Mary Vernoy, of Metairie, adds to our “true grits” story collection:

“When I was in Navy boot camp in Orlando, Florida, in 1973, they served grits for breakfast.

“All the Southerners put butter, pepper and salt on theirs. All the Yankees used milk and sugar on theirs.

“We didn’t have to wonder what part of the country sailors were from — we just had to look at their grits.”

Which reminds me

One Sunday morning Lady Katherine and I were having breakfast at Frank’s on Airline Highway (Baton Rouge’s biscuit capital) when I noticed she was watching the couple at the next table with interest.

Suddenly she got up, walked over to them and asked, “What part of Minnesota are you from?”

They started chatting amiably with her, and when she returned to our table I asked her what was going on.

Lady K, who had spent some time in Minnesota during her grad school years, said she had thought she recognized their accent, but added, “When they put sugar and cream on their grits I just KNEW that’s where they were from.”

They were indeed from a small town in Minnesota, and we had a nice visit and welcomed them to Louisiana.

I advised them to try Frank’s boudin biscuits, but I don’t think they took me up on it...

Coals to Newcastle Dept.

I just have to tell one more Minnesota story:

When Lady K and I planned a trip to Winona, Minnesota, so I could meet her mom and grandmother before our marriage, we thought it would be cool to bring a case of Zapp’s potato chips, the pride of Gramercy, to Charlie’s, her favorite Winona bar.

When we showed up, proudly bearing the case of chips, the bartender said, “Good; we were almost out.”

Turns out the captain of one of the New Orleans-based riverboats lived in the Mississippi River town of Winona, and kept Charlie’s supplied with Zapp’s and other Louisiana delicacies.

Also, back then the Saints practiced across the river in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the New Orleans players often visited the pub.

So I felt right at home, munching Zapp’s under a Morten Andersen poster...

Discouraging words

“Here’s one you may want for your insults collection,” says Roy Miller:

“When I was going to LSU I had a summer job with Wildlife and Fisheries helping build dams and weirs in the marsh southeast of New Orleans.

“Our dragline operator had a saying which brought a bit of humility to us college students: ‘I teach you all I know and you still don’t know nothin’.’”

Al Bethard, of Lafayette, says, “This is an insult I heard the late Ed Vice, of Lafayette, say many times: ‘His boat is not tied too securely to the wharf. It drifts in and out with the tide.’”

Carolyn Yent, of Amite, says, “After five years at LSU, my son John was having a hard time finding a job. One day my mom asked him, ‘Are you looking for a job with the work picked out of it?’”

Looking for stuff

Frances Bennett, of Baton Rouge, says Carnival beads are needed for a Mardi Gras party for children with disabilities. Call (225) 926-4710 or (225) 324-2750.

Special People Dept.

Lillie Mae Sheets, of Azalea Estates Assisted Living in Gonzales, celebrated her 101st birthday on Tuesday, Jan. 12. She is a native of Acy and worked in the St. Amant School lunchroom for 37 years.

Irving D. Goldstein, of New Orleans, celebrates his 95th birthday on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Thought for the Day

From Jim Chapman: “At a wedding two people become one. Trouble starts when they try to decide which one.”

Life imitates movies

Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville, a former sheriff in Assumption Parish and district attorney in the 23rd Judicial District, tells of one small-town south Louisiana police chief he knew “a very long time ago” who reminded him of Buford T. Justice, the Jackie Gleason character in “Smokey and the Bandit.”

“Once, on a traffic stop for some minor violation, he asked the offender, ‘Where are you from?’

“The offender said, ‘Houston, sir.’

“The chief said, ‘Boy, don’t lie to me; your license plate says Texas.’”

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.