Dear Smiley: I’m sitting on the back porch, the rain continues to fall, and I hear the garbage truck passing by.

And that makes me think about this: We should pause every once in a while and say “Thank you” to these folks and all the others who work in all weather, sometimes doing unpretty jobs that have to be done to keep civilization running.

RUSS WISE

LaPlace

Happy return

Dear Smiley: The recent stories about taking up the collection in churches reminded me of an incident several years back, when I was taking up the collection at St. James Episcopal Church.

I held out the plate to an elderly gentleman, who was obviously meditating. He seemed startled and grabbed a wad of money from his pocket and peeled off a $5 bill. But he inadvertently dropped the wad in the plate and held on to the $5.

I knew he didn’t mean to, so I continued holding the plate in front of him.

All of a sudden, he realized what he had done and snatched the wad from the plate, almost knocking it out of my hand, then put the $5 in.

He looked up at me with gratitude on his face, and we both laughed.

GORDON JARNAGIN

Baton Rouge

Why is that?

Dear Smiley: I have been wondering why people who go onto the observation decks of tall buildings and scenic overviews seem to want to put money in the binoculars so they can see where they came from up close.

Why don’t they just look around before they go up?

HARRY CLARK

Lafayette

Glorious glass

Dear Smiley: In your column on Feb. 9, there was an explanation, by Jacqueline Pressner Gothard, of how glass beads made in Czechoslovakia (and sold in her family’s Metairie store) were part of Mardi Gras.

I would like Jacqueline to know that I have kept two pairs of these glass beads with tags on them, “Made in Czechoslovakia.”

They are a part of my keepsakes. I appreciate knowing how they got to our Mardi Gras.

ALTHEA ANNE BOSCHE

(former Metairie resident)

Gonzales

Speaking Louisiana

Dear Smiley: Recent comments about the pronunciation of Louisiana names reminded me of my own indoctrination upon moving here 42 years ago. Some of the pronunciations are even hard for the locals to remember, such as “Atchafalaya.”

Just recently I heard TV game show hosts mispronounce Hebert as “He-burt,” and LaPlace was pronounced with a long A. No one corrected them.

DOUG JOHNSON

Watson

Mystery meat

Dear Smiley: The adventurous cooks among your readers might be interested in knowing that the mystery novel “Play It Again, Spam” by Tamar Myers includes a recipe for Spam jambalaya.

JOHN LaCARNA

Baton Rouge

Dear John: I have a recipe for Spam cupcakes — Spam with mustard and brown sugar mashed up and baked in cupcake pans, topped with mashed potato “icing.” Made it once for an office party and proved that newspaper people will eat anything.

Acquiring the habit

Dear Smiley: I have often wondered why canned foods were a staple in my home as a baby boomer growing up in the ’50s.

My research tells me that soldiers of World War II ate the same canned food as sold in stores. When they came home from war (as my dad did), they still wanted to eat foods such as Underwood deviled ham, Spam, Van Camp’s pork and beans and Borden’s condensed milk.

All of these canned foods, plus many more, were served in my home.

CAROL STUTZENBECKER

Kenner

Spam, not lamb

Dear Smiley: My mother became very resourceful during World War II. Because meat was scarce and rationed, she created “synthetic pork chops.”

She dipped Spam slices in egg and cracker crumbs and fried them in good old lard. Yum!

She tried to foist lamb chops prepared the same way on me. My picky palate would have none of those, however.

SHIRLEY PITTMAN

Baton Rouge

Consider the source

Dear Smiley: The canned meat stories remind me of a great one.

During an Atlantic crossing on an Australian maxi-racer sailboat, we were carrying some canned meat provided by the Australian navy.

One day, our cook prepared a succulent lamb tongue stew.

One crew member declared, “I do not eat anything coming from the mouth of an animal.”

With a big smile the cook said, “But you ate eggs for breakfast this morning.”

Needless to say, everyone laughed, including the young sailor.

FERNAND DIONNE

Metairie

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.

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