are grown rather than being a specific variety. They are unusually sweet because the soil in which they are grown is relatively low in sulfur. This results in onions holding much less of the aforementioned precursor chemicals than usual.”

The itching game

Joe Balfour offers this medical advice:

“As a scoutmaster, I learned that the best cure for insect bites and poison ivy/poison oak was Octagon soap.

“The soap will stop the itching of insect bites, and cure poison ivy overnight.

“I kept a bar in the first aid kit when I was a scoutmaster, and for the last 35 years we’ve kept a bar in our medicine cabinet.”

Biblical family

Tommy Watts says, “As a collector of interesting and unusual names, I particularly enjoy sharing those that include a good story.

“While ordering a meal at a local chicken restaurant, a friend of mine noticed the teenaged male employee behind the counter had on a tag displaying the name ‘Shadrach.’

“Recognizing what was no doubt a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she seized the moment and asked, ‘So, where are Meshach and Abednego?’

“To which he replied, ‘Home with Mama.’”

Contact Smiley

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.