Tom Hertwig, of Gonzales, says an article on the Ascension Hot Air Balloon Festival (Friday through Sunday, Sept. 26-28) in the Ascension section of The Advocate reminds him of the time he and his wife celebrated an anniversary by “ascending over Ascension with Robert Ambeau. Very uplifting experience.”

Reminds me of the time our friend, the late B.B. Bruce, celebrated a special birthday.

His wife, Jackie, told me he had always expressed a desire for a balloon ride, so I arranged for George Richard to take him.

I met them very early one morning, and wound up riding with George and B.B.

It was my first time in a hot-air balloon, and it was quite a treat — sailing quietly over the tops of trees, hearing only the whisper of the wind and the barking of dogs in the yards below.

But I discovered when we landed that it was traditional for first-time riders to have champagne poured on them.

I was dressed for work, so I had to walk into the office at 9 a.m. reeking of champagne.

Nobody seemed surprised. …

Heavenly stories

As I mentioned in the Monday column, three items from past columns appeared in the current issue of “The Joyful Noiseletter,” a publication of religious humor.

Here are a couple of them:

— When she reached the age of 5, a little girl began asking her mom about heaven.

Her first questions was, “Mama, when we get to heaven will we have skin?”

“I don’t know,” her mother replied.

The girl asked several more questions about heaven over the next few days, and each time, her mom said that she did not know.

Finally, the girl got very upset and blurted out, “Mama, why don’t you just Google it?”

— The collection plate was being passed in a Plaquemine church, and little Mary’s father gave her $2 “to give to Jesus.”

As the usher approached their pew, a concerned Mary blurted out, “Daddy, that’s not Jesus, it’s Sophie’s daddy!”

A grave matter

Our “You might be a Yat” contest has ended, but Loretta Toussant says one practice of “True Yats” we didn’t mention was picnics (complete with po-boys and beer) in St. Roch’s Cemetery during the blessing of the graves on All Saints Day.

Nothing new

After the news that Denham Springs was considering a proposal to allow people to live above businesses in the downtown antique district, A. Fred Frey told us that “living above a business is a very old practice, even for Denham Springs.

“My family lived in the apartment above my father’s sheet metal shop in Denham Springs on Centerville Street at Range Avenue (directly behind Vance’s Esso) in the early ’50s.

“That building was not nearly new when we moved there in 1951. My guess: Denham Springs probably has been allowing people living above businesses since the ’40s.”

Nice People Dept.

— Warren and Carole Daigle, of Gonzales, “thank the generous couple for treating us to lunch at Golden Buddah Chinese Restaurant.

“These kind strangers made us feel so special. We hope they read this and know how much we appreciate their kindness.”

— Patricia Lee, of Walker, says a lady named Wesley, who works in the men’s shoe department of Dillard’s at the Mall of Louisiana, deserves special praise for her service “above and beyond what we expected.”

Patricia says she and her husband, who had just had hip replacement surgery, went to Dillard’s so he could buy some shoes.

But he was having difficulty walking, so he sat outside the store while his wife went in to get help.

Says Patricia, “I explained our problem to Wesley, and she immediately went and got the style and size shoes I had asked for, then followed me out into the mall to where my husband was seated. She fitted him with the shoes then and there.

“It was the first time we had ever gotten ‘curb service’ of this type, and we really appreciate it.”

Special People Dept.

­— Bertha Methe, who recently moved from River Ridge to Covington, celebrates her 91st birthday on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

— Louise Saucier, of Lake Sherwood Village, celebrates her 91st birthday on Tuesday, Sept. 23. She is originally from Marksville.

— Charles H. Freeburgh, of St. James Place, celebrated his 90th birthday Sunday, Sept. 21. He is a World War II veteran who flew B-17s over Germany, and spent 15 months in a German POW camp.

Help wanted

As I viewed the Saturday night contest between the Tigers and Bulldogs, I quickly went from concern to disbelief to consternation to despair.

I was especially disappointed to learn that Y.A. Tittle was in the house — and LSU didn’t put him in.

What’s up with that…?

Budding televangelist?

Judy S. Collins says 8-year-old Beau recited his version of a hymn:

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the money tells me so!”

His explanation: “What? It says ‘In God we trust.’ ”

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.