Smiley: Cheeseburger in paradise

Some visitors find New Orleans’ fine restaurants a bit snooty, but this story shows they can also be touchingly thoughtful.

Morris Kansas heard this from a friend after he told him of the closing of Brennan’s:

“When I graduated from Tech School at Keesler Air Force Base in July, 1964, my parents and baby sister Cathy, 10, drove from California to Biloxi to pick me up and drive back to California to spend my 30 days leave before shipping out to France.

“After the graduation ceremony I changed out of my uniform and into a pair of chinos and a polo shirt before we set off for New Orleans and lunch at Brennan’s.

“We arrived at the restaurent at about 2 p.m. My father was still in his coat and tie and my mother and little sister were properly dressed. The maitre d’ was quite polite, and respectfully pointed out that ‘the young gentleman (meaning me) needs a coat and tie in order to be seated in the dining room.’

“My face just sank and I was looking around for a hole to crawl into. The maitre d’ provided the required coat and a clip-on bow tie, which I put on, and with clinched jaw walked into the dining room.

“We were seated at a beautiful table with cut flowers in an alcove. Waiters started buzzing about us. You would have thought we were royalty.

“My little sister, whose taste in food was very pedestrian at that age, started to cloud up after looking at the menu.

“The waiter picked up on her angst immediately and asked her if she would like a cheeseburger. Her face lit up as she gave a resounding ‘Yes!’

“That afternoon was one of the most charming I have ever had the pleasure of passing. We had a beautiful lunch and I saw how a first-class waiter could defuse the angst of a 10-year-old by simply offering her an off-the-menu cheeseburger.

“And I learned a lesson: Don’t take offense when people employed in an establishment are simply enforcing the rules of the house. It’s not personal.”

Kids in the car

Rose Rolfsen says, “The article about giving kids crackers to keep them quiet when on a long trip reminded me of when we would travel back to Detroit.”

She says she would go to the dollar store and buy “stuff” to wrap up, to be handed out every hour they were quiet:

“When you have eight kids in the car it can get difficult.

“Especially when Dad said, ‘Don’t bring any of those lizards to your friends in Michigan,’ and they escaped from their box and the kids were trying to keep them out of Dad’s sight.

“Yes, the good ol’ days!”

Miss Manners South

Algie Petrere says our mention of telephone etiquette “reminded me of my late father-in-law Don Petrere.

“Although he had lived in Baton Rouge for years, he still sometimes had that ‘Yankee’ abruptness in his speech.

“When he called and I answered, he would usually just say ‘Let me talk to Andy!’

“It sounded more like an order than a request.

“Finally one day I said, ‘Well, what’s the magic word?’

“I could hear his tone change and he said, ‘How are you, sweet woman?’

“From that day, he always spoke to me before asking for Andy.”

To catch a thief

Ed Vidacovich, of Metairie, tells how to deal with newspaper thieves, a column topic:

“Some years ago, I had a paper thief in my area. I waited for the paper to arrive, then replaced it with an old copy and a strong note inside to the effect, ‘I know who you are and I saw what you did!’ ”

Clever quilters

Ronnie Stutes says after he read our seminar on cute names for quilting circles, he did some checking:

“I felt sure that any organization calling itself ‘Rumpled Quilts’ was obviously doing so to make use of the wordplay on ‘Rumpelstiltskin.’

“Sure enough, I found that the group is, in fact, called ‘Rumpled Quilts Kin.’

“There is also a group called ‘Rumpled Quilt Skins’ in Alberta, Canada.”

Special People Dept.

On Wednesday, Loraine Bruner celebrates her 93rd birthday.

Bad spell

Robbie Phillabaum says, “Sunday morning on my way to church I followed a large black Mercedes S-Class sedan with tinted windows down Highland Road. The license plate read ‘GOVENOR.’

“Who could the owner be?

“I wanted to say that the plate doesn’t say much for our educational system (where is the ‘R’ in ‘governor’?) but I know that license plates have a limited number of spaces.

“Alas, the car turned left at Dalrymple and I turned right.”

(In order to keep to seven letters or less and avoid a misspelled word, they should have used “DA GUV.”)

Save the blessing

“Sherwood Forester” says this happened when he and his wife picked up their granddaughters from preschool:

“On the way home, the 4-year-old sneezed, or so we thought.

“After both of us said ‘God bless you’ she corrected us, saying, ‘I wasn’t “God blessing you,” I was coughing!’ ”

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.