Chuck Falcon, of Donaldsonville, says, “Your story titled ‘Kids On A Train’ reminded me of what happened to my brother Renard and a friend of his.

“Living in the country in the small settlement of Smoke Bend, there were many freight trains that would pass by. Sometimes they would stop near our house.

“One had stopped with a load of new automobiles on it. At that time the cars were unlocked and uncovered.

“Renard and his friend decided to get in one of the new autos and listen to the radio.

“Next thing they knew the train had started to move again. The next stop it made was in New Orleans.

“Once in New Orleans they had to board a Greyhound bus back to Donaldsonville.

“P.S.: Don’t tell my mom; not sure if she knows this happened.”

Which reminds me

Back when I was in LSU Journalism School, one of the students lived in his aunt’s rent house in north Baton Rouge just off Chippewa, where there are a lot of railroad tracks.

It soon became something of a party house, and we would drop by to take a break from the rigors of a scholar’s life.

Late one evening one of the guys (I forget who) found himself alone at the house without a ride back to the campus.

He had an early class, so he couldn’t spend the night or wait until somebody showed up to give him a ride.

He set out walking, and soon came upon a train with an empty boxcar that beckoned to him. He knew the train would pass close to the campus, so he hopped in, planning to jump off when it got to LSU.

But the train started picking up speed, and by the time it got to the campus it was going way too fast for him to jump off.

When it finally stopped — in Norco — he had to hitchhike back to LSU, which was difficult because his train ride had left him dusty, disheveled and looking quite disreputable.

Since I don’t recall any of my classmates choosing a career as a hobo, I assume it was his last try at riding the rails.

Isn’t that sweet?

Martha Wright says husband Malcolm and friend Charles went to Avery Island and the area around it, “taking pictures of wildlife, especially birds. (Charles is a pro, Malcolm was just along for the ride.)

“Wanting to bring a present home to their wives, they both purchased a ‘praline mix.’ All one had to do was add vanilla, cream, butter and pecans.

“Charles’ wife, Caroline, and I had this reaction: ‘You paid $12.99 for a pound of brown sugar?’ ”

Bowled over

Another “culture shock” story about our coffee-drinking habits down here:

Denise Savoie, a “New Orleans native loving Baton Rouge,” says, “Yes, we certainly like our coffee strong in these parts, but we also like our cups to be oversized.

“Some friends were visiting recently from Texas. Early one morning Bob, originally from Chicago, joined us out on the patio carrying a fresh cup of coffee with both his hands.

“He said with a smile, ‘I was looking for a coffee mug, but all I found was this soup bowl!’ ”

Inquiring Minds Dept.

  • After a reader asked about the barbecue sauce from the late lamented White Kitchen, we heard from Joseph Balfour, who says it was made by Rex Fine Foods of New Orleans.

But the Rex website shows that while the company now sells a variety of spices, Creole mustard, hot sauce and crab boil, barbecue sauce is not listed as one of its products.

  • John Cunningham, of Metairie, answers a reader’s inquiry about the Baton Rouge TV announcer who did Dr. Tichenor’s “Cajun Pete” commercials:

“The commercials were performed by John Coburn, who lip-synced the radio commercials of Pinky Vidacovich.

“He also read the evening news on WAFB in the station’s early years.

“He did some commercials live. One was for ice cream, the brand name of which I don’t remember.

“They substituted mashed potatoes, since ice cream would not hold up under studio lights.

“He did a decent job of exhibiting the joy of indulging in ice cream …”

Feeling expansive

Tom Simoneaux, of Paincourtville, says, “Our neighbors, Bobby and Cara Politz, recently had a baby boy, Eli.

“They have put a sign on their door that reads, ‘We have added 2 more feet to our house.’”

Missing accessory

Jerry Guilbeau, of Carencro, says he wasn’t feeling particularly old until this incident:

“Picking up my 3-year-old grandson Luke in my ancient 1997 Intrepid, he asked, ‘Where is the TV?’ ”

Mistaken identity

Dolores Pylate, of Gonzales, has another “why we love our grandchildren” story:

“One day when we were going to watch our granddaughters, Presley, 5, called and said, ‘Maw Maw, I’ll be waiting for you outside.’

“When we got there in Paw Paw Bill’s car she was so excited to see us.

“She said, ‘Maw Maw, I saw a car just like yours pass, but it was another old lady driving.’ ”

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.