Jerry Pierce

Tee Ball and More

We didn’t keep scorebooks, stats and all that for our seven-year-old granddaughter Charlee Ann’s Tee-Ball season, but I think she had a pretty good year. That’s a good thing, because this might have been the end of her Tee-Ball career.  Kids about her age graduate from Tee-Ball and move on to “live pitch” competition. All this highly organized youth softball and baseball is a little confusing for me.  We played in empty lots when I was growing up, and our main rule was that somebody had to bring a ball and bat. I’m not even sure what position Charlee was playing all year.  It was not first base, second base, pitcher or catcher, but she was sort of in between all those players in the infield. She got better as the season progressed.  The first popup that she tried to field missed her glove and bounced off her forehead.  The only damage was a red spot for a while. In one of her final games, she caught a low, slow moving pop fly with the bases loaded and one out.  Then she tagged out the player running from third base to home. There was some cheering and commotion in the stands, mainly from me and other family members.  She asked about it after the game, and we told her we were proud of her double play.  She said, “What’s a double play?” Charlee’s older sister Allie played on a live pitch softball team, and their games often overlapped.  So Regina and I had to split up spectator duties with their parents. As we were leaving Allie’s game headed to the field where Charlee was about to play, Charlee asked for a blue Powerade.  Her mother wouldn’t let me get it because it was too close to supper. In addition to the double play that day,  Charlee hit an inside the park home run.  Inside the park home runs are common in Tee-Ball since kids’ batting and running skills are ahead of their pitching and catching abilities. As she rounded the corner headed for home plate, Charlee said something to her third base coach.  The coach bent over with her hands on her knees laughing. When the inning ended, the coach came over and told me Charlee said she got thirsty running the bases and really needed a blue Powerade.  I went to the concession stand and bought her one.

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Famous Folks

Ferriday over in Concordia Parish has gotten a lot of attention over the years for producing so many nationally known celebrities for such a small town.

There are only about 3,500 people there now, and the population has never climbed above 5,000.  But Ferriday has, indeed, been the home of a disproportionate number of famous folks.

Among them are cousins Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley.  All of them were born in Ferriday just a year or so apart and grew up there into the 1950s.

Swaggart became one of the biggest television evangelists in the world.  Lewis was a rock n’ roll singing and piano playing sensation, and Gilley made his mark as a country music singer and songwriter.

Howard K. Smith was born in Ferriday a couple of decades before the celebrated cousins.  He was a long-time news anchor and analyst at CBS and ABC.

Military pilot Gen. Claire Chenault, who led the famous “Flying Tigers” in World War II, was born in East Texas but later lived on Lake St. John in Ferriday.

Stories of notable people with Ferriday roots were compiled for a book in 1991 called simply “Ferriday, Louisiana.” Author Elaine Dundy came from Hollywood to do research for the publication.

Browsing through the book again  reminded me just how popular Swaggart was in his heyday.

Before he was shaken by a sex scandal, Swaggart was on 2,000 syndicated radio and television stations in 145 countries.  His ministry was making $150 million a year.

He even impressed syndicated columnist Lewis Grizzard, who said, “God may talk to Oral Roberts and move hurricanes around Pat Robertson, but I’ll bet he tapes Jimmy Swaggart.”

With all due respect to Ferriday, my hometown of Springhill has also produced a long line of prominent personalities.

John David Crow was a Herculean football player who lived down the street from me.  When he showed up for back yard football games, the rest of us found excuses to leave.

Bear Bryant recruited him to play at Texas A&M, and Crow was the first player from Louisiana to win the Heisman Trophy.  That was in 1957.  Others from the state who won the Heisman later were LSU stars Billy Cannon in 1959 and Joe Burrow in 2019.

Springhill had some other big-time athletes.  Running back John Stephens was a first round pick in the NFL draft in 1988.  He had played at Northwestern and is the father of international tennis star Sloane Stephens.

Devin White was an All-America linebacker at LSU after his high school career in Springhill.  The fifth pick in the 2019 NFL draft, he helped lead Tampa Bay to its 2021 Super Bowl win.

Joe Stampley started singing with bands in his high school days at Springhill. He gained national attention as the lead singer with The Uniques when the group had the hit song All These Things.

Stampley, who has performed in Natchitoches a few times in recent years, has had numerous records on country music charts on his own and in duets with Moe Bandy.

Mike Haynes left Springhill in the 1950s and first gained fame promoting skinny cigarettes on billboards and in TV and magazine commercials as the Winchester Man.

That led to a couple of hundred appearances in movies and television shows as an actor and stunt man.

Sisters Janice and Sherry Boucher, whose daddy Jesse Boucher was mayor of Springhill when they were growing up, had long careers as actresses.

Sherry was married to actor George Peppard and was in films from 1968 through 2006.

Janice, known as Savannah Smith, appeared for more than four decades in numerous films including North Dallas Forty and Everybody’s All-American.

Natchitoches has also been home to a lot of folks who soared to success in various fields, but more on that later.

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Physical Fitness

My great uncle Willie was ahead of his time even if everybody who knew him thought he was strange.

The oldest brother of my dad’s father, Uncle Willie stayed in a little shack behind my grandparents’ house in Bogalusa.

That South Louisiana community across Pearl River from Mississippi was a long way from my hometown of Springhill.

We usually made the all-day drive once a year over crooked two-lane roads for brief visits with my dad’s folks.

Those jaunts invariably included momentary encounters with Uncle Willie.  He would appear out of nowhere, toss a handful of peppermint sticks toward the kids and retreat to his backyard shanty.

There was a little bedroom and bathroom in a back corner of my grandparents’ sprawling wood frame house. Uncle Willie came in late at night, slept there and left before daylight.

He never joined us for meals, but my grandmother always left him a plate of food on the kitchen counter.  It would disappear without us ever seeing Uncle Willie coming or going.

Despite our curiosity about him as youngsters, we were never offered any information on Uncle Willie’s personal life, work history or other circumstances of his unusual existence.

Kinfolks who lived around there and knew Uncle Willie just referred to him as “eccentric.”

I told my friend Tom Murchison about Uncle Willie.  He said there was an unconventional uncle like that in his family, and people called him “peculiar” instead of eccentric.

Because of a big misunderstanding with my high school math teacher when I didn’t think I needed to show up for classes and she did, I flunked math my junior year.

Unable to face the shame of their son not graduating with his class, my parents arranged for me to take the class in summer school in Bogalusa.  Springhill didn’t have summer school.

So I stayed with my grandparents for several weeks and went to school an hour a day.

I had a 10-year-old Ford and drove the green, sputtering clunker the couple of miles to school and back every morning.

Without fail, rain or shine, Uncle Willie would be  walking along the road from my grandparents’ house on the outskirts of town to the business district where the school was located.

He wore khaki pants that were too short and a flannel shirt buttoned all the way to the top even in the summer heat. The scuffed, brown leather things on his feet were either high top shoes or low quarter boots.

I stopped when I saw him on my way to school that first morning and offered him a ride.

He shook his head that he didn’t want to ride and kept walking briskly with his eyes straight ahead.

A few days later, he flagged me down as I was about to pass him.  He stood at the window and talked for a minute.

He said he told people who asked about his daily, hour-long walk that he was going to the post office to get the mail but that he was really “walking for the exercise.”  Mail was delivered to the box in front of my grandparents’ house.

Uncle Willie said he kept a 10-foot cotton rope on a nail in his shed and did “some rope jumping” every day to get his heart rate up.

That might be considered pretty normal these days, but it was downright weird in the 1950s before gyms, health clubs, personal trainers and other aspects of the physical fitness craze.

My granddad didn’t seemed concerned that his elderly brother was a recluse who stayed in a shed and that neighbors and family members never knew if he had been married, had children or ever held a job.

But he thought it was bizarre that Uncle Willie walked and jumped rope “just for the exercise.”

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Jimmie Davis, etc.

As Louisiana College was dedicating a marker on its campus a while back honoring the late Gov. Jimmie Davis, a birthday celebration I attended for the ex-governor came to mind.

Some of Davis’s friends put on a big shindig at Shreveport’s Strand Theater for his 98th birthday in 1997.    Political consultant Ted Jones invited a few of us from Natchitoches to the event.

Country music star Merle Haggard highlighted the program.  He joined Davis in singing You Are My Sunshine, which Davis wrote in 1939.

It became one of the most popular songs in history and has been recorded by numerous performers, including Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, Lawrence Welk, Doris Day, Nat King Cole, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan.

At 98-years-old, the governor’s best singing days were behind him, but he was still a good storyteller.

He said it was getting harder to do some of the simple things in life like tying his shoes.   “When I finally get down there,” he said, “I look around for other things to do while I’m there.”

Davis liked to spin a rambling tale at his public appearances about a young couple from Jackson Parish where he grew up.

He said they dated all through high school and talked often about getting married.

They liked to picnic in the woods on a little piece of land with a natural spring that bubbled into a cold, clear stream.

When her boyfriend would ask about a physical relationship, the girl insisted that would have to wait until they were married.

She wanted him to buy the peaceful, wooded property they loved, build a house on it, get a good job and create enough of a nest egg to support a family.  Then she would marry him.

They finished high school, and she went off to college planning to become a teacher.  The boy stayed around Jackson Parish and worked at odd jobs.

On her breaks from college, they would visit and talk about the future.  He still pursued intimacy, but she said they would have to become husband and wife first with a home and financial security.

The girl finished college and went off to another state to teach.  She and her long-time boyfriend drifted apart over the years, but neither ever married.

When she retired from teaching and planned to move back to Louisiana, the woman contacted her former boyfriend to see if there was any chance of them getting married.

Asked how close he had come to meeting her demands for marriage and an intimate relationship, the man said he lived in a garage apartment in Jonesboro, worked part time at a dairy and had $46  in his checking account.

“That’s close enough,” she said.  “How soon can we have the wedding?”…

Few things my mother cooked when I was growing up were better than fried frog legs.

Frogs were plentiful in the ponds that provided water for the paper mill.  We caught and cooked them often until my dad and Uncle Buddy let some loose in the house one night.

We kept frogs live in burlap croker sacks until they could be cleaned and dressed for cooking.

Dad and Buddy had too much beer on a frog hunt one night and decided to wait until the next morning to clean the frogs.  They left the bag with several dozen frogs in it in the kitchen sink.

The frogs escaped during the night and hid in dark places all over the house.  My mother would scream every time she ran across one in a closet or under a bed.

For a day or two, we would be dressing for school or watching television and hear a frog croak somewhere.

There was a moratorium on fried frog legs at our house for a good while after that.

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This and That

Back in the fall when New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sidelined with broken ribs, there were questions about how many rib bones he had fractured.

The initial report after Brees was slammed to the ground in the game against Washington was that he had cracked five ribs. Then word got out that the injury was even more serious.

Some of our family members were chatting about this at lunch one day.  We were discussing media reports that the superstar quarterback, who retired not long after the injury,  had actually broken 11 ribs.

Charlee Ann, our granddaughter who was six at the time, said it would be impossible to break 11 ribs because people just have two ribs.  She put her hands on each side of her body and said, “One on this side and one on the other.”

She obviously thinks ribs come in racks like the smoked baby backs she enjoys so much.  My hopes for her becoming a doctor sort of went out the window that day…

When author and historian David McCullough was in town back in 1994 to speak at Northwestern, a few of us at the university and some area journalists had lunch with him at Lasyone’s.

McCullough, who had just won a Pulitzer Prize for his Harry Truman biography, did a campus-wide talk that morning and was scheduled to lecture at a couple of classes in the afternoon.

The dozen or so folks in our group were seated at the top of the stairs in the private dining room at Lasyone’s.  The restaurant is well known for plate lunches and home style vegetables.

Waitresses were delivering our lunches when one who had not worked there long tripped on the top step of the stairs.  Her tray of peas, beans, potatoes, corn, hamburger steaks and veal cutlets soared toward the table.

We all saw the barrage of food coming and managed to scatter before it landed.  Everybody checked their clothes, and the minimal damage was cleaned up quickly with some napkins.

A few of us met with McCullough later to get him to the airport in Shreveport and asked how his afternoon lectures went.

He said there was an incident in one of the classes that had never happened to him before.  “I sat on a desk at the front of the classroom,” he said, “crossed my legs and a black-eyed pea rolled out of the cuff of my pants.”…

A few of us from Natchitoches were on a seniors tennis team that made it to the national tournament in Tucson, Ariz., in the 1990s.

We had played for a couple of days in extreme, stifling heat in that desert area where there was rarely even a passing cloud.  During one match, a downpour struck without warning.  Rain came in torrents, flooding tennis courts and surrounding streets.

As we sat in the clubhouse waiting for the deluge to pass, a guy on our team said a rainstorm like this in the Arizona desert “must be kind of like Hell freezing over.”

A team from Minnesota that was in our bracket was huddled with us waiting for the rain to stop.  A guy on that team said he grew up in Norway and there was a town there named Hell that froze over every winter.

I don’t think we had Google then, but my tennis partner Tom Eppler and I were talking about that clubhouse discussion years later and decided to look it up on the Internet.

The guy was telling the truth.  There really is a Hell, Norway.  It has a population of about 1,500 and is a bit of a tourist attraction because of its name.

Temperatures get down to minus 13 in the winter, and Hell freezes over.  An English band called The Boys recorded an album there and titled it “To Hell with The Boys.”

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Mistaken Identity

Maybe it’s the gray hair that causes people to keep getting me mixed up with other older folks.

The latest case of mistaken identity was at my granddaughters’ elementary school last week.

We have three granddaughters there,  so it’s hard for them to stay together in the car line.  I usually park near the school and walk over to the bus loading area to get them.

I was sitting on a bench on a perfect day waiting for them to be dismissed. A teacher leading a crooked line of kindergartners to the bus stop passed by.

One of the first boys in line said, “I like your clothes.”  We had graduation that day at the university, so I was more dressed up than usual.  Slacks, dress shirt, tie, sport coat and sunglasses.

I thanked him, and a little girl with a big smile said, “I have seen you on TV.”  Her teacher asked what show she had seen me in.

The girl stopped in front of me, which brought the whole line to a halt.  She studied me for a second and asked, “Are you Joe Biden?”

It turns out that Joe Biden was in Louisiana that day visiting New Orleans and Lake Charles to push his infrastructure plan.  But I don’t think he made it to Natchitoches.

The teacher said the girl is extremely smart and could have had a long conversation about the president…

My wife is 19 years younger than I am, but my gray hair makes the age difference seem ever bigger.

Not long after we married 20 years ago, I joined her and the Pre-K class of four-year-olds she was teaching at the time for an afternoon performance of the Christmas Gala at Northwestern.

She and her students were already seated on the front row of the auditorium when I got there.  The most rambunctious boy in her class was sitting by her.

In a voice that could be heard all the way to the balcony, he asked, “Is this your daddy?”  She explained that I was her husband, and the boy wanted me to sit with them.

Not long after the program started, another kid was acting up at the end of the aisle.  Regina had to deal with him and told the other boy she was corralling  to go with her.  “I’m staying with your daddy,” the boy said.

Regina looked down the row at us and saw the boy whispering  to me.  She asked afterwards what he was saying and I told her he wanted me to hold his hand.  “What did you do?,” she asked.  I said, “I held the little terror’s hand.”

He asked early in the program how long it would last.  I told him it would be over in a little while when Santa Claus got there.  He told me to wake him up when Santa came and then slept through the rest of the songs and skits…

On a trip to Hawaii in the 1980s, a waiter came to our table and asked if I was Bob Uecker, known as “Mr. Baseball” and another gray-haired guy.

I told him I was and requested that he keep it quiet so people would not be bothering me for photos and autographs.

He didn’t keep it quiet.  His manager and others let everybody on the island know Bob Uecker was there.

Later when we went to see Don Ho perform in the huge Hilton Ballroom, the singer said Bob Uecker was in the audience and sent some guys to lead me to the stage to sing with him.

I did his signature song Tiny Bubbles and asked Don Ho if I could invite the audience to join me on the chorus.  He said, “Hell, go ahead.  It’s your show.”

I’m making an appointment to get my hair dyed.

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Saturday Haircuts

Corley’s Barber Shop in the middle of Main Street in Springhill was the busiest place in town on Saturday mornings.

Mr. Al Corley, a stern man with gray hair and a red face, was clearly the boss and did most of the talking.   His son Alvin held down the second chair and smiled a lot.

Most of the customers at the barber shop were paper mill people, so it was surprising that so many of them crowded into the little storefront building on Saturdays.

Nearly all the mill folks worked shifts, which were “days” from 7 to 3, “graveyard” from 11 p.m. to 7 or what they called “3 to 11.”

Those work schedules left time on weekdays for men to get their  hair trimmed, but Saturday mornings at the barber shop were a tradition and not just a time for haircuts.

Corley’s didn’t make appointments.  People just showed up and waited their turn.  When there were disagreements about which customer got there before another one, Mr. Al settled them.

Every Saturday morning when he was not working the day shift, my dad took me with him to the barber shop.  He always announced to my mother that we were “going to get our ears lowered.”

My dad and most of the other men in the shop waited for Mr. Al to cut their hair.  Nearly all the boys were assigned to the younger Mr. Corley.

We liked him better anyway because he always gave us what he called the “good smelling treatment.”  That included some Fitch Hair Tonic on our head,  a splash of after shave on our face and having talcum powder dusted on our neck with a soft brush.

Magazines were piled on a couple of tables in the shop.  Waiting for our turn in the chair, we flipped through Readers Digest, Sport and the Saturday Evening Post.

Some of those pulp crime magazines were scattered around the room.  When kids picked them up, Mr. Al made us put them back because they were “too racy.”

Men talked mostly about fishing and frog hunting at the mill ponds and the Springhill Lumberjack football team.  They wondered why Coach Baucum called a running play instead of a pass on third and six against Haynesville that week.

There were conversations about big league baseball and rodeos that were popular in town back then.  Cowboy comedian Smiley Burnette appeared at a rodeo one year, and that caused a stir.

He stayed with the Sleepy Haynes family.  I missed  him in person but saw him a lot of Saturday afternoons at double feature western movies at the Spring and Webster theaters down the street.

My dad got his hair cut to the scalp on the sides, but Mr. Al barely trimmed the top where a layer of black hair formed a gentle front-to-back wave starting at his forehead.

There was a multi-pronged hat rack at the entrance to the store where customers parked camouflage caps, sweat-stained Stetsons, New York Yankee and St. Louis Cardinal baseball caps, striped railroad engineer hats and other headgear.

The only hat my dad ever wore was a wide-brimmed straw hat with a built-in green visor.  It was for yard mowing, garden work and bream fishing.  Other times, he liked for his wavy hair to show.

After haircuts at Corley’s, my dad took me to Tennyson’s Drugs across the street to get a cherry coke and comic book while he went a few doors down to the pool hall for a beer.

When barbers in Louisiana raised their price for haircuts from 50 to 75 cents, we started going to a little shop a mile or so away just over the Arkansas state line.

Haircuts there were still just a half-dollar, but the place never had the feel and flavor of Corley’s.

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New Bracelet

Bracelets have never been among my personal accessories all these years, but I have been wearing a couple lately.

They were not very expensive, so I don’t have to worry much about securing them like I do my other jewelry.

Actually, my entire collection of bling is in a fake leather jewelry box that I got for high school graduation.

There are some old Timex watches, a senior class ring and a few tie clips that went out of style when Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.

My new bracelets are made of miniature rubber bands. One is   blue and white, and the other is purple and orange.  The colors clash, but I wear them both at the same time.

Our youngest granddaughters, who are in elementary school, are making the bracelets.  They have joined with some friends in a plan to mass produce the colorful wrist bands.

Their goal is to sell them for a dollar apiece and send all of the money to the St. Jude Hospital.  They have seen St. Jude kids in television commercials and wanted to help.

There will not be much overhead for their charitable project.  Money just from the bracelets they sold me should buy enough rubber bands to fund the whole operation.

They will handle the labor themselves.  It took them just a couple of minutes to make my bracelets, and they were working slowly trying to teach me how to do all the loops and links.

I attempted it and decided I could build a single engine airplane about as easily as I could interlace tiny rubber bands into bracelets.

This is not a school project, but the girls did indicate that one of their teachers planted the seed for their efforts to do something worthwhile for other children.

Teachers have been doing things like that for a long time.  My third grade teacher Mrs. Bearden inspired within her students a compassion for animals and especially dogs.

When stray dogs wandered across the school yard, she sent kids to the cafeteria for milk and leftovers to feed them.

She would take the dogs to her house or send them home with one of us until she could find families to adopt them.

Our parents got notes from her requesting blankets, dogfood, and other stuff  to care for the strays.  Their donations filled the closet in our classroom.

Dogs have captured my heart ever since.  Just last week, it made national news when a stray mutt in North Carolina kept running into a Dollar Store and trying to escape with a stuffed purple unicorn.

It was the same unicorn every time.  The store called Animal Control,  and the officer who responded solved the problem by buying the dog the stuffed toy with her own money and helping find him a home.

Pictures in the media of the dog cuddling the unicorn made me smile even as my eyes ran over a little.

Wearing the bracelets our granddaughters are making to support St. Jude and reflecting on the passion for dogs a teacher instilled in me long ago reminded me of a classic old country song.

Tom T. Hall wrote Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine in the 1970s, and it went to No. 1 on national country music charts.

Quoting an old man he met in a bar, Hall wrote, “Ain’t but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime.  But old dogs and children and watermelon wine.”

Then,  “Old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes.  God bless little children when they’re still too young to hate.”

St. Jude won’t build a new hospital with donations  from the rubber band bracelets, and the purple unicorn the officer bought the stray dog won’t make much of a dent in animal abuse.

But those acts of kindness are rays of light amidst the darkness that has enveloped us for all these months.

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More Dessert

I always tried to sit close to our football coach, Jack Clayton, at team meals.  He loved desserts and would swap his T-bone or ribeye steak dinner for your piece of apple pie or chocolate cake.

That seemed strange back in my college days when a big steak was just an appetizer.  But I understand it now that sweets have become my favorite food group.

Coach Clayton used to have us over to his house after games.  His wife Nellie made dozens of fried fruit pies earlier in the day, heated them in the oven and served them with ice cream.

Eugene Christmas, the team’s physical therapist, solidified his reputation as the nicest man any of us knew during one of those post-game gatherings.

Miss Nellie accidentally gave him a meat pie, which looked the same on the outside as the fruit pies.  He was halfway through the meat pie and ice cream when she noticed the mistake.

She apologized profusely while Eugene continued to consume the weird fusion of foods.  He wouldn’t let her exchange it, saying,  “The ice cream really gives the meat pie a good flavor.”

These days, I rush through fried chicken and other main dishes I have always loved to get to dessert.  Like Coach Clayton, I am giving in late in life to a long-time weakness for sweets.

Some sugar-laden treats like donuts and chocolate covered cherries are so addictive to me that I try to avoid them altogether

Our six-year-old granddaughter Charlee Ann spent the night with us last week and wanted donuts the next morning while I was fixing eggs, biscuits and other halfway healthy breakfast foods.

Regina took her to the donut shop after I explained that I don’t go near donuts because I like them too much.

Charlee ordered a kolache with honey but no butter, a glazed donut with sprinkles and a blueberry donut for herself and a plain donut for Regina.

Then she told the owner that her Poppy didn’t want a donut “because if he had one, we would have to get him a dozen.”

It’s the same with chocolate covered cherries.  My late friend Robert Crew and I often talked about how much we loved them and agreed we could never eat just one.

A couple of times, we sneaked out of the office,  bought a box of chocolate covered cherries and ate them all sitting in the car.

My love for sweets was inherited from my mother.  She was the best cook I ever knew and never used a recipe except for desserts.

Her cobblers, coconut pies and banana pudding were coveted in our neighborhood, and Regina and I still use her tattered recipes for many of our desserts.

For my birthdays, she always made a white cake with cherry filling and a white icing that was creamy at first but got crusty after it sat a while.

I told Regina about it while we were going through my mother’s recipes not long after her death. There was no recipe for the cherry cake, but Regina said she made the same cake for her ex-husband
Ron on his birthdays.

When she baked me that cherry cake the first time 20 years ago and it tasted just like the ones my mother made, I told her how sorry I felt for Ron for having to give up those cherry cakes in the divorce.

His birthday and mine were just a couple of weeks apart, and I suggested that she should start making him a white cake with cherry filling and crusty white icing for his birthdays.

She did, and it helped prove that even folks who can’t be married can still be friends.

I would never trade a piece of that cake even for one of Coach Clayton’s ribeye dinners.

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Daylight Saving Time

My little personal campaign to have Daylight Saving Time year-round is not off to a good start.  My wife Regina is the first person I lobbied on the proposal,  and she is totally opposed to it.

She is a retired teacher who remembers kids coming to school groggy and dosing off at their desks after the time changed.  Most of them had missed an hour of sleep every night.

When the usual arguments against Daylight Saving Time failed to sway me, she resorted to the “God’s time” theory.  That means Standard Time was divinely created and we mortals messed it up.

People my age should have a greater voice in this debate than younger folks.  We were around before Daylight Saving Time and can offer first-hand comparisons in time change ramifications.

During my early years, it got dark at nighttime.  There was not anybody around in Washington then who had the power to tack on another hour of daylight after dusk fell over our neighborhood.

They finally did that in the 1960s with sort of a national mandate for Daylight Saving Time.  It was not a total edict, though, because some states like Hawaii and Arizona decided not to honor it.  So dark comes at the same time it always has in those places.

Folks like me who favor Daylight Saving Time insist that it helps reduce accidents, save electricity and boost the economy by extending daylight hours for shopping, dining and entertainment.

Longer daylight hours encourage people to exercise more and soak up bigger doses of Vitamin D.  All that curtails health care and insurance costs.

Opponents of the extra hour of sunlight concept say,  like Regina does, that it disturbs natural sleep patterns and creates fatigue in schools and workplaces.  That leads to health problems, they argue.

More daytime results in increased travel, greater consumption of gasoline and expanded use of air conditioning.  Anti-Daylight Saving Time folks say that offsets energy savings of more daylight.

Debates over the pros and cons of Daylight Saving Time are not new.  Benjamin Franklin proposed longer daytime hours back in the 1700s to save money on candles and lamp oil.

Looking back, kids in the neighborhood where I grew up missed out on a lot of healthy, wholesome fun by not getting an extra hour of spring and summer daylight.

We didn’t go in at dark in those days, but it was hard to keep our baseball games going when we couldn’t see fast pitches or line drives coming at us.  Bike riding after nightfall on dark, rutted gravel roads was hazardous.

On those balmy summer nights, we had to find things to do under the few streetlights where the small, dim bulbs had survived BB guns and slingshots or in the subdued glimmer of lights on front porches where our parents listened to radios and played Rook.

Regina and I have squeezed every second of sunlight out of longer spring and summer daytime hours during our years together, so it surprises me some that she dislikes Daylight Saving Time.

We have fished for bream and bass on area lakes and ponds until baits faded into darkness as soon as they were cast.  We had to hear  the splash of a largemouth or feel the tug of a bluegill to know when to pull them in.

Countless tennis matches on unlighted courts have ended when even the longer hours of sunshine waned and we could no longer see incoming serves or overhead smashes.

I will forever cherish those extended daylight hours for longer walks on the beach, barge rides past sunset,   late day fish fries on the patio, more fun and games with grandkids and all the other gifts of just one extra hour of sunshine.

REPRINTED FROM THE NATCHITOCHES TIMES