Dear Smiley: Reading about the person who got the unseasoned boiled shrimp reminded me of the time my son and I were in Hot Springs, Ark.

We went to this popular eating place (part of a nationwide chain).

I ordered the gumbo. It tasted like soapy water.

When I asked the waitress who made the gumbo, she said, “You need not say anymore — I know what you are about to say by your accent!”

ALLEN CARRIER

Eunice

Home cooking

Dear Smiley: The seminar on do’s and don’ts when eating in restaurants while traveling outside Louisiana reminded me of something I heard some time ago when I was in Louisiana.

There were some folks from Texas in town we were working with, and it was time for lunch.

They asked what restaurants were close by.

I recall someone mentioning a barbecue place nearby.

The response was priceless: “You don’t come to Louisiana to eat barbecue, just like you don’t go to Texas to eat Cajun.”

PHIL HANNAMAN

Tyler, Texas

Hell of a note

Dear Smiley: In this 100-plus heat, a local church has a sign out front that says,

“You think it’s hot here?”

SARAH STRAVINSKA

Chestnut

But did she laugh?

Dear Smiley: I was between songs at a local restaurant.

Two ladies, mid-40s, were near me and didn’t adjust when one of my particularly loud songs stopped suddenly.

One lamented to her friend, “You know, when I was young I had the energy but didn’t have the money. Now that I’ve got the money, I just don’t have the energy.”

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only person who laughed — but I was the only one attached to a microphone.

T-BOB TAYLOR

Panama City, Fla.

The cost of chic

Dear Smiley: My hat is off to the marketing strategy of the trendy coffee places in town. They are mining a rich vein of human nature.

The higher priced the brew, the more apt their patrons are to purchase it.

If they offered the identical java at 50 cents a cup from some wooden storefront, the no-longer-chic coffee places probably could not give it away.

Evidently it’s all in the psychology of the buyer (which, of course, has always been the case).

EARL C. JOHNSON

Baton Rouge

Educational expense

Dear Smiley: Keith Horcasitas’ tale of a misplaced traveler’s check reminded me of a similar incident.

I was running late on my way to work (and also running a little too fast) when stopped by a police officer.

As I handed him the vehicle papers I thanked him.

He looked a little puzzled and asked, “For what?”

I explained that when I reached for the papers, I found something I’d searched for all week.

It was a voucher for $800 in airline fares.

The ticket he gave me took only a small bite out of it, and it taught me a lesson.

That was almost 15 years ago, and it was my last traffic ticket.

DOUG JOHNSON

Watson

Historic feet

Dear Smiley: I’ve been hearing about the Louisiana bicentennial coming up in 2012.

It brought to mind the U.S. bicentennial in 1976. I was 9 that year.

I remember the “Freedom Train” that came through Baton Rouge.

I wore my red, white and blue flag print pants to go see it. (I was very cool.)

I don’t remember much of what was inside the train except shoes: Dorothy’s ruby red shoes from “The Wizard of Oz,” and a pair of huge shoes that had been worn by Wilt Chamberlain.

SHERRY CAMPBELL

St. Amant

Soup’s on!

Dear Smiley: Your reader’s comments about soups reminded me of fine dining in Baton Rouge in the ’60s.

When I asked my waiter what the soup du jour was, he replied enthusiastically, “I don’t know, but we have it every day!”

GEORGE LANE

Baton Rouge

It’s all relative

Dear Smiley: Every morning I turn to your Special People Dept. and read all the celebrations of 90th, 95th, 98th, 100th birthdays.

At 80 it makes me feel so young.

Thanks. God bless them.

HARRY MONNIN

New Iberia