I had an Italian mom, and I remember with fondness that she had the same habit as the Cajuns mentioned in this story by my senior Natchitoches Parish correspondent, Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut:

“When I interviewed for my job at UL Lafayette, Gil Carner was dean of the College of the Arts.

“He was driving me around town, and I noticed out the windows that a lot of people seemed to be signing one another.

“I asked Gil if there had been an outbreak of measles in Lafayette, as there seemed to be so many deaf people.

“Gil was puzzled until I explained about all the people who were signing.

“Then he reared back with laughter.

“He said Cajuns had to use their hands to talk — that if you threw them in the lake they would never drown so long as they kept talking.”

Voice in the storm

“I know you are wrapping up the memories of WWL radio of New Orleans, but my story has nothing to do with hearing LSU football long-distance,” says Carol Haase.

“As newlyweds, my husband, Sam, and I lived in base housing at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

“He was due to be discharged in mid-August and our moving van was coming on a Monday.

“It never made it.

“Hurricane Camille came roaring through on Saturday and Sunday.

“Sam had to report to the hospital with emergency personnel. I went to a shelter with neighbors — a three-story brick office building.

“As the storm raged, literally shaking the building, I huddled under a desk and prayed that the batteries in my little transistor radio would not die, because I could hear broadcasts from WWL radio letting me know the progress of the storm, that there were indeed people who knew of our plight, and that help would be coming as soon as possible.

“I shall forever be grateful to WWL for helping me get through that unforgettable night.”

Bird dog

Veni Harlan tells of the gent from Atlanta she met at Baton Rouge’s Mystic Krewe of Mutts parade.

After admiring her Borzoi, he told her he was “a terrier man,” so she steered him to her brother and his terrier.

The guy went on about how he missed having a dog, how difficult it was to have a dog in his small yard in Atlanta, etc.

Then Mr. Dog Lover said, “I really miss my last dog. Ended up trading him for six Falcons tickets.”

Secret identity

Here’s one from our Silly File:

Tim Palmer was perusing the celebrity birthdays in the “Today in History” column of Wednesday’s Acadiana Advocate when he came across this sentence:

“Bandleader Sergio Mendes is Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is 62.”

Says Tim, “I always thought it was odd that I never saw Sergio Mendes and Jeb Bush at the same time. Now I know why.

“Kind of like Clark Kent and Superman, without the cape.”

Special People Dept.

— Ruby Barrios, of New Orleans and Lafayette, celebrates her 95th birthday Thursday, Feb. 12.

— Mamie Ida Moore, of Hammond, celebrates her 92nd birthday Thursday, Feb. 12.

— Cecil Robinson, of Oakwood Village in Zachary, celebrates his 90th birthday Thursday, Feb. 12.

— Helen and Clem Steele, of Walker, celebrate 60 years of marriage Thursday, Feb. 12. (When she worked in the Ritz movie theater in Natchez, Mississippi, he was one of those “wild Franklin County boys” she had to deal with.)

— Larry and Imogene Tidwell celebrate their 50th anniversary Thursday, Feb. 12.

Musical cat-astrophe

Buck Bertrand sympathizes with my condition — getting the song “My Boy Lollipop” stuck in my head for days:

“This happened to me on Super Bowl Sunday.

“During a commercial — can’t remember which commercial — the song playing in the background, ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ by Harry Chapin, has been playing over and over in my head ever since.”

Could be worse, Buck — I’ve heard from readers who had “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies stuck up there …

Those little primates

Bertha Hinojosa recently taught a group of fourth graders at La Belle Aire Elementary about the Chinese New Year.

She introduced the class to the Chinese Zodiac signs, which are designated by birth year.

“Signs are rotated every 12 years, and all are associated with animals — for example, horses, rams, rabbits, and chickens.

“The students eagerly studied their fortunes concerning careers, money and health for their birth year of 2004.

“Then one of the boys made an astute observation relevant to their Chinese Zodiac sign.

“He said, ‘Hey, there sure are a lot of monkeys in this room.’”

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.