Dear Smiley: Your mention of fortune cookies inspired memories.
When I lived in New Orleans back in the 1980s, I frequently took my family to eat at East China restaurant in New Orleans East.
We became good friends with the owner, and she would frequently come to our table and talk.
One night, she told us of a misadventure earlier in the week.
She said one evening, she noticed customers looking distressed when they opened their fortune cookies and read the enclosed notes.
When she checked, she learned that a box of fortune cookies she received contained a novelty item the company made called “misfortune cookies.”
Customers got messages like, “When you leave the restaurant you will be hit by a truck” or “Your stocks will lose half their value.”
She quickly threw away that box of cookies, and checked the message in one of the cookies in the next box she opened before sharing them with customers.
Dear Smiley: My father, Pete Macaluso, was an electrician construction worker, working in Georgia the last two years before he retired.
I would send him and Mama several pounds of Community Coffee every now and then. I think the only way Mama could keep him civil was to brew Community.
Just before they were to come home, Mama sent me some coupons for toilet paper and soap — she wanted to stock up because Daddy wouldn’t be drawing that big paycheck every week.
I went to Wal-Mart and used all the coupons at once. I had about 80 rolls of toilet paper in the buggy and about three dozen bars of soap.
I had to look to the side of the buggy to guide it because the toilet paper was stacked so high.
When I called Mama and told her I got all the soap and toilet paper, she said, “You used all the coupons at the same time? I meant for you to get a little at a time.”
Then she started laughing, and it dawned on me what I had done.
I can just imagine what people thought when all I bought that day was toilet paper and soap!
Dear Smiley: Hearing all the stories about people bringing Louisiana items to far-off places makes me feel better.
I thought we were the only crazy Cajuns bringing Louisiana across the country.
My cousin and I are from Eunice. She moved out to California but missed all of the goodies from home.
The item that was missed most was sausage from Johnson’s Grocery. When I would fly out to visit her, at least two 5-pound boxes were in my carry-on luggage.
We froze and wrapped them in newspaper but always joked that I would be in a lot of trouble if the sniffer dogs got near me.
Other items included but were not limited to Community Coffee, seasoning, roux, tasso, cream of shrimp soup and extra-hot Rotel.
Dear Smiley: I saw your mention of Marie Merrill’s 90th birthday. What a flood of wonderful memories it brought back.
My parents (in their late 80s) still live on Government Street, three doors down from the Merrills’ house.
I grew up with Miss Marie’s youngest son, Jan, who passed away in December 2011, and spent many days running wild at her home.
My broken wrist incident in fourth-grade took place while Jan and I were horsing around with one of her other sons, Glen.
Miss Marie’s parents, the Accardos, lived next door to her on the corner.
After school, all the neighborhood kids would congregate for sporting events at the still-vacant lot at Government and Croydon, across the street from the Merrills.
Thanks for the memories.
Dear Smiley: Back in the early ’70s, Daddy was transferred to Oregon City, Ore., to take over a job in a paper mill.
It was then they found out about the problem Oregonians were having with crawfish.
When crawfish migrated out of the hills, there were so many you would think your yard was moving. Streets would become choked with them; storm drains would clog up with them.
The city and state used snowplows to clean the streets after their migration. They would even spray to poison them.
But Mom said not to worry, because “your daddy and the rest of the Louisiana transplants know what to do with them.”
When the folks moved back to Louisiana between 1989 and 1990, she said the Oregonians were warming up to crawfish.
Now, when they go back to visit our baby sister and her family, you can’t go anywhere without a crawfish festival being held.
Write Smiley at email@example.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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