Paula Bourg, of Ethel, says, “I recall a 1940s Christmas when my husband, Mack, decorated a tree in our first new home, in south Baton Rouge.
“I expected him to set the tree in a can of sand and cover it with red crepe paper, the way my mother used to do it. But he said he had a better way.
“At that time I was still wearing rose-colored glasses, and I thought he was a genius.
“So I left him alone while I busied myself in the kitchen.
“When I returned to the living room, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
“He had made a wooden base, which was a big improvement over the can of sand.
“But he was driving 10-penny nails through the base and all the way through our new carpet and into our beautiful hardwood floor.
“I laugh at the memory today, but I have to admit I didn’t think it was a bit funny back then.”
Bill Quinn says, “It is great to live with today’s technology.
“For example we can go to church and have a leisurely lunch. Then you can come home, where you can punch a button and all the commercials disappear, and we can watch the game.
“Lately, though, I’ve been watching the commercials and using the ‘disappearing’ button for the Saints!”
Mary Vernoy, of Metairie, says, “Regarding Chris Caballero’s father’s saying, my cousin George Gaudin from Donaldsonville also used it.
“It was ‘Eh labas,’ French for ‘Hey, over there!’ to get someone’s attention from a distance.
“The rest was probably the person’s name, Simon. Later they just used it in general.
“Another one my cousin used to say was ‘La pistauche a tante Nana,’ French for ‘The peanut of Aunt Nana’ (Nana was probably a nickname).
“I have no idea how that one got started.
“I do know when things got too quiet at the camp, one of those sayings was thrown out for a laugh.”
Phil Hannaman, of Tyler, Texas, says of, “Eh, la bas:”
“My mother said it every time something went wrong when I was growing up.
“I did notice there was no limit to the inflections she could give the term — and depending on the inflection you knew just how much trouble you were in.
“In the age of the Internet with boundless information, I Googled it.
“It is from a traditional New Orleans song made famous in 1944 by that widely-known band ‘The Creole Stompers.’
“I am sure you’ve heard of them!”
Speaking of New Orleans music, John Gaidry, of Lafayette, says, “Back in the ’30s, radio station WWL had a morning program called ‘Man On The Street,’ featuring Henry Dupre, who interviewed people as he walked in the streets of New Orleans.
“He opened his show with the following:
“Arise (ah ree zay), arise, arise,
You can’t stay in the bed all the day.
Get out of bed, you big cochon,
Get up and pick the mirliton.
Arise, arise, arise.”
“I believe it was 1935, and we had just acquired our first radio.”
Looking for stuff
Bill Benjamin, of Austin, Texas, wants to find photos of Baton Rouge’s old City Park carousel:
“I have done extensive research on Timothy and Bartholomew Murphy, who were carousel builders and owners beginning in the late 1800s and continuing into the 1900s.
“Timothy and Bartholomew owned several carousels in New Orleans, and Bartholomew ran the carousel in City Park, Baton Rouge, from 1927 to 1944.
“I actually own a horse and a scenery panel from the Baton Rouge carousel.”
If you can help, you can call him at (510) 501-3548.
Special People Dept.
Abe Rubenstein, of Williamsburg Retirement Community, celebrated his 98th birthday on Sunday, Dec. 7.
Chester Guidry, of Central, celebrated his 98th birthday on Sunday, Dec. 7. He is a World War II veteran.
Adele Jewell McKinney, of Greenwell Springs, celebrates her 97th birthday on Tuesday, Dec. 9.
Reel ’em in!
Algie Petrere came across this little story:
“It was raining hard, and a big puddle had formed in front of the little Irish pub.
“An old man stood beside the puddle holding a stick with a string on the end and jiggled it up and down in the water.
“A curious gentleman asked what he was doing.
“‘Fishing,’ replied the old man.
“‘Poor old fool,’ thought the gentleman.
“So he invited the old man to have a drink in the pub.
“Feeling he should start some conversation while they were sipping their whisky, the gentleman asked, ‘And how many have you caught today?’
“‘You’re the eighth.’”
How men shop
Mike Lukacin says, “A friend once told me that his wife gave him a copy of a recipe and asked him to go to the store and buy all the ingredients.
“He said he found everything but the one-fourth cup of hot water.”
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.