Smiley: Home of the best

Dear Smiley: I was in a used book store in Natchez, Miss., recently and saw a table displaying seven cookbooks and a sign stating “BEST Mississippi Cookbooks.”

They were River Road Recipes I, II and III; Pots Pans & Pioneers; From Emeril’s Kitchen; John Folse’s Plantation Celebrations; and Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen.

Since these were Mississippi’s BEST cookbooks, I bought five of them.



Fun in surgery

Dear Smiley: About people like mechanics asking for left-handed monkey wrenches, etc.:

When I was a student at Charity Hospital School of Nursing, in my operating room rotation, a surgeon barked to the circulating nurse, a student, “Quick! Get me some Wharton’s jelly!”

After frantic rushing about, we later found out it is a gelatinous intercellular substance consisting of primitive connecting tissue of the umbilical cord.

It is named for the British anatomist Thomas Wharton (1614-1673).

Surgeons are easily amused — students are easily confused.



Local angels

Dear Smiley: While I normally share quips and quibbles with your readers, today I would like to share a different sort of story.

My daughter Lauren was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has been undergoing chemotherapy for the past few months.

While traditional medicine is working on the cancer, the support she has received from friends and strangers alike is uplifting her heart and soul and, truthfully, mine as well.

Last Saturday her friends had a sidewalk sale at Time Warp on Government Street to raise money to help defray some of her medical expenses.

People from all walks of life came to help the “Love for Lauren” fundraiser.

Some she knew, some she didn’t.

So readers, know that if you share your time, a note, a simple phone call to someone facing illness or the many other challenges that life brings to our doorsteps, you help heal the spirit of those in need.

Baton Rouge does indeed have many angels unaware.


Baton Rouge

Fisherman’s beer

Dear Smiley: So many of your stories trigger memories.

My maternal grandfather died when I was only 3½ years old.

But even now, 63 years later, I still remember him.

I remember him walking home from Irene’s Bar in Freeport, Long Island, N.Y.

Poppy would get nine cans of beer (remember, this was well before six-packs), and carry them home in a brown paper bag.

My older cousin Madelaine reminded me that when Poppy died, his ashes were put into nine beer cans.

One was put in the bilge of the boat he built, The Queenie.

The others were taken out into the Atlantic Ocean off Jones Beach and dumped at No. 2 Buoy, where Poppy liked to fish.



Dining with whimsy

Dear Smiley: Your ongoing stories about “The Skunk” and “Da Wabbit,” both legendary Lafayette eateries, bring to mind a third establishment owned by the same family.

The Leon Meyers family had a restaurant on East St. Mary Street, in the Oil Center, named “The Putty Tat,” and it served the Oil Center until late in the ’60s.



Wild Kingdom South

Dear Smiley: My heart is still palpitating!

As I was leaving Galatoire’s and getting into my car, an animal ran across Perkins Road and raced through the parking lot, inches from my leg and the open car door.

I could hear its claws scratching the concrete.

It was a coyote.


Baton Rouge

Dear Lillie: That must have been the day Galatoire’s had Roadrunner Ragout on the menu.

Sorry, that’s silly ...

Really, it was probably an escaped mascot from the Coyote Blues restaurant around the corner.

Lying down on the job

Dear Smiley: Again this morning in the Acadiana edition of The Advocate you were horizontal.

I much prefer you to be vertical.

When I first open my paper to the B section and don’t see your smiling face in the upper left corner, I have a small panic attack.

I have conditioned myself to look below the fold to see if you are still with us.

Fortunately, you have been.

Should you have any influence with those who lay out the paper, please ask them to keep you vertical.



Dear Harry: I have no say in making up the paper, nor would I want any. At my age I’m just happy that I’m only horizontal in print ...

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.