If I came in from school and found my mom in the kitchen frying chicken (a Sunday dish) or baking a green bean casserole (a holiday dish), there was only one explanation: someone had died.

In her great book, “Last Tales: Passin’ On in Southern Style,” the Clinton writer Mildred P. Worrell discusses the Southern custom of bringing food in staggering quantities to wakes and post-funeral gatherings.

She tells of her mother’s death, which brought into their home “ten bowls of potato salad, six casseroles, three huge aluminum roasters of baked beans, and eight whole baked hams,” plus a pot of chicken and dumplings hailed as “the hands-down winner.”

Which brings us to this story from Christie Todd, of Henderson, Arkansas:

“A customer of mine shares his name with another man in our town who, sadly, passed away.

“When he visited our office recently, I inquired as to how many people thought he was the person who had departed. He told me several stories of friends and acquaintances who were relieved he is still with us.

“The best was a neighbor who came over to his house to get the bad news, and when learning that all was well, she told him that her husband had sent her over to find out if she needed to make a casserole.

“He said since he lives alone, had he been the dearly departed, he wasn’t sure who was going to eat the casserole — but he would make good use of it in his present state!”

A decade later

Curtis Pollet, of New Orleans, says Smiley’s Poetry Contest reminded him of this poem, “penned by my friend Chef Reggie. Thought it appropriate for the 10-year anniversary:”

“There once was a girl named Katrina,

She could not have been any meanuh.

In a terrible huff, she took all my ‘stuff,’

And still got me fightin’ with FEMA!”

Buffer zone

Fritz McCameron enters Smiley’s Poetry Contest with this ode to our state he describes as “Right to the point, not a word wasted, not a word out of place, defining our state with surgical precision. In fact, I think it’s the unofficial state ‘pome:’


Its function:

To divide

So Miss. and Texas won’t collide.”

Suicide solution

Joe Mistretta, of Donaldsonville, says, “The stories about armadillos reminded me of the advice Louis Miller, the gardening expert on WBRZ a few years ago, gave to a listener.

“He advised him to drive around his front yard at night with the headlights of his car on, and the pest would eventually throw himself under the wheels.

“I never tried it, so I’m not sure if it works.”

Anger management

Marvin Borgmeyer says, “I miss being able to slam the phone down when I want to hang up on somebody. Just violently pressing ‘end call’ isn’t quite the same!”

Ancient artifacts

Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut, comments on the item in the Monday column about Roxson Welch seeking “yesterday” items for a Family and Youth Service Center event, to show youngsters the technology of the past:

“May I suggest records such as 78 rpm, 45 or 33, and something to play them on; cassettes and players; reel-to-reel recorders; cameras that use film; ribbon typewriters — and hand-written ‘thank-you’ notes.”

Sorry, Ted

Since I’ve known retired Advocate sports writer Ted Castillo since the ’60s, there’s really no reason I should have spelled his name “Castello” in telling of the 60th anniversary of Ted and wife Bunny.

I’ll have to chalk it up to a computer malfunction — a screw loose in the operator.

Special People Dept.

Marie “Zu” Chaney, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 94th birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 4. She served in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps during World War II.

California cuisine

Clint Womack, of Lafayette, who spent some time on the West Coast, says that in Tahoe City, California, “there is a Louisiana-class eatery named Rosie’s.

“On the menu one is advised tofu can be substituted for eggs. Another entry advises tofu can be substituted for bacon!

“You can have tofu and tofu and say you had bacon and eggs for breakfast.”

California parties

Dr. Joe Ricapito says our tales of smart sayings by children “made me think of the time we had invited friends to our house for dinner when we lived in southern California.

“Before my wife went into the shower, she said to my 7-or-8-year-old son, ‘If they call, tell them that dress is informal.’

“Sure enough, the call came from the friends, asking what the dress was like for the dinner.

“When they arrived, they asked what we meant by ‘dress immoral?’ Apparently my son said that dress was ‘immoral.’

“What a party that would have been!”

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.