Miss Mary

February 08, 2012

I was out and about in the Crescent City this weekend, enjoying a good time with too many grown-up drinks, when my phone blew up. I checked it while on the toilet (don't pretend that you don't do it), and found picture after picture from college showing up on a Facebook group.

There were a lot of pictures that made me laugh, but the one that made me laugh best is this one of our old house mother, Miss Mary. The photo captures here perfectly.

I can look at this and smell the clouds of cigarette smoke that billowed forth when she opened the door to her room, which attest -- along with the yellow streak through the front center of her white hair -- to a long running love affair with Phillip Morris.  The plastic cup undoubtedly is full of K&B brand gin. And the story coming from her mouth is either unintentionally hilarious, or a description of a recent Murder She Wrote rerun.

I did a lot of mean things to this old lady. From banging on the door in the middle of the night, to prank phone calls from Floyd Cramer, to much worse. I might even remember building a brick wall over her bedroom door one night while she slept inside. (No one was around to stop us. It was Thanksgiving weekend.)

I like to think that she enjoyed the attention (if not the late-night wake-ups, which she assuredly did not). Somehow, she actually liked her charges. I remember that she offered us her television when the house TV was broken during the NCAA tournament, although she did insist on switching to the Murder She Wrote reruns when they were on. And night after night, she would wander out and laugh at us during dinner, joining us in the foulest language a table has seen, and absorbing our insults on how bad the food was.

It's still hard to believe that prior to ending up in a shitty apartment in a fraternity house, Miss Mary appears to have led a fulfilling life. A black-and-white picture of her in her youth showed a legitimately attractive young woman. She was wife to long time Mayor Jesse Webb, for whom Webb park is named, and after he passed, she succeeded him in office. To this day, she is still the only female mayor to have served Baton Rouge.

I posted a couple of stories that include Miss Mary back in the day when this was actually a funny blog. There's the corn dog story at the bottom of this post, and then there's an old favorite, where she thought cattle had been walking on her car.

Rest in peace, Miss Mary.