Mark Kirk says his mom, Sammie Kirk, passes along this story, to be filed under “Open Mouth, Insert Foot:”

“Recently at our 70th Oakdale High School reunion and homecoming parade (Smiley, your sister-in-law Jane Crawford Anders helped organize it), the class of 1945 was riding in a float provided by the mayor.

“My husband Don, who loves Oakdale, was watching.

“A fellow next to him commented as the float passed them, ‘My gosh, they are older than dirt.’

“To which my husband replied, ‘And that blonde up there is my wife.’

“Well, these old ‘dirts’ are still providing friendship, compassion and love, and Oakdale is still home.”

Ronnie’s star

Michael DeFelice, of Zachary, says, “Your readers may be interested to know that if they find themselves on La. 964 in Zachary at night between Ligon Road and Plains Presbyterian Church, they can look over to the east and see a large star that appears to hang low in the sky.

The star, on my chimney, is in memory of Ronnie Fremin.

“However, Ronnie was very generous, and if you want to think about another loved one who has passed on, he would be pleased.”

Where’s the meat?

Our recent comments about mincemeat brought this response from Joan Waguespack Barre, of Metairie:

“I moved to New Orleans from the small town of Vacherie.

“I grew up eating meat pies made with ground beef and pork. Having a craving for the delicious pies, I ordered mincemeat pie from the restaurant menu.

“Much to my surprise, when I cut into the piece of pie I learned that it was not made from meat, but the main ingredient was RAISINS. To this day I wonder how mincemeat pie got its name.”

Meaty topic

To answer Joan’s question above:

My sources (named Google) tell me that mincemeat dates from the 12th century, when Crusaders brought back spices from the Middle East.

Cooks of the time found that meat could be preserved by the spices, and mixed the meat with fruit, which not only improved the taste but masked the aroma of the aging meat. This minced mixture was made into pies.

Later the actual meat gave way to beef suet, and these days it’s usually only the spices and fruit that remain.

Get a grip

Wade J. “Papa Bear” Labat, says, “Reading all the comments about teachers brings to mind my first-grade teacher at St. Anthony’s, Sister Teresa Martin.

“Now that I am grown up, it occurred to me that she wasn’t much taller than the average first grader.

“But when she pinched you on the ear, she had the strongest thumb and first-finger grip I have ever encountered. And I refuse to say how I know that.

“I understand she is living in Chatawa, Mississippi, and I would like to wish her a Merry Christmas.

“Smiley, please edit this message, because although she was a very good teacher, I was not a very good student.”

Basement blues

Speaking of old school days, Marlene Penick says not everyone was familiar with the word “basement” to describe a restroom:

“In our early teens my neighbor and I, parochial school students, each had dentist appointments at a downtown building on Third Street.

“Dr. McHardy reprimanded us for arriving late, to which we explained we had to go to the basement.

“His mighty voice was so loud our teeth shook: ‘What in the hell were you doing in the basement?’”

Market music

“Am I getting older or is the supermarket playing great music?” asks Marvin Borgmeyer.

That’s a question I’ve also pondered. I wonder if the Rolling Stones, when they recorded ‘Satisfaction,’ ever imagined it would be accompanying me along the cereal aisle as I pick up my oatmeal, singing to myself, ‘I can’t GET no...’”

Special People Dept.

Genevieve Ballard Simms celebrates her 95th birthday on Friday, Dec. 18.

Robert “Sonny” Harris, of Bunkie, celebrated his 95th birthday on Dec. 10. He is a veteran of World War II.

Ben and Katrina Wicker celebrate 71 years of marriage on Sunday, Dec. 20.

Memorable Sayings Dept.

Barbara McKaskle, of Hammond (“and proud of it,” she adds), says one of her favorite old-time sayings is “one that I use frequently: ‘Ain’t my dog, ain’t my chickens.’

This was first heard from an old country lady when asked by a neighbor if that was her dog chasing his chickens.

“Just saying, ‘None of my business.’”

What momentum?

Ric Kracht recalls this insult:

“My high school coach, Bill Bofinger, once made this comment about our team’s uninspiring 1969 football season: ‘You guys started out slow, and just sorta tapered off from there.’”

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.