Some of my favorite stories come from folks working at industries in the Baton Rouge area — such as the practice of sending new employees to get a “skyhook” or “striped paint” or some non-existent tool.

Jimmy Varnado says some 12 retirees from ExxonMobil meet every Tuesday at Frank’s Restaurant:

“We tell lies and have a great time. People who worked at the refinery all had nicknames.

“Mop Top’s hair looked like a wet mop. He got a haircut once a year, whether he needed it or not.

“Two Trips was so big that if someone told him to ‘haul it,’ he would have to make two trips. (Note: I had to clean this one up a bit.)

“Lamp got in a fight, and one blow and he was out — like a lamp.

“Pork Chop was so ugly his mother hung a pork chop around his neck so the dogs would play with him.”

But my favorite is Buckshot, who carried his shotgun in his truck. Jimmy says he had been having trouble with its firing mechanism, and finally got it fixed.

But not before blowing his windshield out...

We’re No. 6?

Just got a note from WalletHub, a personal finance website, about a study to determine “2015’s Best & Worst Cities for Sports Fans.”

They “compared 341 cities — varying in size from small to large — across more than 50 key metrics” — such as “performance level of the city’s team(s), average ticket price of a game, number of sports bars and attendance rate.”

The study named the 10 best midsize cities for sports fans, and Baton Rouge came in sixth.

The top five were Ann Arbor, Michigan; Cincinnati, Ohio; Orlando, Florida; Gainesville, Florida, and Norman, Oklahoma. Baton Rouge beat out Columbia, South Carolina; Buffalo, New York; Waco, Texas; and Eugene, Oregon, in the midsize category.

I don’t know why we didn’t rank better — maybe they didn’t have a category for fan insanity.

Or perhaps we need more sports bars. Get to work on that, you people!

Pharmacy philosophy

Gary McGarity, of Baton Rouge, addresses a diatribe about TV medicine commercials in the Saturday column:

“I applaud the pharmacology symposium conducted by Doug Johnson and yourself on prescription and non-prescription drugs.

“This is why they taught us in pharmacy school that medicine is to sell, not to take.”

Which reminds me

Way back when I was doing public relations for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, one of my favorite guys in the group’s leadership was Dave Means, a dairy farmer from DeSoto Parish.

One afternoon I dropped by the bar at the White House Inn near the State Capitol (that’s how long ago this was), and observed Mr. Dave sitting there with a glass of dark liquid that most certainly did not come from a cow.

“Mr. Dave,” I remarked with a grin, “I thought you just drank milk!”

He replied, “No, Smiley, milk is to sell — BOURBON is to drink.”

The armadillo song

Sam Irwin says, regarding our seminar on armadillos, “Denizens of the Red Dog Saloon, off the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus (or maybe it was on campus, since I spent much of my collegiate life there), know that Atchafalaya, the renowned Cajun-rock band and pride of Lafayette, recorded a song called ‘Watch Out, Armadillos,’ after Falco’s hit song ‘Rock Me, Amadeus.’ You can hear the song on YouTube.”

Ducking the issue

Andy comments on our mention of a French superstition that if you violated Lenten rules, such as eating meat on Friday, for seven years you could turn into a werewolf:

“There are very few werewolves, because people knew what to do to avoid this. Most had gumbo on Friday, so the priest had teal ducks classified as seafood.”

Special People Dept.

— Bill and Dot Knobloch, of River Ridge, celebrate their 64th anniversary on Wednesday, Sept. 9.

— Charles and Peggy Breard, of Baton Rouge, celebrated their 58th anniversary on Monday, Sept. 7.

Baby talk

Gail C. Landry, of Belle Rose, comments on a remark by my spouse in the Tuesday column:

“Please thank Lady Katherine for letting me know that babies come from ‘a Louisiana rainy night.’

“And to think I always thought they came from king cakes!”

Long distance call

Ann P. Russell says, “Last week I called Cox and asked the young lady who answered the phone, ‘What channel will the LSU game be on this weekend?’

“Her answer was, ‘Is that a college?’

“‘Uh, yes, Louisiana State University,’ I said.

“‘I don’t watch TV,’ she said.

“Me: ‘LSU is right here in Baton Rouge.’

“She: ‘I am in Georgia.’”

(Ann, did you ask if that was the state or the country?)

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.