Dear Smiley: Reading all of the neighborly Hurricane Isaac cleanup stories from those not in a position to do so brings back a story:
A hurricane came through Baton Rouge at a time when all hurricanes were named after women.
Our next-door neighbor’s husband was out of town on business and could not attend to any cleanup. She was at home with small children and couldn’t attend to it either.
Knowing she had two strapping young men in their early teens with absolutely nothing to do since school had been canceled, my mother ordered brother Dave and me to clean up the neighbors’ yard and stack everything to the road.
While we labored, there was a telephone conversation between Mom and the neighbor:
Neighbor: “Peggy, I can’t believe your sons are cleaning up my yard. What can I pay them?”
Mom: “You can do something nice for them, but you will not pay them one red cent.”
The taste of that delicious chocolate pound cake is still very clear in my mind.
Dear Smiley: On Sunday, our church conducted our annual Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan service.
As the list of Scottish names was read, those hearing their clan name stood up. Imagine my shock in hearing the name “Smiley” called out.
As a dedicated fan and sometimes contributor to your column, I felt it incumbent upon me to conduct some research into my surprising discovery.
I found that your tartan, in plaid like the others, is predominantly green. Your motto is “Industry, valor and fortitude.” (Your wife may question this, as well as your employer.)
Your clan name has spelling variations, including “Smellie.”
I also found that various products can be purchased exhibiting your tartan/family coat of arms/family crest, including key chains, coffee mugs and mouse pads, as well as rompers and onesies for your great-grandchildren.
Considering the plethora of ridiculous costumes you’ve worn through the years, I seriously doubt a kilt would even be noticed around your workplace.
Dear Smiley: As a new reader of The Advocate, I must tell you that the feature I enjoy most is your column.
Regarding your mention of lobster rolls served by McDonald’s in the Northeast — they cannot outdo the grits served at McDonald’s down here in the greater New Orleans area.
They are pretty good for grits not made at home from scratch.
We started buying them after Isaac blew through town, disabling some of our usual fast-food haunts.
By the way, when we “evacuated” to Baton Rouge for a couple of days after Isaac (no power), we found out the nearest McDonald’s does not serve grits, or biscuits with white gravy!
How can two cities so close to each other in one small state be so different?
MELINDA COTHAM CRUTTI
Dear Smiley: I recently read the reference to the B. Bennett jeans, purchased from Izzy Saltz’ S&W Men’s Store, in your column.
I owned B. Bennett for many years, having bought out various and sundry relatives and moving our facility to Bogalusa.
The jeans to which you refer were probably our “peanut” jeans, Style No. 125, and Izzy Saltz was a good customer.
Sadly, like a lot of Louisiana original institutions, we are no longer in business, having moved from New Orleans to Bogalusa, to manufacturing in Honduras, and finally, unable to compete with Chinese imports.
We closed while still profitable. In addition to us, S&W is no longer in business, nor is D.H. Holmes, nor is anyone opening any of those type stores.
Dear Smiley: The “rat stuff” story (about the bass caught with a rat in his mouth) reminds me of a hunting trip back in the ’50s in the swamp below Lee’s Landing in Tangipahoa Parish.
Seeing no game, I was making my way back to camp when I came upon another hunter, a local who was wearing no shoes, although it was quite cold.
I asked him if he had seen any squirrels.
He said he had shot one out of a tall cypress, but when he went over to pick it up,
a huge cottonmouth moccasin had the squirrel in his mouth.
He did not argue over ownership.
Santa Maria, Calif.
Dear Smiley: When we were young in north Louisiana, we ate so many turnip greens that Mom had to tie coal oil rags around our ankles to keep the cutworms from getting us.
Dear Chuck: Thanks for the memory. My dad, Smiley Sr., from southwest Mississippi, told that story every time my mom served greens. And he never called kerosene anything but “coal oil.”
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.
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