Marsha Reichle urges some compassion for people who make unsolicited phone calls:

“I registered as a Democrat back when it was your only opportunity to vote in a primary.

“My husband, being more optimistic, registered as a Republican.

“Every election ended with us agreeing that it was pointless to vote, since our votes would simply cancel out. Then we would each sneak off and vote.

“My husband also supported the Republican Party financially. A few months after he died I got a phone call:

“‘Good morning. This is (he gave his name) with the Republican Party. May I speak to Mr. Reichle?’

“Choosing shock treatment, I replied, ‘He’s dead.’

“‘No problem. I’ll call back next week.’

“‘He’ll still be dead.’

“Silence, and then abject apologies. He admitted he hadn’t been listening.

“My friend Debbie, who once worked for a call center, explained that her first few minutes of a call were tense, as she waited to be shouted at, abused and angrily hung up on.

“No one actually listens. And no one really wants to make a living that way. Be kind.”

Stop the music

John Torbert says our recent tale of a high school graduation ceremony interrupted by a noisy train reminded him of this train story:

“Sometime in the late ’40s, the Spanish classical guitarist Andrés Segovia came to LSU.

“The venue was the old Field House, and we sat on folding chairs on the floor before the stage.

“Before he came out we had been warned if anyone moved around while he was playing he would stop.

“As he started to play, a freight train came by — and it passed and passed and passed.

“Segovia stopped the piece he was playing and just sat there till the freight had passed. Then, he started playing an entirely different piece.

“We were permitted to applaud at the end of the performance.”

Which reminds me

A decade or so after John Torbert’s story, I was a reporter on LSU’s Daily Reveille assigned to review an Andrés Segovia concert, also in the old Field House.

The acoustics left something to be desired, to put it mildly. And Segovia, as John recalls, approached his music in a very serious manner.

It wasn’t a train this time, but a chirping bird high in the Field House rafters, that caused him to stop his playing.

Some of the students in the audience found this amusing. Segovia did not.

Finally he resumed playing, showing why he was considered at the time the world’s greatest guitarist.

After the concert, I went back to the Reveille office to write the review, and opened it with a lead sentence I still remember:

“Last night Andrés Segovia played the Field House — and won.”

Initial reaction

Jerry Berggren says “SALT Talks” is not as redundant as a reader contended: “SALT was an acronym for Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.”

Special People Dept.

— Johnny Zito, of Plaquemine, celebrated his 90th birthday on Tuesday, June 2. He is a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

— Hazel and Ronald Scioneaux, of St. James, celebrate their 61st anniversary on Friday, June 5.

— Emmett and Virgie LeBlanc, of Plaquemine, celebrate their 60th anniversary on Friday, June 5.

— Peggy and John Southworth, of Springfield, celebrated their 60th anniversary on Wednesday, June 3. Both retired high school teachers, they now grow vegetables and raise pond crawfish and catfish.

Perique bills?

Henry Daigle, of Port Allen, adds to our discussion of perique tobacco with the contention that in the upper corners of the one-dollar bill are perique tobacco leaves.

I had to wait until payday to get my hands on a greenback dollar (sorry if I just implanted a Kingston Trio earworm in your brain), and did indeed find leaves in the upper corners.

But I couldn’t find a mention of perique when I Googled — only that “botanical symbols” were on the bill, including bay laurel at the bottom of the George Washington image.

When I Googled “tobacco on one-dollar bill” I got some interesting information about how to use a dollar bill to roll cigarettes containing tobacco, etc.

Oh, gross!

That’s what Lady Katherine said when I read her this story from Algie Petrere, so it must be a good one:

“One day when I was maybe 2½, Grandma was out, and Grandpa was in charge of me.

“Someone had given me a little tea set as a gift, and it was one of my favorite toys.

“Grandpa was in the living room engrossed in the evening news when I brought him a little cup of ‘tea’, which was just water.

“After several cups and lots of praise for such yummy tea, Grandma came home.

“Grandpa made her watch me bring him a cup of tea, because it was ‘just the cutest thing!’

“Then she said, ‘Did it ever occur to you that the only place she can reach to get water is the toilet?’”

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.