After I said the story of a guy stepping over a low railing (not realizing he was on a raised highway) and falling into a swamp might be an urban legend, I heard from Hans Sternberg.

On Page 82 of his book, “We Were Merchants,” he tells the story of Goudchaux’s department stores.

Hans says in 1980, when the computer at Goudchaux’s new Lafayette branch crashed, their Ohio-based computer company sent three troubleshooters to Louisiana to deal with the problem:

“They arrived in New Orleans around 10 p.m. ... rented a car and headed to Lafayette...”

(By the way, Hans said they had flown first class, enjoying free adult beverages the entire way.)

“By the time they reached the Atchafalaya Basin, it was pitch dark and raining. The call of nature was too strong for one of them, who insisted the car be stopped on the emergency apron of the then-unlit freeway so he could relieve himself.

“Not wanting passing headlights to catch him in the act, he made the inebriated decision ‘to walk over there’ to the nearby trees, climbing over the short cement guardrail.

“The bad news was there was no ‘there’ there. The good news: The drop was into spongy swamp ground.”

One of his buddies went to look for him, and also stepped over the rail, with a similar result.

“The third computer guru wisely stayed in the car, having no clue as to what had happened, and turned on his flashing emergency lights.

“A Louisiana state trooper came along and summoned the closest fire department.”

Working breed

Kathy Gibbs, of Mandeville, says, “Reading of old-time TV remotes with cords reminded me of our first TV, which did have a remote, but not one connected by a cord.

“It worked on a tuning fork system.

“Everything would be fine until our dog would shake his head (as dogs are wont to do) and change the channel by clinking his metal tags together.

“On the bright side, if we couldn’t find the remote we’d just call the dog over and shake his collar.”

Ride to the past

Robby Zeringue says, “Isn’t it funny that the very worst part of the Baton Rouge Mid City’s little automotive suspension test track known as Government Street is right in front of an establishment named Circa 1857?

“I just love the irony in that.”

Say what?

— “Dr. Don” notes that two TV networks have referred to an overseas “serious crisis.”

He asks, “When is the last time we had a really fun crisis?”

— Sulynn Ganey, of Denham Springs, says she was surprised to read that in Baton Rouge “violent crime” is down while murders are up.

“I guess this means people are being killed with kindness. That is the only means of nonviolent murder I can think of.”

Soap opera

Just after a reader told of treating poison ivy rash with Octagon laundry soap, I heard from a couple of readers who said it wasn’t available in stores.

I Googled “Octagon soap” and found plenty of sources for the stuff, which is made by Colgate. So it’s still around, especially if you have a computer.

Special People Dept.

— Adele Lowe, of Port Allen, celebrated her 101st birthday on Saturday, April 25.

— Nede Petrovich, of Metairie, celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, April 25. She came to America in 1938 from Croatia.

— Sylvia Peak celebrates her 92nd birthday on Tuesday, April 28.

— Alverda “Al” St. Germaine Hernandez, of Napoleonville, celebrated her 90th birthday on Saturday, April 25.

Specialist sought

After Russ Wise, in the Friday column, noted a classified ad dealing with the search for a computer-savvy sous chef by the Federal Reserve Bank in New Orleans, I immediately heard from both Dudley Lehew and George McLean with the same suggestion — that maybe the bank was seeking someone to “cook the books.”

Some honeymoon!

Loretta Toussant adds to our “left behind” series:

“My mother, Lucille Toussant, tells the story of her wedding day in 1961.

“The bridal party left for the church in Fordoche and didn’t realize they had left the bride behind at her mother’s house!”

Contact 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.