The death of Yogi Berra, the great New York Yankees catcher, reminded me of a time when I loved the Yankees, although I wasn’t a fan.

To explain: during my high school and college years in the ’50s, the Yankees won five World Series.

Most of my fellow students passionately hated them, so getting them to bet against the Yanks was an easy task — and a profitable one for me.

Yogi, of course, was a great player, but these days he’s known more for his quips. His great ones are contained in a little book I treasure: “The Yogi Book: ‘I Really Didn’t Say Everything I Said.’”

He recalled some of his gems in a college commencement speech in 1996, giving this advice to the graduates:

“First: Never give up, because it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

“Second: During the years ahead, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

“Third: Don’t always follow the crowd, because nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

“Fourth: Stay alert — you can observe a lot by watching.

“Fifth and last: Remember that whatever you do in life, 90 percent of it is half mental.

“In closing, I want to quote myself again: Thank you, Montclair State University, for making this day necessary.”

Coin those words

— Dianne “Lady Di” Christopher, of New Roads, says, “When daughter Leslie was little, she called butterflies ‘flutter-bys.’ Now I ask you, which one makes more sense?”

— Ted Landaiche says, “Years ago a lady called my wife’s dress shop and wanted to know if they did ‘alternating.’ In a conversation regarding Christmas, a friend told me his daughter had received a pair of ‘livertards.’ He also let me know that his family had visited an ‘autumn belle’ plantation home.”

— Mimi says, “When my children were very young, they called the Piccadilly the ‘Tickledaddy.’ My husband and I thought that was so cute we didn’t correct them for years.”

— Joe Guilbeau, of Plaquemine, tells of “the officer who testified in court that the driver had failed the ‘sorority test.’”

— Pat Alba, of Metairie, says, “At a party one evening, we were discussing the often complex process of adoption by childless couples. Another guest, a young lady, mentioned an alternative: ‘artificial insinuation.’”

— Alex “Sonny” Chapman, of Ville Platte, recalls his classic spoonerism: “As a lad, I walked into the grocery store and asked the clerk for a ‘lead of hettuce.’”

Put it there

After a reader told of “heaving the shot put,” I heard from alert readers Ronnie Stutes and Shooter Mullins, with the information that the metal ball is a “shot” that you “put.”

So “put the shot” is the correct term.

Buzz buzzes off

Clyde Thompson, of Amite, says Gene Duke isn’t the only guy to have had a pet buzzard.

Buzz Buzzard had been shot, and his brother Jack kept him in a chicken coop as he recovered.

Says Clyde, “As a barefoot third grader, I was the sole caregiver of Buzz. I fed him chicken, and there was never odor problems to deal with.

“About once a week Jack would let him out to hop around a little bit. Finally, one day Buzz took off, riding the thermals and climbing to heights unknown.”

Highway hero

Jack L. Daniels, of DeRidder, says when his granddaughter had a flat tire recently, a Louisiana state trooper stopped and put on the spare for her:

“Another good deed by our law enforcement officers. Thank you, state trooper, for this assist and show of caring.”

Special People Dept.

— Mary Benedict, of Fordoche, celebrates her 102nd birthday on Friday, Sept. 25.

— Elaine Cortelloni, of Lake Sherwood Village retirement community in Baton Rouge, celebrates her 95th birthday Saturday, Sept. 26.

— On Saturday, Sept. 26, Mary C. Brechtel, of Algiers, celebrates her 95th birthday.

— Jerry Alford, of Mount Hermon, celebrated her 93rd birthday on Thursday, Sept. 24.

— Sue Bishop Cantey (Mrs. John D.) celebrates her 93rd birthday on Sunday, Sept. 27.

— Charlene Young celebrates her 91st birthday on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Fighting words

Tim Palmer says, “I was talking with a female friend of mine, who had recently had a fight with her husband. She said she wished he was more like me.

“I thought it was a compliment until she added, ‘Divorced.’”

Ganging up

Bob Hernandez, of Denham Springs, says, “Recent stories about the Fair Grounds in New Orleans reminded me of a friend who spent the day at the Fair Grounds and told me, ‘I bet on a horse that was so good, it took nine horses to beat him.’”

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.