“My all-girls high school senior trip was to Mexico City, where that year’s Miss Universe contest had recently taken place,” says Pat Alba, of Metairie.

“During our week’s stay, we were divided into groups of four for meals, and my table had the same attentive waiter, Carlos, at breakfast every day.

“On our last morning he brought his ‘personalized’ menu and asked for our autographs. Among the signatures were Miss Honduras, Miss Argentina, Miss Denmark, and other notables.

“I said, ‘Carlos, these are all beauty queens! Why us?’

“He replied, ‘Sí, but some beauties are yet uncrowned.’

“Men, take note. Can you top that for savoir-faire?”

Abadie to Zwolle

Thanks to Monica DeNault, of Walker, for this memory. She came across a pronunciation guide compiled around 1950 by Ralph Sims and Bob Scearce when they were at WJBO radio and noticed visiting broadcasters (especially at LSU football games) mangling south Louisiana names.

The booklet, sponsored first by Louisiana Companies and later by Fidelity National Bank, was distributed by the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce. When I worked for the Chamber in the ’60s and early ’70s, it was one of our most popular items, and we made sure national radio-TV broadcasters were provided copies.

You could learn to pronounce Boudreaux (BOO-droh), Fontenot (FONT’N-oh) and Landreneau (LAN-druh-noh). For DeBlieux the pronunciation was given as “W — that’s right — W.”

The earlier version of the book contained a name familiar to LSU football fans of the ’50s — pronounced DEET-zul.

Which reminds me

The above-mentioned pronunciation guide was illustrated with cartoons by Peter Houck, a talented cartoonist for the Daily Reveille during my days at LSU. The same day I received the guide, I got a note from Laura Fussell, of Covington, widow of Howard Fussell, a Reveille editor when I was on his staff as a news editor.

She enclosed some drawings Peter had done of the 1958 staff, and there I was, looking alarmingly skinny — a condition I’ve managed to overcome since that time.

The friendly ghost

Ejerico D. Fernandez, of Metairie, tells of this “spiritual encounter”:

“One night as I was falling asleep in our shotgun house in New Orleans, I heard a continuous knock at my back door. I opened the door and no one was there. I looked around the yard and still there was no one. I assumed this must be some kind of ghost, and went back to bed.

“But after this happened twice more, I ran out my front door and approached the backyard.

“There in the moonlight was my would-be spirit — a big brown dog wagging his tail against the screen door. He would run and hide under my steps every time he heard me coming to the door.

“I named him Winston, after my World War II hero, Winston Churchill. Winston became my buddy, and made our lives better and happier for many years.”

Safe passage

Donnie Uggen says, “I make the trip from Thibodaux to Lafayette twice a week, and have seen numerous deceased armadillos, coons and opossums along the highway.

“However, I have never seen a deer or bear meet the same sad fate. I’m convinced this is because there are DEER CROSSING and BEAR CROSSING signs posted in strategic places along the way.

“It is my belief that more of the smaller creatures would survive their journey across the road if they, too, were made aware of where it was safe to cross.”

Special People Dept.

— Anthony Vitale celebrates his 94th birthday on Monday, Sept. 7.

— Larry and Judy Wascom celebrate their 58th anniversary on Monday, Sept. 7.

— Joe and Polly Blanchard celebrate their 52nd anniversary on Monday, Sept. 7.

No joke!

T-Bob Taylor, of Panana City Beach, Florida, says our seminar on mismatched shoes should include stories of mismatched socks:

“As a young’un in Covington I had a friend named Clyde, a country boy known for making people laugh.”

T-Bob says one of the things he laughed about was Clyde’s habit of wearing one orange sock and one red sock.

But at Clyde’s house one day, “his mom pulled me aside and begged me, ‘If you see he’s grabbed two odd or different shades of any color socks, particularly reds, please don’t let him go out the door.’

“Before her plea, I thought he was joking. But it turns out he was color blind!”

The I’s have it

Perhaps inspired by our recent grammar corrections, Shirley Fleniken recalls this story:

Teacher: “Billy, give me a sentence starting with ‘I.’”

Billy: “I is...”

Teacher: “No, Billy. Always say, ‘I am.’”

Billy: “All right ... I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.”

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.