Every now and then I’ll remember some character that was in Li’l Abner when I was young. Do you remember the man named “Joe Bfstplk” or something like that. He always had a cloud over his head and trouble just seemed to follow him. He was jinxed.

How about the Shmoos? These were fat little creatures out of Li’l Abner’s comic strip, too. And do you remember Wimpy and his love of hamburgers?

And then there was Popeye and his spinach. Poor old Olive Oyl never got any prettier, just “pure-de” ugly.

Recently I found an old token in some of my things I have saved. Do you remember back in the thirties when we had to put a certain amount of tokens with our purchases. I think it was like a sales tax.

Do you remember when people arranged to sit up with the dead at the funeral home? Friends of the deceased would sit up around the clock.

Often it would be a couple, or just two men or two women. My husband always chose the 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. or 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. hours for us since he had to be at work at 7 and that worked out OK.

And then there were the Friday night band concerts in the park downtown (where the Webster Parish Courthouse now sits.) Families brought lawn chairs or some just sat around on the grass. All ages played their instruments together and they were seated in the gazebo.

That was a wonderful thing to look forward to during the long hot summer nights of the depression years before the war.

Politics, the Media and Grocery Stores

Do you remember Ripley’s “Believe It or Not”, and his collection of unusual events and things. And Walter Winchell’s column on gossip and news about so many people – both those in politics and those in the entertainment business.

Later in the Times there was a column by Dr. Walter Alvarez who had been associated with the Mayo Clinic for many years. Dr. Alvarez wrote on many different diseases and many different approaches to helping the one who had the disease. His was a practical approach. I remember that a lady was trying to get her 87 year old father to quit smoking his pipe. Dr. Alvarez told her to let him alone. Stopping smoking at that state in life would do no good and let him have the pleasure he derived from the pipe for the last few years of his life.

The Minden newspaper carried different columns with little tidbits about local residents. One was called “The Sleuth” and that was in the middle thirties. This was similar to one on the Times that was called “The Stroller.” In each case no one knew who the author of these columns were.

Do you remember the way Boe Cook opened the radio program each morning with his “Hi Neighbor” and it seemed that his warm friendly personality just radiated from the radio.
And do you remember when grocery stores ran charge accounts that customers paid once a month? Drug Stores did the same.

And how about when check books had no numbers such as your account number or even check numbers in some cases. If you went into a store and forgot your check book the clerk would just offer you a blank counter check book, and you could share checks with a friend if they needed a check.

A Personal Touch

It was so personal when you lifted your phone to hear an operator (often a friend) say “Number please?” On one occasion my mother’s doctor in Shreveport wanted to get in touch with me and he told the operator my name was “Juanita” and she knew who he was talking about and connected his call to my home.

And another time I paid my milk bill and started signing the check and only got “Juanita M.” down and did not finish the “Agan” part. The dairy was able to cash it because the teller at the bank remembered that I was Juanita Murphy before the Agan part. Small town. Thank God for those memories of small town Minden.

Back then people would stop their cars and pick up people who were walking. There was no thought of being harmed, or of gossip connected with picking up a lady. No more!!!!!!!

Good Food And Cheap Too

And how about those 5 for a dollar hamburgers at Neta’s Drive In on the Shreveport Road.
Those same good hamburgers cost a lot more today but my son and one of my grandsons think that those are the best hamburgers in the world. Each Sunday we left church and went out to pick up those 5 hamburgers.

That was “eating out” for our little family. Such happy memories.

Before the babies came we went home from church, fried chicken, made gravy, cooked biscuits and prepared some vegetable. After the babies came and grew up they were too hungry to wait to cook so we had hamburgers, chips and drinks. And we loved them!!! Such happy memories.
You are thinking these memories are because I am old. I want you to know that I am 21 with 58 years of experience added. Got that?? And I am NOT elderly, either.

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.