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Smiley: Modern Huck Finns

Dear Smiley: Clay Davis’ account of his Tenn-Tom experience brought back memories of my recent Trip of a Lifetime on that waterway. In 2013, I bought a 1979 Fiat Spider from Jim Fine, who lives in River Ridge. Part of our agreement was that Jim would help me restore it, so once a week… Continue reading →

Smiley: Monsieur Hard-Head

Funny the things that jog your memory: The item below, about triangle players in bands, reminded me of the chank-a-chank bands at Fred’s Lounge in Mamou on Saturday mornings. (Triangles are found in many Cajun bands.) This then reminded me of some great Mardi Gras adventures my spouse and I had in Mamou, where costumed horseback riders… Continue reading →

Smiley: Sweet mistake

Lauren Davidson tells how a baking mistake led to a king cake being named after a hospital: The radiology team at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge held a king cake party, and “everyone brought in a king cake from a different location around town. “They voted on their favorite, and the… Continue reading →

Smiley: The immobile president

“A big mistake was made when President Obama came to Baton Rouge,” says Paul Major, of Livonia: “Instead of having him whiz through town on a completely cleared interstate, he should have landed in Lafayette and then been driven in to Baton Rouge from the west at about 4:30 or 5 in the late afternoon.… Continue reading →

Smiley: Eat your throws!

Two more stories for our series on unusual (but edible) Carnival throws. Karl Denino says he and his family attended the first Spanish Town Mardi Gras parades with friend Duz Hamilton, whose large family has been in the neighborhood for generations. He recalls the second parade, when the only car was a… Continue reading →

Smiley: Buyer, beware!

“Tom Toddy” offers a nostalgic tale of an unfortunate purchase: “Back when ‘service stations’ pumped gas, checked tire pressure and oil levels and washed windshields for their customers, my teenage son had a part-time job at one of these archaic establishments. “About a year previously, he had traded in his terrible… Continue reading →

Smiley: Carnival fever

Dear Smiley: Years ago, my son and his family from Tucson, Arizona, decided to come for a visit during Mardi Gras. He had been gone for 20 years, and his wife and children (ages 10 and 11) had never experienced Mardi Gras or a New Orleans parade. As we prepared to go to… Continue reading →

Smiley: Criminals with beads?

“When I retired in ’98 my wife Suzie and I took an extended boat trip up the Tenn-Tom (Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway) in our boat,” says Clay Davis. “We had planned to be in Nashville for the Fourth of July and dock on the seawall, but were informed that the only way we could dock there is… Continue reading →

Smiley: Escort replaces ticket

We’ve had several stories about Woodville, Mississippi, involving quickie marriages and quickie speeding tickets. Here’s one from Pat Alba, of Metairie, about the kinder, gentler side of Woodville: “In the ’60s, when driving from north Louisiana to Baton Rouge, I stopped for gas in Woodville. “At the service station… Continue reading →

Smiley: Dangerous veggies

Mention of parade throws reminds me of a couple of stories about the practice of tossing cabbages at St. Patrick’s Day parades. Riding in a long-ago parade in Baton Rouge, I spotted in the crowd a lady I knew. I yelled to get her attention, then threw a large cabbage her way.… Continue reading →

Smiley: Catch your snacks

I’m having fun recalling parade throws (other than beads, doubloons and candy) during Carnival and other festive occasions that call for parades. Kitty Prejean says, “Growing up in Abbeville in the early 1950s, the annual Dairy Festival would end its grand parade with mini loaves of bread and boxes of milk!… Continue reading →

Smiley: Let ’em eat ice!

The story in the Friday column about a turnip-throwing festival in a Spanish town (which led to speculation about the possible use of these vegetables as Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade throws) led me to think about other memorable throws of the past. Back in the ’80s it was a tradition for past kings… Continue reading →

Smiley: Family tradition

Dear Smiley: With all this talk about getting married in Woodville, Mississippi, I decided to tell you about my experience there on April 1, 1956. My wife Betty and I went to Woodville to get married. Both of us were under age, but we overcame that with little white lies.… Continue reading →

Smiley: Rapid mating

Kim “Pops” Seago, of Columbia, Tennessee, joins our discussion of quick weddings: “Working at two part-time jobs and one full-time job to support my family in the ’70s in Baton Rouge, I photographed more than 125 weddings in three years. “The most unusual church wedding ceremony I shot lasted less than 11 minutes… Continue reading →

Smiley: Mystery train

Dudley Lehew, of Marrero, says, “Mention of train toots (in the Wednesday column) reminds me of a performer who imitated various kinds of sounds. “In an interview on the Johnny Carson show, he said he rigged up a speaker behind his car’s grille and attached it to a microphone so he could have… Continue reading →

Smiley: Gentle reminder

Larry Mann says, “Your item about the pilots and grits (in the Tuesday column) reminded me of the Honor Air flight that I went on to Washington for the day with 91 other World War II veterans. “Shortly after takeoff they served us breakfast, and the pilot got on the PA system and… Continue reading →

Smiley: Feel the warmth

My recent mention of adventures in Minnesota brought this story from Tom Boone, of Gonzales: “Years ago a friend of mine got a construction job in Minnesota in the dead of winter. “He was excited, as the job was to last four to six months and paid well. “About two weeks after… Continue reading →

Smiley: Feeding the president

I’ve had some reader reaction of President Obama’s “Thank you, New Orleans” gaffe when he visited Baton Rouge Thursday. Some observed that this was a typical view of Louisiana by outsiders, who think the state consists of New Orleans and the outback. But others offered a more charitable view of the… Continue reading →

Smiley: Great grits mystery

Dear Smiley: One more on grits: In 1957, our ladies’ card group sat waiting in a local country club lounge for lunch and an afternoon of bridge. All eight of us, under the age of 30, were excitedly discussing the possibilities of sighting the actors making the movie “Band of Angels.”… Continue reading →

Smiley: Grits goes upscale

Christian “Pete” Sarrat, of New Orleans, says, “I have been following the grits stories, and thought I would send you an international story. “While cruising the ‘Blue Danube’ in a party of eight, we sat at dinner the first night aboard. Our waiter was a Hungarian, and super efficient, even though he had some… Continue reading →

Smiley: The Age of Passwords

Julaine Deare Schexnayder, of New Iberia, discusses in her “Bayou Wordsmith” column in the Daily Iberian a problem with modern technology faced by those of us who “remember when you had to dial ‘0’ and speak to a live operator to make a long-distance call … at a time when phones were attached by 6-foot cords to… Continue reading →

Smiley: Sweet grits?

Mary Vernoy, of Metairie, adds to our “true grits” story collection: “When I was in Navy boot camp in Orlando, Florida, in 1973, they served grits for breakfast. “All the Southerners put butter, pepper and salt on theirs. All the Yankees used milk and sugar on theirs. “We didn’t… Continue reading →

Smiley: Southern exposure

Our mention of lost drivers before GPS and Google maps brought this response from Mike Eldred, of Tylertown, Mississippi: “I once found myself lost in Alabama, asking for directions. “I was driving my brother’s New York-licensed car. “The gas station attendant took one look and said, ‘Aw, son, you… Continue reading →

Smiley: The death of books?

Ray Schell, of Prairieville, tells a story that readers of a certain age will find rather sad, while younger readers will wonder why it’s even worth mentioning: “While working as a volunteer for VIPS (Volunteers In Public Schools) at Broadmoor Elementary, I had given my student a children’s encyclopedia as a gift. “At… Continue reading →

Smiley: Better than GPS

Dear Smiley: Your “Before GPS” quotation in Monday’s column concerning travel to a hard-to-find place (“hell, west, and crooked”) brought to mind an experience that happened to me just last month. Without a GPS device, I was traveling from Metairie to Florence, Alabama. I Googled to find the quickest way there; the route involved… Continue reading →

Smiley: The Great Grits Freeze

Our mention of grits in the Thursday column reminded Russ Wise, of LaPlace, of a hoax from his radio days: “I was the news director (heck, I was the entire news department) at WTIX in New Orleans. Ed Clancy was the morning man and general comic-in-residence. “As all good radio people often did (and a… Continue reading →

Smiley: True grits?

I know, I said I wasn’t going to reopen the grits controversy, which took up much of the column a while back. But this note is from Tom DiNapoli, a retired LSU professor. And back in my student days I made it a rule to never cross a professor. (Later in life I made it a rule… Continue reading →

Smiley: Speaking text

Welcome to the Brave New World of texting: A reader signed “Klueless” says, “In a text conversation with a daughter-in-law this week I ended with a ‘K’ (for ‘OK’) as I sometimes do. “My daughter-in-law then asked if I was angry with her. I spoke with her to find that a response of ‘K’ indicates… Continue reading →

Smiley: Too much “Star Wars”

Darrylin Melton presents evidence that you’re never too young to be influenced by science-fiction: “My 5-year-old granddaughter Grace wanted to sing ‘America the Beautiful’ for me; of course, proud grandmama was delighted to listen. “She sang it perfectly from start to finish, except for one small error in the first line: ‘O beautiful for spaceship… Continue reading →

Smiley: Just hanging around

John Currier, of Port Allen, tells of a typical brother-in-law reaction: “We have a two-story house, and sometimes I have to get up on the roof. As I age my wife has become more concerned about this. So I purchased one of those roof safety kits with an anchor you screw into the roof and… Continue reading →

Smiley: A hooligans’ Christmas

Kurt Weilbaecher, of Covington, shares this holiday story: “When my last two boys were little, they loved two things, Christmas and ‘Star Wars.’ They would live under the tree … playing, sleeping and changing the decorations almost every day. “During the ’70s, the Christmas party was at our house, so I proceeded… Continue reading →

Smiley: Liberal education

Dear Smiley: All the talk about school days reminded me of the great GI scandal when I was in fourth grade in the early 1950s in LaPlace. There was a bookshelf on the wall at the back of the classroom, and one day, the teacher went to retrieve a book from the shelf when… Continue reading →

Smiley: An “earthy” mistake

Mark Kirk says his mom, Sammie Kirk, passes along this story, to be filed under “Open Mouth, Insert Foot:” “Recently at our 70th Oakdale High School reunion and homecoming parade (Smiley, your sister-in-law Jane Crawford Anders helped organize it), the class of 1945 was riding in a float provided by the mayor.… Continue reading →

Smiley: Spirit of giving

’Tis the season for warm and fuzzy stories. This one, from Beryl Browning, is about generosity rewarded: “For several years I have been looking for a unique Christmas pin to wear. But having no luck, I was wearing my old pin. “On Thursday at the fruit stand, the young… Continue reading →

Smiley: The write stuff

As you might have noticed, I often take a moment to pay homage to teachers, those underpaid, overworked, under-appreciated heroes. I express my gratitude because if it were not for a succession of teachers, I’d still be bagging groceries — my only other skill. (Some who have read my columns say it’s my ONLY skill...) My mention of… Continue reading →

Smiley: Santa’s snitch

Here’s a seasonal tale from Mariano Hinojosa: He says his wife Bertha’s students from Guatemala and Honduras were quizzing the teacher about Santa Claus. One 6-year-old asked how Santa knew which children were good. Bertha said, “I tell Santa Claus which children have been good and which have been… Continue reading →

Smiley: Cupid at the Capitol

David Soulier passes along this memory to me: “Twenty years ago this past April, you wrote about a letter you received from a man who witnessed a marriage proposal on the top of the State Capitol. The man took a Polaroid picture and gave it to the young couple right after she said yes. “Well, I… Continue reading →

Smiley: A role to die for

Dear Smiley: Danny Heitman’s reflections on playing a corpse, published in a recent Advocate column, reminded me that my sister, Mary Pitchford Melton, got her Screen Actors Guild card after portraying the corpse of the first European woman to die of AIDS in “And the Band Played On.” Mary, a… Continue reading →

Smiley: Christmas camel

Linda H. Whitman, of Denham Springs, says the holiday season and its nativity scenes remind her of a family story: “Husband Herb’s cousins live in Arkansas, and one year their church put on a Christmas pageant. “They used a real donkey, camel and people for the pageant, even a real baby… Continue reading →

Smiley: The foremost forecaster

I’ve always been a very modest person. You could call me the King of Modesty, the Emperor of Self-Effacement. But there are occasions when, in the interest of keeping you informed, I feel I must indulge in just a tad of what some would call braggadocio. This is one of those occasions. On Aug. 13, I did… Continue reading →

Smiley: No to beanies

Jim Pitchford says the Wednesday story about the World War II veteran at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi who resisted curfew rules “reminds me of one in Reader’s Digest about the days of freshman beanies. “A freshman World War II vet, when he was told at Michigan State he had to wear one, responded that… Continue reading →

Smiley: Sweet-smelling mama

Dear Smiley: Mention of five and dime stores reminds me of the time in the ’50s when a friend’s 8-year-old daughter, Peaches, was bragging about her Christmas shopping trip to the Morgan and Lindsey five and dime store. She informed me, “I got Mama three presents for 80 cents; one of them is a… Continue reading →

Smiley: Hazardous hammocks

This is a cautionary tale about the hazards of hammocks: Delores Hayes says her son, Dr. Christopher Hayes, a veterinarian in Baton Rouge, lives in Clinton and is an avid deer hunter. He sent her this text a couple of days ago: “Just had the craziest thing happen. Around 5 this morning the… Continue reading →