I’ve had some reader reaction of President Obama’s “Thank you, New Orleans” gaffe when he visited Baton Rouge Thursday.

Some observed that this was a typical view of Louisiana by outsiders, who think the state consists of New Orleans and the outback.

But others offered a more charitable view of the president’s mistake.

They said that after breakfast at Louie’s and lunch at Poor Boy Lloyd’s, two of Baton Rouge’s longtime favorite eateries (whoever picked out those two for him deserves a medal), the president thought that if the food is THAT good, he MUST be in New Orleans...

Challenging Daddy

Cindy Black Bouchie, of Pineville, says our “Happy New Mind” story on Thursday, about a greeting from a Buddhist priest, “reminded me of when my son Chase was about 3 years old.

“We were taking a walk when his dad pulled up in his car to say goodbye as he headed to work.

“As he pulled away Chase yelled, ‘Bye Daddy. Have a good idea!’”

Identity problem

Howard Tull tells this story about Baton Rouge’s legendary coach, the late Boots Garland:

“When Boots was in the Army, on one occasion he was in formation but did not have his name tag on.

“The CO said, ‘Soldier you don’t have your name tag on. What am I supposed to call you?’

“Boots replied, ‘I guess you can call me the Unknown Soldier, sir.’”

Thanks, Captain Obvious

Shooter Mullins tells of this roadside encounter:

“Returning from a fishing trip in Terrebonne Parish, we blew a tire on the boat trailer, and I had to walk back about a half mile to borrow a jack at a service station.

“‘Y’all got that big Holmes boat?’ asked the proprietor. ‘That’s us,’ I admitted.

“‘I be damn,’ he said. ‘Y’all was doin’ so good when you passed the station.’”

Cultures clash

Bill Humphreys, of New Orleans, tells this grits story:

“I was born and raised in upstate New York. After college, I was drafted and served my second eight weeks of basic training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

“One morning, we were served what I thought was cream of wheat. I ate a bowl with milk and sugar.

“My bunk mate, Abe Johnson, from Nashville, Tennessee, asked, ‘What have you done to your grits?’

“I replied, ‘I thought it was cream of wheat.’ Abe said, ‘What is cream of wheat?’”

Opposite mistake

I’ve often told the story about the time I was at a business writers’ conference in Minneapolis with the late great Roland Daigre.

We were having breakfast at a cafeteria when I saw a mound of a white substance I took for grits.

I got a double order of it, plopped it down beside my eggs, and put salt and butter on it.

Don’t ever let anybody tell you cream of wheat is anything like grits...

Nice People Dept.

Avis Stringfield, mentioned below for observing her 93rd birthday, thanks the person who clandestinely bought lunch for her and her friend Velma Moon at a Cracker Barrel on Jan. 4, as well as the kind person who bought Avis lunch at a Piccadilly on Jan. 10.

Says Avis, “There are still nice, nice people in the world!”

Special People Dept.

Bea Haydell celebrates her 104th birthday on Monday, Jan. 18.

Joseph Elton Andre, of Ollie Steele Burden Manor in Baton Rouge, celebrates his 96th birthday on Monday, Jan. 18. A native of Pointe Coupee Parish, he lived on False River.

Avis Stringfield celebrates her 93rd birthday on Monday, Jan. 18.

Buddy Guirovich, of Lafayette, celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday, Jan. 17. He is a World War II Navy veteran.

Josephine and Johnny Zito, of Plaquemine, celebrate their 68th anniversary on Monday, Jan. 6. He is a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

Fancy grits

Pat Crotty, of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, says an item in the Friday column brings up this question: “What is the difference between grits and polenta?”

His answer: “In the restaurant trade, about 20 bucks!”

Marriages to go

Richard Guidry, of Zachary, recalls the days when Woodville, Mississippi, was the place young couples went for quick marriages:

“Seeing the mention of Woodville in your Friday column makes it my obligation to warn people how dangerous that town really is.

“If you say the right words and autograph a piece of paper, you leave there married!

“I know, I did this 55 years ago and I can’t find an expiration date on this contract.”

(You’re a brave husband, Richard. Foolhardy, but brave...)

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.

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