Stu Braud, of New Roads, is concerned about Baton Rouge’s most prominent building:

“Living in Spanish Town, do you notice how grungy, dirty and drab the State Capitol building looks (I’m speaking of the exterior surface, not what’s going on inside).

“Of course, the state is basically broke. Do you think some of the highly profitable non-taxpaying businesses in the state could be persuaded to donate for a power washing?”

(Stu, I’m afraid you lost them at the word “donate...”)

Up to the task

Charles Johnston, of Livingston, offers this nostalgia item about shelling peas and rolling cigarettes:

“When I was younger, my brothers and I would spend a week or two with my grandparents in north Louisiana.

“This always seemed to happen just as the peas were ready to pick and shell.

“One evening as we were sitting on the front porch shelling peas, my grandfather stopped to roll a cigarette.

“With his hands and lap full, he seemed to be having some trouble, and Granny asked if he needed any help.

“He looked over and in his slow drawl said, ‘Granny, I can roll a Bull Durham cigarette with one hand, sitting astride a horse at full gallup into a forty mile an hour head wind; I don’t need no help.’”

Meaty topic

Really, I promise, I’m going to stop writing about Spam. Trust me. But first...

Linda Hughes Whitman, of Denham Springs, says, “One year, in our travels we crossed over the state line into Minnesota.

“We stopped at the visitors’ center at the state line, and were perusing the pamphlets when I spotted the word ‘Spam.’

Turns out the factory was located in Minnesota, and so we stopped there.

It was an interesting tour, but the thing that really caught my eye was the state that eats the most Spam.

“It is Hawaii. This started during World War II and continues today.”

Canned squirrel

Writing about Spam cans isn’t like writing about Spam, is it?

Anyhow, Jacob Scardina has this childhood memory:

“While we did eat fried Spam when I was a kid and enjoyed it, my cousin and I valued the tin can that it came in even more.

“We made traps from the can, with which we caught flying squirrels.

“They made great pets for us country kids. We would place a string around the little critters’ necks, put them in our shirt pocket with some pecan pieces, and go off to school. They would munch away and sleep in that pocket all day.”

Which reminds me

Regarding Jacob Scardina’s recollection — I’m not a country kid, but I do recall my buddies who had flying squirrels in their pockets at school.

The school was Hollywood Junior High, which I attended in seventh grade, in its last year as a junior high before it converted to all elementary grades.

Monte Sano Bayou ran near the north Baton Rouge school, and students who were familiar with that area would pick up flying squirrels and bring them to class, keeping quiet about their shirt-pocket pets to avoid attracting unwanted attention from the teacher.

They were tiny, cute animals, and I wonder if they’re still around...

The other fair

Talk of the 1984 World Exposition in New Orleans brought this from New Orleanian Bill Grundmeyer:

“I have a rare souvenir folder from the 1884 World’s Fair in New Orleans (officially the “World’s Industrial & Cotton Centennial Exposition,” held in what is now Audubon Park to mark the 100th anniversary of the cotton industry).

“It belonged to my late friend Joseph Dickinson’s grandmother, who visited the 1884 fair on her honeymoon, from Brownsville, Tennessee.”

Special People Dept.

Mae Mollere celebrates her 99th birthday on Monday, March 28.

Leonard Roppolo Jr., of Slidell, celebrates his 92nd birthday on Monday, March 28, He is a World War II Army veteran, having served in Europe for 21 months.

Agnes Capone Rome, of Donaldsonville, celebrates her 90th birthday on Monday, March 28.

With friends like that...

After I told, on Thursday, of my plan to spend Saturday at Ormond Plantation in Destrehan for the German Coast Farmers’ Market, I heard from my buddy Russ Wise, of LaPlace:

“I see from today’s column that you will visit the Destrehan plantation on Saturday, meeting and greeting and signing autographs.

“That’s just down the road from where I live.

“In an amazing stroke of good luck, I plan to be in Fort Worth, Texas, that day.”

Friends are great — wish I had some...

Stalking veggies

Paul Major, of Livonia, says, “A Thursday article in The Advocate showed a picture of deviled eggs with a celery stalk in each one, supposedly perfect for Easter morning.

“Everyone knows that’s not the proper use of celery stalks — they’re for the Bloody Marys at Easter brunch.”

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.