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Category Archives: Baseball

Pineville, Louisiana in the 50′s and 60′s

Entrance to Louisiana College campus in Pineville, Louisiana.

 

I was born in 1944 in West Lafayette, Indiana and moved to Pineville, Louisiana, before my 2nd birthday in 1946, so my dad could teach chemistry at Louisiana College.

My first memory of Pineville was starting the first grade at Pineville Elementary in 1950 and walking the mile to school. I did ride the bus in the second grade, until the day I didn’t get off, at my stop and wound up in Libuse, Louisiana, which was about a ten-mile walk back home. Needless to say I never rode a bus to school after that incident. The bus driver was Harold Price, who drove a school bus many years.

I remember being in the class of Mrs. Eva Price, if I recall her first name right. One of my best friends in first grade was Robert Cavanaugh, who would later run track for Pineville High School and LSU. Then later Dr. Cavanaugh would become the chancellor of LSU in Alexandria and was responsible for it becoming a four-year college.

One thing I remember about the first grade is the ten-cent lunches. The price has probably gone up to 15 cents some 63 years later.

The second grade through fourth grade years sort of ran together, with no standout memories from those years. I do remember my second grade teacher being Mrs. Frankie Reed, third grade teacher being Mrs. Clarice Ellis and fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Etta O’Neal.

My fifth grade teacher was Mrs.Mabel  Powell and my main memory of that year was that I played my first Little League game the last day of school. I played for Bates Insurance Co. team that year and made a shoestring catch in that first game off of a ball hit by Luther Richardson. Think I was more surprised, than  anyone else that I caught the ball.

Mrs. Scivique (sp) was my sixth grade teacher if I remember right, but can’t remember her first name. Grady Harper was my seventh grade teacher and I think Robert Cespiva was my eighth grade teacher, but not sure of that.

1957 was a year that stood out, since that was the year Hurricane Audrey hit the Pineville area that June. I can remember Jim Gaines of KALB radio giving the latest reports about the hurricane. One memory is that we had no power for three days and my dad went to Jimmie Hoyt’s to buy some dry ice.

1957 Trip To Maine

My most vivid memory of 1957 didn’t take place in Pineville, since my dad and my older brother took a trip to Maine that summer. The trip was an education in itself, as we stopped at tourist stops like Rock City and can remember the signs saying SEE ROCK CITY on the roofs of barns along the way. We also saw many Burma Shave signs on the trip.

Stopping at Mount Vernon was one of the highlights, while  Washington, D.C. was the place that I remember best. We went inside the Capitol building and saw Congress in action, saw the U.S. Mint making bills and visited the National Archive building. We also visited the White House, Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. The Smithsonian Institution was particularly interesting, where we saw the Spirit of St. Louis hanging from the ceiling. The last place I remember seeing was the Library of Congress.

Having been an avid baseball fan it was a thrill to see a major league game in Connie Mack Stadium, which was my first game to ever see. Saw future Hall of Famers like Roberto Clemente and Richie Ashburn in the game that, plus another Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski hit a home run that landed on tin roof above us in left field bleachers.

We also went to the planetarium in the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and saw the Liberty Bell.

New York City was a place I will never forget and have not been there in the last 56 years. The main thing I can remember is seeing drunks lying on sidewalk in the Bowery District. That is something a 12 year-old kid always remembers.

We drove on to Beverly, Massachusetts, which was our next destination, since my Dad was there for the American Chemical Society convention there. I remember stopping at a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant with the famous orange roof and was impressed that they had 31 flavors of ice cream.

While in the area we were able to see the House of Seven Gables and Cape Cod.

The convention dealt with such topics as radiocarbon dating of trees and many other topics, that a 12 year-old would never comprehend.

Then we went on to Maine to see my Uncle John for the first time and I think the only time. It would be the only time to see my Maine relatives, since my cousin Jim would die in Vietnam in the 60′s, while piloting a helicopter and was shot down.

We stopped in Millville, New Jersey to pick up my Dad’s mom and while there saw my Grandpa Godfrey for the first and only time, while he was in the hospital. That reminds me of the times pranksters would call his grocery store and ask if he had Prince Albert in cans and then when he said yes, they would say then let him out.

The first and only stop on the way back home was Warsaw, Kentucky and Dad drove almost non-stop from there to Pineville, since school started the same day we got back home.

Random Memories

I don’t remember this but my mom told me I had gotten out of the A&P Grocery store at the age of three and walked down to the Murray Street Bridge. George Huffman a Pineville policeman, according to my mom said when he took me off the bridge that he was going to put me in jail, if it ever happened again. I probably didn’t even know what a jail was at that time, since we wouldn’t even have a television till six years later.

We didn’t have a television till I was about 9 years old and the only reason we got one was because, of my sister’s eye doctor prescribed it for her, so she could use both eyes and we had a polaroid screen on one side to make her use her “lazy” eye.

Being on Cactus Jack with Jack McCall hosting the show on KALB TV was one of my memories from this period and being in the Cub Scouts was another and I can remember riding in the Alexandria Christmas Parade one year.

George Huffman was part of another memory, when we thought our cat may have had rabies, so he tried to shoot at it with a shotgun under the house, but missed and the cat lived happily ever after.

My folks liked to go to Berwick’s Drug Store in downtown Pineville. The dilapidated building was not like Walgreen’s stores of today, but they must have had good prices on prescriptions.

Plane Crashes During Little League Game

One night we were playing a Little League game at Sandy Canyon, when I heard someone say “That plane’s going to crash” and we could see the plane heading downward and it landed near the Memorial Cemetery for veterans about a block from Main Street in downtown Pineville.

Pineville Elementary Burns Down

Pineville Elementary burned down shortly after I finished the eighth grade. This photo shows the firemen battling the blaze:

The story as it appeared in the Alexandria Daily Town Talk the next day:

Will never forget riding the mile from home to the fire that night. News traveled fast back then, even without any media coverage to speak of.

Fast Thinking Commercial Spokesman

Will never forget Larry McHale of KALB TV, who was ordinarily a newsman, but was advertising the virtues of a certain brand of cigarettes. Then in the middle of the commercial he starts coughing and thinking fast said “Just the thinking of those other brands makes me cough”.

Daredevil Over Red River

One memory that stands out is when a motorcyclist ran across the Red River on a some kind of contraption, that enabled him to ride a motorcycle. Anyone there that day is welcome to give their version of what happened that day.

College Drive Baptist Church Founded in 1947

Think we were living on Lawrence Boulevard, when College Drive Baptist Church was founded in 1947. It is now 66 years old and was located close to Louisiana College. I can remember J. Taylor Walworth as the founding pastor, when we joined in 1948. He is one of the few people in my life that never changed and looked the same shortly before his death many years later.

Can remember when Harvey McGraw was the education superintendent and a Sunday, which had 237 people present in Sunday School. It was a different time back then when fewer Louisiana College students had their own car, so they naturally walked to the church, which was closest to the college. As the years went by and more students had their own vehicles attendance started to fall. Students then could drive to the bigger churches in Alexandria and Pineville.

Starting Pineville High School in 1958

It was a huge change going from elementary school to high school and it took time to get used to moving from class to class all day at Pineville High. Went to summer school for three years, but graduated from Pineville High in September of 1962.

State Football Champions in 1960

The highlight of my high school years was when the Pineville High Rebels won the state football championship in 1960. Coach Jimmy Keeth and assistant Coach Vernon Beall led the team to a year, that the coaches and players will never forget. I think Coach Gene Millet was also a coach that year, but not positive. There has not been another championship football team from Pineville High School in the last 53 years making that year even more special.

Said Goodbye to Pineville in October of 1962

I joined the United States Army Reserve in 1962 and went to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training. Finished basic shortly before Christmas, then about two weeks later boarded a train at the Missouri Pacific station for Indianapolis,Indiana and headed for the brutal Indian winter, with snow on the ground in Indianapolis, when I arrived in January of 1963.

Returned home again from the Adjutant General School in Indianapolis in April of 1963. It didn’t take long to get tired of going to Army Reserve meetings, so joined the Regular Army for a three year enlistment in May of 1963 and would only come home in October of 1964 and 1965, before being honorably discharged in May of 1966 after a tour of duty in Hawaii and Vietnam.

Town Talk Employment

It was later in 1966, when I would be employed by the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, not having any idea that I would be working there for 36 years with two years working for the Monroe Morning World from 1974-1976 leaving Town Talk for an $8 a week raise, but Monroe paper had me working so much overtime, that I earned $5,000 more than I had earned with Town Talk the year before. Elvis Presley, indirectly helped me get the job in Monroe. We were in Monroe to see Elvis Presley and happened to drive by the newspaper and I wound up mailing in a job application, which was accepted.

More Memories of Pineville in the 50′s and 60′s

I remember we didn’t worry about how hot it was, because we didn’t know what air conditioning was and didn’t have one till the late 60′s. We only had one television station the first few years, before Alpine Cable came to town.

We would go out Highway 28 on our bicycles, since there was not much traffic. Nowadays it would be foolish to try to ride a bike on that same road today.

I can remember the Star Theater on Main Street catching on fire and Chief Crazy Horse and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were on the marquee that day.

Think it was still in the 60′s when Louisiana College ended their football program, due to lack of attendance at the games. I can remember the names of some players from back then like Clayton and Harry Bullard, Bill Mount, David Corley, Harry Ingalls, Frank Mobley, Gene Southern, Jim Jossick and Moose Munyan and of course Hamburger Harrison.

I remember George Huffman and Gus Perry from the Pineville Police Department and for some reason those are the only names I can recall.

Will never forget T.C. Brister who owned a sporting goods store letting me pay $6 for a $6.50 Nokona baseball glove, because that was all the money I had with me.

Can remember going to the display window of Jimmy Walker’s Appliance to watch television at night. I can remember visiting neighbors who had a television, which only got a New Orleans station and the picture was mostly snow, but a better picture would appear from time to time.

Trips to A&W Root Beer stand in Alexandria were a special treat. Those frosty mugs filled with root beer always hit the spot.

It is good to know that the same Martin Library we used to go to in the 50′s and 60′s is still operating many years later.

Remember well walking to Jack’s to buy the Sporting News baseball newspaper for a quarter on way home from high school.

Can remember the KALB radio record hops with the Big Bopper appearing a year or two before his death in a plane crash,which also killed Buddy Holly in Iowa.

Who can forget Mr. Pendergrast walking down the street with his top hat? There were rumors that he was rich, but not sure if he was or not. He sure didn’t live like a rich man.

Hope this article revives memories of what it was like growing up in Pineville in the 50′s and 60′s.

 

 

 

 

 

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Memories of a Lifetime: 1996-2000

1996 – The Smith family sold the Town Talk to Central Newspapers for $62 million

The minimum wage was raised to $5.15, which was an improvement over the $1.40 minimum wage of 1966, when I was hired by the Town Talk.

March 13, 1996 – A gunman killed a teacher and 16 five and six-year-old children in Dunblane Scotland, which was eerily similar to the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut 16 years later in 2012.

Bomb explodes during 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ebay starts their auction website 17 years ago.

Gas cost $1.22 a gallon, which is about $2 a gallon cheaper than the $3.25 gasoline of today. A driver could save about $40 a fill-up in 1996 compared to 2013 prices, for a 20 gallon purchase.

Bread cost $1.15 a loaf.

1997 – Was chosen to be song leader at College Drive Baptist Church in Pineville, Louisiana and would remain in that position, till we moved to Tennessee in 2007.  I want to thank Rev. Charles Harrell and Paul Bonnette for letting me lead the singing during those years. I also want to thank Mrs. Frances Faulk for being the pianist most of those years. She had played for Governor Jimmie Davis for many years.

One of the major stories of 1997 was when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident 16 years ago. Mother Theresa also died in 1997 at the age of 87.

Microsoft became the most valuable company in the world and was valued at $261 billion.

Woolworth closes their last discount stores in 1997.

A gallon of gasoline remained steady holding at the $1.22 price of 1996. A pound of hamburger meat cost $1.38. Average rent climbed to $576 and a movie ticket cost $4.59.

 

1998 – Had a very short marriage in 1998 to a con artist, who left town with my credit cards and checkbook and our marriage license, plus ran my phone bill up to over $1,000 making calls to her boyfriend in Florida. The less said about her the better. Found out she had disappeared when I returned from family reunion in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and found the huge telephone bill waiting for me in the mailbox.

Think this was the summer that was so hot, that temperatures over 100 were common that summer. After not using the air conditioner since May of 1992, I was forced to plug-in the air conditioner, because of the extreme heat.

A gallon of gasoline dropped to $1.15 a drop of seven cents from the 1997 price.

Grocery Prices of 1998:

Loaf of bread – $1.26

Pound of bacon – $2.53

Pound of hamburger meat – $1.40

Dozen eggs – 88 cents

Average rent skyrocketed to $619 a month.

Grandson Matthew ready to travel to All Star game while playing for Ward 10 in Tioga a few years ago.

 

1999 – My first grandson Matthew Geisel was born on February 19, 1999 at Rapides Hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana to my daughter Debbie and son-in-law George. Matthew will be 14 next month and has done well in sports at the middle school in Groves, Texas and has played baseball in the Little League and Babe Ruth League. This will be his 11th season of youth baseball and he hopes to make the Port Neches – Groves high school team in 2014.  He has played football, basketball and track while in middle school. He played quarterback for the Groves Middle School 8th grade team. Matthew had runs of 18 and 50 yards in the game and totaled over 100 yards in the game. He played linebacker on defense and scooped up a fumble, while returning it to the end zone for a touchdown. Groves won the game 8-0 due to his fumble TD return.

Met my future wife Rhonda on the internet in 1999 and we would be married in 2000.

Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France. We will never know if he could have won without steroids, because steroids were an integral part of his training regimen.

Two boys 17 and 18 kill 15 in the Columbine school shooting in 1999.

Mattel’s Barbie Doll turns 40.

MySpace, Napster and Bluetooth came into existence in 1999 and all are 14 years old now.

Average rent continues to skyrocket to $645 after topping out at $619 in 1998.

The cost of a gallon rises seven cents as it  returns to the $1.22 price of 1996 and 1997.

Grocery Prices of 1999:

Pound of bacon – $2.59

Ground coffee – $3.41 a pound

Loaf of bread – $1.49

Dozen eggs – 89 cents

 

2000 – Married Rhonda on February 18, 2000 in College Drive Baptist Church by Rev. W.E.Efferson. We will have been married for 13 years on our anniversary in February. We would live on Burns Street in Pineville till we moved to Gibbons Street the following year.

Lifespan in United States in 2000 is 77.5 years.

President Bush would win the 2000 Presidential election, due to few hanging chads here and there. Democratic candidate Sen. Albert Gore polled 543,000 more popular votes, but lost the election by five electoral votes.

2000 was the year that dot-com bubble burst, as tech speculators lost thousands of dollars on companies that went bust.

Y2K starts with no serious problems.

Barrel of crude  oil tops $30 a barrel, while a gallon of gas rises to $1.26 a four cent increase, over the 1999 price.

Average rent prices escalated to $675 a year. Average rent had been $619 in 1998 and $645 in 1999, so prices had increased  $56 a month in two years time.

Grocery Prices of 2000:

Pound of bacon – $2.97

Ground coffee – $3.44 a pound.

Loaf of bread – $1.72

Dozen eggs – 89 cents

 

 

 

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Memories of a Lifetime: 1991-1995

1991 – Visited my sister Jane and her family during the summer of 1991 in Pueblo, Colorado. My son Kenny and brother Tom also were on the trip.  My brother Daniel drove us up Pike’s Peak and will never forget how cold it was at the top. The brakes overheated on the way down, so had to let them cool off a few minutes.

Driving through Raton Pass with an altitude of 7,834 in a four-cylinder Toyota was not easy as we gained altitude. Enjoyed the time with my sister and her family while in Colorado. Jane is an executive with the Pueblo Library and we had the chance to visit the library.

911 emergency number was being tested during the year and the airbag was invented. Gasoline was being sold for $1.12 a gallon.

1992 – This was a sad year as my 22 year marriage to Elaine ended, with her moving back to Texarkana, Arkansas. Had to file bankruptcy after she left, so I could pay bills. It would be the first of six years with no air conditioning. We had one, just never used it, since had to choose between air conditioning and eating and eating won that battle. Ate cheese sandwiches most of the time and can’t remember going out to eat during this time.

With the Town Talk garnishing my wages to pay the bankruptcy and paying child support there was little money left for anything, but the bare necessities of life.

The divorce was finalized and it was sad to spend Christmas without the family for the first time since 1972, the year when Steve was born.

Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 and Miley Cyrus was born and will be 21 in November of 2013.  The cost of gasoline dropped from $1.12 in 1991 to $1.05 in 1992.

1993 – Flew to Knoxville, Tennessee this year with the financial assistance of my brother, to be present when Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee honored my dad by naming a chemistry laboratory after him. Enjoyed hearing his students and others tell of my dad’s contributions to the Chemistry department at Tusculum. Then they served a dinner in his honor, which capped off a great evening.

My daughter Debbie missed by one word of making the National Spelling Bee in 1993. I was there that night in my alma mater Pineville High School auditorium, as she battled round after round before misspelling the final word.

I don’t handle change well and had a major change at Town Talk, when I was moved from composing room to camera shop, after having worked in composing room since 1966. I have to admit I was lost as I had to learn how to operate a full-page camera, tone photos and strip in negatives using the four-color process. The negatives had to have perfectly matched register marks, or the photos would be out of focus, which could be seen easily by readers if not aligned properly.

The price of gasoline rose to $1.16 a gallon, an increase of 11 cents a gallon compared with 1992 prices. Movie tickets had risen to $4.14 and a loaf of bread cost $1.57.

Harley Davidson motorcycles observed their 90th anniversary in 1993, which means they will observe their 110th anniversary in 2013. Beanie babies were first sold in 1993 and are now collector’s items twenty years later.

1994 – Remember watching O.J. Simpson and the low-speed chase by police as they followed him to his home. He was eventually arrested and charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. This is the year that Tonya Harding had someone hit her ice skating opponent Nancy Kerrigan in the knee, hoping to gain an advantage over her injured opponent.

Can remember Bud Selig saying the dreaded words that there would be no 1994 World Series, due to a lengthy baseball strike. I had the feeling Selig almost enjoyed cancelling the World Series, as he seemed to be letting the players know that he was in charge.

The cost of gasoline dropped to $1.09 a drop of seven cents from the 1993 price.  The first satellite digital television service was launched in 1994 and Netscape was the leading browser that year.

1995 – College Drive Baptist Church lost their pastor Mark Norwood who had accepted another job with a church in North Louisiana, when Warren Steadman became the pastor that fall.

1995 was one of my favorite years since the Atlanta Braves, who I had been following since 1978 defeated the Cleveland Indians in the 1995 World Series. It was the first Braves win in a World Series, since the 1957 Milwaukee Braves defeated the New York Yankees in the 1957 World Series. The win over the Indians was only the second World Series championship for the Braves in the last 55 years.

Gasoline was still selling at $1.09 the same price as the 1994 price. Postage stamps were now selling for 32 cents. I remember back in 1963, when I was selling stamps for a nickel each and a book of 20 stamps cost only a dollar. 32 years later the same 20 stamp book sold for $6.40. Fast forward to 2013 and stamps are approaching 50 cents a stamp and a book would cost $10 for a 20 stamp book.

The biggest tragedy of 1995 was when a truck bomb exploded, while killing 168 people at the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Timothy McVeigh would later be executed for his part in the crime.

750 Chicagoans would die in a heat wave, when temperatures reached 104 degrees for five straight days.

Windows 95 is released by Microsoft and DVD’s are introduced.

O.J. Simpson is found innocent of the Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman murders and vows to catch the REAL killer. He searched golf courses all over the United States looking for the real killer, but was unsuccessful in locating the killer. He could have saved all that time and energy by looking at the mirror and finding the REAL killer there.

Grocery prices skyrocketed in 1995 as bread was selling for $1.15 a loaf. The days of buying five loaves for a $1 at the bread thrift store were now officially over. Ground coffee could be purchased for $4.07 a pound.

Average income was $35,900 a month except for Town Talk employees. I retired from Town Talk nine years later and never earned more than $28,000 a year, while working for the Town Talk.

 

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Memories of a Lifetime: 1966-1970

This five-year period is one of the most eventful of my life, in that I went to Vietnam and started working at Town Talk in 1966, met my first wife in 1969 and married her in 1970.

1966 – The previous year 1965 had seen a lot of activity at Schofield Barracks and there were rumors floating around, that we may be sent to Vietnam.  On January 17,1966 the 25th Infantry Division boarded the USNS General Walker a troop ship on the way to Vietnam. The trip took 14 days, as we traveled 500 miles a day till we reached Vietnam. Will never forget how hot it was arriving in Vietnam and drank several Coca-Cola’s back to back.

We were flown to the 25th Infantry Base in Cu Chi, Vietnam, which I never left except for one night of guarding a Catholic church on guard duty. Thankfully, it was an uneventful night as nothing out of the ordinary occurred. I was in Vietnam only four months, so a lot happened in that short time. Our outgoing artillery fire sounded like it was going right over the post office tent and it made me jump, since I thought it was incoming artillery at first.

The only time that I was in any jeopardy was when a sniper started shooting at us. We were working in the post office at the time and we jumped in our foxholes, to get out of the line of fire. We could hear bullets ricocheting off the Conex containers behind us. The thing I most remember was that some of our soldiers were walking in front of us, caught between the sniper and our foxhole. It is a wonder we didn’t see someone killed right in front of our eyes that day. After the war I learned that the Viet Cong had an elaborate system of tunnels beneath our base, so that is how the sniper was able to shoot at us from inside our own perimeter.

One time we had to load dead bodies onto a helicopter and some of the soldiers were looking inside the body bags, but I wasn’t that curious to see a dead body.

My job consisted of sorting mail, delivering mail to company mail clerks who picked up the mail for their company  and selling stamps and  money orders and making sure packages for soldiers were delivered. I remember the heat of Vietnam and how I was so thirsty, that I drank two 46 ounce cans of apple juice in succession. Worked out there was a rumor that a Viet Cong soldier was in the area that night. Not a good combination to be sick, from drinking so much apple juice and having to search for a Viet Cong invader. However, nothing came of the rumor and was able to recover from imbibing too much apple juice at one time. 92 ounces of apple juice was just a little too much at one time, but that is what the heat did to us over there.

Since I had only four months left in the Army, when sent to Vietnam the Army tried to talk me into re-enlisting, which I declined after about five seconds of thinking it over. I was told if I had three months left that I would have stayed in Hawaii. What a difference that one month made.

Will never forget the day in May that I left Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in Saigon, on the way back to the United States. I felt safer as the plane gained altitude, since it was too high to be hit by ground fire. The plane stopped at Japan for a short time, but we never left the plane. We finally landed in San Francisco and were taken to the Oakland Army Terminal. I will never forget the steaks we were served, along with some very cold milk. It was such a difference from what we had to eat and drink in Vietnam. We were processed and given our discharge papers and boarded a plane in the direction of Louisiana.

Can’t remember if I was flown all the way to Esler Airport in Pineville or if I had to take a bus from Dallas. The main thing was that I was home to stay after being in the Army for most of the three-and-half preceding years.

One of the soldiers I served with in the post office wrote me and told about a mortar shell hitting our post office, about two months after I left Vietnam. The worst part is that two were killed and seven were injured in the attack. The sergeant of our postal unit was among those injured and he was awarded another Purple Heart, to go with the one he received from being hit in Korea. The thing that really hit home was that the soldier, who had replaced me was one of the two that were killed.

August of 1966 was the month that I was hired by the Town Talk to work in the composing room. I was told that I would be making more, than most new employees, but later found out I was making the minimum wage of $1.40 an hour. That came out to about $55 a week or $220 a month. Town Talk was still using the hot metal composition at the time. My first job was to work on the type dump, where I would make any corrections to any type with errors, then turn the galley around where the page makeup people could take the type to the page and insert it. It wasn’t too long before I was a page makeup person and placed photos, type and ads into the pages.

1967 – The Town Talk started printing a Sunday paper in May of 1967 and now has had a Sunday edition for the last 46 years.

1968 - This was a turbulent year in the history of the United States, as Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated during the year. King would be assassinated on April 4, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee by James Earl Ray, who would be arrested two months later.  The Kennedy assassination took place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5 and Sirhan Sirhan was arrested and remains in prison 45 years later.

Denny McLain would win 31 games in 1968. No pitcher has won more than 27 games since then.

1969 – Went to see a major league baseball game at the Astrodome and saw Hall of Famers Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Johnny Bench in the game. Pete Rose may be added to the list of Hall of Famers someday. I remember someone opening an umbrella inside the Astrodome, as there must have been a leak in the roof, from the downpour outside the enclosed stadium. Attendance was only 12,205 due to the heavy rain.  The Astros won the game 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth when rookie Keith Lampard hit a walkoff home run to win the game. Ironically, the home run would be the only home run for Lampard, in his career and he would be out of baseball after the 1970 season.

Would meet my first wife a college student at Louisiana College that fall.  A year later we were married and will write more about that in the 1970 post.

1970 - Would marry my first wife at College Drive Baptist Church in Pineville, Louisiana on September 26, 1970. There were six bridesmaids, since my wife had six sisters. Sadly my best man would die later, when he was hit by a car, while going to pick up his newspaper by the highway.

By 1970 had worked at the Town Talk for four years and was earning $3 an hour now, which totaled $120 a week and $480 a month. The rent for our house was $75, but since my pay was so low the landlord allowed us to pay in two $37.50 payments.

 

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Memories of a Lifetime: 1944-1960

When the surgeon that performed my cancer surgery told me in November, that my duodenal cancer has a history of returning it reminded me of my immortality. It may have been negative news, but it also reminded me of many events of my 68 years of living, that were either positive and negative.

1944 – Was born on October 14, just four months after the D-Day landing and World War II would be over in Europe, about six and-a-half months later in April of 1945.

1950 – My first memory is of walking to school with my brother on the first day of school to Pineville Elementary. I remember Mrs. Price was my first grade teacher. School lunches were only 10 cents at the time.

1951 – This is the year I rode my last school bus in the second grade, when I accidentally got off the bus in Libuse, instead of five blocks from Louisiana College, so walked home that day from Libuse to Pineville. I never rode another school bus after that day.

1952 – We moved from Holloway Drive to Burns Street in February of 1952, moving from a small house to a very large house. The house payment was $55 a month, which was a bargain at the time.

1954- Think this is the year when my dad purchased our first television, when I was nine years old. He didn’t buy it for entertainment reasons, but because my sister had a lazy eye and a special screen was placed over the TV screen, that made her use her lazy eye. We bought it at L.B. Henry’s store on Main Street, when they were selling televisions. Our first TV was an Admiral.

This is also the year I really became interested in baseball and remember listening to the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians. Willie Mays made his famous catch in one of those games on a ball hit by Vic Wertz of the Indians.

1955 – Ray Kroc opened his first McDonalds fast food restaurant (the McDonald brothers opened the first eight, before selling out to Kroc.) Once after he bought the San Diego Padres they were playing so badly, that Kroc said over the public address system that his short order cooks at McDonalds could play better the Padres.

This was the first year I played Little League baseball. I went to a local hardware store to buy a baseball glove and wanted to buy a $6.50 glove. Only problem was that I only had $6, but the owner Mr. Brister let me have it for $6. It was a Nokona brand glove.

1956- My main memory of 1956 was when Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in a World Series. He recently sold his uniform from that game for $756,000 and is using part of the money to pay college education expenses for his grandchildren.

1957 – Elvis Presley buys Graceland for $100,000, since their last Memphis home had attracted too many fans, with no way of keeping them off the grounds. This was the year my baby sister was born on March 23. Three months later the worst hurricane to hit Alexandria-Pineville area in my memory hit the area, with full force when Hurricane Audrey hit. Audrey had earlier killed 500 people in Cameron, Louisiana.  I remember Jim Gaines of KALB Radio telling, about the progress of the hurricane and the damage being done. We had a very tall pine tree fall in our yard, but was not close to the house.

August of 1957 would bring many memories when my dad, older brother and me took a road trip in our 1949 Packard, from Louisiana to Maine. We made the usual tourist stops like Rock City, Lookout Mountain, Mount Vernon and other tourist attractions. We visited the most tourist attractions in Washington, D.C. We visited the National Archives Building, Capitol building, White House (just saw it from the fence), Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Mint and Engraving and watched the workers print sheets of currency.

We visited the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and saw a show at the planetarium, plus visited the site of the Liberty Bell. However, the main thing I remember from the Philadelphia visit was seeing my first major league game. The hometown Phillies were playing the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in Connie Mack Stadium. I remember fans bringing paper bags with bottles in them to the game. I can only imagine what was in those bottles. I also remember the Phillies fans booing their own players. The highlight of the game was when Bill Mazeroski hit a home run that hit the tin roof over our heads, in the left field bleachers. Three years later Mazeroski would hit a walkoff homer that defeated the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series Game 7.

Saw my grandpa for the only time in my life in the hospital. Not sure where the hospital was located. It was either New Jersey or Pennsylvania. My dad’s folks were living in Millville, New Jersey.

Will never forget my dad driving through the Bowery district in New York City and seeing men laying on the sidewalk. That would be the only time for me to visit New York. Then we went on to Beverly, Massachusetts and ate at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant, with the classic orange roof. My dad was in town for an American Chemical Society convention, then after the convention ended we went to Maine, to see my uncle and aunt and their family. It was the only time I saw my cousin alive, since he was piloting a helicopter in Vietnam, when he was shot down and killed.

Then we raced back to Louisiana, stopping only one night at Warsaw, Kentucky, then my dad drove almost non-stop since school started the next day at Pineville Elementary. The next month the Milwaukee Braves would win the 1957 World Series.

1958 – Played Pony League baseball in 1958, which would be my fourth and last year of playing baseball. One night when we were playing a game, someone hollered “That plane is going to crash” and we saw a plane plummeting to the ground, about two miles from the park. It crashed about a block or two off of Main Street near a National Cemetery, but not positive about the exact crash site.

This was also the year I entered Pineville High School. It is difficult to believe that this was 55 years ago. Finding classes was not easy that first day, since I wasn’t used to attending such a big school.

The Milwaukee Braves took a three games to one lead in the 1958 World Series, but would let the Yankee,s that they had defeated in 1957 come back to win the World Series.

1959 – I remember this being the year my older brother graduated from high school. February of 1959 would see Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper go down in an airplane crash in Iowa. The Big Bopper had appeared in Alexandria, Louisiana about 1958, at a KALB Radio record hop. 1959 was also the year the White Sox won the AL pennant but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

The highlight of 1959 was our trip in a Volkwagen Micro-bus, which took us to Missouri, Canada and back to Louisiana. My dad was taking classes at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, so we stayed mostly in Missouri at the 80 acre farm of my grandpa and grandma. They had only recently installed indoor plumbing in their home. I will never forget the huge console radio on the living room floor. The sound was great and I could hear the Kansas City Athletics baseball games on the radio. Saw Leave it to Beaver for the first time on their television. Don’t think it was on KALB TV in Alexandria, La., since it was on another network.

We spent part of the summer at the Chateau Cottages near Devils Lake in Wisconsin. We were on a tourist boat, when the captain asked me to pilot the ship. He sold souvenirs, while piloted the boat up the Wisconsin River. It was a relief when he took over the helm, since there were a lot of duckboats on the water.

Then after my dad finished the summer classes we drove to Chicago. It was amazing to look up at the tall buildings on the Loop and we went to a church in Berwyn, Illinois. Then we drove to Detroit and visited the Ford headquarters and also toured Post Cereals factory and can’t remember if we also toured the Kelloggs plant. We crossed into Canada at Windsor and journeyed to Brantford, Ontario where my mom had relatives. We then went to Niagara Falls and crossed back into the United States.

My dad was stopped by the Canadian Mounties, because our Volkswagen micro-bus resembled a vehicle they were looking for. At one point during our trip while driving in the United States a driver hollered “Governor Long” at us, when he saw the Louisiana license plate. This was the same year he managed to escape from a mental health institution, so Louisiana was in the news a lot that summer.

1960 – Nothing stands out about this year for me, except for the Pittsburgh Pirates defeating the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Bill Mazeroski, who I had seen hit the home run, in Philadelphia three years earlier hit a walkoff home run over the left field wall, that made Pirates the world champions of baseball.

 

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Catching Up

It has been 36 days since last posting, so will use this post to catch up on what has been going on for the last few weeks.

First of all I want to thank the visitors who visited the website averaging about 500 a day, despite not having any new posts.

July 20 was a day that will go down in infamy as we started moving 50 miles north of Sulphur, Louisiana to Merryville, Louisiana. Moving may the most stressful thing ever, especially since it took us 12 days to complete the move, making several trips to complete the move. July 20 and July 21 were the most stressful days.

Moving in 95 degree heat is not exactly a formula, for a smooth move. You really have no idea of how much stuff you have, till you try to fit it in a rental trailer.

There was one respite from the moving, when my daughter took me to see and my grandson to the Houston Astros game against the Cincinnati Reds on July 25.

We were fortunate to find $5 parking, relatively close to Minute Maid Park. Surprisingly the Astros ownership allows fans to bring their own food and drinks to the games. A hot dog and coke at the game would have cost almost $10, so my daughter fixed sandwiches, brought some cheese crackers, cookies and a one liter of water to the park, saving $20-$25. The gate attendants check each bag with food, to make sure fans are not sneaking Big Mac’s or Taco Bell tacos into the game.

We arrived extra early since they were giving away Houston Astros baseball caps to the first 1,000 fans and we knew ahead of time where to be to get in line for the caps. So between the cheaper food and free baseball caps we saved a lot of money.

My grandson was on the concourse in left field and the Reds were having batting practice and hit a ball in his direction, when his mom decided to call him, since we weren’t sure where he was and he reached to pick up the phone and the ball arrived at the same time and another fan jumped in front of him to catch the ball. So he at least came close to having a souvenir baseball.

The game itself was a typical Houston Astros game, with the Astros losing late in the game to the Reds, but just being in a major league ballpark made it worthwhile for me.

Then it was time for a reality check as the move to Merryville continued. Finally on the morning of August 1, we completed the move and are now living in a trailer in the country, almost halfway between Merryville and Deridder.

Rhonda and me have both had health problems since the move. Last Monday was a bad day for both of us, with Rhonda in bad pain from an intestinal blockage and me having an acute acid reflux attack.

It was far worse for Rhonda as she was admitted into the hospital on Monday night, but was released on Tuesday after the blockage had been cleared.

Tuesday was my worst day having thrown up ten times during the day. It may explain why my weight has dropped from 209 the last time  I went to VA to 179 pounds last night, since unexplained weight loss is a symptom of acid reflux disease.

Just wanted to update the readers on what has been going on and am planning to start making nostalgic and current posts in the next post.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Baseball, Doctors, Health

 

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Popular Candy Bars

The Zero candy bar was first produced in 1920 and is still being made 91 years later. This may very well be the best candy bar ever made, with chocolate, caramel, peanuts and almond nougats on the inside and white fudge on the outside.

It was almost a daily ritual walking home from Pineville High to Burns Street to stop in the neighborhood grocery store where Lallah ended at Donahue Ferry. I remember an elderly lady ran the store. Can remember buying a Big Time candy bar every time.  I don’t even know why I liked them so much. They weren’t that much better than any other candy bar.

Coconut lovers loved the Almond Joy candy bar. It had a coconut center and two almonds in milk chocolate. It’s sister candy bar Mounds was similar to the Almond Joy, except without the almonds and encased in dark chocolate. I don’t know why anyone would want to ever eat a Mounds, after tasting the almonds in an Almond Joy bar.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was produced by the Curtiss Candy Company in 1921. Ironically, it was the year Babe Ruth hit 59 home runs. However, Babe Ruth had nothing to do with the naming of the Baby Ruth candy bar. It is said to be named after the daughter of President Grover Cleveland, Ruth Cleveland. 

Baby Ruth candy bars were made out of peanuts, caramel and nougats with a chocolate covering.  Curtiss Candy Company was sold to Nabisco in 1981, then sold to Nestle in 1991.

Curtiss Candy Company made their first Butterfinger Candy Bar in 1923, two years after the Baby Ruth candy bar was introduced. The candy bars have a taste similar to peanut butter and include crispy caramel in the center.

The Three Musketeers candy bar rolled off the assembly line in 1932 and was produced by M&M/Mars. The candy bars have a chocolate flavored nougat covered with milk chocolate.

I never ate chocolate cakes or most other products with chocolate, but always had a sweet tooth for chocolate candy bars. One of my favorites today are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and in addition, I have been known to eat a Snickers bar from time to time.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Baseball, Food, Merchandise, Nostalgia

 

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