Helen Rankin, who just returned from a 21-day trip to Alaska, says she found that wearing your school colors is a great way to get a conversation started and meet new people:

“Everywhere I went, even in the Yukon Territory, people would say ‘Geaux Tigers!’ when I had on my LSU jacket or shirt.

“As I was getting my luggage tagged for the train trip to Denali, the clerk noticed the shirt and said she was from Thibodaux and LSU was her alma mater.

“On the train from Anchorage to Denali, several of the passengers were from Louisiana and commented on my attire.

“Another passenger with an Ole Miss sweatshirt was not greeted very warmly.

“I told her I would be nice to her in Alaska, but in Baton Rouge it was a different story. We all had a good laugh.

“The moral to this story is — ‘Wear your LSU clothing when you travel.’ ”

(I’ve had that experience all over the country, as well as in Mexico and Belize. But once in Chicago a young lady thought my LSU colors meant I was a Minnesota Vikings fan …)

It’s a rule

Duane Smith, of Port Allen, has another story about ID rules:

“My wife and I are frequent visitors to a local, wonderfully quirky pizza joint that accepts only cash or personal checks.

“We are on a first-name basis with all the servers and are Facebook friends with our favorite bartender.

“I always have cash available for the transaction but happened to have our checkbook during one visit, so decided to write a check instead of paying cash.

“Imagine my surprise and amusement when our Facebook-friend bartender handed my check back to me and said, ‘Sorry, we need two phone numbers on your check.’ ”

Germany’s touchdown

“Ellis Hugh” (possibly an alias) offers this sports analysis:

“My wife and I have enjoyed watching the World Cup and learned a lot over the past couple of weeks.

“It reminds me of the days before video-game football offenses, when defensive strategy sometimes meant kicking on third down at the college level.

“I thought we were finally going to see an actual football score from the Germany and Brazil World Cup match.

“Oh well, real football — LSU style — kicks off in just over 50 days.”

Thanks, sailor!

Another wartime memory, from George E. McLean, of Metairie:

“In March of ’44 I had returned from overseas and was at the Santa Ana, California, air base for R&R.

“I bought a war surplus Army motorcycle from a Marine fighter pilot headed overseas. Four days later, I received my orders to go to the Laredo, Texas, air field, a mere 1,600 miles away.

“I headed out on my bike, and the second day out disaster struck.

“I had five flat tires, and with each repair the hole got bigger.

“I limped into tiny Sentinel, Arizona, checked into a small motel, then hitchhiked with a family to Gila Bend, where there were several big gas stations. But none had a tube for my bike.

“I went to the little USO club, and while drinking a coffee and trying to figure a way out of my predicament, a sailor walks up to me and says, ‘Hey, Sarge, are you the fellow looking for an inner tube for a GI bike? The man at the gas station said there was an Army sergeant looking for one. I have an extra one you can have.’

“I paid him what he asked, gave him some gasoline ration stamps, then hitchhiked with a trucker back to my motel.

“The next morning there was a knock on my door.

“It was my benefactor, who had stopped by to help put the tube on my bike.

“What a guy!”

Nice People Dept.

Jerry Black says one Thursday he was meeting with his eight-member “lunch bunch” at TJ Ribs and “happened to be wearing my World War II veteran’s cap (although all present were also veterans).

“When we were ready to leave we asked for our checks and were told by the waiter that the bill had already been paid by a nice gentleman.

“We prevailed upon him to tell us who the gentleman was so that we could thank him for being so generous.

“Upon approaching him, he thanked US for our service to our country.

“I was so excited I neglected to ask him what his name was.

“I wish to publicly thank him for being so kind and thoughtful.”

Thought for the Day

From Kent Barton: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but an onion a day keeps EVERYONE away.”

Covering all bases

Malcolm Ledet, of Terrytown, has another “dual occupation” story:

“At Mass Saturday, I noticed a lady wearing a T-shirt for ‘McCayville Pharmacy Guns and Drugs.’

“Their slogan was ‘Reloads or Refills — We got you covered.’

“I was kinda amazed at that combination.

“I guess if you get shot they can take care of you, too.”

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.