I've always pictured my readers as sober, upstanding citizens, stalwart upholders of law and order.
But recent items reveal a different type of reader — one with a background of petty crime and violence. Some of the disturbing confessions:
- Charlotte Prouty says, "When I was in grammar school my father owned Highland Grocery at the corner of Highland Road and Highland Park Drive in Baton Rouge.
"He kept empty returnable bottles in cases behind the store. At that time, homes on Highland Park Drive were being built.
"My older brother and I would take our wagon and put empty bottles in it from the cases behind the store, telling Daddy we collected them from construction sites.
"I know he knew we lied to him; but at the time, it was a gold mine."
- Steve Shurtz says, "Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s in Destrehan, one of my group’s favorite spots was the town dump, behind the levee across River Road from Destrehan High.
"Once we found crates of old cabbages, thrown out from Mr. Duhe’s nearby general store.
"Being inquisitive teenage boys, we discovered they could easily be crammed into an old tubular newspaper delivery box that folks attached to mailboxes.
"With a pocketful of cherry bombs, we would rain cabbage mortar fire down upon our alma mater from over 100 yards away.
"We always wondered what the custodial staff thought upon finding dozens of spent, green projectiles all over the schoolyard."
- Wayne Weilbaecher, of Covington, says, "One of our favorite games was box kite flying, with 10 or more flying at one time.
"We spent hours trying to knock down each other's kites. After one kid put razorblades in his kite and proceeded to rip ours apart, it was war!
"But a squealer informed our commander (Mom), and we were back flying our kites like before."
- Ernie Gremillion says, "When we lived in New Orleans, we had rubber band wars in our large playroom.
"I bought a rubber band pistol in a 5&10-cent store, with a rotating three-point gear you could load with multiple rubber bands.
"Homemade guns couldn't compete with mine for accuracy and repeating shots. On a couple of occasions, someone would hide my pistol before the war game began."
Joan Waguespack Barré says, "Mention of being able to pull out a Volkswagen engine in 30 minutes brought this incident to mind.
"My sons attended De La Salle High in New Orleans, traveling from Metairie in our VW Beetle. Greg, the eldest, was the designated driver.
"He parked the VW on a side street, alongside the school building. One afternoon the boys got into the Beetle for their return trip home. When Greg turned the ignition key nothing happened.
"He exited the car and lifted the hood — only to find the engine was missing."
Keith Horcasitas says our tale of jogging around the LSU Lakes reminded him of the time his jog was interrupted by a fisherman who had just caught a huge catfish:
"He yelled, 'Go to my pickup truck and get my net so I won't lose this baby!'
"It was fun jogging with a net, then helping him land that catch!"
Special People Dept.
Bill Jacobson celebrated his 92nd birthday Wednesday, Aug. 28. He says, "I was reading your column on my birthday and read that former Baton Rouge musician/songwriter Dick Holler was 'still composing at 85.' I suddenly realized that I'm decomposing at 92."
Nobey Benoit says Tim Cummings' theory on global warming (caused by older folks all getting up at 2 a.m. to use the bathroom, tilting the earth toward the sun) "reminded me of the time in 2010 that U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) was questioning Admiral Robert Willard in a congressional hearing on the use of the island of Guam.
"Rep. Johnson feared stationing 8,000 Marines on Guam would cause the island to 'become so overly populated that it would tip over and capsize.'
"Search 'Guam tipping over' on YouTube. No, this was not a Saturday Night Live skit."