Thomas Murrel, of Church Point, says the recent death of country music legend George Jones brings to mind this tale:

“Although many people didn’t realize it, George Jones lived for a time in the Sunset-Grand Coteau area as well as in Church Point.

“My longtime friend Lee Worley, of Opelousas, says the phone rang in his insurance office one day, and a man said, ‘My name is George Jones and I need some insurance. Can you possibly drive down to my home and we’ll talk about it?’

“Lee, assuming it was a joke, said, ‘I don’t make house calls. How about you and Merle Haggard coming to my office tomorrow and we’ll talk about it.’

“After Lee hung up, the man called back and said, ‘This is no joke. I really am George Jones the singer.’

“Lee agreed to go to his house the next day, and brought along the late Charles ‘Lalay’ Babin, a big fan of George.

“At the house a sign greeted them: ‘Lee, gone to Lafayette to buy a truck. Go on in and have a beer or whatever. Be right back.’

“Once inside the house, Lee and Lalay saw on the floor, leaning against the wall, a half-dozen gold records, and knew it was no joke.

“Soon George drove up in a new pickup. Lee wrote the policy, and George paid him and then had his picture taken with Lalay.

“Sometimes you never know.”

Kids at play

You people obviously have a lot of time on your hands.

After a reader mentioned Red Rover, my mailbox was flooded with memories of the childhood game.

Chuck Willis, of Elizabethtown, Ky., offers “the Red Rover official rules as played at Aiken Elementary School in Alexandria in 1958.”

He says two captains select the teams, then one team chants, ‘Red Rover, Red Rover, let (opposing team member’s name) come over.’

“That person attempts to break through the line formed by the other team holding hands. If successful, he or she selects one of the other team’s members to take back to their team.

“If they don’t break through, they stay, and the Red Rover chant goes to the other team.

“When only one player is left on a team, that player must try and break through a link. If not successful, the opposing team wins.

“Otherwise, the team with one player is able to get a player back and the game continues.”

Until, according to Jan Gremillion Soulé, who played the game in the mid-’50s at Rugg Elementary in Alexandria, recess is over.

The Opium Diary

One more story about the black salve ichthammol:

“Proust can keep his madeleines,” says Jeff Perry. “The whiff of anything that reminds me of that nasty salve instantly propels me back to western Massachusetts, circa 1970.”

He says he grew up in Pittsfield, Mass., where his dad, “like almost everyone else’s dad, worked at the local General Electric plant. We had many items in our medicine cabinet from the GE dispensary, including an endless supply of black salve.”

He says his parents used it to doctor the “abrasions and contusions I managed to get in my neighborhood travels” and to draw out splinters.

“Also in our medicine cabinet was something my mom had inherited from her mother, a bottle labeled ‘Paragoric.’ I was dosed with this every time I had a bad upset stomach. I later learned it was a one-percent opium solution, basically Civil War-era medicine. It’s amazing that any of us made it to adulthood. …”

Thank-you notes

Steve Cockerham thanks “the ladies in the infusion lab at the Ochsner Health Center on Summa Avenue.

“This is my second round of chemo from colon cancer, and I don’t know if I would have been able to make it without the care and comfort these ladies provided for me.”

Special People Dept.

  • Rometra and Archie Tullier, of Plaquemine, celebrated their 62nd anniversary Saturday.
  • Kenneth and Anne Graffeo celebrated their 50th anniversary Saturday.

Defining moment

Brenda Harvey, of Gonzales, says, “My husband Jim keeps a one-liter bottle of water in the refrigerator, which he drinks and then refills with tap water.

“Our 6-year-old grandson Kaden observed this procedure and opined that Paw Paw should recycle the empty bottle after emptying it.

“Jim told him that he was reusing the bottle, which counted as recycling.

“Kaden replied, ‘No, Paw Paw. Somebody else has to drink the water or it’s not recycling.’ ”

Mom’s film noir

Algie Petrere says, “My daughter Melanie, your former correspondent from Pahrump, Nev., has relocated to Springdale, Ark.

“She recently related this to me.

“She was telling my grandson Marvin a story about something that happened when she was young. He told her that when she does that he imagines it happening in black and white … but with sound, not a silent movie.

“He prefaced that by saying, ‘No offense, Mom.’

“I told her that was payback from when she was little and would ask me questions about what happened back in the ‘olden days.’ ”

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.