John Gallaspy, of Bogalusa, adds to our recent mention of Tom Conklin, the 6-foot-10 center for De La Salle High and LSU basketball teams:

"Tom's parents moved to Bogalusa from New Orleans in the '60s and bought a lot from me, where they built their home.

"The elder Conklin practiced medicine as Bogalusa's first radiologist. He told me that Tom, who also became a doctor, found upon entering his medical residency that in Louisiana, medical residents were paid a miserly $40 or $50 a month and expected to work 80 or more hours per week.

"Young Dr. Tom called on Gov. John McKeithen to plead his case for a raise. During Tom's presentation, it dawned on the governor, a big, gregarious fellow himself, that this tall young man was the celebrated basketball player.

"McKeithen was delighted, took hold of the issue immediately, and his legislative leaders soon provided a more realistic and humane pay scale for young medics, ending many years of what was practically involuntary servitude."     

Stat man

L.W. Shell, of Baton Rouge, says syndicated columnist George Will’s recent column on tariffs "included tons and tons of statistics.

"I won’t discuss politics in your column, but I’d like to point out a Louisiana connection. The statistics were provided by Professor Donald Boudreaux, of George Mason University.

"When Dr. Boudreaux was a much younger man, he was an economics major at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux (where I was proud to teach for 30-plus years).

"After graduating from Nicholls, he went on to get a Ph.D. and a very distinguished career. Props to 'Dr. Don' and the Nicholls College of Business."

Jim and the bear 

Ron Sammonds, of Baton Rouge, says the recently deceased Jim Fowler, of "Wild Kingdom," "was a strapping, apparently fearless Tarzan of a fellow.

"My favorite of his misadventures was when he and another man on horseback attempted to rope a grizzly.

"Each of them got his lasso around the bear's stubby neck and pulled the ropes taut.

"Jim jumped off his horse while keeping tension on his lasso. At about that point, the other man's rope slipped off the bear's head.

"Since I watched that episode, holding on to a 20-foot rope with an angry grizzly on the other end has been off my bucket list."

Roundball history

Here's more on '60s basketball:

  • Woody Pence says, "Robert Day's mention of Baton Rouge High's 1961 state basketball championship ended correctly by saying, 'They were practically unbeatable.'
"Istrouma High, under coach Leon McGraw, upset the Bulldogs 46-45 to tie for the district championship (both had 7-1 records).
"It was a sweet victory over a superior team. In a playoff to decide which team played at home and which would travel in the state playoffs, the Bulldogs trounced the Indians 73-41."
  • Richard Keen adds, "Yes, the 1961 Baton Rouge High basketball team was 'practically unbeatable.' But there was an exception.

"Early in the 1960-61 season, Baton Rouge High stomped the Denham Springs High Yellow Jackets by more than 20 points.

"In a rematch late in the season, the Jackets managed to sting the mighty 'Dogs by a point.

"The Bulldogs would have loved a third game. The Jackets were content with just the two games."

Special People Dept.

  • Rose Ann Leger celebrates her 94th birthday Monday, May 20.
  • Jeffery Meaux, of Abbeville, celebrated his 90th birthday Saturday, May 18.
  • Verina and Jay Weaver, of Baton Rouge, celebrated their 63rd anniversary Friday, May 17.

Ominous diagnosis

Mike Manes says, "Your column items on aging reminded me of my recent physical.

"My doctor finished our discussion by stating, 'Don’t buy green bananas.'"

Grand opening

Algie Petrere, of Central, heard this story from a nurse:

"One of our patients wasn't taking any chances. Prior to her operation, she taped notes to her body for the surgeon: 'Take your time,' 'Don't cut yourself,' 'No need to rush,' 'Wash your hands. …'

"After surgery, as I helped the patient back into her bed, we discovered a new note taped to her, this one from the doctor: 'Has anyone seen my wristwatch?'"

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.