The closing of Hymel's Seafood Restaurant in Convent brought many tales about the landmark eatery, treasured by lovers of fried seafood and frosty fishbowls of beer.

Here's one such memory, from Randy Rayburn, of McCormick, South Carolina:

"What sad news to learn that Hymel's is closing. So many great memories, from the first time we went there and Dad wouldn't let us go in because of the newspaper on the tables, to my parents becoming very good friends with Jimmy and Marie Hymel.

"One of my favorite stories is of the time my parents and the Hymels were vacationing in Key West. Jimmy was so excited to compare the 'fresh catch' at a restaurant to what he served in Hymel's.

"When he asked what had been caught that day, the waitress (in a perfect Northern accent) told him the fish was frozen and shipped in from New Jersey. It ruined Jimmy's vacation."

Which reminds me

My favorite memory of Hymel's is of the night the late WAFB-TV newsman Paul Gates and I wound up there after judging a gumbo cooking contest in Lutcher.

It was about this time of year, and as I recall, it was cold at the outdoor event. Even after many samples of gumbo, we still needed a warm place to relax and have dinner.

Paul was a great storyteller and a very funny guy, and over fried shrimp and fried oyster po-boys, he kept me laughing as he told of his adventures in TV news — possibly with some slight exaggerations. …

A sailor stands guard

After mention of a serviceman at the casket of President George H.W. Bush, we heard from Lt. Col. Kathleen Gibbs, a retired Army Reserve officer:

"Navy Airman Michael Sanders, of Childersburg, Alabama, is the serviceman who guarded President Bush’s casket.

"Sanders is a sailor, not a soldier (as a reader had said)."

Winter wonderland

Loretta Toussant recalls a small-town childhood: "The Western Auto store in Maringouin was our only true retail experience.

"During the Christmas season, the second floor of the store became our version of a true toy wonderland. I experienced it when my father brought me there to pick out a hair dryer for my mother. The toys and other gifts displayed there totally convinced my 5-year-old mind that this was truly Santa's workshop."

Salvage operation

Loretta Toussant adds another story: "My daddy worked next door to the Maringouin Western Auto as a mechanic at the Chevrolet dealership. One day, he wandered over to the store and found a swingset that had been returned due to damage.

"After haggling with the store manager, he bought it for next to nothing. He hauled it to the shop next door and welded it back together even better than new — even giving it a fresh coat of paint.

"Christmas morning, my sister and I awoke to find a beautiful swing set in the front yard. We enjoyed it daily for many years."

Who needs it?

Russ Wise, the LaPlace grammarian, adds to my list of "verbal hiccups," words and phrases that don't add anything to a conversation:

"It’s probably needless to say, but 'needless to say' is usually needless to say."

Special People Dept.

Bessie Labat, of Des Allemands, is 99 on Thursday, Dec. 13, a milestone she celebrated with her family Sunday, Dec. 9.

Hear no evil

Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville, says, "The submissions about Nativity scenes reminded me of an incident many years ago at our little Immaculate Conception church on the Canal Road.

"Monsignor Landsman asked that several of us young and hale men move the manger from the front of the altar in the church to the church hall for storage until the next year’s Nativity scene.

"After we lifted the very heavy manger, as is customary in the Catholic faith, we needed to genuflect when passing before the tabernacle.

"In doing so, one of the lifters said, 'This is a heavy (very bad word).'

"At which point, the monsignor put his hands over his ears, and then quickly made the sign of the cross."           

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