Smiley: Speaking Southern

Dear Smiley: My sister swore that back in the ’60s, at the K&B at Oak and Carrollton in New Orleans, she overheard an exchange between a woman with a thick honeysuckle drawl and a confused druggist.

The woman asked, “Y’all got flice water?”

“Any WHAT?” replied the druggist.

“Flice water,” replied the customer.

“I don’t understand,” the druggist said.

“FLICE WATER!” said the increasingly frustrated woman.

“What’s it used for?” the druggist asked

“Why, to swat flies, of course!” replied the woman.


River Ridge

Limited menu

Dear Smiley: One Easter Sunday years ago, our parents took us to dinner in the French Quarter at what Mother called the city’s finest restaurant.

The waiter came to my little sister, dressed in her Buster Brown straw hat, to take her order.

She said, “I’ll have a hamburger.”

He replied, “Oh, but we don’t serve hamburgers in this establishment.”

She turned to Mother and said, “You told me this was the finest restaurant in town — and they don’t even serve hamburgers!”

(Hint: We still have our picture taken outside standing in line waiting to get in — and they now even serve steaks.)


New Orleans

Creative medication

D ear Smiley: I thought about sending this to Heloise, but it seemed to be more appropriate for your readers.

I have a couple of prescription medicines that I should take each afternoon. Often I would forget to take them.

I also wait until after 5 o’clock to have my martini.

To help me remember to take my medicine, I put an empty medicine bottle over the neck of my gin.

It reminds me to take my medicine. (I never forget to take my martini.)



Sorrows of wartime

Dear Smiley: A shout-out to the Greatest Generation:

When my Aunt Ella Mae Soileau turned 18 in 1943, she left rural Evangeline Parish for New Orleans looking for work.

This hard-working and beautiful farm girl found a job as a tack welder in Avondale Shipyard.

When Life magazine did a story on all of the “Rosie the Riveters” throughout the country, the camera found this pretty Creole girl.

While in New Orleans, Ella Mae was discovered by a handsome young Naval airman, Leo Boutte.

A whirlwind romance and marriage was followed by Leo shipping out to the Pacific, where he was awarded several combat citations.

The story doesn’t have a happy ending. Naval Airman Boutte’s plane and crew were reported MIA in July 1945, one month before ‘The Bomb(s)’ and VJ Day.

Besides a young widow, he left behind an infant daughter, Gayle, he never met.


Ville Platte

Unfortunate accent

Dear Smiley: When I was a sixth-grader in Welsh in the late ’50s, we were a school full of Cajun children.

A new student from Boston started school there. He was an intelligent, friendly boy whose claim to fame was that he had received his first polio shot from Jonas Salk, the developer of the vaccine.

He liked his new school — he said he could wear jeans, when in Boston the students had to wear “trousers” to school. He had a very, very strong accent. In a couple of months he was placed in speech therapy class.

“This is a true story!”



Cultures collide

Dear Smiley: While camping in Sattler, Texas (near Canyon Lake), I was outside the camper fiddlin’ around when the couple next door strolled over and opened the conversation:

He: “Where y’all fruumm?”

Me: “Laff-yette, Louisiana.”

He: “I reckon you know that you’re mispronouncing that. Its Luh-FAH-yette.”

Me: “Actually, it’s a proper name, and I can pronounce it any way I wish to pronounce it.”

She: “My, you must have been a schoolteacher.”

Me: “No, I never TAUGHT school, but I WENT to school.”

He: “Well, we’ve got to mosey on down to Sally’s Resale Shop. If Mama doesn’t go down there twice a day, she worries she might miss out on a good deal.”

They left and never looked our way again, except to peek at us through their curtains whilst we were outdoors enjoying our afternoon beverages.



Memorable nicknames

Dear Smiley: When I was growing up in Kansas City, Mo., two area grocery stores earned legendary nicknames.

One was a Sunfresh store outside the booze district that was frequently robbed. It was referred to as “Gunfresh.”

Another was a 24-hour supermarket in a bohemian but seedy part of town. Its moniker was “Night of the Living Safeway.”



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