Dear Smiley: “Are you serious?” was the reply from a Northern friend in response to my description of a rural Mardi Gras, where we would stop at farmers’ houses and the girls would jump off floats and catch chickens for after-parade gumbo.

My niece was the champion catcher three years straight. Then, two years ago, after catching two chickens, she tripped jumping off the trailer and dislocated her shoulder.

After hearing that another girl had caught three chickens, my niece was determined not to lose her crown.

Dislocated shoulder and all, she started chasing chickens again, caught four more, and kept her crown.

By the way, it’s always wet at Mardi Gras, and the chases take place in freshly plowed fields. So most catches occur stretched out face first in mud.

And chickens peck. Hard.


Baton Rouge

Clumsy Johnny!

Dear Smiley: Your reference to Ed McMahon’s blooper caused me to recall my favorite Johnny Carson act.

Johnny informed his viewers of the recent capture of the infamous cat burglar “Murf the Surf” and the recovery of the Star of India sapphire.

He went on to say that he had made arrangements to exhibit the precious gem for all to see.

A uniformed security officer came on stage with a wooden box. Johnny walked over and joined the officer as he opened the box.

At this point, Johnny decided that the viewers needed a better view of the stone so he asked if he could remove it from the box, which he did.

As he held it in both hands for the camera, he suddenly dropped the stone on the floor. It broke into a million pieces.

He stared at the remains for several long seconds with no change in his expression, then returned to his desk and continued his show as if nothing had happened.


Baton Rouge

Quit horsing around!

Dear Smiley: It seems everybody has a milkman story. Mine goes back to the late ’50s.

I am the oldest of eight children and, needless to say, we drank a lot of milk.

Our milk was delivered by Borden’s around 6 a.m. All went fine until Borden’s switched delivery men.

We had a Shetland pony, Domino, who was friendly but did not like strangers.

On the morning the new milkman delivered our milk, we heard a lot of hollering and screaming outside.

Domino had the milkman up a tree and was nipping at the poor man’s heels.

Once Domino backed off, the milkman came down from the tree and they made friends.

They never had that encounter again.



Ultimate recycling

Dear Smiley: You must have a lot of old readers who remember this jingle:

“Cambric Flour.

Eat the flour,

Wear the sack.

Not satisfied,

Your money back.”



Supply and demand

Dear Smiley: The recent bubble gum stories reminded me of events in my past.

During the last year of World War II, after school I rode a panel truck five days a week from McManus to Camp Van Dorn at Centerville, Miss., to sell the New Orleans Item.

If I sold all 100 papers I cleared $1.50.

Early on there was a cigarette shortage in the civilian market, so I would take my cash to the PX and find a GI to buy packs of cigarettes, which I would then resell at a handsome profit back home in Jackson.

Unfortunately the shortage ended, and I had to change my business plan to concentrate on Hershey bars and Wrigley chewing gum.



Kindly grocer revisited

Dear Smiley: In your Feb. 13 item, “The Kindly Grocer,” Mickey Pearson relates to his school days in Berwick and stopping by Sidney Bella’s store.

It brought back good memories of my childhood. I grew up in the Charles Bella General Merchandise Store.

When my grandfather died my Uncle Sidney became the owner. I was a delivery boy and worked in the store.

All the schoolchildren would pass by Bella’s.

Uncle Sidney didn’t want to have to explain to the children that he could only sell one piece of bubble gum or candy because of a ration on sugar due to the war.

He turned a sad thing into a good thing by simply telling each child that they were lucky to get the last piece.

Those were the good old days, with many great memories!


Baton Rouge

Distraction action

Dear Smiley: I saw a young teen steering his bicycle while thumbing a cellphone text.

Here’s a good question:

If he is texting with his right hand and steering with the other, in what direction are his eyes going?


Greenwell Springs

Dear Cathy: Could be worse — he could be driving a car.

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.