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Smoke School Stories
The Dew Drop Inn
Back in 1984 I hired on with the Louisiana DEQ in Baton Rouge. I moved there from Clarks Louisiana where I lived with a wife and one small child in my parentís one-room fishing camp shack that daddy and I had built from scrap lumber when I was a boy. I was serving one year unemployment after serving in the US Air Force form 1969 to 1983. Jobs back then were as scarce as henís teeth. We survived on food stamps, unemployment checks, donations form the Assembly of God Church in Columbia, and catching catfish, brim, and white perch with the help of a few sticks of dynamite out of the old Central Louisiana Lumber Company saw mill pond that my Grandfather, Roddy White purchased when the mill closed. Luckily he did not owe his sole to the company store.
During that year, although at the time I did not have a college degree, I also taught math and general science as a substitute in the Caldwell Parish High School near Columbia as a teacher for $50 cash a day whenever a teacher got sick or had to go to a meeting- which was nearly every day. To me it was a very good life, Either I did not work at all during the day or got off at 3 PM, so I loved all of the fishing and hunting right out the only door- a country boy can survive. I could skin a buck and run a trotline.
But my Daddy was ashamed of me for being so lazy, and hounded me about finding a decent job and a good place to live which was not in his back yard. Daddy made a few phone calls to mommaís life long friend and former one-room school mate, the honorable former Governor John J McKeithen and the then Governor a distant friend of the family named Edwin Edwards. They leaned on the legislature and in turn the Louisiana DEQ to hire me, since I had seven years experience in the Air Force as an Environmental Health Technician. I went down to Baton Rouge for an interview and it did not go very well, because they were hiring people with a college degree in science and I did not have one. The next week my future boss at the DEQ, a Manop Varnichigorn from Bangkok called me and invited me to another interview where he informed me that the legislature had instructed him to hire the teacher from Columbia. Manop informed me that he thought they meant Columbia South America, not Columbia Louisiana.
I told Manop that I wanted to wait for a job in Monroe so I could live near my parents in Columbia. Nop said that Paul Laird had that Monroe job filled up and there were not any anticipated openings in Monroe for years. Paul and I became very good friends over the next few years and when he eventually retired a few years after me, he started working for Whitlow Enterprises.
Nop said I could work in New Orleans starting the next week or I could wait 6 months for an opening in Baton Rouge. I had only been to New Orleans a few times in my life and I knew that I could not handle the traffic or congestion of the large city, so I chose the Baton Rouge alternative. I ended up working as an air quality inspector, conducting smoke school, and working a maintenance route for all of the 100 DEQ air sampling sights from Shreveport to Covington and Monroe to Lake Charles, including going entirely through New Orleans from east to west from the Super Dome to Chalmette using the back roads.
When we first moved to the Baton Rouge area, being a country boy, we moved to what was then way out in the country and rented a small wood frame house in the edge of Walker Louisiana next door to my brother Ricky, on Florida Blvd Hwy 190. They called it Florida Blvd because, before I-10, it was the only Road form Baton Rouge to Florida, where most south Louisiana people spend their summer vacation. At the time the DEQ office was downtown Baton Rouge on Florida Blvd and it was a straight shot to the house after work.
During the first week of work there, I started looking for a watering hole to escape the traffic and drink an ice cold Falstaff Beer. I passed a bar in a strip mall near the corner of Sharp Road and Florida. There were a hundred cars and pickups in the parking lot. I pulled into the parking lot, put on my cowboy hat, and waltzed inside. The sign on the door said the Dew Drop Inn. When my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the bar, I could not believe them. I looked at over 100 beautiful girls and one ugly one. I was a lot younger then and thinner and had my younger Waylon Jennings look, and nearly all of the girls turned their head and smiled when I came through the door. Several of them actually stood up, turned their back to me, dropped their drawers, and mooned me right there in the bar- a full moon over Georgia. I thought to myself this is hogís heaven. I drank a couple of beers and went home.
I stopped by the Dew Drop Inn again the next day, Thursday and only one car was in the parking lot. I figured that Wednesday must have been ladies night. There was only one person in the bar, the bar maid, and she had long legs, long black straight hair down her shoulders, green eye shadow, and long thick eye lashes. She was tall and lanky and very beautiful. Since I was the only other person in the bar, I walked up and stood opposite the bar from her and asked for a glass of anything thatís cold. She smiled and poured me a glass of Falstaff and we had some small talk about the heat and the lack of rain. During the conversation she reached across the bar and put her hand on my arm.
Then she told me that she had spent the entire morning down at the DMV to renew her driving license and how they had made a mistake on them and she would need to go back tomorrow to correct it. I asked her to let me see the license, so she opened her purse, took it out and put it in my hand. I looked at it and said, yea they made a mistake here, it ways sex is male. She said oh that is not the mistake, they got my birth date wrong. I said WHAT!! I said you better get your paws off my arm or I will relocate your nose on the other side of your face. She said I love it when you get mad like that. And I said here; try this on for size and I unloaded on her like a ton of bricks. Her wig fell of, and her lipstick and green eye shadow smeared. That beautiful girl was just a beautiful man. I am going to stop going to bars and move back to Columbia where the women are women and the men are men. I guess it must have been a Transistor Bar.
It ain't over until the fat cat sings
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