Gene Duke, of Baton Rouge, tells a story you might not want to read over breakfast:

“When Bill Ripple and I were about 12, we were bored and searching for something to do.

“While walking to the store for a five-cent soda, we spotted a buzzard having a meal, and thought it would be unique to have a pet buzzard to go along with our armadillos and other critters.

“I developed a plan where he would approach it from behind, and if the buzzard looked back at him I would step closer to distract the critter. It worked as planned, and when Bill grabbed the buzzard, I ran in and helped with the flapping and retching bird.

“We carried it to our cage, and thought by giving him clean water and fresh food his odor would improve. That plan did not work. We took several showers and discarded our stinking clothes.

“On the plus side, we were the only kids in Baton Rouge, and probably the world, who had a buzzard for a pet for a few weeks.”

Kids at work

George Morris says Mindy Bourgeois, of Prairieville, called The Advocate the other day with this story:

“Four teenage boys knocked on her door and asked if they could cut her grass. When she asked how much they would charge, they told her it was free, that they wanted to do a kind gesture for somebody.

“They refused her entreaties to let her pay, or even do something nice like buy them a treat. She said they used their own equipment; cut, edged, trimmed hedges and used a leaf blower to clean up.

“When an adult came by to look in on them, she learned that they were part of Fellowship Church, just around the corner from her home, and were doing this as part of a youth emphasis on doing things for others.”

The write stuff

After I mentioned a penmanship class when I was a kid in Natchez, Mississippi, it occurred to me that I haven’t heard of such classes for many years. But Pat Decell Irwin remembers them:

“I am a product of the Catholic schools in Natchez, where we were taught penmanship starting in the first grade, I think.

“For years I would doodle, making the ovals and ups and downs that were part of the process. It eventually became a small business for me, and I have addressed thousands of wedding invitations in what I described as a modified Copperplate Script in the 30-plus years that I did that.

“I have just recently totally retired, because these 82-year-old fingers have gotten too arthritic. I loved doing it and was blessed to meet and befriend many delightful brides and their mothers over the years.”

Judy joking

Sue Conran says, “Back in the late ’70s, I, my daughter and a number of my friends were each given a cartouche by a friend who had been working for an oil company in the Middle East.

“Our friend Joan told me that since all of them looked alike, we couldn’t know if they actually spelled our names. She commented that I could be in Egypt visiting the Great Pyramids and some local resident would call me ‘Judy.’ It became an ongoing joke.

“A few years later, we were on vacation with friends in Arkansas and their young daughter and her friend wanted to go horseback riding. No adult wanted to go with them, but I finally relented and told the guide to get me the oldest, most docile nag in the stable.

“Wouldn’t you know that happened to be Judy! Well, I had a little talk with her and showed her the necklace with her name on it. As luck would have it, we did not hurt one another. However, I was sunburned, and I think my saddle sores had saddle sores. Haven’t been on a horse since.”

Cheap shot

“Now that we’re at mispronunciations and wrong sayings again, I would like to add my two cents to the subject,” says Bob Brugger, of Prairieville:

“What gripes me when they advertise ‘cheap’ prices on the items they are trying to sell. To my knowledge, prices are not cheap, they’re either high or low. As for the items they’re selling, THEY may be cheap.”

Special People Dept.

— Jewell Davis, of Denham Springs, celebrates his 93rd birthday on Monday, Sept. 14. He is a World War II veteran who served in the South Pacific and later in Korea.

— Ray Ann and Bill Yrle, of Metairie, celebrate their 52nd anniversary on Monday, Sept. 14.

What’s that noise?

“My dad told this story about his father,” says Paul Jackson, M.D.:

“He and a friend were driving from Memphis to Liberty, Mississippi, in the early ’20s.

“They started hearing a loud racket, and assumed it was coming from mowing machines they saw along the road. But then they noticed the noise was still there when there were no mowers to be seen.

“When they pulled into a service station for gas, the attendant asked, ‘Do you want me to fix the tires?’

“All four flat tires had come off the rims and were flap, flap, flapping merrily along on the axles.”

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.