Mention of parade throws reminds me of a couple of stories about the practice of tossing cabbages at St. Patrick’s Day parades.

Riding in a long-ago parade in Baton Rouge, I spotted in the crowd a lady I knew. I yelled to get her attention, then threw a large cabbage her way.

As she reached up to grab it, I saw a strange expression on her face. But the parade rolled on and I lost sight of her.

Later I learned she had jammed her finger trying to catch the heavy cabbage, and had to go to the emergency room.

The other story was told to me by the late Pat King, a legendary New Orleans figure who ran a Magazine Street bar called the Gin Mill.

She said one year a St. Patrick’s Day parade was rolling outside the bar, and Old Charlie, one of the regulars, was standing by the front door watching it.

“Old Charlie had been at the bar a long time,” Pat told me, “and wasn’t paying as much attention as he should have. Somebody on a float threw a huge cabbage, and it hit Old Charlie right on the head. Knocked him out! He was just lying there, by that big cabbage...”

“Wow! So what did you do?” I asked.

“Oh, we cooked it down with some corned beef, carrots and potatoes and served it at the bar...”

Catch a crawfish

After I mentioned Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade throws, Gail Stephenson, of Baton Rouge, says in addition to pink-dyed chicken feet (“flamingo feet”), some krewes also threw live crawfish:

“People who actually caught the thrown crawfish in mid-air immediately dropped them, and there were mud crawfish chimneys all over Spanish Town for weeks after the parade.”

(Gail recalls another throw I’m not going to mention, because I don’t want to encourage the krewe to do it again...)

Punch it!

Earl C. Johnson, of Baton Rouge, is nostalgic about an “indispensable implement” of his youth, a metal device with a sharp point called a “church key.”

My older friends say before the invention of pull-top beverage cans, folks kept these “church keys” in the glove compartment of cars to enable them to open a can by punching two triangular holes in the top.

Pull-tops have been around so long the phrase “church key” is no doubt a mystery to younger folks.

Come blow your horn

Wayne Weilbaecher, of Covington, says, “Your recent article about train horns brought back memories of my very first car, a ’49 Chevy, aka ‘The Beige Bazooka.’

“I was 16 and it was all mine, and I didn’t care if it would shake and rattle when it reached 40 mph, or if there were holes in the floorboard and the horn didn’t work.

“No problem — my friend’s father worked for the railroad, so I got a train horn.

“The horn had the Bazooka turning heads as I headed to Jesuit High School.”

Public servants

Russ Wise, of LaPlace, says our Tuesday “stuck in the mud” story sparked a memory:

“Connie and I, fairly new in town, were on our way to the New Orleans Airport when we pulled off the road to watch a plane land directly overhead.

“We quickly learned that we had managed to get stuck in some soft ground.

“We were rescued by two Good Samaritans who had a nice long rope in their garbage truck! They quickly pulled us back to the pavement, untied their rope, and finished their run to the landfill.”

Light it up

“Frustrated Motorist” asks, “Could you do a public service announcement to remind people about the law stating that if you are using your windshield wipers you must also turn on your headlights?

“Another commute to work this morning with at least four idiots in dark or gray cars without headlights.

“Maybe those people on radio who inform about traffic conditions could also remind people to turn on headlights in inclement weather and at dusk and dark.”

(Funny you should mention that, F.M. Driving to work Tuesday morning after spending the night in New Roads, I encountered several of the ‘idiots’ you described. On a drizzly, gloomy morning, a dark vehicle without lights is virtually invisible, and could be a serious hazard.)

Elderly advice

Jimmy Varnado says folks of a certain age can sometimes experience memory loss.

Here’s how he handles his:

“While watching TV in my living room, I think of something I want in my workshop.

“I get up and go to my shop, and forget what I went for.

“But I get SOMETHING from the shop, so my trip won’t be a total loss.”

The cookie crumbles

Jeff Willis, of Prairieville, adds to our “cleaning and kids” discussion started in the Tuesday column:

“I’ve learned over the years that cleaning the house while your kids are home is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos!”

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.