Col. David Couvillon, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, tells of a surprise meeting:

“While in Iraq in early 2003, our Marine Reserve unit was occupying a captured Iraqi airfield along with several other Marine regular units.

“We had established a perimeter defense, and I was inspecting the guard posts and positions near midnight. The night was black as tar (you don’t use lights at night when the enemy is about!) and I was moving from one post to another.

“Approaching one location, I am challenged with the password from out of the blackness.

“Seeing neither person nor the post (hell, I couldn’t even see the ground while standing!), I answered with the correct counter-password, and the voice comes back, ‘Mr. David?’

“Caleb Kleinpeter, from Addis, was standing guard that night. He had been on active duty in the Marines for a few years.

“As a teenager, he had been a long-time member of our West Baton Rouge Junior Deputy shooting team.

“We were both astounded to meet up with each other in the middle of the night in the ‘middle of nowhere’ Iraq!”

Stretching the line

Jean Haydel, of River Ridge, says our mention of Bob Ruby on WWL radio brought back this memory:

“Years ago, I would listen to Ruby while driving on business.

“He started a survey so that he could draw the ‘grits line’ on the U.S. map. The points on the grits line would be established by callers who would report restaurants where grits would be standard on a breakfast plate.

“He received a call from a trucker traveling in Little Rock, who told Ruby of a truck stop in Montana where grits was served.

“Some strange ‘grits line.’”

Which reminds me

I’ve told this story before, but I still get a kick out of it:

At a business writers’ conference in Minneapolis many years ago, Roland Daigre and I went into a downtown cafeteria for breakfast.

I was surprised and delighted to see a large pan of steaming grits, so I got a big glob of it to go with my bacon and eggs.

Roland got a huge kick out of my reaction when I buttered and salted my “grits” — only to discover that I was eating cream of wheat.

I’m not sure what cream of wheat is — but I can guarantee, it ain’t grits...

The joy of youth

Carole Ackman, of Baton Rouge, says, “My husband and I were eating at a local restaurant which had many ‘healthy’ choices on the menu.

“Across from us was a family of four — the parents and two small children.

“You could tell by the look on the children’s faces that they did not look forward to eating any of the healthy items on the plates of those around them.

“Finally, the waitress delivered their ‘kid plates.’ Much to their surprise and delight, each plate contained a hamburger slider and french fries, without anything green in sight.

“One of them exclaimed, ‘This is FAST FOOD!’ They could not contain their happiness.

“It was a win-win situation; their parents could eat without hearing any complaints, and they had their ‘fast food.’

“My husband and I, in our late 60s, who had ordered from the healthy menu, went home dreaming about our guilt-free ‘fast food’ days of the past.”

The joy of reading

Pat Hoth reminds folks in the Baton Rouge area that “the absolute last date for accepting books for this year’s Book Bazaar (by Friends of the LSU Libraries) is Feb. 11 at the Book Barn on River Road.

“We have some treasures and some trash, something for everyone, and hope to see lots of people at the bazaar March 5-7.”

Special People Dept.

Doris Stagg, of Eunice, celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Sarah Harrison, of Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church, celebrates her 93rd birthday on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

Jim and Becky Moss, formerly of Shreveport and Baton Rouge, currently living in New Orleans, celebrate their 60th anniversary on Wednesday, Feb. 4.

Father’s day

Duane Smith, of Port Allen, says, “Maybe ‘ironic’ isn’t the correct word, and ‘oxymoron’ doesn’t fit either, and maybe it is just my warped sense of humor, but I find it strange (and pretty funny) that a headline in the paper refers to a scientist as ‘the father of the birth control pill.’”

One little word

Shirley Fleniken says this story shows why we should always choose our words with care:

Dewey is sitting at the bar staring morosely into his beer. Steve walks in, sits down, and asks him what the problem is.

“Well,” said Dewey, “I ran afoul of one of those awkward questions women ask. Now I’m in deep trouble at home.”

“What kind of question?” asked Steve.

“My wife asked me if I would still love her when she gets old, fat and wrinkly.”

“That’s easy,” said Steve. “You just say, ‘Of course I will.’”

“Yeah,” said Dewey, “that’s what I meant to say, except I said, ‘Of course I DO...’”

Talk to 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.