Dear Smiley: As a born and raised Okie, I enjoyed reading “Discovering the joys of ‘crawl fish.’ ”

The crawfish phenomenon does seem to be spreading that way faster than ever.

Finally they might have some nice, spicy food for those who seek to be more adventurous than the state’s official meal — yes, MEAL, not food.

Enjoy reading it — and better luck trying to eat it all!

From the state’s website: “Oklahoma designated an official state meal in 1988 consisting of fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie and black-eyed peas.”


New Orleans

C’est treason!

Dear Smiley: Tales of people being served Louisiana crabs in Maryland reminded me of a story my late father brought back from his time working for Exxon in El Salvador.

A French ship was docked on the coast and invited the Louisiana folks helping Exxon open a new refinery to have an onboard meal.

Since it was a French ship, the meal included lots of wine.

Some of the Louisiana men commented on the quality of the French wine — and the captain confessed that the wine came from California.

Stunned, the Louisiana folks asked why a French ship would serve California wine.

The captain said French wine was often good, but California wine is more consistent from year to year.

And he said it is also cheaper.



Nostalgia Corner

Dear Smiley: I’m definitely “old Baton Rouge,” because I remember:

  • The city limit sign on Government Street just east of Baton Rouge High
  • Talk of “Bogan’s Pasture” meant that the circus was in town
  • Listening to legendary rhythm and blues coming from the top of the Temple Theater
  • Watching 7-Up being bottled at its long-gone plant on Government Street while waiting for a 5-cent bus ride in to town
  • Watching Pike Burden do magic tricks in my classroom and then treasuring a small “Reddy Kilowatt” toy he passed out afterward
  • Gathering scrap paper and taking it to a collection warehouse on River Road for “the war effort”
  • Re-soled shoes, shirts made from chicken feed sacks and starched khaki pants
  • And my favorite outing — a trip to the Jack’s Cookies bakery for a free bag of broken cookies.


Denham Springs

Walking jerky

Dear Smiley: Many Civil War enthusiasts believe that the Southern troops suffered deprivation more so than the Yankees.

Though generally true, there were times that the troops in blue also suffered.

In 1863, the Yankee forces under Gen. Thomas were operating in eastern Tennessee.

Due to a severe drought, there was so little forage that the cattle herd following the army troops was emaciated.

When the Yankees stood in the chow line, they called it “beef dried on the hoof.”


Baton Rouge

Rampant inflation

Dear Smiley: In last Saturday’s column, the mention of the use of cash reminded me of a meeting of local law enforcement agents many years ago.

Each agency representative, usually a sheriff or police chief, would take turns saying how many drug arrests had been made by their respective department and the value of the drugs seized.

This was always the “street value.”

On one such occasion, Chief Deputy Nookie Diez, representing Sheriff Duffy Breaux, stood up and said several pounds of marijuana had been seized and the “street value” was several hundred dollars.

He then said $2,000 in cash had been seized and the “street value” was $2,500!

As you can imagine, that brought the house down! All in jest but so funny!



Saintly royalty

Dear Smiley: I see in The Advocate that Drew Brees is moving up the royal ladder.

A recent story says “Count Drew Brees among those in favor of taking some power from Commissioner Goodell.”



Dear John: I don’t know about “moving up.” Seems to me being the Saints’ starting quarterback trumps most other royal titles, including count.

Birthplace blues

Dear Smiley: It always bothered me that my birth certificate said I was born in “Ardoin’s Sanatorium” in 1954 rather than in a hospital.

Is that a “Southernism,” or is there really a difference?


Ville Platte

Dear Alex: Not to worry — I was born in the Natchez Sanitarium, and look how normal I am. The dictionary says “sanatorium” is a British spelling of sanitarium, a facility treating long-term illnesses. Evidently, at one time, it just meant a hospital.

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.