Dear Smiley: Recent talk about soft shell crabs reminds me of a meal dating back decades.
When Linda and I were first married, my father-in-law, Billy Verret, invited us to dinner at Alonzo’s restaurant on Central Avenue in Jefferson.
We were in the heart of the crab season, and Billy ordered the fried soft shell. When it arrived at the table, it was missing one of its claws.
Billy asked the waitress what happened to the other claw. She offhandedly remarked the crab must have gotten into a fight.
Without missing a beat, Billy replied, “Well, take this loser back and bring me the winner.”
Tall Tales Dept.
Dear Smiley: Many years ago I spent several of my Navy years in the Frozen Nawth (Rhode Island, Newfoundland). Many of those I met were great friends, but I was amazed to learn that others had almost total ignorance about living in the South.
Some seemed surprised that a Southerner could carry on an intelligent conversation. Others also had misconceptions about the South.
I decided to have a little fun and expand their knowledge of our area. One of my favorite stories was that we didn’t throw meat scraps into the garbage, but tossed them out of the back door to the alligators living in our back yard.
I grew up in Plaquemine and naturally attended LSU. Like many other local kids, commuting from the river parishes was the normal way of attending college on a budget.
They were curious as to how we traveled to college classes, since we lived in a swamp. I told them we simply used our pirogues to get to the Mississippi River levees, then waved a red flag at the passing barge towboats. They would pull up to the levee and take us to LSU, then another going downriver would bring us back home.
After a few root beers, they would believe anything and the stories would get even better!
Dear Smiley: This past weekend the Department of Homeland Security issued a heat advisory for our area.
I wondered, why Homeland Security? Did they think the Ruskies would sneak up on us as we all sat inside with the blinds closed, the A/C blasting away, and a cold root beer in our hands while watching Ice Road Truckers?
Do they know something we don’t?
Dear Paul: Haven’t you been listening to our politicians? Global warming is a Commie plot!
Brush with fame
Dear Smiley: I had a friend who told of his date with Janis Joplin.
He went to high school in Port Arthur, Texas, at the same time as Janis. He said he pestered her for a date until she finally agreed to go out with him.
He picked her up at her house and asked her where she would like to go. She opted for a drive-in restaurant that was popular with the kids.
He said they pulled in and ordered Cokes. After the Cokes came, a car with four guys in it pulled up next to them. She said, “Bye,” got out of his car and into the car with the four guys and they drove away.
He said he didn’t tell that story very often.
Dear Harry: Maybe they were driving a Mercedes Benz...
Dear Smiley: I was fixing a sandwich for lunch, and sliced up a wiener to put on a round bun. It brought to mind my grammar school days in Donaldsonville, when Mama would give me 25 cents to buy lunch.
Joe Fontana had a store about a block away from school, and he would fix a sandwich with one Frey wiener, sliced so thin that it would cover the entire piece of white bread when laid side by side. He put mustard and mayonnaise on the sandwich and sold it for 10 cents.
I can still remember his slicing knife — 18 inches long by ½-inch wide, black and sharp as a razor.
I would eat two of these and spend 5 cents on a cold drink from his Nehi drink machine.
Then I’d go outside and sit on the full-length cypress steps that ran on two sides of the green store.
At the time, I didn’t think I would still be eating the same fare 70 years later — but not at 10 cents!
Dear Smiley: Your story of driving the wrong way on a one-way street reminded me of my friend in Indialantic, Florida.
His car broke down on the bridge to Melbourne, and refused to go any direction but backward. So he backed all the way over to the mainland: a pretty good feat, in my opinion.
At Melbourne there is a split in the road, one way into Melbourne and one way out to the beach. He stopped at the light when a cop saw him facing the wrong direction.
He explained that he really was travelling the right direction, only backwards.
The cop was scratching his head, trying to find some sort of violation for this. He finally ticketed my friend for “improper backing.” I think the cop made that one up.
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.