One of the many pleasures of doing this column is recognizing folks who have reached their 90th birthday or more, and couples who have been married 50 years or more.

It’s just a few lines in the column, but judging from the reactions I get, people like this small tribute to their longevity.

I suppose it’s a sign of the times that I received this question about the 50th anniversary recognitions.

It comes from longtime contributor Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut in Natchitoches Parish:

“Do all 50 years have to be with the same person?”

(Yes, dear, that’s the criterion. For now...)

The gin game

“What has happened to common sense?” asks Val Garon, of Prairieville.

“One of my remaining pleasures in life is my evening gin martini. Not wanting to distill my own, I went to a local supermarket in Prairieville to buy mine.

“At the checkout counter, a bossy clerk asked to see my I.D. I thought she was kidding, but she was dead serious.

“Man, I’m 83 years old and look it!

“That was two weeks ago and I’m still fuming over it!

“Maybe I’ll start to distill my own gin. Where can I find juniper berries?”

(Can’t help you there, Val, but I have to tell you that whenever my spouse gets carded, it makes her day...)

Smoking and suspense

Bobbie Spencer, of “Crowley/Lafayette,” says, “Speaking of the olden days when our ancestors prepared their own cigarettes, I remember grandma Ada Volrie reaching into her big brown shopping bag for the necessary ingredients, gingerly placing them in her lap, then methodically preparing enough smokes to keep up with the afternoon conversations.

“How well I remember this industrious ‘Momma Ada’ stirring her cup of Seaport coffee as she puffed away, while I wondered how much time would pass before the ashes began to fall to the ground!”

Awe, shucks!

Earl C. Johnson, of Baton Rouge, joins our “Words That Irritate Us” club:

“‘Awesome’ grates on me. Is it the ‘millennials’ to whom we owe the overuse of this word?

“Of course, each generation deserves the right to coin its own slang.

“However, we know that only a fraction of objects, events or people merit ‘awesome.’”

Flat nice people

Darrylin Melton, of Baton Rouge, thanks Jason from Tire Mart in Gonzales for his timely assistance.

“I was driving my friend Kathy to catch a flight out of New Orleans when I had a blowout on I-10.”

After Kathy’s roadside assistance service told them it would be more than an hour before anyone could get there, “frustrated, I told her I was going to get the spare out.

“She knew I had no idea how to change a tire, but I told her I wouldn’t have to change it, because someone would stop and help.

“Sure enough, within FIVE minutes, Jason stopped, put on the spare with the help of his hydraulic jack, and we were on our way.

“Kathy even made her flight. Thank you, Jason, for helping two old ladies out.”

Army issue

James Minton says the Army’s P 38 can opener, discussed in the Tuesday column, was used “as a gauge of how well you shot at the range. Your shot group was supposed to be tight enough to be covered by the P 38.

“You can still get them through military-themed catalogs.”

Steve Liuzza, of Doraville, Georgia, says he still has on his key ring the P 38 he was issued by the Army in 1967 with his first box of rations.

Steve says the legend was that it was called the P 38 “because it had to be leveraged 38 times to open a can of C rations.”

Special People Dept.

Ena Gordon celebrates her 101st birthday on Wednesday, Feb. 24. A member of First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, she’s still driving.

Regal memories

The above-mentioned Steve Liuzza, of Doraville, Georgia, discusses another recent column topic:

“On the Regal beer subject, I am saddened to say that I cannot find my serving tray that advertised ‘Red Beans And Rice and Regal On Ice.’”

(Which has to be one of the greatest New Orleans-centric advertising slogans of all time...)

Getting his goat

D.C. Jensen says our seminar on old and odd sayings reminded him of this one from his Army days: “All fouled up like Hogan’s goat.”

“Who was Hogan and what was wrong with his goat?” D.C. wonders.

(He also says he might not have quoted that Army saying EXACTLY right, but that’s how he remembers it...)

Contacting Smiley

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.