Dear Smiley: I read Ray Schell's story about his security clearance when he was an ambulance driver at a nuclear facility in New Mexico.
Ethyl Corp. hired me in 1964, right after I finished my studies at Notre Dame, to work on a government contract project dealing with flame throwers.
The first order of business was to apply for government clearance for me, a foreigner. I started working on the first phase of the project to develop a mathematical model simulating the heat transfer using flame throwers against tanks.
Three months later, I finished the math model and wrote and submitted the first quarterly report. The report was approved quickly.
When the report was issued, I was not allowed to read it. It was classified and I had not received my security clearance.
Speaking of secrets
Dear Smiley: In the church sound room preparing for the morning service, our music director, Diana Ravencraft, noticed her mismatched shoes.
She was terribly embarrassed, so I felt I should reassure her by pointing out no one would notice.
When she was mounting the stage, I called across the sanctuary from my customary back pew: "Preacher, don't say anything about Diana's shoes; she seems sensitive about them!"
To his credit, he didn't mention them, even during the ensuing guffaws.
Confessions of a swinger
Dear Smiley: Seeing Cisco Kid articles in your column reminds me: When I was a youngster growing up in downtown Acy, I was a big fan of his.
My daddy owned the grocery store in the community, and he announced that the Ballard Flour Co. was sponsoring a Cisco visit to his store one Saturday morning.
A friend and I were anxiously awaiting the visit on that day, but we got a little bored and decided to walk down the road and swing on some vines hanging from a tree near the road.
As we were swinging away, we spotted a truck pulling a horse trailer with a Cisco Kid display on it, and it stopped at Daddy’s store.
We immediately ran to the store, but just as we got there, Cisco and his horse were leaving, due to a no-show by his fans. What a letdown!
Cheap can hurt
Dear Smiley: Your story about the Piccadilly and other cheap eats for starving students reminded me of my days at LSU in the mid '70s.
We would go to Pancho's, the Mexican buffet on Nicholson Drive. If I remember correctly, it was $1.99 for all you could eat, including the sopapillas! A bunch of my buddies and I would load up in my truck and go put a hurtin' on them.
I think we got our 1.99 worth! But oh, the aftermath!
No ride for you!
Dear Smiley: Time and technology march on. When I came to New Orleans over 30 years ago to work at news-talk radio station WGSO-AM, it provided “parade progress” reports as the major Carnival parades were on their routes.
Along with local broadcasting legends like F. Michael Franklin and Walt Pierce, I got to ride at the front of many parades, using a “high tech” device called a two-way radio to keep people informed.
Several other stations followed WGSO’s lead, until we had a parade of "parade progress" cars at the head of each parade.
Eventually they were replaced by updates provided by the traffic-reports people. And now there are computer based GPS apps.
But we had the most fun.
Saturday night fever
Dear Smiley: Your recent mention of Pierre Part reminded me of when I was a rookie Advocate reporter with The Advocate in 1960 and went there with the late Jim LaCaffinie for a story about a lady celebrating her 100th birthday.
Jim and the lady spoke French, so I didn't understand anything being said.
The lively lady was impressive, but I was REALLY impressed when Jim told me she had spent every day of those 100 years in her home — except to go to the nearby dance hall on Saturday nights!