Smiley: 35 years of stories

I knew this day was coming, but it’s still something of a shock to realize this column is 35 years old today.

So it’s true that time flies when you’re having fun. …

As I’ve said before, the column was started as an experiment, and I was assured I could go back to my job as a business reporter if it didn’t work.

If it has worked, it’s thanks to all the talented story-tellers, jokesters and just plain weird folks who contribute to it every day.

This is an exciting time for The Advocate, and for me personally.

I’ve suddenly acquired a whole new batch of contributors from the New Orleans area, including those north of Lake Pontchartrain.

They have the same kind of offbeat, funny, touching stories that folks in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas have been telling me for years.

And some of them are just as weird as my other contributors.

(Weird people in New Orleans — who knew?)

I must be looking older, because lately people have been asking me when I plan on retiring.

My answer to them is always the same — I’ve been told by management that I have to keep working on this column-writing thing until I get it right.

So if you’ll just keep writing for me, I’ll keep taking the credit — and collecting the checks.

Works for me. …

Man vs. GPS

Carl Spillman says, “On a recent trip to Indiana for a graduation my wife decided to use her iPhone GPS.

“The first time I asked her where we were, she responded with, ‘We are 16.5 miles from an Olive Garden and you are doing over 80 again.’

“On the return leg we made an unscheduled visit to downtown Chicago. I will never complain about Baton Rouge traffic again.

“And we are going to purchase an old-fashioned atlas.

“I never want to hear ‘We are rerouting you’ again.’’

Wet branches

Martha Wright says reading T. Med Hogg’s story in this column about “crawdads caught in a branch” (a small stream running into a larger one) reminded her of “the time we lived in Blacksburg, Virginia, and I was working for the Department of Social Services.

“My job was to interview people to see if they were eligible for assistance. Part of that job meant a home visit.

“As I was getting directions to this one lady’s home, she warned me to be careful of the ‘frozen branches.’

“Of course it was winter, and all I could imagine was ice-covered tree branches that had fallen — of course I would be able to see them.

“She was right — there were unseen ‘frozen branches’ running across the road.

“Fortunately, some co-worker set me straight, and I made the trip to her house without a mishap.”

In the round

Ronnie Stutes says, “A recent item in The Advocate stated that state colleges would present displays in the ‘State Capitol Rotunda.’

“It’s worth noting that the State Capitol does not have a rotunda, a term that properly applies to a round building or room (such as the beautiful new rotunda at the Baton Rouge airport), with the same root word as ‘rotund.’

“The large public space between the two chambers is Memorial Hall.”

Plan ahead

Cyclist Claire Ford says, “I learned a valuable lesson the other day while riding my usual 10 miles — NEVER ride further than you can WALK back.

“I accidently rolled over something that left a pinhole in my tire, causing a flat.

“I had to push the bike all the way back (uphill/against the wind?).

“Thankfully, I hadn’t gotten much further than two miles.”

Special People Dept.

Carl and Juanita Spears will celebrate 60 years of marriage on Wednesday, June 4.

Crash course

Doug Johnson, of Watson, our unpaid TV critic, issues this analysis:

“TV watchers in the Baton Rouge area are fortunate to have lots of citizens who buy cars and wreck them.

“Otherwise, how could the stations survive without money from ads by dealers who sell cars and lawyers representing accident victims?

“I only wish the mothers of the guys doing the ads had taught them it is impolite to point at people they are speaking to.”

Lost in translation

Now that the Anders abode in Spanish Town can get sandwiches, pizzas and Chinese food delivered to its door, its residents are dining out, and cooking in, less often.

One of the joys of Chinese dinner nights is the fortune cookie that serves as a modest dessert and delivers an always interesting message.

The latest cookie I got told me: “Patience is your alley at the moment. Don’t worry!”

But before I could be too amused by this, I was humbled by this thought: Could I do any better translating it into Chinese?

Write Smiley at 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.