Remember This? Sweet Kiss

By Brad Dison

Frank Hayes was an apprentice jockey originally from Ireland. Rather than a full-fledged jockey, Frank was employed as a stable hand and horse trainer. In 1923, the twenty-year old had been working with horses for about five years, had raced only occasionally, and had never won a race. Frank’s passion was to become a professional jockey. Frank’s boss saw that he had potential and offered him a chance to prove himself in an upcoming race. In his determination to win, Frank took drastic measures in his preparations for the race. To qualify to ride in the race, Frank had to weigh 130 pounds or less. At 145 pounds, Frank was too heavy. He needed to lose weight quickly. Frank used every trick known to jockeys, and, according to newspaper accounts, lost fifteen pounds in 24 hours, a feat which hardly seems likely or possible. Whether Frank lost fifteen pounds in a single day or over a period of a few days, his quick weight loss was extraordinary. By the time of weigh-in, according to the judges Frank weighed exactly 130 pounds. He was able to compete.

On June 4, 1923, Frank was “piloting” a horse called “Sweet Kiss” in a steeplechase at Belmont Park, a major thoroughbred horse racing facility in Elmont, New York, just east of New York City. Steeple chasing originated in Ireland and took its name from the church steeple used for orientation in plotting the course’s direction. While thoroughbred racing typically uses an oval track, a steeplechase track is made up of obstacles for the horses to jump, usually hedges or fences with pools of water on the far side.

On that day in 1923, the odds were twenty to one against “Sweet Kiss.” It was a long shot. The horses lined up in their starting gate and awaited the sound of the pistol. Pow!!! The gates opened and the horses were off. Another horse, Gimmie, gained a slight lead from the start. Frank held his body as close as possible to Sweet Kiss’s back to lessen wind resistance. Patrons of the horse race could see little more of Frank than his bright silk jockey uniform as he and Sweet Kiss sped past them. The horse and jockey seemed to soar gracefully and effortlessly over each of the twelve obstacles on the two-mile track. The crowd roared with cheers. In the final turn, Sweet Kiss took the lead. When Sweet Kiss leaped gracefully over the final obstacle and straightened out for the run to the finish line, Frank swayed in the saddle. He slipped to one side for just a moment but quickly recovered.

The crowd cheered as Frank and Sweet Kiss crossed the finish line at Belmont track. Sweet Kiss won by a length and a half. Frank showed no emotion although it was the first time, he won a horserace. By all accounts, Frank piloted Sweet Kiss to an easy victory. After crossing the finish line, Sweet Kiss trotted then walked toward the judges stand. Rather than sitting up in the saddle like all of the other jockeys, Frank remained in his racing position, close to Sweet Kiss’s back. The crowd continued to cheer for Frank and the horse. Suddenly, Frank fell from the horse onto the track. Attendants hurried onto the track to attend to Frank. They quickly realized that Frank would never race again.

You see, during the race Frank suffered a massive heart attack. He died just as Sweet Kiss landed his last jump of the race. Doctors attributed Frank’s death to his incredibly quick weight loss. Three days later, Frank was buried in his bright silk jockey uniform. Frank Hayes holds the Guinness World Record as the first (and only) jockey to ride to victory… after his own death.

1. Buffalo Courier (Buffalo, New York), June 5, 1923, p.11.
2. Des Moines Tribune (Des Moines, Iowa), June 5, 1923, p. 16.
3. The Standard Union (Brooklyn, New York), June 6, 1923, p.10.
|4. “First Deceased Jockey to Win a Race,” Guinness World Records, accessed April 2, 2021,

Out of Extreme Caution, Louisiana Department of Health Puts Temporary Pause on All Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The Louisiana Department of Health is placing a temporary pause on all administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while federal health agencies investigate whether six reported cases of blood clotting in other states were caused by the vaccine. Providers in the state of Louisiana will continue to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and all Louisianans are encouraged to take advantage of the available vaccines, so the state can continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 and put the pandemic in its rearview.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have recommended that the United States pause the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution over six reported U.S. cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot.

“Today’s pause in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is out of an abundance of caution. This morning, I had a call with White House officials and other governors to discuss this issue as we work to safely get as many Louisianans 16 and older vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. While I understand that this news may be concerning, I remain committed to working alongside public health experts to make sure people can get the answers they need to make an informed decision,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said. “Right now, there are two safe and effective vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – available and being administered in Louisiana and I encourage everyone in Louisiana to keep their appointments and to take advantage of the vaccines we have available. Nearly one million Louisianans have already completed their vaccinations against COVID-19. There have been around 85,000 Johnson and Johnson doses administered in Louisiana and no reported cases of this rare blood clot that we are aware of. In the short-term, this means some community vaccination events may have to be rescheduled or shifted to use Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for now and working with the team from the Louisiana Department of Health and health care officials, we will continue the important work of administering vaccines.”

“While this news is frustrating and concerning, we appreciate the FDA acting with abundant caution and transparency,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s State Health Officer. “We do not yet know whether these reported cases of blood clotting were caused by the vaccine. The State of Louisiana takes vaccine safety very seriously, and this temporary pause should give the public and providers confidence the system of monitoring and safety checks are working as intended.”

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, LDH is temporarily pausing in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.

Right now, these adverse events appear to be extremely rare. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, chest pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.

Minor side effects are a normal sign the body is building protection. Side effects may include pain and swelling in the arm, fever, chills, tiredness or a headache. Most side effects will go away in a few days or less.

Vaccine availability of Pfizer and Moderna will continue uninterrupted.

A New and Growing Crisis on Our Southern Border

By Royal Alexander/Opinion

No nation can long remain a sovereign nation if it cannot control, secure, and defend its own borders

It is not often we are presented in national policy with such a clear contrast—a clear connection between cause and effect—but that is what is on display on our southern border. 

As reflected in the latest data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) the overall tally for all illegal immigrants, of all ages, encountered on our southern border in March was 172,000, a 71% percent increase from the already high numbers in February, the Biden Administration’s first full month in office. That’s up from 103,731 in March 2019 and way up from 50,347 in March 2018.  Sadly, this includes 18,890unaccompanied children, compared to 9,380 in March 2019 and 5,244 in March 2018.

It’s worth asking why the number of those attempting illegal entry into the U.S. has increased so dramatically in 2021.  The only logical answer is the drastic change in immigration policy in the Biden Administration.  

It’s been feebly argued that these droves are the result of a “seasonal surge” of workers who seek unfilled jobs here. (This assertion is undermined by the fact that, in a political gift to the unions, there are no new avenues for guest workers who would on a short-term basis be allowed to take unfilled American jobs). Seasonal workers may impact the number but the drastic surge we are seeing can only be credibly attributed to Biden promises and policies. His words and actions have created the impression that now is the time to try to sneak into America.

Also, most importantly, why has the border wall and the fencing and technology it includes not been continued to completion?  It’s clear that the area in which the wall has not been finished is where illegals are most heavily pouring into the country.  The wall unquestionably slows if not stop entirely the flow of illegal activity.  What video and documentary evidence there makes clear is that the surge at the border is about much more than children and their parents seeking jobs or even asylum in the U.S.  Instead, the drug trafficking from Mexico has hugely increased as large amounts of drugs including marijuana and heroin have been seized at the border.  This, of course, says nothing about the human traffickers and terrorists who are coming into the country.

And—while the national media often does not report honestly anyway—why has it been denied access to the southern border by the Biden Administration?(Can you imagine the screaming if the Trump Administration had denied press access this way?).  The answer of course is that the southern border has become both a humanitarian disaster and magnet for illegal activity that the Biden Administration does not wish the American People to witness.

The American people must quickly demand that our federal government take the necessary steps to stop this influx and secure our borders.  No immigration reform legislation has a chance until we first stop the illegal activity.

The views and opinions expressed in the My Opinion article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Grant Parish Journal. Any content provided by the authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Notice of Death April 13, 2021

None to report

Larry Williams
November 19, 1938 – April 08, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Darren Jackson
April 1, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Mary Lee Sproles Ortego
May 29, 1949 – March 18, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Thomas Allen Solomon
September 14, 1950 – April 12, 2021
Service: Friday, April 16 at 1 pm at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Natchitoches

Keshundrel DeQuez Russell
June 8, 1978 – March 31, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Sean Anthony Revels
June 22, 1968 – April 7, 2021
Service: Friday, April 16 from 6-9 pm at the Winnfield Life Funeral Home in Natchitoches

Johnnie Coleman
April 10, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Sean Revels
June 22, 1968 – April 7, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Amos Payton Jr.
April 4, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Fires Burn Hundreds of Acres of Timber in Kisatchie National Forest in Grant Parish

Five fires in the past 18 days burned hundreds of acres of timber at Kisatchie National Forest in Grant Parish alone, officials said.

Authorities in Central Louisiana are asking for the public’s help in finding whoever set multiple fires in the Kisatchie National Forest.

Sources report that firefighters responded to about 10 wildfires in different parts of the forest in the last month.

A March 8 fire in the Melder area of Rapides Parish occurred in an area littered with unexploded ordnance from World War II, according to officials.

Because of that, firefighters couldn’t use heavy equipment so they had to set additional fires to control the wildfire. In the end, about 2,062 acres were burned.

The forest covers parts of seven parishes. Grant Parish Sheriff Steven McCain said five of the fires have been in his parish.

The sheriff said people can make anonymous tips online at 

Chris LeDoux, an officer with the Forestry Service, gave a summary of the March fires, including the Bentley Fire, which threatened several homes.

“On March 25, the Bentley Fire burned 734 acres before it was contained,” LeDoux said. “It was ignited less than one mile west of Grant High School.”

The next day, another fire was lit across the street from where the Bentley Fire burned. LeDoux said this was a separate fire, not connected to the fire the day before.

“The fires have burned hundreds and hundreds of acres of timber in Grant Parish, and this is much more than just somebody setting the woods on fire,” the sheriff said in a video posted to the department’s Facebook page. “There’s been three houses that have come very close to being burned by these fires, and we’re asking for your help today.”

A Louisiana Forestry Association spokesman, Jeff Zeringue, said the group is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the fires and causing woods arson.

“It’s bad for the community. It’s bad for the economy,” Zeringue said. “The Louisiana Forestry Association thinks it’s very important to catch who is lighting these fires.”

Grant Community Health Center Provider Spotlight

Kristin Williams, FNP

Kristin Williams, FNP-C, is a native of Alexandria, LA. She graduated from Louisiana College with her BSN in 2007. She was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society in nursing school. She worked as a registered nurse in the medical ICU at Rapides Regional Medical Center for 4 years while attending graduate school. She graduated from Northwestern State University with a master’s in science in Nursing with emphasis in family nurse practitioner in 2011. She is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She is also a member of the Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners. She worked as a nurse practitioner at Red River Cardiology for 8 years before coming to Grant Community Health Center.

Kristin began working for Grant Community Health Center in 2018. She is married with 1 child. Kristin is excited to provide quality care to all residents of Grant Parish and the surrounding areas.

Grant Community Health Center

340 Webb Smith Drive, Colfax, LA 71417
Phone: (318) 627–5021 – Fax: (318) 627–5999
Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 5:00pm

Remember This? Moyna’s Family

By Brad Dison

Moyna Macgill was an actress from Northern Ireland.  She performed regularly in London’s West End, and also appeared in film and, many years later, in television productions.  Her husband, Edgar, was a successful English politician, and had served as the mayor of the Metropolitan Borough of Poplar, England.  Theirs was an upper middle-class family. 

Their daughter, Brigid, was born in a Central London hospital in 1925.  Brigid had an older stepsister from her mother’s previous marriage, and two younger brothers, Edgar and Bruce.  When Brigid was nine years old, her father died of stomach cancer.  That same year, Moyna got engaged to a former colonel with the British Army.  Moyna and her children moved in with the former colonel and his children.  For five years, the two families lived in a tense environment.  The former colonel ruled his home like a tyrant.  Moyna wanted to escape.

Events of World War II had a profound effect on the lives of Moyna and her family.  In 1939, war with Germany was inevitable.  In addition to Moyna’s desire to escape from the former colonel, she also wanted her family to escape from the looming war.  Moyna secretly finagled passage for herself and her children to Canada aboard an ocean liner called the RMS Duchess of Atholl

Late one night in late 1940, Moyna gathered Brigid, Edgar, and Bruce, along with their belongings, and left London.  Moyna and her children never saw the former colonel again.  Moyna’s oldest daughter, a newlywed, remained in London.  After a four-and-a-half-hour trip, Brigid’s family arrived at the docks in Liverpool.

The Duchess of Atholl was a grand ship, about two-third the size of the Titanic.  In December of 1939, the British military requisitioned the ship for troop transportation.  Although the ship was not supposed to be used for passenger transportation at this point in the war, Brigid’s mother got herself, her children, and what little they brought with them, aboard the ship.  Many people have theorized that Brigid’s mother used her celebrity status or her late husband’s political connections to gain passage to Canada. 

Later that afternoon, the Duchess of Atholl left Liverpool and headed into the Atlantic Ocean toward Canada.  Rather than traveling in a straight line, the ship zigzagged through the ocean to lessen the chances of being struck by a torpedo from a sneaky German submarine.  On the night Moyna, Brigid, Edgar, and Bruce left England, Germany began a nighttime bombing raid on Liverpool, the main Atlantic seaport, in what is referred to as the Liverpool Blitz.  Brigid’s family had escaped just in time. 

Several days later, Moyna and her family arrived in Canada and eventually made their way down to New York.  With no money and few possessions with which to barter, their futures seemed miserable.  Just when their situations seemed hopeless, a kind family took them in and helped them gain a foothold on their new lives in America.  Moyna and her children had heard that America was the land of opportunity, and the kind family helped reinforce that notion. 

Had Moyna and her family waited just one more day to leave Liverpool, they might not have survived the Liverpool Blitz.  During World War II, after Moyna and her family traveled to the new world on the Duchess of Atholl, the ship was struck by several torpedoes from a German submarine and sank in the Atlantic Ocean.      

Within two years of their arrival, Moyna began acting in Hollywood films.  From 1943 to 1945, Moyna appeared in no less than ten films.  The Irish Times ranked Moyna Macgill 35th in Ireland’s greatest film actors of all time.  In her more than four decades in film and television, she appeared in productions including The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Twilight Zone, and Black Beauty.  Her children followed her into theater.  Edgar became a multiple award-winning theater, film, and television producer.  He produced Broadway plays such as The Subject Was RosesPromenade, and Gypsy.  Bruce became a television producer, television writer and screenwriter in a career which spanned over thirty years.  He worked on such iconic television shows as The Wild Wild WestMission: ImpossibleWonder Woman, Knight Rider, The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, The Odd Couple, and Murder, She Wrote.  Brigid’s acting career has spanned eight decades so far.  Brigid occasionally shared the screen with her mother.  Her other numerous film credits include The Manchurian CandidateBlue Hawaii, and Beauty and the Beast.  Like her brother Bruce, Brigid also worked on the Murder, She Wrote television series.  Moyna Macgill is better known for being the mother of Brigid than for her work as an actress.  You see, Brigid’s family called her by her middle name.  The rest of the world knows Brigid as… Angela Lansbury.       


  1. “Lesser-Told Story of Belfast-Born Film Star Who Was Mother of Iconic Superstar,” NewsLetter, accessed March 30, 2021,
  2. “Moyna Macgill,”, accessed March 31, 2021,
  3. “Edgar Lansbury,”, accessed March 31, 2021,
  4. “Bruce Lansbury,”, accessed March 31, 2021,
  5. “Angela Lansbury,”, accessed March 31, 2021,
  6. “Angela Lansbury – Interview On Her Life, Career,”, accessed April 4, 2021,

The Photo is of Moyna Macgill in 1945.

New Georgia Voting Law Is Common Sense Reform

By Royal Alexander/Opinion

The hallmark of a free society and a legitimately functioning democracy is the honest and legal exercise of the voting franchise by its citizens because our fundamental and sacred right to vote is preservative of all other rights.

The hotly debated Georgia election reform law that passed this week, like voting reforms taking place in states across the country, has been highly and purposely mischaracterized.  (Louisiana is considering certain election and voting reforms as well).  The Georgia law actually expands voting rights and voting flexibility by adding early voting on more weekends and providing additional equipment and workers in larger precincts.

For example, while legal voting would reasonably include requiring a voter to display a valid driver license the Georgia law, nevertheless, allows for a free, state-issued non-driver ID for those without a driver license.  However, even those who lack a free, state-issued non-driver ID may still vote if they present a Social Security number, a copy of a current bank statement, utility bill, government check, or paycheck.

It is worth reiterating an unassailable principle:  genuine reform of voting laws must begin with requiring valid ID.  The request to see a valid ID occurs millions of times across our country every day and the only people who object to its use in voting are doing so on behalf of those who aren’t supposed to be voting in the first place.

In fact, many of the civil liberties we exercise every day are based upon freedoms that stem directly from the Constitution: purchasing a firearm requires valid ID, marrying requires valid ID to obtain a license, boarding an airplane (freedom of movement) requires valid ID, petitioning the government (right of assembly/free speech) in a rally at a public place requires a permit that often requires valid ID, or checking into a hotel (public accommodations) requires valid ID.   There are many other similar examples.

Still further, Georgia’s law leaves in place Sunday voting and it also leaves in place “no excuses” absentee voting.  This means that every registered Georgia voter may still simply and easily request an absentee ballot for any reason at all.  (Many states still require voters, wisely in my view, to provide a valid excuse to vote absentee).  Additionally, rather than having poll workers be responsible for deciding if signatures match, Georgia voters will instead submit a state ID number with their ballot.  The ID number will either match or it won’t, eliminating the need for subjective scrutiny of a voter’s signature by an election worker.

No election reform or election rules will ever be perfect, but we must strive at the very minimum, in Louisiana and across the country, to ensure that our votes are received and counted honestly.  Numerous states already have voter ID requirements enshrined in law and they have been upheld by the Supreme Court.  

It cannot be said often enough or loudly enough: our freedom depends upon an honest and transparent vote.  The right to vote is a gift that has been purchased with the blood and lives of American soldiers and citizens who bravely spoke out and suffered and died to have their votes—and ours—counted.  The right to vote is exceedingly rare throughout history as most who have ever walked on and drawn a breath on this planet have lived under some form of dictatorship, tyrant, or other strongman.  That is why Lincoln powerfully and memorably called America’s experiment in democracy the “last best hope” for man on earth.  And that is why the legitimate right to vote must be defended at all costs, so we preserve the legitimacy of the government by retaining the consent of the governed.

The views and opinions expressed in the My Opinion article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Grant Parish Journal. Any content provided by the authors is of their opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

Notice of Death April 6, 2021

None to report

Jody Renae Grant
March 03, 1962 – March 10, 2021
Service: Friday, March 12 at 10:30 am at the Summerville Cemetery

Darren Jackson
April 1, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Mary Lee Sproles Ortego
May 29, 1949 – March 18, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Earana Varra Metoyer
December 13, 1928 – April 02, 2021
Service: Friday April 9 at 11 am at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Natchitoches

Elizabeth Dean Vercher Trichel
March 04, 1940 – April 01, 2021
Service: Friday, April 9 at 10 am at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Henry Jernigan
April 5, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Mitchell Clark
April 2, 2021
Service: Saturday, April 10 at 11 am in the Rock Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Ajax

Daniel Haig Kitishian
May 10, 1949 – April 03, 2021
Service: Saturday, April 10 at 1 pm at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Amos Payton Jr.
April 4, 2021
Arrangements TBA

Troy Jackson, Jr.
August 19, 1954 – March 30, 2021
Service: Saturday, April 10 at 11 am at Central Baptist Church in Robeline

Van Thomas Barker, Jr.
January 03, 1945 – December 26, 2020
Service: Friday, April 9 from 5-6:30 pm in the chapel of Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home

Elizabeth Ann Terrell
December 13, 1942 – April 3, 2021
Service: Wednesday April 7 at 2 pm at Warren Meadows Funeral Home Chapel

O. B. “Cooter” Madden
November 10, 1926 – April 03, 2021
Service: Thursday, April 8 at 3:30 pm at Mt. Zion Cemetery