Dear Smiley: About your stories concerning Louisiana and Mississippi’s colorful relationship:
When I joined The Associated Press in Jackson in 1962, Mississippi was a dry state, no liquor allowed.
But Louisiana, where liquor was legal, printed extra alcohol tax stamps, and Louisiana liquor stores used the extra stamps when they became out-of-date to put on whiskey bottles sold to Mississippi bootleggers.
One copy of the bootlegger’s bill of sale went to Baton Rouge for tax purposes, a second copy went to the bootlegger, a third went to Mississippi’s state tax collector and a fourth went to the local sheriff.
The sheriff then visited the bootlegger and collected taxes on his recent purchase.
If the bootlegger resisted, the sheriff destroyed the newly purchased liquor.
After all, it WAS illegal.
But when the bootlegger paid the taxes due, the sheriff walked away, usually with an armful of 90-proof “gifts.”
Meanwhile, the state tax collector billed the bootlegger — because that’s how he funded his office.
Obviously, the Mississippi Legislature couldn’t earmark tax money for the purpose of overseeing something illegal!
At the end of each fiscal year, the imbibers had their booze, the Baptists had their laws and the Mississippi tax collector made more money than the governor!
Home, sweet Natchez
Dear Smiley: Praise of your hometown prompted me to send this, which says a lot about Natchez, Mississippi.
A retired couple who are friends of my wife and I bought a home on the outskirts of Natchez several years ago.
They visit for a few weeks every year or two and stay there.
They could have bought a house or apartment anywhere in the country, but chose Natchez because of the nice weather and friendly people.
Their permanent home is about 40 miles north of London, England.
That Natchez name
Dear Smiley: I’d guess most folks in this area know that Natchez, Mississippi; the Natchez Bluffs where the city is located; and the Natchez Trace that runs from Natchez to Nashville, Tenn., were all named for the Natchez Indians who were native to the area.
But Natchitoches is the “Frenchification” of the tribal name, and Nacogdoches, in east Texas, is the Spanish version.
The tribe is therefore well represented among the western Gulf Coast states.
HARRIET ST. AMANT
Life under Fidel
Dear Smiley: Following up on the comment on the Cuban literacy rate by Mr. Wise (in the April 16 column):
My wife’s grandmother supposedly was taught to read and write by Fidel’s brigades.
At the end, all she could do was sign her name.
But they penciled her in as literate. …
The communists are very good at playing games with statistics.
Like everything they do, it is all a lie.
You might be interested to know that when Fidel took over, there were dozens and dozens of newspapers and magazines, part of the Cuban free press.
He left only one newspaper, Granma, the official paper of the Communist Party.
It only had four pages. …
Dear Smiley: When I taught at University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, it seemed Mississippians took delight in mispronouncing names.
Two Lafayette students I knew were there.
One dance major was named Lisa Aucoin (she now has a dance studio in Lafayette).
When I pronounced her name correctly, she fell on my neck, overjoyed.
She told me everyone else on campus called her “Acorn.”
Another student, Peaches Gulino (I forgot her maiden name), who later taught theater at Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau, took me to Lafayette for a music festival in the park.
I had such a great time — good food, friendly people — that when a job for me opened up at UL-Lafayette, I jumped at it.
Even though I don’t have a Cajun bone in my body, I felt at home in Lafayette.
Dear Smiley: While reading about the mispronunciation of Southern names, I was reminded that as a Louisiana probation and parole officer, I was called “See go,” “See a go,” “See ah go,” “Say go” and several other variations.
However, most of what I was called cannot be printed in The Advocate.
KIM “POPS” SEAGO
Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.