Dear Smiley: Can you stand one more Edwin Edwards story?
Years ago, my husband and I were friends with City Councilman Oliver Thomas. When he got sent to prison, we would often go to the Oakdale prison (Federal Correctional Institution) to visit him.
We were sitting on the picnic benches on the porch, visiting with Oliver, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
Turning around, I saw an impeccably groomed gentleman with perfectly coifed silver hair sticking out his hand to me.
"Hi folks, I'm Governor Edwards," he said. "It's so nice of y'all to visit."
We all shook hands; Governor Edwards said a few more words, then moved on to the next table.
My husband and I were stunned. He was working the tables as if we were at a political fundraiser.
"Was he still campaigning in the middle of a prison?" We later asked each other.
Oh, yes he was. Ever smooth, ever socially sophisticated — even in the middle of a prison.
Dear Angela: Yeah, if he had stayed in Oakdale longer he probably would have been elected warden.
The memory man
Dear Smiley: My EWE story is about his phenomenal memory.
In 1976, I was principal of Gonzales Middle School. Thousands of educators from all over the state assembled at the LSU "Cow Palace" to lobby recently re-elected Gov. Edwards for pay raises. (He helped the teachers get the raise.)
I had the opportunity to meet the governor and introduce myself.
Turn the clock forward. In 1985, I retired as principal at GMS and went on to attend LSU Law School. In the fall of 1992, I attended a continuing education conference at the Paul Hebert LSU Law Center.
As I am registering, Gov. Edwards, then in his fourth term, walks into the lobby of the Law Center, escorted by security, waving his hands and saying hello to everyone.
After signing in, we drift toward each other, and he says, "Hello, Valentine."
Remembering that I had been a principal, and having not seen me since 1976, he pauses and says, "What are you doing here?" I told him I had retired, graduated law school, and was doing the same as he was, tending to my continuing education.
He had not seen me in 16 years and remembered my name. Think of all the people he had met and knew.
Feed the hungry
Dear Smiley: In the early 1970s, while I was at LSU, most of us were typical hungry students.
Gov. Edwin Edwards had about a dozen large tents set up, and welcomed in crowds to feast on crawfish, corn, potatoes, etc.
Yes, it was right before an election …
Panama City Beach, Florida
Dear T-Bob: EWE was just carrying on an old Louisiana tradition. Remember Gov. Earl K. Long handing out hams while campaigning?
Double your fun
Dear Smiley: Your tales of Southern nicknames remind me that a lot of people down here often use both of their given names, or nicknames that come from them.
Family members knew my father as "RussellEarl," as if it were just one word. I was on a school board with Jimmy Ray. A kid in my Cub Scout pack was called Bobby Joe.
Then there was poor Billie Joe McAllister and his visit to the Tallahatchie Bridge …
Dear Russ: You got me thinking. I wonder if the song "Ode to Billie Joe" inspired that guy to jump off the Atchafalaya bridge the other day (while stuck on Interstate 10 for hours after a wreck).
The family tree
Dear Smiley: Nicknames can permeate families. An old friend in Opelousas was nicknamed "Stick," so his younger brothers became "Branch" and "Twig."
Dear Smiley: I don't know if you ever did this one before or lately, but how about a duct tape discussion?
Combined with a paper towel, duct tape makes a great bandage at the deer camp when somebody cuts a finger (theirs or somebody else's) while cleaning a deer.
ALEX "SONNY" CHAPMAN
Dear Sonny: Why do I think there's a story there somewhere?