Smiley: Meandering districts

Dear Smiley: Regarding gerrymandering of Louisiana congressional districts:

Louisiana’s first “salamandered” congressional district was the “Old 8th.” (Yes, Louisiana once had eight congressional districts.)

This was Edwin Edwards’ “favor” to Congressman Gillis Long, in exchange for a promise to never run against him for governor.

The district started near Winnfield and ended near Port Allen, with lots of twists and turns. Following the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers made it less conspicuous.

But at that time, 1972, it was very rare to split parishes when forming congressional districts.


Ville Platte

Prawn stars

Dear Smiley: About the Asian tiger prawn:

In the early ’80s, Miss Marlin and I lived in Surabaya, Indonesia, on the east end of Java.

Being an island nation, there was a lot of seafood available.

One day, we asked our cook if she could get us some shrimp — just a couple of pounds.

She went down to the docks and came back with four shrimp, over a half-pound each!

Butterflied and basted with butter, garlic and a little cayenne, they were delicious.

Later, we were having the commercial attaché over for dinner and Miss Marlin fixed shrimp étouffée from a recipe in Don’s cookbook, to show this Nawthener how us Cajuns ate.

The cook got us several pounds of shrimp. They were too big to cook whole, so Miss Marlin had her cut them into sections.

When they cooked, each section curled up like they were individual shrimp.

The outcome was delicious, and the étouffée was the talk of the consulate for a long time.

Say what you may, we found tiger prawns to be quite tasty!


Baton Rouge

Death car

Dear Smiley: Reading your columns on guinea fowl prompts me to share a story of an encounter with them.

In Simmesport in the late ’50s, where the ring levee crossed an abandoned railroad bed, “Thrill Hill” was formed.

If topped at a “little” over the speed limit, it gave driver and passengers that funny feeling of stomach in one’s throat.

Grain hauling trucks going a little fast bounced grain out at Thrill Hill.

This attracted birds from the poultry flock of an elderly gentleman who lived nearby.

On one occasion, I attempted to impress a young lady by topping Thrill Hill at a little over the speed limit, got slightly airborne, and landed on a flock of guineas gleaning spilt grain.

I saw the carnage in my rear-view mirror, but thought I had made a clean getaway.

The next day at lunch my father announced that I owed the guinea’s owner $12 for eight guineas I had killed.

I protested that I wasn’t speeding — but my father, George Foster, cut my protestations short by informing me that “You had to be speeding to kill one guinea, much less eight. Case closed!”


Florence, Ala.

Her personal storm

Dear Smiley: Prior to her arrival, many of my friends and family members asked me what having a hurricane named Karen felt like and what was my prediction as to what to expect from my namesake.

My response was “sweet and gentle or ferocious — no in-betweens.”

However, I completely missed the mark.

Karen provided the most beautiful sky ever: White clouds on a blue background evolving into varying shades, from the lightest to the darkest hue of blues and grays; and pinks, oranges, reds evolving into varying shades of purples and magentas.

Wow! What a beautiful transformation to view over three days!

I wonder how you will feel when a hurricane is named “Smiley.”



Dear Karen: Hope that never happens — I get enough “windbag” comments as it is …

Men and marbles

Dear Smiley: When I was in Franklinton High School in the ’40s, we played marbles nearly every day.

Someone told us that just up the road in Tylertown, Miss., for years men 40 years and above played marbles in a park area.

Women and children could watch, but only the men actually played.

My mother confirmed the report by some of her Alford and Warner relatives in that area.



I’m a landmark?

Dear Smiley: First we lose Latil’s, now Kadair’s.

What’s next, SMILEY?



Dear Faye: Not yet. I keep showing up at the office, and they haven’t sent me home …

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.