Here’s a seasonal tale from Mariano Hinojosa:

He says his wife Bertha’s students from Guatemala and Honduras were quizzing the teacher about Santa Claus.

One 6-year-old asked how Santa knew which children were good.

Bertha said, “I tell Santa Claus which children have been good and which have been bad.”

Not quite convinced, the lad asked how she communicated with the North Pole.

Bertha answered, “I send Santa text messages.”

The classroom was immediately silent.

They were pleased

Patrick Howard, of Zachary, says, “After reading Sue Conran’s memory of meeting her husband-to-be (in the Monday column), I thought about my parent’s meeting.

“They had gone to a party, each with a different partner, and while playing a game that Mom called ‘Pleased/Displeased,’ they were supposed to go take a walk together.

“As it turned out, they took a very long walk, 58 years long to be exact. Grover Howard asked Katie Mae to marry him less than a week after they met.”

Rooms of the past

Mickey Hughes joins our discussion of the school terms “cloakroom” for the room where coats were hung and “basement” for the school restrooms.

He joins the discussion from Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, where camel racing is a popular sport:

“I went to Convention Street Elementary in the 1950s in Baton Rouge, and we had ‘cloakrooms’ in back of the class.

“Although we kids hung up our coats, with no one having cloaks (that’s kind of a Sherlock Holmes thing, isn’t it?).

“And we raised our hand and asked to go to the ‘basement.’

“At some point, I had to drop the ‘basement’ thing because no one understood, and they became ‘bathrooms’ and then ‘restrooms.’

“Then working around this globe a bit, the ‘restrooms’ become ‘washrooms.’

“After leaving Convention Street school, I never heard ‘cloakroom’ again. I am working in UAE for a couple of weeks and now they are restrooms again. My head hurts.”

Measured response

David Cole, of Slidell, says, “I read with interest your article on old phrases, such as ‘a right smart.’

“My grandmother used phrases like ‘a right smart’ and ‘a whole heap.’

Granny, on The Beverly Hillbillies, explained such measurements:

“I believe it was 3 smidgens = a pinch; 4 pinches = a little bit; 4 little bits = a middlin’ amount; 3 middlin’ amounts = 1 right smart. And 5 right smarts = a whole heap.

“I hope this helps.”

Nostalgia Corner

Steve Liuzza, of Doraville, Georgia (thank you, Internet!), adds to our seminar on old Baton Rouge pubs:

“While remembering those establishments that were truly landmarks in their day, we cannot forget the Buckhorn Bar on Scenic Highway at Bay Street, owned by Brother Polito, with Tony ‘Hump’ Rispone behind the bar, serving the best Italian po-boy (muffuletta on French bread) I’ve ever had.

“And, while we’re in north Baton Rouge, let’s not forget Tony’s Donuts (Tony Anselmo) on Plank Road. I have not enjoyed a doughnut since that Plank Road location closed many, many years ago.”

Initial reaction

“I thought of your affection for root beer when I saw this historical item,” says Marvin Borgmeyer:

“In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts, so when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them, ‘Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.’

“It’s where we get the phrase ‘Mind your P’s and Q’s.’”

Special People Dept.

Marguerite M. Ford, of Southside Gardens in Baton Rouge, celebrates her 96th birthday on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

Porter Price celebrates her 96th birthday on Tuesday, Dec. 15. She’s an Arkansas native and “avid Razorbacks fan.”

Ruth Vallet Fabre celebrated her 90th birthday on Monday, Dec. 14.

Thought for the Day

From Keith Horcasitas: “Advice for those facing retirement: Retire TO something, not just FROM something.”

Take that!

A few more notable insults:

From Jimmy: “If conceit were consumption, he’d be darn near consumed.”

From Billy Myers, of Maurice: “If brains were dynamite, you wouldn’t have enough to blow your nose!”

And from Doug Johnson, of Watson: “He’s tighter than Dick’s hat band.”

“He don’t know diddly squat.”

“He’s slow as molasses in January.”

(Doug adds, “The way things are looking here in late December, molasses may not be slowing much this year.”)

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.