Tim Palmer, of Lafayette, says he was living in New Orleans in 1979, when a police strike led to cancellation of Carnival parades:

"Mardi Gras turned out to be a great day. I was in an impromptu parade that eventually grew to about 15 vehicles. The lead car was an Oldsmobile convertible with a trunk full of beads.

"The local police were on strike, and the State Police pretty much let anything go, as long as you weren’t causing any trouble.

"After riding around all day, and stopping at a bar from time to time, we ended up downtown (we started near Audubon Park), with everyone going to a club.

"I had $2 in my pocket, was wearing a pair of ratty-looking jeans and a USL sweatshirt that had the sleeves cut off, and had paint on my face from someone who thought she was a face-painter, but really wasn’t.

"On my way to catch a trolley, I was approached by a very cute woman who asked me if I wanted a date. I could only smile at her and keep walking. Best Mardi Gras ever!"

Which reminds me

Another unusual Mardi Gras was in 2006, just six months or so after Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding had devastated much of New Orleans.

Lady Katherine and I decided we should go down from Baton Rouge and support the scaled-down celebration.

So on the Monday evening before Mardi Gras, we were standing outside her sister's apartment on Royal Street — realizing we had forgotten the key. Her sister was out of town, so we were homeless — until I saw the Hotel Monteleone sign down the street, gave them a call and got one of the last rooms available.

That morning we had Eggs Benedict in our room, then wandered out on the strangely quiet streets. We caught our favorite parade, Zulu, made friends with some other spectators who were krewe members but not parading — and wound up with a coveted Zulu coconut.

I made the Rex parade, which after Zulu was a subdued affair, and ran across a buddy who gave me some doubloons from the parade.

That evening, we found a little Cuban restaurant on Iberville — a lot of the eating places were still closed.

The next morning, we drove home on the empty streets outside the Quarter and saw first-hand how much needed to be done to restore the city.

It was a Mardi Gras like no other, a mixture of joy and sadness. …   

A Phideaux phone

Ernie Gremillion has a floor furnace story:

"Years ago, when my father ran a small plumbing and heating shop, he had many floor furnace calls.

"His employee came back from one in an old run-down house in north Baton Rouge and told the following story:

"After going under the house to repair the furnace, he told the owner that he had his dog tied to a phone cable under the house.

"The owner responded that this explained why the phone never rang — but every time the dog barked, someone was on the line."

Good Samaritans

Barbara Perry, of Baton Rouge, tells of a helping hand offered after hard freezes played havoc with water pipes all over town:

"Special thanks to the STP Plumbing employees who stopped when I waved and assisted us with turning off the main shut-off valve of an out-of-town neighbor whose pipes had burst. We are so grateful they helped stop the neighborhood from the flooding water."

Special People Dept.

Lorena "T-Moon" Guillot, of the Ossun community near Scott, celebrated her 107th birthday Friday, Jan. 19.

Rub it in!

Even on our coldest days, one reader had to remind us of our hellish summers:

"I really do not like cold weather, and I was trying to think of something good about it. Well, these days in the morning, water out of the tap is really cold — and that reminds me of water out of the tap in Colorado in the summer."

Louisiana haiku

Boil-water alerts

One way to avoid boiling

Hydrating with beer 

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.