Most of our nostalgia items are about good times, period, but Tim Cummings reminds us of how things have changed for too many young people today:

“This morning over coffee we were discussing how good it was to grow up in the ’50s.

“When there were no ‘official’ dances scheduled, we would have a dance party over at someone’s house on Saturday nights. Some would bring Cokes, some would bring chips, and we would all bring our favorite 45s.

“The last item would have a whole new meaning nowadays.”

Last laugh

“7Grandkids” tells this armadillo tale:

“Back during wartime in the ’40s, when I was about 12, we owned a farm near Vinton.

“Because it was close to the Sabine River, armadillos came up from Texas sooner than they crossed the Mississippi into Baton Rouge.

“Several roadside ‘zoos’ opened up along U.S. 90 featuring armadillos, raccoons, muskrats, skunks and many kinds of snakes and turtles.

“My buddies and I used to catch crawfish and minnows and sell them to the guy at the zoo for a few nickels for feed for his animals. He told us he needed a new armadillo and would pay us 50 cents for one.

“Armadillos often rooted around in our yard at night. We stayed up late one bright, moonlit night prepared with a gunny sack to catch one.

“About midnight a big one came through a hole in the fence, sniffing here and there. We knew he couldn’t see us, because armadillos are essentially blind. But when we tried to put the sack over him he got away and started to run.

“With us chasing him, he ran into a fence post and knocked himself out.

“You would think we should have easily caught the animal and sold him for several ice cream cones, but we rolled on the ground laughing so hard and for so long that the armadillo revived, found the hole in the fence and disappeared.”

Copycat prank

After Glen Naquin, in the Monday column, told of putting beer bottles in the little paws of deceased roadside armadillos, I got this note from Liz Anderson:

“Evidently, Glen Naquin has friends in Ponchatoula who have carried on his tradition!”

She sent a photo of one of the critters, on his back and evidently dead, clutching a can of Milwaukee’s Best Light, which my friends who drink tell me is an inexpensive adult beverage.

Getting personal

Some clever entrants in Smiley’s Poetry Contest have figured out that it’s always good to write about my favorite topic — me:

— Anne Johnston writes:

“Smiley’s having a contest once more,

With poetry entries galore.

He gets us to write,

With the promise we might

Have a root beer with him — I’d adore.”

— Patrick Cougevan, of Mandeville, manages to also work in weather and sports:

“Louisiana — yes, it’s August!

Heat and humidity continue to dog us.

Saints in training camp,

Pelicans outta town.

It’s 96 degrees — and the sun has gone down.

Hard these days not to feel the blues,

At least we have The Advocate

And all of Smiley’s news.”

— But Mike Staid, of Zachary, in his poem, “It’s A Trap!,” injects a note of cynicism:

“To all the lyricists who picked up a pen

And scribed a poem in order to win

A Pastime po-boy with Smiley one day,

A word to the wise

Be advised

He never did say

Which one of the two of you

Would have to pay!”

Special People Dept.

— Frances Politz celebrated her 106th birthday on Thursday, Aug. 6.

— Annie Cali Starlone, of Hester, celebrates her 103rd birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

— Lelia McManus Fontenot, of Eunice, celebrated her 99th birthday on Sunday, Aug. 9.

— Cleo “Doris” Strickland d’Aquin James, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 96th birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

— Effie Sharkey Dawson, of Jackson, celebrated her 94th birthday on Monday, Aug. 10.

— Woody and Nell Evans, of Zachary, celebrate their 70th anniversary on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Father Fashionable

Linda Dalferes says her son, a priest, mentioned in his weekly parish newsletter his excitement of the opening day of their school.

She says, “Brings to mind his first day at school years ago at his first parish, when the cute little first-grader said to him, ‘Father Craig, I like your outfit.’”

Freedom song

Speaking of the start of school, Janice DeJean has this ex-teacher’s view:

“Although this is the third year I have been retired from teaching, I felt compelled to write this poem in honor of all previous and new retirees:”

“I’m retired from teaching.

No more fussing — no more preaching.

I have a new motto that hits the spot:

‘The kids are back in school, but I’m not!’”

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.