The death of friend Gibbens Robichaux, of Thibodaux, reminds me of my favorite Gibbens story.

I’ve told it before, but without using his name, because I thought it might embarrass him.

A number of years ago, we were at a conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in Louisville, Kentucky, and one of the events was a day at the races at Churchill Downs.

Between mint juleps, I put a small sum down on each of the 10 races, betting on horses whose names I liked; taking Lady Katherine’s advice about the best-looking horses in the paddock (her method), and trying things like trifectas.

At the end of the afternoon, I hadn’t won a dime.

Gibbens was sitting with us, and went up to the betting window with me each time. But I wasn’t paying attention to how he was betting.

As we trudged back to the bus, I was bemoaning my lousy luck. That’s when he told me his picks had come in the money in almost every race.

“I know the Cajun jockeys from The Fairgrounds and Evangeline Downs,” he said. “I just bet on those Cajun jockeys.”

I learned a valuable lesson that day — 10 races too late...

A boudin Baptist

Roy Pitchford, of Monroe, says, “All the discussion in your column about attitudes towards various kinds of meat reminded me of a reception staged by the host church when the Louisiana Baptist Convention held its annual meeting at First Baptist Church of Lafayette 20-plus years ago.

“In the center of the room was a table piled high with boudin. I was one of the few north Louisiana pastors who were thrilled by the sight.”

Beer and radio

Clint Womack says our tales of old New Orleans beers reminds him of a commercial he heard on Baton Rouge’s WXOK radio, where as a high school kid I first encountered R&B, before it was called rock and roll:

“Before the description of the wonders of Jax beer, the DJ would say, ‘This is W-X-O, the station with a K in Baton Rouge, L-A!’”

Sports and radio

Mark H. Hunter offers another example of cool sayings on early radio:

“When I was growing up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, the morning radio announcer, the late Charlie Moore, was famous for his colorful sayings.

“Often, when he’d report an embarrassing, lopsided sports score, the winners gave the losers ‘what Patty gave the drum — a good beating.’”

Inquiring Minds Dept.

“I’m curious,” says Nonie Banks. “My folks used the expression, ‘Naked as a jaybird.’ What is a jaybird? Why is it naked? Whence the expression?”

(Odd expression, Nonie. The fat blue jays who hang out with the cardinals in my crape myrtle tree appear to have a thick covering of feathers; I’ve never seen a naked one.)

Special People Dept.

Mary Lafield, of Baker, celebrates her 99th birthday on Saturday, March 19.

Sarah Gray, of Zachary, celebrates her 97th birthday on Friday, March 18.

Marjorie Lindsay Richard, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 94th birthday on Friday, March 18. She is a retired teacher.

Charles Severance, of Baton Rouge, celebrates his 93rd birthday on Friday, March 18.

Dr. Bobby Helm, of New Roads, celebrates his 90th birthday on Friday, March 18.

Jay “J.C.” Wilson, of Marksville, celebrates his 90th birthday on Friday, March 18.

Vida Graves, of Baton Rouge, celebrated her 90th birthday on March 10. She is a former Louisiana High School Athletic Association employee.

James and Helen Marsh, of Baker, celebrate their 62nd anniversary on Sunday, March 20.

The littlest fan

Gail Stephenson says son Scott and his wife, Bonny, are not big sports fans. In their combined 11 years at LSU (pursuing advanced degrees, she hastens to add), they never attended a single football or basketball game.

“But,” says Gail, “things are different with their 18-month-old daughter, Zelda.

“Bonny’s dad, Mike McDonald, played football for McNeese, and when he and Zelda are together they watch sports.

“Zelda saw a television while she and her parents were out somewhere. (They have chosen not to have a television in their home.)

“She pointed to it and demanded, ‘Watch football.’

“Scott explained that it was no longer football season.

“Undeterred, she then demanded, ‘Watch basketball.’”

Creative crowd control

Recent turmoil at political gatherings brought this modest proposal from Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut:

“Pete’s daughter Robyn, who is in criminal justice, was at a meeting of like souls in some foreign country. They all got to discussing crowd control.

“One gentleman from a small Asian country said, ‘We do not have a lot of fancy technology, so when a crowd gets too rowdy we simply open a large bag of pythons into the crowd. Rapid dispersal ensues.’

“Maybe we need to just get us a bag of pythons.”

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.