Smiley: Carnival music time

This is the time of year when I dig out the Carnival music, so I was delighted to get some old New Orleans classics from Ken Toups, of Lafayette, this column’s unpaid music historian.

At the top of the list is “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” by Professor Longhair & His New Orleans Boys, recorded in 1949 at J&M Studio for the Atlantic label.

(Ken says the group also was known as Professor Longhair & His Shuffling Hungarians.)

Then there’s “Mardi Gras Mambo,” by The Hawkettes, recorded in 1954 for the Chess label, with Art Neville as lead vocalist.

Plus “Carnival Time” by Al Johnson, recorded in 1959 for the Ric label.

And of course, “Jock-A-Mo” by Sugar Boy Crawford & His Cane Cutters, recorded in 1953 for Checker, released by many other artists as “Iko Iko.”

Those are the songs I crank up every year before Mardi Gras.

What are your favorites?

Law-abiding drivers

Algie Petrere came across this story from a traveler:

“Driving through Louisiana on Interstate 10 en route from New Mexico to Florida, I came upon a group of cars that were abnormally traveling exactly at the speed limit.

“In the middle of the group was a state police cruiser that everyone was reluctant to pass.

“After several minutes the officer’s voice rang out over his roof-mounted loudspeaker.

“ ‘For heaven’s sake, MOVE!’ he commanded. ‘I am a TEXAS trooper!’ ”

Algie says, “That has to be a fairy tale — no one ever drives the speed limit!”

Local character

(Here’s proof that while New Orleans has more colorful characters than any city on Earth, Baton Rouge can boast of some too.)

Our mention of Leon’s Italian Kitchen in north Baton Rouge brought back this memory to Tookie Hendry:

“In the late ’60s, I went to Leon’s for their fried pork chop, red beans and rice lunch at least once week and sometimes came back on Friday for dinner.

“Will never forget ‘Haynes,’ self-proclaimed ‘head waiter.’

“If you wanted a table for four, he’d yell ‘Four on the floor!’ to nobody in particular.

“A Miller High Life was a ‘Blonde!’ A Falstaff was a ‘Brunette!’ A glass of iced tea was ‘Lip’em on da Rocks!’

“Leaving one Friday evening, I saw Haynes getting into his red MG with a checkered ‘shag hat’ on and a smile on his face.

“I said, ‘Where you going, man?’

“He said, ‘Pepsicola! Got a deal in Mobile!’ ”

Go, fish!

Continuing our seminar on old pizza places in Baton Rouge, several readers recalled Europe’s on Airline Highway, home of fine Italian food and great seafood pizzas:

“They had the best crawfish pizza ever (maybe the only crawfish pizza at that time),” says Dee Dee Daigle.

Something extra

“I’ve been reading letters about the paper being delivered on time during the recent inclement weather,” says E.T.

“Just before Christmas there was a note tucked into my paper with the name and address of my delivery person.

“It gave me the opportunity to write him a note of thanks and send him a Christmas bonus.

“With gas prices at $3-plus a gallon, I’m sure every little bit helps.

“Why not call the paper, find out who delivers your paper, and let them know how appreciative you are?”

Special People Dept.

Marcella Mangiaracina celebrates her 92nd birthday on Saturday, Feb. 8.

Luis Crespo celebrates his 90th birthday on Saturday, Feb. 8, with his daily workout at the YMCA (likely to be followed by a celebratory martini).

J.R. and Theresa Gordon celebrate 57 years of marriage on Friday, Feb. 7.

Buddy and Karen Poirrier, of Lutcher, celebrate their 50th anniversary on Saturday, Feb. 8.

Whatever, Grammy

Bob Biletnikoff says he was reading a book with 7-year-old grandson Carson when his wife came in the room looking for something in a stack of boxes.

(She had just cleaned out her office at SLU after retirement.)

When she was unable to find what she was looking for, she said, “I guess it must be in the boxes in the computer room.”

Carson said, “I’ll help you find what you are looking for, Grammy.”

She answered, “Thank you, honey, but it’s such a mess in there, I’m afraid you’ll get discombobulated.”

Carson replied, “I promise, Grammy, I won’t get discombobulated — whatever that means.”

Wrong answer

Dave Grouchy heard this story at a board meeting of the Northshore Literary Society in Covington:

After his wife, Janet, mentioned the old game of “What kind of animal are you?” one of the members told of her husband’s response.

When she asked her husband of 22 years, “Honey, if I were an animal, what type of animal would I be?” he replied without hesitation, “Road kill.”

(I assume there’s more to this story, but I’m not sure I want to know. …)

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.