With the success of the University of Louisville basketball teams (both men’s and women’s), we’ve been hearing a great deal about that school, and that city, on TV and radio.

Every time I hear some announcer say “Louie-ville,” I recall my visit there for a national columnists’ conference several years ago.

We were on a bus headed for Churchill Downs, where one of the races was the Columnists’ Cup, honoring those of us in this noble profession.

If you’re ever around a bunch of columnists, the first thing you’re likely to notice is that they never shut up.

So we were jabbering away about “Louie-ville” this and “Louie-ville” that, until the bus driver could stand it no more.

He pulled over, stopped the bus and stood up to say, “OK, folks, if you’re going to be here a few days you need to know how to pronounce our town.”

The driver proceeded to tell us that the proper pronunciation is (and here I’m trying to reproduce the sound phonetically) “Luh-uh-vul,” pronounced quickly in a sort of swallow.

He then drove on while the columnists, chastised for once, practiced saying “Luh-uh-vul” all the way to the track.

Which reminds me

At the above-mentioned visit to Churchill Downs, we settled in with our obligatory mint juleps to bet on the horses.

My spouse and I had different betting systems — Lady Katherine went down to the paddock to observe the horses in the flesh while I pored over the racing forms, digesting all the minutiae about the animals and their riders.

After we put our systems into practice, we sat back to enjoy the races — which would have been more enjoyable if we had won even one of the 10 races. But instead we left that day without winning a nickel.

During the day I had enjoyed chatting with a fellow columnist from south Louisiana (I won’t reveal more in case the IRS is reading this).

He would go up to the betting window at the same time I did, but I didn’t pay any attention to how he was betting.

On our way back to the bus, I complained about my rotten luck and asked him, “How did you do?”

“Oh, I did all right,” he said in his Cajun accent. “Won $700.”

He explained that he went to Evangeline Downs quite often, and had gotten to know some of the Cajun jockeys.

So he just bet on the jockeys from south Louisiana. If there were two or more Cajun jockeys in a race, he bet on the one he was most familiar with.

Which is how I acquired my new betting system …

Secret ballot

Robert Romano wonders if the Legislature has changed the way it does business since he served as a page in the House at the age of 9:

“Once several men approached me and said, ‘Son, slide under this desk.’

“Another man sat at the desk and held a newspaper to disguise himself.

“I was told to press the red button when it was time to vote.

“I think it was legislation to tighten ethics laws.”

Pretty in blue

When colleague James Minton read that the Louisiana State Police had been named “best dressed state agency in the country” by the North American Association of Uniform Manufacturers, he wrote Capt. Doug Cain, the State Police public affairs commander, to ask, “So now we can call you the Fashion Police?”

Capt. Doug replied, “We have been called worse. …”

Attack remembered

On Thursday, a memorial ceremony at the USS Kidd Veterans Memorial & Museum marks the anniversary of the kamikaze attack on the ship in 1945 where 38 crew members died.

The ceremony will take place at 1:55 p.m., the time when a Japanese suicide plane hit the destroyer off Okinawa.

Call (225) 342-1942 or visit http://www.usskidd.com.

Special People Dept.

  • Mina Ford, of Crowley, celebrates her 94th birthday Tuesday.
  • Mable McCandless celebrated her 91st birthday Sunday.
  • Catherine and Harold Roscoe celebrated their 69th anniversary Saturday.
  • Shirley and Marionneaux Engels celebrated 65 years of marriage Friday. (They married in 1948, but didn’t get to settle into married life for more than a year due to his Air Force assignment in Germany, where he took part in the Berlin Airlift.)

Strong words

John Mahaffey says south Louisiana isn’t the only place in the country where folks like their coffee strong:

“When I worked in west Texas, the coffee was considered ready to drink when the horseshoe floated to the top.”

Fishy story

Spring is the time when the fishing gets serious and the fish stories get wilder.

Here’s our latest whopper from T-Bob Taylor, of Panama City Beach, Fla.:

“The fish are biting so fast and furious here on Panama City Beach that I’m having to hide behind trees to bait my hook.”

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.