Smiley: Encountering pasta

Dot Cooke, of Metairie, tells a tale of coming to America and assimilation (with meatballs):

Her late father-in-law, Frank “Dad” Cooke, she says, “came with his father, John, and sister Netta when he was 15.

“Bored one day in school back in Portavogie, Ireland, he had put his initials in India ink on the back of his hand.

“When he came to Ellis Island they pulled him out (anyone with a tattoo or marking they detained).

“Kept overnight, they were fed spaghetti and meatballs. How many people from Northern Ireland had ever seen pasta? Frank wouldn’t eat it, insisting they were ‘white worms.’

“Scroll forward 61 years — our family was in New York for Thanksgiving when Dad announced that the following day would be his 61st anniversary of coming to the United States.

“I organized the day — we went to the Statue of Liberty and then to Ellis Island.

“When we got home to Woodhaven, Queens, my mother-in-law, Phyllis, and I made spaghetti and meatballs for the family. Dad ate a great portion.”

Get their goat

One of the enduring traditions of Baton Rouge’s Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade is the Krewe of Roadkill’s “stationary float,” set up on the parade route as a tailgating site.

Each year the group selects an animal whose meat will be barbecued at the site — I seem to recall deer, raccoon, duck, nutria and maybe possum.

Wendy Meador says the choice for 2014 is goat.

The krewe’s theme is “Let’s Goatee 2 the Mardi Gras.”

Ryan and Dixie Meador are king and queen, and the “master goats chefs” are Bobby “Billygoat” Meador and “Cabrito Jim” Bickman.

Eat dirt, loser!

Christian Nick adds to our tales of the knife game mumbletypeg (aka mumblepeg):

“As young ones in the Gentilly area of New Orleans in the late ’40s, we had four or five players per game, and the one with the highest number of misses lost.

“Each of the survivors, using his knife, would get three taps to drive a wooden matchstick into the ground.

“The loser had to remove the matchstick from the ground with his teeth.

“Sounds horrible, but in our group no one ever suffered from anything but having to wash his mouth out under the faucet.”

Getting results

Sometimes this column actually serves a useful purpose.

After our reader, who called herself “Pinky,” told of her desire for a wooden pink flamingo (put in the LSU Lakes by devotees of the Spanish Town Mardi Gras festivities), she heard from Richard Taylor:

“A great big Spanish Town THANK YOU to Richard for giving me a flamingo!

“It’s been in his backyard since last year, and he thought it needed a new home.

“We didn’t have to go into the lake, and he served hubby and me a steaming cup of Community Coffee! A true Southern gentleman.”

Musical interlude

Tookie Hendry says he had just compiled a Carnival music playlist when I mentioned favorite tunes.

He listed most favorites, and added “Handa Wanda,” by Bo Dollis & Wild Magnolias; “Second Line,” by Stop Inc.; “Iko, Iko,” by The Dixie Cups (Sugar Boy Crawford recorded it as “Jock-A-Mo”); and “Big Chief” by Professor Longhair.

Tookie also mentioned such Professor Longhair classics as “Tipitina” and “Bald Head,” which aren’t technically Carnival songs but capture the New Orleans spirit.

Highway heroes

“Baker Residents” offer thanks to “the Baton Rouge police officer who helped us out in the Scotlandville area while we were changing a flat tire.”

Worthy causes

Adult survivors of traumatic brain injuries have an opportunity to attend weekend camps planned especially for them.

The Louisiana District of Pilot International sponsors camps for TBI survivors and caregivers Feb. 28–May 2 at the Lions Camp in Leesville.

Registration deadline for “Camp Fleur de Lis” is Friday, Feb. 21.

A $100 fee covers meals and lodging. Some scholarships are available. Contact fleurdeliscamp2014@gmail.com.

Special People Department

Ruby L. Casemore celebrates her 98th birthday Thursday, Feb. 13.

Lionel and Sadie Templet, of Plaquemine, celebrate 65 years of marriage Thursday, Feb. 13.

Donnie and Lou Bonanno celebrated their 59th anniversary Wednesday, Feb. 12.

Thought for the Day

From Marvin Borgmeyer: “Respect your parents. They passed school without Google!”

Med school humor

Harriet St.Amant blames this one on Stan Kegel:

“Two medical residents were invited to a costume party after their shift ended.

“They stopped at the Army-Navy store to see if they could find costumes, but only had enough money to buy one pair of fatigues.

“But that was OK. One wore the top half and one wore the bottom half. They went as an upper and lower GI.”

Write 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.