Dear Smiley: With all this talk about getting married in Woodville, Mississippi, I decided to tell you about my experience there on April 1, 1956.
My wife Betty and I went to Woodville to get married. Both of us were under age, but we overcame that with little white lies.
The justice of the peace who married us was named Jasper Lee. He came out in his bib coveralls rolled up almost to his knees, his plaid flannel shirt and his clodhopper boots.
He proceeded to marry us, and his final words to me were “Don’t blame me, you asked for it.”
When I got home and we told my parents, you never heard so much hell-raising.
Several years later I was at my parents’ house and they were going through some old papers. One of the papers was their marriage license.
When I looked at it, I saw that they had also been married in Woodville by the very same Jasper Lee!
All about the kids
Dear Smiley: The passing of Coach Boots Garland reminded me of how great a man he really was, but it also reminded me of another great man and coach, Bat Gourrier.
Once, despite not being my coach, Boots came to me during a track meet and showed me a new method of starting out of the blocks. I barely won, and it was because of that last-minute coaching.
Later in the district championships and AGAINST Coach Gourrier’s team, I was going to scratch because of a groin injury.
When Coach Gourrier found out I might not run, he came over to our tent and performed a new stretching technique on me — and I won because of him.
Both these men were only about ALL the kids, whether you were on their team or not. We all miss them so.
Dear Smiley: My 4-year-old daughter Perry was visiting a neighborhood playmate, whose mother called to ask about my trouble with spiders.
At first I was puzzled, and then I remembered I had mentioned not feeling well because I had a bug.
The kids on the bus
Dear Smiley: A recent note from Karen Poirrier brought back memories. I, too, took advantage of the free bus ride and relatively inexpensive Nicholls education provided at the time.
There was a lot of silliness, pranks and shenanigans on those trips, all tame by today’s standards.
There was the time the driver eyed a turtle crossing the road near Chackbay, thought it looked like “good eats” and stopped to pick it up.
We were told it was a snapping turtle, and rode the rest of the way with our feet up, since the turtle had the run of the bus floor. I don’t know if it ever became a sauce piquante.
Another time, the driver was encouraged to detour to the College Inn on the way out of town.
After we were settled in with beverage of choice (I probably had a Coke), an administrator from the college came in, curious about the big yellow bus in the parking lot, and we were told to move on, with a warning.
Thibodaux was, and still is, not that large, and so not much goes unnoticed.
The bus rides were higher education of a different sort.
Driving to distraction
Dear Smiley: A couple of your columns mentioned Nicholls State students and the College Inn.
I drove a bus to and from Nicholls. I won’t say from what parish, but ONE of the school buses would leave the lot at Nicholls and go to the College Inn.
There, a game of building blocks (similar to today’s Legos) was initiated every day. The object was to see how tall a pyramid could be constructed with empty beer cans.
Some of the “engineers” on the project forgot to go to class and lasted only a semester!
Of course, when the School Board found out about the use of the bus for the College Inn course, the class was quickly terminated — and although we didn’t receive any credit, some of us were fortunate enough to get enough Nicholls’ credits to stay in school!
Dear Smiley: In the New American Standard Version Bible, Book of Leviticus, second chapter, 14th and 16th verses, the Hebrew children were commanded with regard to offerings to the Lord, “You shall bring grits of new growth for a grain offering.”
And I see in my Bible someone has added a footnote: “...and then you shall slather them with butter, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and heartily caress them with Cajun Power Garlic Sauce.”
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.