Smiley: Trade with Sicily

Judith Lanclos tells of visiting Sicily with husband Steve and friends Leigh and Eva Hart:

“While preparing for the trip, I discovered that Vincenzo Clemente, who owns Restaurante Cin Cin in Palermo, lived in Baton Rouge for several years and worked at Gino’s.

“When I emailed Vincenzo for a reservation, he offered to exchange a bottle of wine for a bag of Zapp’s potato chips.

“You can imagine how many bags of chips we carried to Sicily! We thought about leaving our clothes at home.

“Needless to say, we had a wonderful meal with Vincenzo, and all the wine we could drink! “I have a great picture of the chef at this fine restaurant sitting at the table eating a bag of Zapp’s chips!”

No snake handling!

Advocate reporter Robert Stewart tells of a bit of excitement at the end of the St. Joseph’s Academy graduation ceremonies Sunday at the Baton Rouge River Center.

He learned from school spokeswoman Mindy Averitt that at the end of the ceremony when most of the crowd had cleared, a school administrator went to pick up her purse, which was stashed with a group of other purses.

She reached under the table to grab her purse and saw a burlap sack next to it.

When she picked up the sack, she found a snake crawling around under it.

Startled, the administrator screamed — and posted a picture of the snake on Facebook.

Says Robert, “Details surrounding this slithering mystery are a bit hazy, but Averitt says school officials believe it rode in on decorative plants brought into the River Center on Friday. (There’s a ‘snake in the grass’ joke in there somewhere …)”

Mindy told him the River Center crew dispatched the unwelcome reptile.

(That’s a relief — I was afraid the Catholics had added snake-handling to their Mass …)

Night train

Bill Bailey points out that the night train from New Orleans to Chicago, formerly the Panama Limited, is now called The City of New Orleans.

When Lady Katherine and I took the train to Chicago, the lady waiting on us in the dining car said the name change was influenced by Arlo Guthrie’s rendition of the Steve Goodman song, “City of New Orleans.”

Which reminds me

A while back we launched a discussion on the topic, “What’s the best train song?”

Of course we’ll never get a consensus on this, but it was fun to recall all the great old ballads about trains.

You ranked “City of New Orleans” right up there with Roy Acuff’s “Wabash Cannonball” and Merle Haggard’s “Folsom Prison Blues.”

One of my favorite train songs is Willie Nelson’s version of “Railroad Lady,” written by Jimmy Buffett and Jerry Jeff Walker:

“She’s a railroad lady, just a little bit shady, spending her days on a train. She’s a semi good looker, but the fast rails they took her. Now she’s trying, just trying, to get home again …”

Saluting Skip

Harriet St.Amant says Skip Bertman’s contributions to LSU baseball were listed as reasons to honor him by naming Alex Box Stadium’s field for him, “but there are a few national reasons, too.

“Skip was chosen to coach Team USA at the 1988 World Cup games, and he was the manager of the 1996 Summer Olympics Team USA, which included several members of his championship team from that year’s College World Series.

And Sara Lemon terms Skip “the best motivational speaker I have ever heard,” and says this advice from him applies to everyday life as well as athletics: “Believe you can. Strive for excellence. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be part of the team.”

Looking for stuff

Pam Bounds’ church school needs Community Coffee bar codes, Box Tops for Education on Betty Crocker and Green Giant products etc., and Labels for Education on Campbell’s and Glad products, etc.

Mail them to Baton Rouge Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 4455 Jones Creek Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70817. (Attention: Pam/Labels.)

Special People Dept.

Emma Welch, of Oakwood Village Assisted Living in Zachary, celebrates her 90th birthday Wednesday.

But does he cook?

Roy Pitchford, of Monroe, likes the fact that the Pittsburgh Pirates have a pitcher named Justin Wilson.

Good question

“ET” says, “When my daughter Nora was about 5, we took the train from Hammond to Batesville, Miss., to visit my college roommate.

“We planned to spend Saturday in Memphis seeing the sights.

“Mary Tom told Nora about the Peabody Hotel: that ducks lived on the roof in a duck mansion, and that every day at 5 p.m. they rode the elevator to the lobby and paraded to the lobby fountain, where they would swim before returning to the roof.

“After hearing all this, Nora asked, ‘Miss Mary Tom, how do they push the buttons?’ ”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.