Morgan LeBlanc, of Abbeville, tells of his Uncle Lester's smart black Lab, Ebony:

"Uncle Lester and Aunt Louise entertained quite a lot on their beautiful patio, usually at night with a crawfish boil or barbecue.

"Uncle Lester was an accomplished dog trainer, quite well known around town for this remarkable talent.

"Following adult beverages, he loved showing off Ebony. He would instruct her to ring a bell and she would pull a string to ring it. He'd say, 'Where is my handkerchief?' and she would retrieve it from his pocket.

"He would then announce that Ebony could read. He said he subscribed to two papers, The Advocate and the local Meridional. He'd ask Ebony to retrieve the Meridional OR The Advocate.

"She would run to the front lawn, which was in total darkness, and retrieve the correct paper.

"Little did his audience know — I was hiding behind a large oak tree and would hand Ebony the correct paper each and every time."

The end

Art Sterling has evidence that a much-maligned piece of chicken does indeed have its admirers:

"This is from 'My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken,' a recipe from Thomas Keller:

"'I like to take off the backbone and eat one of the 'oysters,' the two succulent morsels of meat embedded here, and give the other to the person I'm cooking with.

"'But I take the chicken butt for myself. I could never understand why my brothers always fought over that triangular tip — until one day I got the crispy, juicy fat myself.' 

"I didn't believe that until I tried it. Highly recommended."

Which reminds me

When I was a kid in Natchez, Mississippi, we lived in the home of my grandmother, Camille DeMarco, and she did most of the cooking — not trusting the still-developing culinary skills of my very young mom.

Her teenage son and daughter also lived with her, and members of her large Italian family would often drop in at mealtimes.

As she puttered away in the kitchen, one of her diners would always ask what the meal was going to be that day.

She would always answer, "Chicken butts and liver."

As a youngster I found this delightfully naughty…

Miss Manners moment

The Advocate's syndicated etiquette columnist would be pleased by this story, from Patrick Howard, of Zachary:

"After reading John Musemeche's story about not being able to find cow manure, I thought about when my wife and I went to a friends' place to get some horse manure for some other friends.

"We put a fair amount in a bag and took it to our friends, who needed it for their flower bed. A few days later, we received a thank-you card from them for the manure.

"I have never gotten a thank-you card from anyone thanking me for giving them a load of you-know-what before."

Road worrier

Writer Mary Ann Sternberg, of Baton Rouge, needs your help in determining exactly when the access roads to the Sunshine Bridge were finally built:

"They were not completed at exactly the same time as the bridge, I don't think. I need this for a story in my new 'River Road Rambler' collection of River Road stories, and haven't been able to find out the true dates. DOTD and other sources couldn't furnish them."

She's at

Swift reaction

I assured several readers that I would no longer run "Tom Swifties."

I lied…

Pat Alba, of Metairie, submits this one in spite of the urging of her daughters (embarrassing children is one of the joys of parenthood):

"This gumbo is too thick!" said the chef rouxfully.

Say, can you see?

Faye Hoffman Talbot, of Jackson, says, "While shopping for eye glasses I could overhear the couple behind me doing the same thing.

"Every time the lady showed her husband a pair of glasses he would say, 'NO!' Finally he said, 'NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!,' sounding like a 2-year-old.

"His wife showed him one more pair and said, 'What do you think of these?' He said, 'I like them — this is the pair I wore into the store.'"

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0371 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.