Mary Drake Bell says, “Many years ago, while a Peace Corps volunteer living in a mountain village in Honduras, Spam and Campbell’s pork and beans were luxury items.

“Once, when the U.S. ambassador visited me, he was served Spam, baked in my little tin oven that sat on top of my two-burner portable kerosene stove. Along with this delicacy he got tomatoes and potato salad. This delightful meal was served on tin plates from a Boy Scout cooking kit, at a little wooden table in my kitchen that had a dirt floor. A meal I’m sure he gladly forgot.

“Pork and beans were even more scarce, too good for the ambassador, and could be purchased in the capitol, Tegucigalpa, in the gourmet section of the only department store in town.

“For anyone truly interested in losing weight, I suggest living in a remote village in a foreign land, with no transportation other than two feet, no grocery store, very limited electricity (like 10 watts for a few hours a day, maybe) and where Spam and pork and beans are considered gourmet foods. This is a diet that works!”

Wishful thinking

“Fletch” tells of four wishes:

“I wish I had invented orange-and-white highway makers. (No matter which road I travel, I see hundreds.)

“I wish I owned a blue-tarp factory. (During hurricane season every other house left standing seemed to have a blue roof.)

“I wish I had the Baton Rouge contract for street signs. (Though most are necessary, racing through my subdivision at 30 mph, oops, 25 now, I see too many stop signs no matter which way I go.)

“When Bama comes to Tiger Stadium this fall, I wish I would see four or more passes to our tight ends to free up the running game. (Wouldn’t it be great to hear Coach Saban say, ‘I didn’t see that coming!’)”

Napkin, France

Harriet St. Amant, of Baton Rouge, says, “After my husband’s second tour of duty in Vietnam, he and our family were transferred to Paris so he could study French in depth prior to teaching same at West Point.

“We spent about a month searching for a good place to live. We ultimately found Bourg-la-Reine, south of Paris, perfect for our needs. Principally, it was convenient to a Metro line.

“The first time I boarded a train going north into Paris, I noticed at one station a prominent sign reading ‘LAPLACE.’

“My English-dominant brain immediately read that as ‘Lap Lace.’ And ‘Napkin’ it became forevermore.”

Soggy business

“In 1982-83 we were in England,” says Kay. “The Devon County Fair was scheduled after incredible rains had turned the fair grounds into an English swamp.

“A radio commentator warned that it was terrifically ‘splodgey.’ He went on to explain that splodgey is when you take the second step in your wellies and your foot steps, but the wellie stays rooted in the mud.

“We went; the announcer had not exaggerated.”

The cowboy way

Howie Lake says, “All the Bull Durham tobacco stories brought back memories of my childhood.

“No, I didn’t smoke Bull Durham, but like all kids we wanted to be like the cowboys on TV.

“There was a bubble gum called ‘Gold Nugget.’ Little odd-shaped pieces of gum were gold colored and came in a small cotton sack with draw strings. We would keep it in our shirt pocket, and always closed the bag by pulling the string with our teeth.”

Wheel with a view

Bill Grundmeyer, of New Orleans, says the gondola across the Mississippi River wasn’t the only place to get a great view of the fireworks at the 1984 World Exposition in New Orleans:

“My mother, Clara Grey Grundmeyer, in a wheelchair, and I attended the fair 24 times during its duration, and were able to visit most of the attractions, including the Ferris wheel, which was another good vantage point to view the nightly fireworks display.”

Special People Dept.

Mildred Hopper celebrated her 95th birthday on Tuesday, March 22.

Eloise Roddy, of Gonzales, celebrates her 91st birthday on Wednesday, March 23.

Cool talker

Mention of the hip DJs on Baton Rouge’s WXOK radio brought this recollection from Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville:

“One night while I was listening and studying, the DJ said the singer whose recording he had played ‘was like a roach on the porch, when it’s too smooth to move!’”

Littlest drama queen

Pat Alba, of Metairie, says, “In the ’60s, at age 18 months, daughter Cathy occasionally watched portions of ‘Ben Casey,’ one of my favorite TV soaps. (About a hunky doctor.)

“One day at the laundromat, after I loaded freshly-dried sheets into the cart, Cathy asked to ride on top.

“Then, as I rolled the ‘gurney,’ she lay back dramatically and moaned, ‘Dr. Casey; Dr. Casey...’”

Contacting Smiley

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.