Newspaper columnist reflects on 40-year milestone
BATON ROUGE- The Wearin' of the Green parade and a Saturday night in Death Valley are both Baton Rouge staples.
But another capital city signature is a column in The Advocate written by Smiley Anders. That column is celebrating a big milestone by hitting 40 years.
The sound of typing has been a constant in Smiley’s colorful Spanish Townhome for decades. But even before his words were just a keyboard away Anders was still serving stories both heartwarming and tear-jerking.
“Everybody's got a story, if it makes me laugh or if it gives me a thump in my throat. One or the other or sometimes both,” Anders said.
It was June 4th, 1979 when Anders first column was published. Fast forward four decades and it wasn’t a feature he still expected to be writing.
“Nobody does a column for forty years, it's just not supposed to be done,” Anders said.
Anders had been with The Advocate for six years as a business reporter when he was approached with this endeavor but since trading in mergers and acquisitions for anecdotes and matters of fact Anders hasn’t looked back.
“I figured I'd give it a shot for a while, a few months to see how it went and probably go back to cover business and it never happened,” Anders said.
Now that this column celebrates 40 years in print, Anders can't imagine doing anything else
“It's really the only thing I know how to do, that I really enjoy. I don't have any hobbies. I don't play golf, I don't do woodworking. I hate yard work and so I do this, I write. the only other job I've ever had is bagging groceries so I guess I can go back to doing that,” Anders said.
“It's really a kick to interact with people like this,” Anders said.
When readers flip to page 1B to get Ander's latest column they may see his name, but the author doesn't take all of the credit for those words.
“It's up to the readers when they stop contributing I guess we'll shut the thing down,” Anders said.
Anders says as long as his health is good you can still expect him to be typing up exactly six hundred and fifty words six days a week. And as always, Smiley says if you have a story, email him or send a letter.