(For years now I’ve been enjoying the little stories sent in by Sarah Stravinska, first from Lafayette and then from her retirement home in Chestnut, Natchitoches Parish. While I’m on my Well-Deserved Vacation, here are some of her tales:)

Cabin fever

When we were kids Mom would bring home Log Cabin syrup in a tin can that looked like a log cabin.

It contained about a quart of syrup, which, for a family of six kids didn’t last too long.

My brothers and I would argue over who got the empty tins. I wanted my own, but one brother wanted to build a village of log cabins, so he wanted all of the tins.

Mom finally settled it by reminding us that in a village each cabin belonged to a different family.

So we built a village with all of our cabins, and my brother happily trotted his toy horses from cabin to cabin.

It may “take a village” to raise a kid. But it takes a mom to raise a village!

Falsetto Frank

When our dad got a fancy new record player that played LP albums, he put the old wind-up Victrola in the basement rumpus room for us kids. (In Ohio we have basements. In Louisiana they are called “indoor pools”).

The Victrola had speed control. I would play Frank Sinatra really fast, and convinced my girlfriend that it was a rare recording of him as a little boy, before his voice had changed.

That’s creapy!

Many moons ago my brother-in-law, a reporter for Stars & Stripes in Japan, noticed the Japanese liked to imitate American products.

They did their own version of a powdered cream called Pream. Wanting a similar name while avoiding copyright infringement, they simply took the letter “P” and put it at the end of the word “cream.”

“Put creap in your coffee …”

(And hope it doesn’t crawl out!)

Marching orders

When we kids got bored in the summer we would organize a parade.

With six kids in our family, and five in the Andersons’, we had a pretty good lineup already, but we included Billy Go-Go and his brother.

Costumes were assembled. One year I was dressed as a baby, pulled in my big brother’s red Radio Flyer wagon.

I was supposed to holler “Goo-goo” every few feet, in case our audience didn’t get it. Sometimes I blew my line, so my brother would holler, “Goo-goo” for me.

Out front were a smartly stepping drum major with a stick and someone with Mom’s good silver platter, walking and banging his knees on it for percussion. (Made for bruised knees, but one must suffer for Art.) Whistles, wax-papered combs and old New Year’s noisemakers completed the band.

Neighbors were all out in force to watch and cheer, so Mom must have called them all. Once around the block and we were done. (As always, prep time was much longer than the performance.)

The after-party was Kool-Aid-sicles.

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.