I don’t understand why people outside the state have trouble with Louisiana names. Sure, we call our dog “Phideaux” and pronounce Hebert “A-bear” and DeBlieux “W,” but is that really so hard to grasp?

Louisiana folks tell of especially having trouble in the service when their names came up at roll call:

Craig M. Bennett, of Morgan City, says his buddy Danny Gaudet went through basic combat training with him at Fort Ord, California, in the late 1960s with the name “Gadget.”

David Couvillon says that in Marine boot camp his drill instructor tried “covil ON; cavilon; kooville-on and koo-ville-lion” before finally spelling it and getting a “Here, sir!” from David — who was punished with push-ups, etc., for “not knowing your own name.”

Kelly Simoneaux says that in the Army his platoon sergeant, a Native American from Oklahoma, called him “Simonx” until Kelly said his name was pronounced like the Seminoles of Florida.

Richard Sherlock says, “When I hit Fort Polk basic training during the summer of 1969, we had a lot of Cajun guys with difficult last names, which gave my platoon’s drill instructor fits. One guy’s last name was Latiolais. Finally, the DI gave up, and he was called ‘Alphabet’ from then on.”

Dive bombing

A flying squirrel story from Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville: “One of my early failed attempts at becoming an independently wealthy entrepreneur involved flying squirrels.

“I made traps and set them in the woods near home. I would check them on the way to school, bring the prizes to school in my shirt pocket, and sell them for $1 each.

“Things were going well until one I kept for myself escaped in our house and I couldn’t find it. Later that night I awoke to a horrific scream coming from my mother’s bedroom. I ran down the hall to see if I could help, only to find out my flying squirrel had apparently flown from the curtains, landed on my mother’s chest, and streaked across her face.

“I was no longer in business.”

Personal touch

Julaine Roy Gray, of Lafayette, was going through her mom’s keepsakes when she came across a 1977 hand-written letter, addressed (also by hand) to her mom, Mrs. Estelle R. Roy, of St. Martinville.

In the letter, tax examiner Thelma Jenkins in the Austin office of the IRS apologizes for a notice sent to Mrs. Roy in error, saying, “Your account has been corrected and your 1976 tax account is in zero balance as your 1976 income tax return indicated. Any inconvenience this has caused you is regretted.”

(I’m trying to imagine Thelma sitting down writing personal letters to taxpayers…and suddenly feel very old...)

Trashy behavior

Martin Brignac Sr. uses poetry to make a point about a recent column topic:

“We always wave our flag up high

For all the world to see.

We boast of our spacious skies,

Our land of liberty.

We have our mountains and countryside

Where freedom always roams.

So why the heck, when we take a trek,

We don’t take our trash back home?”

It’s a thistle

Karen Poirrier, of Lutcher, says after she told of picking “choudrant” as a child to make a salad, “I received phone calls asking about this delicacy — from residents, but not natives, of Louisiana.”

They wanted to know if it was the same as thistle, and when to pick it.

“A choudrant is the same as a thistle,” says Karen, “and selection of a choudrant is best determined by trial-and-error tasting (a young choudrant is bitter; an old one, tough).”

She invites folks to “learn about and appreciate this unique Louisiana delicacy.”

Special People Dept.

Irma Hart, of Hammond, celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, April 16.

Donald and Janell McDaniel celebrate their 50th on Monday, April 18.

Breakfast plates

Patrick Howard, of Zachary, says our recent mention of letter-number combinations on Louisiana license plates reminds him of this occurrence:

“I went to Piccadilly and parked next to a car that had a license plate with the letters HAM. My plate had the letters EGG...”

(I don’t know about you, Patrick, but no matter what time to day it was, I would have taken this to be a sign I was to go to Louie’s for breakfast...)

Inquiring Minds Dept.

Dennis Dees asks, “If a word is misspelled in a dictionary, how would you know?”

Gunning for Gunner

Gunner Nelson says, “We’ve got seven or eight squirt guns squirreled away around the house to discourage Maybelline from clawing the furniture.” (I assume Maybelline is a cat...)

He says when he saw his wife walking by, he couldn’t resist “firing off a shot at her backside.

“Next thing I know I’ve got water bouncing off the inside of my glasses into my eyes, and I hear her saying ‘Don’t mess with me!’

“I’ve cleaned up the language.”

Contacting 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.