Tom Toddy tells of a situation faced by every parent who ever took a long car trip with the little darlings:

“My daughter tells of a drive to a Florida vacation spot with her young children.

“They had barely cleared the Baton Rouge city limits when the barrage of questions began: ‘How much longer before we get to Florida?’ “How many more miles before we get to Florida?’

“Finally, totally exasperated with the unceasing questions, she told the children that she did not want to hear the word ‘Florida’ again.

“There was quiet for a few miles down the road, and then a little voice from the back seat asked: ‘How long before we get to that “F” place?’ ”

The Panama Man

Several readers recalled the gent who drove folks from Baton Rouge to Hammond to catch the Panama Limited passenger train to Chicago and points south of that city.

  • Larry Mann says, “My father, Lawrence Mann, worked for the Standard Motor Car Co., and had to go to Detroit every year. He went as far as Chicago on the Panama Limited, and was picked up at our home by Mr. Ennis Penton, who drove him to Hammond and brought him back on his return trip.

“Incidentally, on one trip my father looked out the window of his berth and it was still dark. He asked the porter if they were late, and the porter bristled and said: ‘Sir, the Panama is NEVER late.’ ”

  • Mary McCowan says, “My father traveled to Chicago often for law school meetings and to arbitrate labor cases. I can still see him getting in Mr. Penton’s big station wagon for the trip to Hammond.”
  • Bonnie Fussell says when he and his mother took the train to Memphis to visit his dad, a riverboat captain, they would meet “Panama Penton” (the only name Bonnie knew him by) at the Heidelberg Hotel and “pile into an immaculately maintained station wagon for the short journey to Hammond.”

Angel sighting

“BMac” says, “Going to my Pokeno game Friday, I turned into the wrong subdivision off Hoo Shoo Too Road.

“I saw this guy cutting his grass, stopped and asked if he was familiar with the street I was seeking.

“He got out his phone, looked it up, told me it was about nine miles away — and to follow him in his car.

“He proceeded to take me to the front door of the address.

“Turned out his name was Michael. Did I hug his neck! What a guy, what an angel.”

A cleaner bayou

Pamela Caillouet, of Prairieville, says the Bayou Manchac Group thanks “everyone who helped with this spring’s Bayou Manchac Trash Sweep.

“With some walking and others in canoes and boats, we made a pretty significant dent in the trash load.

“In addition to the usual litter, we pulled out two large vehicle fuel tanks, a box spring mattress, a stolen purse with credit cards (returned to owner), a chair, a shopping cart and a few ice chests.

“Special thanks to Loyd and Shawn Ingle for allowing us the use of their property for parking, launching and trash collection.”

Worthy causes

  • The Iris Domestic Violence Center (formerly the Battered Women’s Program) benefits from the 18th annual Women Chefs’ Show Off from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Belle of Baton Rouge Atrium.

Andrea Clesi will emcee, and there will be live and silent auctions.

Call (225) 389-3001.

  • The Baton Rouge Alcohol and Drug Center’s expansion project benefits from the sale of jambalaya lunches from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at 216 S. Foster Drive.

Cost is $10 a plate, or $7 for students. And if you bring a hygiene product (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) you get $1 off.

Call (225) 389-3325 or stop by 1819 Florida Blvd. Delivery is available for orders of 10 or more.

Thought for the Day

From Richard M. Gibson, of Lafayette: “Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”

For what ails you

Roy Pitchford, of Monroe, is another reader who recalls the “Cajun Pete” radio commercials for New Orleans-brewed Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic:

“One song I remember went, ‘To make you glad, if the old sunshine has burned you bad — Dr. Tichenor’s.’

“And once when touting the virtues of using the antiseptic as a gargle for a sore throat, he said that after using it one could ‘sing for the Metropolitan — or any other insurance company, for that matter.’ ”

Long life ahead

L.P. Miller notes that country singer George Jones, who died recently at 81, “had four wives (not simultaneously), drank too much, did drugs, brawled, was involved in a bus crash and had bypass surgery.”

L.P. figures that with only one wife, moderation in his intake of harmful substances, and “no brawls, bus crashes or bad company, what’s my prognosis — 162?”

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.