Dorothy Stutes, of Baton Rouge, tells a story that makes some of us feel very old indeed:

“My nephew Sam Broyles and his wife, Christy, from Dallas, along with their daughters, Katherine and Caroline, aged 9 and (almost) 7, recently stopped by to visit us en route to a week on the beach at the Gulf.

“We showed them around Baton Rouge, with my husband giving them an extensive tour of the State Capitol.

“He showed them the tower, the House and Senate chambers, Memorial Hall, the Huey Long statue, and the carvings of the elephant, camels, volcano, Mayan pyramid and ocean liner. (Let me know if you get inquiries as to where those carvings are.)

“But the thing that interested the girls the most was in a spot most tourists never see, on the ground floor of the Capitol, in the lobby between the House and Senate committee rooms.

“There, on the wall, he pointed out to them a telephone that the user had to deposit a quarter into in order to make a telephone call — although, he noted, if your call was not answered you got your quarter back.

“They were totally fascinated by the concept (and, yes, they did check the coin return slot in case someone had left a quarter).”

Losers’ tax

Ernie Gremillion says, “At a recent discussion with friends about American history, one member of the group mentioned that the U.S. government placed a tax on Southern land owners after the Civil War to offset some the Union’s cost of the war.

“I commented that this tax was known as the ‘insurrectionary district tax,’ and I had the original receipt of my great-great-grandfather, Vileneuve Gremillion, who paid $2.49 in 1866.”

The other plant

In the Tuesday column, Jim Carruth, of Lafayette, told of the chicken who hitched a ride to work at the Esso refinery with Jim’s dad, and “pecked around the plant” until quitting time.

He got a call from a lady who said, “I want to get me some plants like the chicken pecked all day. I got chickens, and they may like the plants.”

Says Jim, “Finally I realized she was talking about yard plants. Country folks don’t ever understand us city folks.”

Happy birthday

In our Musical Memories Dept., Joe Guilbeau, of Plaquemine, recalls when Willie Nelson held birthday concerts in Baton Rouge:

“In the early ’70s the show was planned for the Fair Grounds, but moved to the LSU Assembly Center due to inclement weather.”

He says the show also featured Johnny Paycheck, Emmylou Harris, Asleep at the Wheel and many others.

Joe adds, “It was the day I learned to walk on eight inches of crushed beer cans.”

Which reminds me

I’ve told this story before, but as a certified Old Person I have the right to do so. It illustrates the wide appeal of Willie Nelson:

At one Willie concert, I was sitting next to two guys in cowboy hats who were sipping on a bottle of Jack Daniels.

Behind them were two youngsters with long hair who were smoking a hand-rolled cigarette with an unusual aroma.

Friendly souls, the kids asked the cowboys in front of them if they’d like a toke.

One of the cowboys replied, “No, man, we don’t do that (stuff).”

Later the other cowboy turned to the long-hairs and offered them a slug of whiskey.

One of the kids replied, “No, man, we don’t do that (stuff).”

They all had a good laugh over this, then settled in to enjoy ol’ Willie.

Guitars galore

I’ve long said that the readers of this column, in addition to being erudite, are also generous.

Toni Brantley, of the West Baton Rouge Museum, agrees with this assessment:

“I would like to send a big SHOUT OUT to your readers. Because of their donations of gourds and cigar boxes, we were able to provide all 80 campers and 30 teachers with materials for our ‘Blast from the Past — Rockin’ through the Ages’ summer camp.

“Everyone got to go home with a cigar box guitar.”

(Which no doubt made their neighbors ecstatic...)

Can you dig it?

Joe F. Cannon says Broadmoor Baptist Church on Goodwood Avenue in Baton Rouge “would like to donate a 4-by-8-foot electric sign to another church. Glass enclosed with full set of lettering. Phone (225) 926-5454.”

Joe adds a key sentence: “Bring shovels!”

Special People Dept.

Dorothy Frost Taylor celebrates her 90th birthday on Monday, July 6.

Thrill ride?

Doug Johnson, of Watson, says he envies the Baton Rouge kids who got rides on the Mississippi River ferries:

“Those rides must have been wonderful compared to what we had to settle for back around 1947 in Nashville.

“I was only 9 when I would make the three-mile trek to downtown with some friends to take joy rides at Harvey’s Department Store. Harvey’s had installed the first escalators in the area.

“Didn’t take us long to tire of the scenery.”

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.