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Smiley: Boy to Marine

Billy Couvillion, DDS, of Baton Rouge, has another drill sergeant story to add to our collection: “While at Parris Island, South Carolina, Marine Recruit Depot, I witnessed a very stern drill sergeant approaching a platoon of fresh recruits. In a most vigorous manner, he got in the face of a young man standing at… Continue reading →

Smiley: Ask your doctor

Dear Smiley: Dudley Lehew’s story about Mississippi being a dry state brings to mind alcohol laws during Prohibition in the 1920s. Liquor could be acquired only through a physician’s prescription. The prescription form had a stub retained by the physician, and a certificate given to the patient to be filled out, titled “Treasury Department… Continue reading →

Smiley: Louisiana thrill rides

After driving from Baton Rouge to New Orleans for dinner Wednesday night (Port of Call cheeseburgers, in case you were wondering), I find myself agreeing with Patrick Hughes, who sent over a list titled “It’s a Louisiana thing.” A number of the “Louisiana things” involve our highway manners, such as: “Never use turn… Continue reading →

Smiley: Root for the Jambalayas

I knew it was going to happen. When I read that the New Orleans Zephyrs Triple-A pro-baseball team was looking for a new name, I figured it was just a matter of time before my ever-helpful readers would be offering some creative titles for the lads. Perry Snyder says… Continue reading →

Smiley: Hokie’s mighty swing

Bill Quinn says the late Hokie Gajan was known as a football star at Baker High, LSU and the Saints, but he was quite a softball player too: “Thirty years ago, I pitched a softball to Hokie. At this time, softballs were so ‘hot’ that some pitchers were killed when line drives hit their heads (after two… Continue reading →

Smiley: My favorite story about longtime Baton Rouge news anchor John Mahaffey

The death of John Mahaffey, longtime news anchor at Baton Rouge TV stations WAFB and WBRZ, brought a flood of stories about him. Here’s mine: John, who always considered himself to be in the news business rather than show business, loved to tell stories about his reporting days. And some of… Continue reading →

Smiley: Our new shell game

There’s been considerable social media chatter about Gov. John Bel Edwards installing chicken coops at the Governor’s Mansion to provide eggs and bring a more down-home feel to his new abode. Personally, I think it’s a cool idea. My dad raised chickens when he lived in Oakdale, and my brother and sister-in-law in Oakdale still raise… Continue reading →

Smiley: A wet dry state

Dear Smiley: About your stories concerning Louisiana and Mississippi’s colorful relationship: When I joined The Associated Press in Jackson in 1962, Mississippi was a dry state, no liquor allowed. But Louisiana, where liquor was legal, printed extra alcohol tax stamps, and Louisiana liquor stores used the extra… Continue reading →

Smiley: Last laugh on the boss

“Your recent stories about Cajun accents and names brought this story to mind,” says Fay Weilbaecher, of Covington: “I was transferred to Tucson, Arizona, and worked with wonderful people. Very few co-workers were native to Arizona, except my boss, who had lived there all his life and knew very little of Louisiana — except when he played… Continue reading →

Smiley: Swinging ringer

“I became an altar boy in the summer between third and fourth grades, in an old wooden church in Harahan,” says Jean Haydel. “My weight of around 85 pounds and height of under 50 inches were small handicaps in ringing the church bell to announce Masses and toll for funerals. “The bell was rung manually… Continue reading →

Smiley: Grin and bear it

“My daughter’s wedding is about a month away,” says Glenn Everett. “Her soon-to-be in-laws tell us that their grandsons have asked when they would get their bear costumes. “When asked what that was about, they reminded them that they were ‘ringbears’ in the wedding.” Colleague George… Continue reading →

Smiley: Joyful noise

Adding to our series on church mishaps is Melba Thibodeaux, of Opelousas, with this gem: “Back in 1967 my daughter, Gina Speyrer, then just a toddler, was attending church with the family one Sunday morning. During a quiet part of the service she decided it was just too quiet, and proceeded to do something about… Continue reading →

Smiley: Those Cajun names

I don’t understand why people outside the state have trouble with Louisiana names. Sure, we call our dog “Phideaux” and pronounce Hebert “A-bear” and DeBlieux “W,” but is that really so hard to grasp? Louisiana folks tell of especially having trouble in the service when their names came up at roll call:… Continue reading →

Smiley: Read or else!

Dear Smiley: Just back from the National School Boards conference in Boston, I received a message from an old friend named Bob Dabney, who once lived in New Orleans but has moved to Barbados. It seems that in 1961 Fidel Castro formed “education brigades” that went out into the countryside and… Continue reading →

Smiley: Give ’em credit

Alex “Sonny” Chapman, of Ville Platte, has a story for our “Why we love small Cajun towns” file: “In the mid ’80s, during the oilfield crash, a friend of mine moved back to Ville Platte from Lafayette with his ‘city girl’ wife. “When they went to purchase furniture from a long-established store, she was shocked by the… Continue reading →

Smiley: Sarge vs. Cajuns

Kirk M. Briggs, of Lafayette, continues our discussion of problems people outside south Louisiana have with Cajun names: “If you want to get into a drill sarge’s massacre of Southern names: I was in basic training at Fort Ord, California, with a group of guys from New Iberia who quickly learned to answer roll call to just… Continue reading →

Smiley: Beware of flying rodents

Carol Moore says our comments on flying squirrels bring to mind this teenage experience when she lived in Crystal Springs, Mississippi: “Our Girl Scout troop spent a week of summer camp at Percy Quin Park near McComb. “My patrol settled down to sleep the first night with all our stuff stowed away, including… Continue reading →

Smiley: Let’s annex Natchez!

My hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, is all over social media these days. After Mississippi passed a controversial law discouraging diversity, there was concern among folks in the Natchez tourism industry that the inevitable backlash might keep people from visiting their beautiful old town. Patrick Mulhearn, a Natchez native who lives in… Continue reading →

Smiley: Naming rights

Barry “Butch” Raffray says, “Your article in the Wednesday Advocate, about the name the nun gave to the student, reminds me of the time I was in the Army in 1962. “Donald ‘Duck’ Aucoin and I joined the Army six days after graduating from White Castle High School. “At the start of basic… Continue reading →

Smiley: Not a prayer

Dear Smiley: One of my seminary profs said a church to which he once belonged had a man who was on the offering counting committee for several years. When the counters had finished their work and rolled the coins, he would write the church a check for the coins, saying it… Continue reading →

Smiley: Southern body shaming

Virginia Howard, of Metairie, offers this story about Southern accents: “Two dear friends of mine, natives of Chicago, moved to New Orleans. “On viewing their first high school football game in the South, they were baffled. “The enthusiastic cheerleaders were waving their pom-poms, hopping up and down, and shouting,… Continue reading →

Smiley: Sexy Legs Jr.

Doug Lee, of Prairieville, adds to our stories about kids, their names and nicknames: “About 10 years ago, while on a cruise with my wife, kids and sisters, I was encouraged to take part in a ‘Sexy Legs Contest’ onboard the ship. “To my and everyone else’s surprise, I won the contest. “My preschool son… Continue reading →

Smiley: A National Lampoon vacation

Fay Weilbaecher, of Covington, tells of a vacation that sounds like it was taken by the movies’ Griswolds: “Your traveling stories brought back what our family always called our greatest vacation — or misadventure. “We booked reservations at the Las Brisas in Acapulco with its beautiful cabanas, flower-filled private pools and… Continue reading →

Smiley: Out-lying a Texan

Just got this message from Jim Carrigan: “Smiley, I know a straight shooter like you would not be included in the Liars Contest held here in Columbia, Tennessee, at Mule Day festivities this past weekend. “Here is the prize winner in the children’s division this year: “Kaleb Westmoreland told… Continue reading →

Smiley: Check it out

Mention of the days of counter checks, before numbered bank accounts, brought these recollections from Marsha R.: “You brought to mind one of the first scams when banks began using personalized checks, each with its own account number. “Before that we just grabbed an unnumbered ‘generic’ counter check or deposit slip from the stack and filled it… Continue reading →

Smiley: Another Capitol zoo

Dear Smiley: Tookie Hendrys’ suggestion that the Baton Rouge Zoo move next to the Capitol, where a “zoo” has been operating for decades, is a good idea. However, it would be the SECOND zoo to locate there. Back in the ’40s, my dad would take me in our 1936 Chevrolet to the Capitol… Continue reading →

Smiley: Taking care of readers

Jennifer Jette, of New Orleans, “an avid reader of The Advocate,” was trying to get a paper from the box in front of the CC’s Coffee House on Maple Street when she dropped a coin and it rolled under the box: “I tilted the box, retrieved the coin and completed paying the machine.… Continue reading →

Smiley: Sock it to ’em

Patrick “Pat” Cougevan has another “church mishap” story for our collection: “My dad, Bill Cougevan, was an usher at Christ the King Church in Terrytown for many years. “We always left early for Mass — after my dad, two brothers and I had passed my mom’s “inspection.” “One Sunday,… Continue reading →

Smiley: Speaking Southern

John L. Guillory says, “My grandparents, lifelong residents of western Louisiana, were born in the late 19th century and spoke with accents very close to an East Texas twang. “It was a local custom to name landmarks, property and other locations for the families who owned them or lived nearby (e.g., ‘...the old Jones homestead...’).… Continue reading →

Smiley: Accidental criminal

Alex “Sonny” Chapman, of Ville Platte, gives us this true confession: “I grew up on Main Street and in my cousins’ neighborhoods, without very much agricultural experience. “As a teenager, I had a beautiful blue Honda 50 Super Sport motorcycle. “This expanded my roaming territory to the ‘country’ in Evangeline Parish. “One August day, while exploring in… Continue reading →

Smiley: Clean up the Capitol!

Stu Braud, of New Roads, is concerned about Baton Rouge’s most prominent building: “Living in Spanish Town, do you notice how grungy, dirty and drab the State Capitol building looks (I’m speaking of the exterior surface, not what’s going on inside). “Of course, the state is basically broke. Do you think… Continue reading →

Smiley: Handling the host

Dear Smiley: When I was 8, I was honored to serve as an altar boy at St. Michael’s Church in New Orleans, opposite Annunciation Square. I recall vividly the time, around 1951, when I was manning the paten (plate) for Father Stanley Iverson at 5:30 a.m. Mass. As he… Continue reading →

Smiley: Holy crawfish!

Keith Horcasitas has an “only in Louisiana” tale of revenge: At the funeral for his 99-year-old aunt, Sister Joselia Kleinpeter, in Chatawa, Mississippi, his Uncle Ray lightened the solemn occasion with a story about two of his late brothers, Arthur and Francis Jr. “At the old Sacred Heart Church on Canal… Continue reading →

Smiley: They knew how to sell Gazelles

“A friend told this story on himself,” says Harry Clark, of Lafayette. “A few years ago, there was an infomercial running all the time on the high-number TV channels featuring Tony Little, a muscular little fellow with a blond ponytail. “He was selling a workout machine called ‘The Gazelle’ that simulated walking by standing on steps… Continue reading →

Smiley: Modest feast

Mary Drake Bell says, “Many years ago, while a Peace Corps volunteer living in a mountain village in Honduras, Spam and Campbell’s pork and beans were luxury items. “Once, when the U.S. ambassador visited me, he was served Spam, baked in my little tin oven that sat on top of my two-burner portable… Continue reading →

Smiley: Faux Cajun cooking

I realize every region of the country has certain food items of which the residents are proud — New York bagels, Texas barbecue, California tofu, and so on. In this part of the world, we feel we do a few dishes better than anyone — crawfish bisque, gumbo (both seafood and chicken-and-sausage), and… Continue reading →

Smiley: Curiosity and the cat

The “cat people” in the Thursday column who mentioned cats falling in the bathtub reminded me of this tale: Years ago, at another Spanish Town home, I installed a hot tub on my deck and invited Katherine, my neighbor (later Lady Katherine, my wife), to come over for a dip. Her cat Sylvester followed her,… Continue reading →

Smiley: Essential workers

Dear Smiley: I’m sitting on the back porch, the rain continues to fall, and I hear the garbage truck passing by. And that makes me think about this: We should pause every once in a while and say “Thank you” to these folks and all the others who work in all weather, sometimes doing… Continue reading →

Smiley: Cajun horsing around

The death of friend Gibbens Robichaux, of Thibodaux, reminds me of my favorite Gibbens story. I’ve told it before, but without using his name, because I thought it might embarrass him. A number of years ago, we were at a conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in Louisville, Kentucky, and one of the events was… Continue reading →

Smiley: Cat People Anonymous

Faye Melancon, of Baton Rouge, needs a support group: “We have two new kittens, to which most would say, ‘So?’ “It’s more complicated than that. An example: “A friend called the other day, and asked how I was doing. “‘OK, except I have a cat on my head, and now there’s a tail dangling down on my… Continue reading →

Smiley: Tale of two vices

Steve Selby says, “The recent action of the Legislature raising taxes on cigarettes reminded me of the same situation in the late ’40s. “As students at LSU, we tried rolling machines, to no avail. We wanted ready-rolls. “My roommate was from Crystal Springs, Mississippi, where cigarettes were cheaper. “Mississippi was dry in… Continue reading →

Smiley: View from the couch

Russ Wise, of LaPlace, echoes a thought I’ve had on Saturday afternoons in the fall: “Fella writes in Saturday’s letters to the editor that The Advocate got it wrong when it counted Louisiana’s colleges, but I’m not sure I believe him either. “In a long list of numbers he said that… Continue reading →

Smiley: A Dylan moment

When I read the Thursday Advocate headline, “We could have done better,” quoting Gov. John Bel Edwards as he discussed the Legislature’s performance in the special session, I immediately thought of a Bob Dylan song that pretty well describes what the governor must have been feeling: “I ain’t a-saying you treated me unkind… Continue reading →

Smiley: Altar comedian

Dear Smiley: I have a church story. When I was a third- or fourth-grader at Holy Name of Mary School in Algiers, I became an altar boy, like all good Catholic schoolboys. Back in those days, worshippers received Communion by kneeling at the altar railing. The priest placed the sacrament of Communion (bread)… Continue reading →

Smiley: Irritated squirrels

Bill Quinn tells this tale of creative (if not effective) hunting: “As a 12-year-old I found myself with two older kids and their dad deep in a swamp out from Sorrento. “I was told we were going ‘Roman candle squirrel hunting.’ “The dogs would chase the squirrels up the trees and into holes. One of… Continue reading →