Dear Smiley: On a trip to The Holy Land, a number of us in our group decided to ride a camel in Palestine.
Although hesitant, I agreed to ride — knowing that the fee provided revenue for the elderly camel master and his family.
Realizing I was petrified, the elderly gentleman coaxed me onto the back of the camel and instructed me on how to ride and dismount.
The ride was enjoyable — and memorable. After I dismounted with the help of the elderly handler, he told the camel to "kiss the pretty lady."
Immediately, the camel placed his lips on my cheek and smooched it about five times, then ran his tongue from my chin line to my temple. His kiss created a memory I'll forever remember!
Ignorance and illness
Dear Smiley: About your mention of Hansen's disease:
My grandfather, Edmond Landry, his sisters Marie and Amelia, and his brothers Norbert and Albert spent most of their adult lives in Carville, since all had been diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (leprosy).
These members of our family were locked up in Carville at various times from 1919 to 1976. Unbeknown to us we were identified in New Iberia as the "Leper Landrys." As children we did not learn this family secret of “leprosy.”
In the 1960s, it was discovered that 95% of the population has a natural immunity to the disease.
The campus for the U.S. Public Health Service Leprosarium at Carville today houses a boot camp for troubled youth. A museum is on the grounds, where visitors can learn more about the disease, the stigma, the cure and the patients who created their own society and where hundreds lived while locked up for a medical condition.
My sister, Claire Manes, has written a book, “Out of the Shadow of Leprosy.”
In my opinion intolerance was the disease; leprosy was the symptom.
Dear Mike: I once interviewed Stanley Stein, a blind patient at Carville who founded The Star, a newspaper that helped enlighten the public about Hansen's disease. I feel fortunate to have met this extraordinary man.
Climbing Mt. Carville
Dear Smiley: Stories about hills in Louisiana reminded me of the Mississippi River levee in Carville.
My sister attended Spencer Business College in Baton Rouge with a couple of high school classmates. Parents of the girls would take turns bringing them back to Baton Rouge on Sunday afternoon after weekends at home.
When it was my parents’ turn, they would have to stop in Carville, at the time was a large treatment and experimental facility for Hansen's disease, to pick up a friend of my sister.
Since one had to be something like 16 years old to enter the grounds through a guarded gate, my parents would drop us off on the levee near the gravel road to play and wait for their return.
The levee at the time looked like Mt. Everest to us lowlanders from “down the canal.”
Dear Smiley: Back in the 1960s, when I was a kid in New Orleans, my late dad, a Tulane alumnus, was a staunch Greenie supporter.
I can't help but think of how proud he would be of what the Green Wave has done this year!
In those ol' Yat days, the LSU vs. Tulane rivalry — an annual event — was paramount … even more volatile than Bama, Florida and A&M!
So I wonder how a jam-packed new Tulane Yulman Stadium game would look with another Tiger (Burrow) vs. Greenie (Justin McMillan) game?
Daddy would truly love dat!
Dear Smiley: The other morning I helped my 7-year-old grandson Cooper prepare for a quiz on the Second Commandment.
He told me it was "You shall take the name of the Lord in vain."
Shocked, I questioned, "You SHALL?" He said confidently, "Yes."
"Thou shall not…thou shall not…thou shall not!" I countered, and advised him that most commandments had "not" in them.
And then I jokingly suggested that I spank him 10 times every time he missed a commandment.
His immediate response: "Thou shall NOT!"