Doug Lee, of Prairieville, tells a story that might sound familiar to those of us in a married condition:

“Reading about the lengthy marriages in your column reminds me of a sermon in a small Catholic church in St. Gabriel several years ago.

“The priest asked for a show of hands of how many had been married for over 5 years, then 10, 15, 20, 30 and 40.

“When he got to 40, only one couple raised their hands.

“He smiled and asked them how long they had been married, to which the man replied, ‘45 years,’ and the woman quickly and loudly responded ‘47!’”

Personalities galore

Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, says, “When considering the qualifications for recognition of 50 years of marriage, a question popped into my mind.

“What if you have been married to different people, but they have been in the same skin?”

About that goat

I did a little (a VERY little) research after D.C. Jensen asked about the phrase he heard in the Army, “All fouled up like Hogan’s goat.”

Both and Yahoo! Answers say the phrase comes from R.F. Outcault’s newspaper comic strip, “Hogan’s Alley,” which first appeared in 1895. The next year it was renamed “The Yellow Kid.”

About another goat

“Barber Bob” Irwin, of Amite, says perhaps “Hogan’s Goat” was actually taken from the old camping song, “Bill Grogan’s Goat,” about a wayward and hungry goat who ate three shirts off the line and then encountered a train.

(I would tell you how it ends, but I don’t want to spoil the story for you...)

Pet Peeves Dept.

Warren Perrin, of Lafayette, says, “Here is my most often used — and hated — expression: ‘like I said’ (usually run together as ‘likeisaid’).

“It is usually said right after the speaker has gone into great detail about a subject, and right before he/she repeats the same thing, but in aggravatingly more detail than the first recitation.

“Tellingly, used by many weathermen and reporters to fill air time.”

Pat Alba, of Metairie, says, “My pet peeve is the phrase, ‘At this point in time...’”

Bill Grundmeyer, of New Orleans, says, “The word ‘anyway’ is to me the most noticeable conversational baggage.

“But I never call the other person’s attention to this, because I am equally guilty.”

Fan letter

“Interested and Curious Reader” has a question for me:

“Every time I read something attributed to Sarah Stravinska in your column, it ends with her location as Chestnut, La.

“All her items are always amusing or educational, telling of her experiences, travels and places she has lived.

“Now I would like to know how she came to be living in Chestnut, as you have to really want to go there to find it.

“Could she enlighten me on how she came to be living there and what she does for fun there — fish?”

(I’ll pass this along to Sarah, but you might want to wait for her memoir, “Sarah Tells All,” soon to be a major motion picture.)

Still useful

Readers say the old “church key” opener, once a vital tool for opening beer cans, is still a handy item to have around:

Dobby Dobrowolski says, “I have been enjoying your stories about having a ‘church key,’ and explaining the need back in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.

“My kids all gave me a ‘deer in the headlights’ look when I explained it to them when they were younger.

“Well, my church key gets used regularly, opening a new can of Steens’ syrup.”

Difference maker

“My father, the Rev. James O. Evans, turned 91 three weeks ago and is still making a difference,” says Wayne Evans.

“He has served as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) in foster care, and was chosen as Louisiana’s CASA Volunteer of the Year two years ago.

“He is a spiritual director in the Prison Ministry organization. He occasionally preaches and teaches Sunday School. He gardens and tends to his greenhouse every day in our home in Carencro, north of Lafayette.”

Special People Dept.

Olides Brickens, of Baton Rouge, a retired teacher, celebrates his 100th birthday on Sunday, Feb. 28.

Lena Moran, of Amber Terrace Assisted Living in Baton Rouge, celebrates her 96th birthday on Sunday, Feb. 28.

Jewel Long, also of Amber Terrace, celebrates birthday No. 93 on Saturday, Feb. 27.

Rita Jorgensen celebrates her 91st birthday on Friday, Feb. 26.

Frances and Tommy Tonguis celebrated their 64th anniversary on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

Finishing touch

Harry Clark, of Lafayette, says, “Ran across this in Reader’s Digest, attributed to Robert Byrne (American author and billiards guru):

“‘There are two kinds of people. Those that finish what they start, and so on...’

“That’s how I function most days.”

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.