After a couple of idyllic days at Bubba’s Exxon, Motel and Bait Shop in Back Brusly, Lady Katherine and I hopped a train to Chicago for a family wedding party.

Now that the airlines have sucked all the joy out of air travel, the train has become a totally cool way to go.

We had a sleeper with a private bath, and while it wasn’t as roomy as the one Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint shared in “North by Northwest,” it was quite comfortable.

The club car served adult beverages, and the dining car had excellent meals both ways — steaks, roast chicken for our dinners, eggs, pancakes for breakfasts, red beans and rice with andouille for lunch.

The staff was affable and helpful, and we completed the overnight trips from Hammond to Chicago and back feeling relaxed and ready to start right in doing the tourist stuff (after a wedding party in beautiful Millennium Park).

We caught a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, had steaks at Harry Caray’s, hung out with Van Gogh and his buddies at the Art Institute, took a boat tour of the Chicago River to view skyscrapers, enjoyed an evening with the Second City improv troupe, and made a stop at Billy Goat Tavern, famed for its “cheeborger, cheeborger.”

It was a great vacation, and convinced us the train is the only way to fly.

What’s “conversation”?

Russ Wise says, “Thank heavens for the new law allowing the sale of cars with front-seat TVs.

“The kids are already wrapped up in their MP3s or back seat DVD players, so this means now there’ll be virtually no danger of having to hold an intelligent conversation with anyone at all!”

Cream of the crop

Copper Alvarez says a reception from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Red Stick Farmers Market is being held for Warren and Sandra Smith, of Smith Creamery.

The Smith’s plant was destroyed by a recent explosion, and Copper says they want to meet and thank all who supported them through the BREADA Emergency Fund.

Looking for stuff

Baton Rouge Little Theater needs props for its musical, “Crazy for You.”

Needed are “a late 1920s working vacuum cleaner and a late 1920s set of binoculars.”

Contact the box office at (225) 924-6496 or box

Mudders day

The Bayou Manchac Group thanks those who took part in the Bayou Manchac Trash Sweep on Aug. 20-21, “slogging around in mud and trash to bring the bayou a degree closer to what Mother Nature originally had in mind.”

Special thanks are sent to Willie Smith for letting the Ascension Parish Drainage Department use his property to remove a fallen tree and trash, and Lloyd Ingle for allowing Trash Sweep volunteers to use his yard for parking, launching boats, etc.

Special People Dept.

e_SBlt Sylvester Foster Sr. celebrated his 98th birthday Thursday.

e_SBlt Bonnie Cantey Fugler celebrated her 96th birthday Saturday.

e_SBlt Anne Plettinger, long-time activist for the public at Public Service Commission meetings, celebrated her 94th birthday Aug. 19. Kathy Kane, her great-niece, invites anyone with a story to share with Miss Anne to e-mail

e_SBlt Hilda Byrd celebrated her 92nd birthday Aug. 20.

e_SBlt Frank Caruso of Central celebrated his 90th birthday Monday.

e_SBlt On Aug. 24 Judge Edward N. Engolio celebrated his 90th birthday.

e_SBlt On Tuesday Dee and Rosie Hernandez of Brusly celebrated their 64th anniversary.

e_SBlt Leda and Darrell Bowden celebrated 63 years of marriage Aug. 20.

e_SBlt On Aug. 20 Robert and Ida Holden celebrated their 62nd anniversary.

e_SBlt Bollan and Nelwyn Corkern of Watson celebrated their 60th anniversary Friday.

e_SBlt Frank and Terry Janca of Gonzales celebrated 58 years of marriage Monday.

e_SBlt Ben and Anne Byland celebrated their 57th anniversary Aug. 21.

• Raymond “Bob” and Ivy Landry of Belle Rose celebrated 50 years of marriage Friday.

On automatic

Althea Ashe asks me a disturbing question:

“Is it threatening to your job security that your column is as entertaining when you are away on your Well-Deserved Vacation as when you are actually in the office working?”

I never thought about it that way — and I’m sorry you did …

Mr. Popularity

“Pasta Power” came across this story:

At a wedding party recently someone yelled, “All the married men please stand next to the one person who has made your life worth living.”

The bartender was crushed to death …