As a public relations practitioner in another life, many years ago, I always admire successful attempts to generate publicity, no matter how bizarre the cause.

Professional blonde pinup Pamela Anderson and the folks at PETA have gotten a lot of press out of her offer to cook and promote vegan meals for the prisoners at the Angola state penitentiary (the very definition of a captive audience).

The fact that there’s not a chance in hell of this happening doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a successful PR campaign, garnering a lot of ink, air time and social media posts for the actress (I’m being charitable here) and the anti-meat folks. (Full disclosure: my dad worked for a meat packer, so I grew up dining on animal flesh at every meal, and remain to this day a devoted carnivore.)

As Advocate columnist James Gill pointed out in his Thursday column, the prospect of a lifetime of vegan meals (no meat, no milk, no eggs) might make a prospective criminal think twice before going out to commit mayhem.

I know it would sure deter me from a life of crime...

Calculating marital bliss

Alex “Sonny” Chapman, of Ville Platte, this column’s chief legal adviser, says, “All these letters about using ‘first marriage years’ with ‘second marriage years’ to calculate ‘total married years’ reminds me of the legal concept of ‘tacking.’

“In property rights cases, a property owner can include his predecessors’ length of possession in calculating his ‘squatters rights.’

“So, there is legal precedent for including accumulated time in prior marriages in calculating total years of marriage.

“Just don’t get fancy and try something cute with the IRS.”

Worth the price

“Your story about the gondolas at the 1984 World Exposition reminded me of our family trip,” says Melissa LeSage.

“My parents took their four kids to the fair. My dad wanted to ride the gondolas across the river, and had to convince my 8-year-old brother to go, that there was nothing to be scared about.

“My brother did fine on the gondola ride. My father, on the other hand, discovered his own unknown fear of heights, and said he would have paid $100 to have found a different way to cross the river and get back to our car.

“Back in 1984, $100 was a lot of money!”

Like a rolling smoke

Since we’ve pretty much exhausted the subject of can and bottle openers, a couple of readers recall another handy device from the past:

Tom Toddy says, “Back during World War II, a time when ready-rolled cigarettes were scarce, there was a simple little machine on the market that used loose cigarette papers and canned tobacco to roll a fairly decent-looking cigarette.

“I was wondering if any of your other readers remember these unique cigarette-rolling contrivances?”

John Torbert says, “There was a device marketed in the early ’30s for rolling cigarettes. My grandfather had one, and I made many cigarettes for him with it.

“There was a sheet of hardened material with a tubular channel into which you put a cigarette paper and filled it with Prince Albert tobacco.

“Then you moved a handle to roll the cigarette. One had to lick the paper to hold the cigarette closed.

“You may remember such a machine.”

(I do, but it was a generation or so later, and Prince Albert wasn’t involved, and that’s all I want to say about that...)

Benefits of aging

Bill Grundmeyer, of New Orleans, comments on our stories of church greeters:

“My self-appointed greeting and ushering career at Mount Olivet Episcopal Church on Algiers Point has been rewarding.

“For most of my 85½ years, I shook hands with, and hugged, parishioners and guests.

“Now, parishioners and guests alike shake my hand, hug and kiss me, and occasionally give me a brief back rub!”

Special People Dept.

Shirley Grundmeyer Blanchard celebrates her 92nd birthday on Monday, Feb. 29.

Charlie and Marie Toler, of Baker, celebrated 64 years of marriage on Sunday, Feb. 28.

Thought for the Day

From J.C. Robillard, of Port Allen: “Showing your teeth doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smiling.”

(Why am I reminded of political candidates here?)

Making do

From Algie Petrere: “I was thinking about how a status symbol of today are those cell phones everyone has clipped to their belt or purse. I can’t afford one. So I’m wearing my garage door opener.”

Letter perfect

Harold Mayeux says, “Last week a grandmother said her 5-year-old granddaughter learned an ‘F’ word, which ended up being ‘phonics.??

“This reminds me of the guy on the phone who had to very accurately spell his name of Trup.

“He said, ‘T, as in total; R, as in Robert; U, as in under, and P, as in pneumonia.’”

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.