Pat Atkinson says, “Julia Hawkins and I had a bit of excitement the other day. We heard a loud flapping noise in the fireplace. Not to worry, we have often had chimney swifts nesting in there.

“BUT, this was not a swift. It was a full-grown duck, probably a female wood duck!

“She flew out of the chimney like a speeding bullet, flying with such force at the windows we were afraid she was going to injure herself. After many tries, we weren’t able to catch her.

“Since it was a Saturday, Animal Control wasn’t in the office — the recording said to call 911! We got a big laugh out of that, and said they had never had a ‘duck call!’

“When we did get in touch with Animal Control, a very nice gentleman came out and caught her, and took her to a lake.

“We had our own DUCK DYNASTY!”

No stinkin’ way!

Some readers say those super-strong Picayune cigarettes served one useful purpose — discouraging people from smoking.

— Craig M. Bennett, of Morgan City, says, “My father and brother smoked Picayunes in the early ’60s. My father used to say they were made from all the different tobaccos that fell from wagons the mules were pulling into tobacco plants — workers would scrape up the tobacco, mud and other droppings! As bad as they smelled, I believe it! That is a reason I do not smoke today!”

— Chapman Morgan, of Santa Maria, California, says, “I smoked Phillip Morris, but every couple of months I would buy a pack of Picayunes, to make the Phillip Morris taste milder.

“One morning, after imbibing too many root beers the night before, I was driving to work and reached for a cigarette.

“I had a pack of Picayunes at the time. As soon as that putrid smoke hit my raw throat I literally had to stop the car until I could catch my breath.

“I pitched the Picayunes out the window and never smoked again. That was almost 60 years ago.”

The winner!

Our Creative Door Handle Contest lurches to an end, and the winner is Margaret Dubuisson Blitch, of Baton Rouge, who in the April 25 column told a touching story of how her dad, during her childhood in Algiers, nailed a wooden spool to their screen door so she and her two sisters could come in and out without calling for their mom to let them in.

As Margaret said, “It may not have been the fanciest door handle, but it was the sweetest.”

She and a guest are entitled to a po-boy and root beer at the Pastime. (Attention, Advocate expense account person.)

David Bretz, of Zachary, suggested the contest, and although he didn’t win, I feel he’s entitled to something. He said that if he won he wanted to go to Galatoire’s instead of the Pastime, so I’m awarding David a happy-hour Sazerac at the Baton Rouge Galatoire’s. (Attention, Advocate expense account person.)

Thanks to all who wrote in about their favorite door handles or knobs — thereby proving that there is no subject too trivial for this column...

Horsing around

As we wind up our series on cowboy movie stars, here’s a memory from Shirley Fleniken:

“In the spring of 1950, my sisters and I were living in Houston with our aunts. My older sister, Gayle Underwood, was 14 years old and loved horses more than she loved life itself.

“The rodeo came to town, and she wanted so badly to go. My aunt dropped her off there.

“Roy Rogers was the guest star (with Trigger). She managed to meet Roy and talk to him in Trigger’s stall. She asked, and he let her groom Trigger!

“She could pull just about anything off. This is the same girl who, five years later in Baton Rouge, got me backstage to meet Elvis!”

Special People Dept.

— Florence “Teeny” Koon Williams, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 94th birthday on Monday, May 11. She is retired from The Advocate credit department.

— Mina Crais, of New Orleans, celebrates her 91st birthday on Monday, May 11.

Flowery comment

“Felix from Mandeville” ends his note with “Roll Tide,” so you know where HE’S coming from:

He says after readers mentioned purple and gold flowers at an Alabama Welcome Center, “I called that center the same day and spoke with Ms. Gerri, the manager (by the way, she advised she is neither an Alabama nor an Auburn fan).

“She just laughed at the ridiculous assumption that purple and gold flowers were taken out because of their color. She said the Alabama Department of Transportation was changing out flower beds all over the state, due to the fact the pansies were dying (common this time of year), and were being replaced by bulbs.

“Believe me, Alabama did not send out a statewide notice to remove flowers due to comment of passing travelers.”

(Don’t you just hate it when facts get in the way of a good story...?)

Contact Smiley

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.