I recently learned about the death of Tom Boyd from his brother Alan, and the sad news brought back memories.

Tom, my classmate at LSU Journalism School, had been living in Mexico for many years.

He was one of the funniest guys I ever knew, and a truly masterful storyteller.

As I told Alan, I still tell Tom’s stories from decades ago, and they always generate laughter.

On one of Tom’s too-rare visits back to Baton Rouge, he told me this tale to illustrate the sense of priorities by the people of his adopted home:

He was expecting a check in the mail, and when the postman didn’t come by at his usual time he went down into the village to see if he could find him.

He found the mailman sitting in the cantina drinking beer with a bunch of guys.

The mailman said, “Hello, Mr. Tom, come join us. These are some men from my village who are passing through on their way to the capital.”

When Tom inquired about his mail, the postman pointed to his mail sack and said, “Mr. Tom, the mail will be here tomorrow — but my friends will be gone.”

Tom said he went through the sack, found his mail — and then joined the guys for a beer.

And today my friend is gone. …

As the arteries clog

Jack Dale Shaffer says Baton Rouge has its own version of the New Orleans classic French fry po-boy, discussed here recently:

“This gastronomic delight can be found at Rocco’s New Orleans Style Po-Boys, on Drusilla Lane. It comes with mayonnaise and/or melted cheese, and gravy.

“There’s nothing like Louisiana heart-healthy food — enjoy.”

And Grant Smith, of New Orleans, says he’s partial to the ones at Liuzza’s on Bienville Street:

“They are listed on the menu as ‘French fried potato poor boy, brown gravy.’ ”

Good gravy!

Jack and Grant bring up something I haven’t mentioned before about the French fry po-boy.

Several folks have told me the idea of potatoes on bread doesn’t sound appealing.

But the secret is putting the fries on crusty New Orleans French bread, with that pillowy interior, and then slathering roast beef gravy over them.

It’s the gravy that makes the dish palatable — the rich seasoned gravy that comes from slow-cooking a beef roast would make cardboard taste delectable.

Plus, when times are hard, they’re usually the cheapest po-boy on the menu.

Speaking Southern

Claude Lafleur gives his take on the “po-boy, poor boy” controversy:

“Reading this morning’s column, I couldn’t help but remember the words from Jimmy Buffett’s song, ‘Honey Do:’

“‘I can’t pronounce my r’s and g’s when I am speaking Southernese…”

“Po-boy=poor boy in Southernese! No problem.”

Looking for stuff

Damon seeks a copy of the “Cox Game of the Week” football game on Sept. 5 between Parkview and Catholic High:

“My cousin played in the game. His grandparents are elderly and live out of town. They missed it when it aired.”

Call (225) 937-8732.

Special People Dept.

Estelle Schilling celebrates her 100th birthday on Friday, Sept. 12. She recently returned to Baton Rouge after 5 years in Arlington, Virginia, with her daughter and son-in-law.

Cesaire Chaumont, of Donaldsonville, celebrated her 98 birthday on Aug. 27.

Oliver Sterling celebrates his 90th birthday on Saturday, Sept. 13. He is a World War II Navy veteran.

Margie and Fred Frey celebrate their 62nd anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 13.

Madge and Don Odom, of Lafayette, celebrate 50 years of marriage on Friday, Sept. 12.

Just his type

Gene Duke confesses that he didn’t take a typing class just to learn how to type:

“Speaking of manual typewriters, I made an easy decision to take typing in the tenth grade at Istrouma High.

“There were 28 good-looking girls in the class — and me.

“I realized that typing would be a needed skill when computers replaced carbon paper.

“I was messy with carbon paper, but excelled in erasures.”

Phideaux’s treat

Algie Petrere says, “Recently my sister Charlie sent me some cleome seeds from her flower garden.

“So I could remember where I sprinkled them, I put a stick in the ground, similar to a Popsicle stick.

“A few minutes later, I found it on the driveway. My German Shepherd, Neiko, had been chewing on it.

“To deter him from doing it again, I covered it with hot sauce and put it back in the ground.

“Later I saw Neiko lying in the grass licking his lips, so I knew he had tried it.

“I looked and the stick was still there — licked clean. A little later I checked, and the stick was gone. I guess I just seasoned it for him.

“Who knew I had a Cajun German Shepherd? I guess I’ll switch to metal stakes.”

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.