Smiley: Changing topics

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Dear Smiley: While shopping recently in Gonzales, my husband, Buddy, and I met “Slick” Schexnayder, a gentleman who had moved from our community years ago.

After asking about his and his family’s well-being, I excused myself and continued to shop, to give the two men an opportunity to catch up on one of their favorite topics — restoration of classic cars.

Upon my return, I heard Slick and Buddy laughing about their conversations of 40 years ago, when the topic was pretty girls.

They said that now the topic of their conversations was health: High cholesterol, high blood pressure, high sugar and prostate and heart surgery.

Do you think that perhaps talk of pretty girls affects a man’s health?

KAREN POIRRIER

Lutcher

Dear Karen: Well, pretty girls can certainly age a fellow. … I’ve heard …

Sing it straight

Dear Smiley: Many thanks to Dr. George Bourgeois for his letter about current pop “artists’ ” versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

He said what many of us have thought for a long time.

These so-called singers seem to think the occasion is about them; it is not.

Their originality has nothing to do with singing our national anthem.

The emotions the anthem should invoke are patriotism, loyalty to this country and pride in being an American.

The role of the soloist is to lead the group in expressing these feelings through music, not to produce a new and always inferior version of our song.

JEAN MATKIN

New Orleans

Train nostalgia

Dear Smiley: I’m sure you have many readers who remember “The Southern Belle,” a passenger train operated by the Kansas City Southern railroad.

It ran from Kansas City to New Orleans, and Baton Rouge was one of its stops.

The Panama Limited was an all-Pullman passenger train operated by the Illinois Central Railroad that ran from New Orleans to Chicago.

It didn’t serve Baton Rouge, but many from here would board the train in Hammond.

A gentleman whose name I can’t recall ran a taxi service to take passengers to and from Hammond.

WILLIAM SMITH, M.D.

Baton Rouge

Off the rails

Dear Smiley: Regarding your mention of “riding the rails” — not all train rides are pleasant.

My mom has always loved riding the train and decided to take it from Hammond to Memphis, Tenn., recently.

To begin the trip, the train from New Orleans could not get to Hammond because of a freight train derailment on the tracks.

A chartered bus was brought in to take the train passengers from Hammond to Jackson, Miss.

The driver of the bus was not familiar with the area around Brookhaven, Miss.

She turned on the wrong road, tried to turn around in the middle of the street and ended up stuck on the median.

They eventually made it to Memphis, about two hours behind schedule.

You can’t beat the price of a train ride, but be prepared for the unexpected.

JEANETTE LOTT

Baton Rouge

The good doctor

Dear Smiley: About Dr. Tichenor and his antiseptic:

Evelyn Witherspoon, a wonderful ceramist who lived to be 97, remembered that when she was a child, her family lived across the street from Dr. George H. Tichenor.

Once she fell off her bicycle, skinned her knee and began to cry.

Dr. Tichenor ran out of his house and treated her wound with his wondrous invention.

He was a surgeon in the Confederate army and supposedly created his antiseptic to treat injured soldiers.

Does anyone remember the delightful radio and television ads for Dr. Tichenor’s with “Cajun Pete?”

KENNETH HOLDITCH

Baton Rouge

The dark side

Dear Smiley: Growing up in St. Landry Parish, I was raised on Creole Belle coffee — which was mailed to me at all of my Navy duty stations until they went out of business.

My grandmother’s coffee was legendary for its kick.

Rumor had it that she donated what was left over each day to the highway department to fill potholes.

Naturally, it was made in a French drip pot, and the water was poured “VERY SLOWLY” over the completely filled grounds container.

Once the drip was complete, the coffee was poured out and poured over the grounds again “VERY SLOWLY” to make sure it was strong enough.

Demitasse cups were all anyone ever wanted.

BO BIENVENU

Prairieville

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.