Smiley: Bless the critters

Sue Conran tells of a worshiper’s ultimate distraction:

“On Saturday, Dec. 28, our priest had just begun Mass.

“As he welcomed all visitors, a critter raced across the altar in front of him and took cover in one of the Christmas trees.

“Needless to say, we all lost our composure.

“I asked my husband what kind of animal it was and learned it was a squirrel.

“The ‘Mississippi Squirrel Song’ immediately popped into my head.

“The only portion of the lyrics I could remember were the first few lines of the chorus — ‘The day the squirrel went berserk in the First Self-Righteous Church of that sleepy little town of Pascagoula. …’

“I’m sure you understand what a struggle it was to stop thinking of this silly song and concentrate on the Mass.

“I have asked for forgiveness.”

Coachspeak recalled

Perry Snyder says Florida State’s football triumph reminds him of the late Coach Bill Peterson, an assistant to Paul Dietzel at LSU during its national championship run who left to become Florida State’s football coach from 1960 to 1970.

Perry credits Coach Bill with “putting the ’Noles on the football map.”

And he recalls the coach’s problems with the language:

“The worst was one I heard on his TV show when, not once but twice, he transposed letters in Tucker Fredrickson’s name.”

And that’s all you need to know about THAT. …

Silly about Saints

As I mentioned earlier, my readers are so concerned about the Saints vs. Seahawks on Saturday that I’m getting a little concerned about their stability:

For instance, Chuck Falcon, of Donaldsonville, just sent me this message:

“If the Saints are going to win at Seattle, they cannot go up there thinking this is going to be a Brees.

“If they go up there just Colston they will get beat.

“They can’t be Ingram enough to think that will get the job done.

“The Saints Stills have to go up there with Moore urgency. It won’t be a Sproles in the park, but they can win.

“Then everyone in New Orleans can have a Graham old time.”

Geaux figure

Larry Sylvester wonders if this “geaux” thing, as in “Geaux Tigers,” has gone too far:

“I went to my hometown (Lake Charles) for Christmas and decided to drive down the main street, Ryan Street, to see how they did it up for the holidays.

“They had some fine decorations there, and it was nice to see the efforts they are making to rejuvenate the area.

“And I was happy to see the effort to celebrate our Louisiana heritage and cultural influences by putting up banners wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in French — until I noticed that they had spelled ‘Joyeux Noël’ ‘Joyeaux Nöel.’

“At least they got ‘Bonne Année’ correct.

“I hope no French tourists visit while those banners are still up there. …”

Nostalgia Corner

Richard Sherlock says our mention of Toddle House and similar diners reminds him of the late ’50s when he would ride his bike down Capital Heights from his home near Jefferson Highway to get a hamburger “for about 35 cents” at the Dobbs House on Government.

“And I always had enough for chocolate pie,” he adds.

Harvey House memories

Joe F. Cannon says stories of old diners reminded him of the Harvey House railroad stop restaurants, credited with being the nation’s first restaurant chain.

The servers, called “Harvey Girls,” were celebrated in a Judy Garland movie.

“In 1934, when I was 7, my father took me from our hometown of McAlester, Okla., to St. Louis on the train to see the Cardinals play the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.”

About halfway there, the train stopped for a 45-minute lunch break at a Harvey House.

Says Joe, “The highlight of the trip was getting to see Dizzy Dean pitch!”

Special People Dept.

William R. “Bo” Neyland celebrates his 96th birthday on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Inez “Nez” Landry, of Donaldsonville, celebrates her 94th birthday on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Lucy Kadair celebrates her 92nd birthday on Friday, Jan. 10.

Dynamic duo

Debbie Peltier Roques, of Donaldsonville, says about her mom Nez Landry’s 94 years:

“She won’t give any of her secrets to her longevity; however, on occasion her grocery list is ‘Boost and beer.’ ”

Blanket endorsement

Because we started with a church story, let’s end with one, from Algie Petrere:

After church, Mom asked her very young daughter what the Sunday school lesson had been about.

Her daughter answered, “Don’t be scared, you’ll get your quilts.”

Needless to say, Mom was perplexed.

Later, when the pastor stopped by for tea, Mom asked him what the lesson was about.

He said, “Be not afraid; thy comforter is coming.”

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.