Scott Calkins asks, “Does the discovery of gravity waves at the Louisiana LIGO site make Livingston Parish the ‘center of gravity’ for the universe?”

Could be, Scott — but the folks from Livingston I know think it’s already the center of the universe...

Seeing the light

Readers continue to offer suggestions for getting our state out of the red:

J.Y. Johnson, of Livonia, says, “I think I have a solution to our state’s budget problem.

“We can take all that daylight we’ve been saving for all these years and sell it to some folks who really need it...say, Siberia.”

Thanks, kids

Jim Chapman says, “I just ran across a reference to Whistler Mountain in Canada, and remembered the week we spent there while we were living in northwest Washington.

“Canada had fairly recently hosted the winter Olympics, and Whistler Mountain (and adjoining Blackcomb Mountain) were prime areas involved in the Olympic activities. Daughter and son-in-law rented an apartment on site for all of us.

“One of the most memorable aspects was the gondola ride between the two mountaintops — at 1.88 miles, the longest such suspension in the world without support towers in between. At one point the ride is almost 1,500 feet above ground level.

“The grand’uns loved the ride, so we made several trips back and forth. Sure glad the kids insisted, ’cause I wanted to go again myself, but figured it was not the thing for which an old man should be lobbying. The kids saved the day for me...”

Which reminds me

My reaction to high-flying gondolas was the exact opposite of Jim Chapman’s.

When I took son Tommy, then a teenager, to the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans, a major attraction was the MART (Mississippi Aerial River Transit) — a string of gondolas traveling across the Mississippi River on a high cable to Algiers.

Tommy, of course, wanted to ride. But all the way across and back I kept remembering a quote I’d read somewhere, saying that if the cable snapped, the gondolas would fall into the river like pearls off a broken string.

Afterward, I thought I’d been pretty cool about the whole ordeal — until my son observed that I’d been gripping a post in the gondola so hard my knuckles were white...

Rest of the story

Darron Sanchez concludes his tale of The Great Baton Rouge 1957 UFO Caper.

In the Wednesday column he told of the story on WLCS radio (a favorite with Baton Rouge teens) about a large piece of metal flying through the air and landing, smoking and hissing, in the backyard of a house in north Baton Rouge.

It created a sensation among the teenage population, who flocked to the scene after hearing about it on their car radios.

Here’s the rest of the story:

“The report the next day by WLCS was that a large high-speed steam turbine at the Esso refinery had failed and came apart. A piece of the metal casing had broken off and sheered a large I-beam in half.

“The large metal piece flew through the air, making an eerie sound, and landed in the backyard of Mr. Marston on Charles Street.

“The report stated that if the casing had not cut the I-beam in half, it could have landed somewhere in Hammond.”

Here endeth the serial...

Early birds

Jim Williams was the first reader (at before 6 a.m. Wednesday) to recall the mystery event described by Darron in the Wednesday column:

“I lived across the street from the Marstons when this event happened. I remember it well.”

Randy Samson was a fairly close second, pointing out that the “chunk of turbine wheel...traveled several miles to the Charles Street address.”

For being first and second to respond, Jim and Randy don’t exactly get a prize, but the next time they see me at the Pastime, the root beer’s on me...

Special People Dept.

Louise Aguillard Bergeron, of Port Vincent, celebrates her 94th birthday on Thursday, Feb. 18.

Virgil “Rip” Joffrion celebrates his 90th birthday on Thursday, Feb. 18. He is a World War II veteran, and was the first commissioner of the Louisiana Alcohol Beverage and Control Board.

Vergie Caillier, of Baton Rouge, celebrates birthday No. 90 on Thursday, Feb. 18.

Walter and Sydney Belle Griffin, of Brusly, celebrated their 61st anniversary on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

’Tis the season

Algie Petrere came across this story, which she says is appropriate for this time of year:

“When I noticed a broken vise grip in the trash can, I decided to buy my husband a new one for his birthday.

“I went to the hardware store and asked the salesman, ‘Do you have any heavy-duty vises?’

“‘Sorry, ma’am,’ he replied. ‘I gave them all up for Lent.’”

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.