Dear Smiley: As I was mowing the grass around our catfish pond I noticed an unusual “thing” in the water.
I called my son over, and we watched as a snout and two beady eyes glided through the middle of the pond.
As I yelled for my wife and daughter-in-law to come see, the snout and eyes made it to the other bank and began to ease out of the water, exposing the body of a six-foot alligator.
Stunned, we watched it stretch out in the morning sun. What to do?
We called the St. Gabriel Police Department, which was surprised at our request to do something.
Finally, after many phone calls, a man with his daughter and son showed up with a fishing rod and reel, with a loop on the end of the pole.
He threw out an oversized line and gaff, and the alligator caught the gaff but broke the line.
The man tried a second and third time with the same results; then the gator broke his rod in half and submerged.
After a couple of hours of waiting, it did not surface.
Various “experts” told us that if the gator is a female we cannot kill it.
Tell me, Smiley, how do you determine the sex of a six-foot gator?
JACK P. TOURRES
Dear Jack: Very carefully…
Living the song
Dear Smiley: In mentioning great train songs, how could you omit “The Wreck of the Old 97”? (The best version is by Johnny Cash.)
Years ago, when my children were still school kids, we took them to Washington on vacation.
Wanting to avoid all the toll roads we’d experienced on the way there, I started our return trip on an old highway, and to my delight realized we were on “the road from Lynchburg to Danville.”
Johnny Cash wasn’t on the radio as I drove, but I could hear him in my mind.
Dear Smiley: About the aromatic ammonia spirits question:
I actually have a very old bottle of it.
The bottle says: “For mild forms of sick and nervous headache. Directions: Adults 30 to 60 drops in a little water. May be used by inhalation as a stimulant.”
The real reason people used it was that its alcohol content is 62 percent to 68 percent.
I also have an old bottle of tincture of merthiolate and a bottle of Mercurochrome. Remember those?
Dear Linda: Wow, you don’t throw ANYTHING away, do you?
The nervous mom
Dear Smiley: My mother had aromatic spirits of ammonia in our home all the time.
For whatever reason — other than raising eight children — she was often nervous.
One of the children was instructed to put ice in a glass of water and add one teaspoon of spirits of ammonia.
She would then sip this until the glass was empty and the ice crunched.
It did the trick for her, as she lived to be 102.
Dear Smiley: In the online crossword puzzle at The Advocate web site the other day, one clue for a four-letter word is “Jambalaya ingredient.”
According to the puzzle, the correct answer is “Okra.”
I wasn’t surprised, although I have never heard of anyone adding okra to their jambalaya.
In fact, any time you see a clue for a four-letter word in a crossword puzzle that contains any mention of Cajun food, the answer will be “Okra.”
The bottom line
Dear Smiley: I enjoy your readers’ train tales, and thought I’d share mine.
My wife is from Muskegon, Mich, and every Christmas for the past 18 years we have taken the train there by way of Chicago.
When we first began our excursions our two sons were 6 and 9 years of age.
On our very first trip, as the train was passing by the Bonne Carre Spillway, we were “mooned” by three young men. I could probably write a book about our train adventures, but to the boys that mooning is still their most memorable experience.
HUNLEY P. DUFOUR JR.
Dear Smiley: I had spent the night walking and singing to our sick 1-year-old, and was a little on the fussy side myself when our 3-year-old started begging for attention.
My husband was due home from his night shift and I wanted to have his breakfast ready.
I used the old stand-by all mothers use, saying, “If you don’t stop crying I’m going to go crazy.”
Her response was, “I want to go too, Mommy.”
Both of us ended up laughing and I was still laughing when Joe got home.
Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.