Buck Bertrand adds to our “kitchen disaster” series:

“Years ago my bride of three months wanted to surprise me with a birthday cake.

“My favorite was a vanilla cake with sautéed banana filling, iced with plenty of dark chocolate.

“She baked the cake after I had gone to sleep, in order for it to be a surprise.

“Next morning, as my little dog and I walked into the kitchen, you could smell the sweet aroma.

“My wife had put the three-tier cake on the breakfast bar so it would be the first thing I saw when I entered the room.

“On the counter was the bottom layer, still on the plate.

“The second layer had slid off the counter and onto the seat of a bar stool.

“The top layer had slid all the way down to the kitchen floor.

“She did not know that when you are baking cakes, you let those items cool before using.

“The expression on my little dog was the funniest. He enjoyed the top two layers, and we ate the bottom layer.”

The busy Catholic

Dudley Lehew, of Denham Springs, says, “Doug Johnson’s ‘fewer vs. less’ lament in the Thursday column, about checkout lines for ‘20 items or less,’ reminds me of one of my all-time favorite cartoons.

“It portrayed confession booths in a church, and one booth had a sign in front of it that said, ‘Express Confessional. Three sins or less.’”

Lost words

A Baton Rouge reader says he did a little book to show his kids what life was like in the ’40s and ’50s, and included words and phrases they might not know today.

They included “gallery” for porch, “five and dime” stores, the police “paddy wagon,” “ice boxes” for refrigerators (also commonly called “Frigidaires,” just as every vacuum cleaner was an “Electrolux.”), “blotters” and “fountain pens.”

Cajun thunder

Judy Riffel says that Cajun French phrase for something good we’re been kicking around is “Tonnerre m’ecrase, mais ça c’est bon, oui!”

Which translates as “Thunder crush me, but that’s good!”

Says Judy, “It seems like a mild exclamation today, but was cursing back in the day.”

Thief thwarted

A reader thanks two Baton Rouge gas station customers as “wonderful Samaritans” who helped get her stolen purse back and put the guy who made off with it behind bars:

“I went into the gas station to get a fountain drink, and the witnesses observed a man open my car door, reach inside and steal my purse.

One of the customers took down his license plate number and the two remained available to assist police with a description of the robber and his car.”

The police quickly found the guy, with her purse inside his car. They also retrieved her iPhone from a pawn shop.

She says she was telling this story “because the public needs to be aware that, according to the detectives who assisted me, there is a gas station hustle which involves men who watch for women who enter the store without their purses and people getting out of their cars without locking the doors.”

Meaty topic

Don Cunningham has a tip for Mitch Landry, who’s seeking bone-in “seven steaks,” the kind you cook in a gravy:

“He can find bone-in seven steaks at the Bet-R Store off Perkins Road by the overpass.

“Got them a few days ago, and it was like ‘old times.’

“If they are not in the meat counter, ask the butcher.”

Looking for stuff

Ralph Drouin says a recent comment in the column by Ed Clancy, of New Orleans, reminded him of this:

“I listened to his radio talk show years back. He had a segment called ‘radio cartoons.’

“Those were some of the funniest segments I have ever heard. I’ve tried finding them on the Internet, but to no avail.”

Ralph wonders if they were recorded and if they’re available.

Special People Dept.

Celestine Marshall, of Norwood, celebrates her 95th birthday on Monday, March 9.

The nonstick brain

Mike Staid says, “Tell your readers who have been complaining of tunes becoming stuck in their heads to be advised — enjoy it while you can; soon NOTHING sticks!

“Why, just the other day I heard ‘Blueberry Hill’ by Fats somebody for the first time...again.”

Why moms go gray

“Your ‘teacher and the boots story’ in the Wednesday column reminded me of our time in upstate New York,” says Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut.

“Son Michael caused many a teacher to phone me demanding, ‘What kind of mother are you...?’, as he did things like lose his shoes or his coat before he got to school, or eat his sack lunch on the way to school and then look pathetic at lunch time, etc.

“I had discovered that if you first put a plastic bag over his shoes, it was much easier to then slip on the winter boots.

“Sure enough, Michael removed the boots before getting on the school bus, and arrived wearing only the plastic bags. I got another call from his teacher. Sigh...!”

Contact Smiley

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.