Joan W. Waguespack, of Metairie, adds to our seminar on Louisiana gators:

“A few years ago, while visiting my mother, Eva Waguespack, in Vacherie, I read an article in the newspaper about alligators in Louisiana.

“I commented to her that people from outside the state must think alligators roam freely all over.

“She began to laugh and said, ‘I had one in my yard last week.’

“Her home was along the River Road. Because the river was high, the alligator was displaced from the pond it lived in.

“It chose to crawl over the levee, across the road and into my mother’s yard.

“What a surprise when she went out to get her newspaper and found the alligator lying alongside the paper.”

(I have to ask — did she read the paper that day?)

Cheap entertainment

Luther Sobers, of Ethel, says an article on Baton Rouge’s ferry boats in the June issue of Country Roads magazine stirred up this memory:

“Back in the 1940s money was scarce, and I spent a lot of my Sunday evenings riding the ferry between Baton Rouge and Port Allen.

“At that time you only paid your fare on the Baton Rouge side. You could ride all evening, back and forth across the river. I think the fare was 10 cents a trip.

“The young people of today don’t know what they missed.”

Which reminds me

One Sunday afternoon when I was an LSU student, I was riding with three of my buddies on U.S. 190 in West Baton Rouge Parish when a car with four girls in it pulled alongside and they yelled something in French.

A couple of us were taking French courses, so we answered, after a fashion.

We got them to stop, and learned they were students from France on a drive across the country.

We offered to show them around Baton Rouge, then realized we were almost broke. So we wound up taking them on a ferry ride, crossing the river many times that afternoon. They were thrilled by the size of the Mississippi River and the amount of activity on it.

We let them stay at our apartment, while we bunked at another buddy’s place. I seem to recall we fed them the red beans and rice we had cooked earlier for our dinner.

At around midnight they gently but firmly ran us out of our apartment so they could turn in.

We showed up the next morning with Tony’s doughnuts, and gave them directions for crossing Lake Pontchartrain on the Causeway, the way they wanted to get to New Orleans.

They told us “Merci beaucoup,” kissed us, and headed off, leaving behind four guys a little bit in love with them...

Dead reckoning

Faye Hoffman Talbot, of Jackson, says, “Fifty years ago I graduated from St. Anthony High School with a great group of girls. Once a month we get together for lunch.

“This week the whole conversation centered around medical issues and procedures of the girls, their husbands and their children.

“I said, ‘I know we are over 30, but can’t we think of anything else to discuss?’

“The conversation quickly changed to the option of open casket or closed, and picture in the obit or not.

“I think we need to stop and smell the roses, before they are on top of us.”

Track of his fears

Gene Duke has a Lea’s Lunch Room story that doesn’t involve pies:

“Several years ago we had officiated a playoff football game in Shreveport, and as we approached Lea’s in Lecompte the van started to backfire.

“Having had this problem before, I knew the alternator was not functioning.

“I directed the driver to pull off the road and park a safe distance from the nearby railroad track, and we went to sleep.

“At 2 a.m. a loud ‘whoo, whoo!’ of a freight train sounded.

“Without moving, I told Claude Harrison, the former Baton Rouge High coach, ‘I hope I cleared the track at a safe distance.’

“Coach Claude popped up with eyes wide open, and for some reason could not go back to sleep the balance of the night.”

Special People Dept.

— Burton Cary, of Slidell, celebrates his 90th birthday on Friday, June 26. He is a World War II veteran, having served in the Coast Guard on the USS Leonard Wood in the Pacific. A native of New Orleans, he is retired from more than 50 years in the printing industry.

— On Saturday, June 27, Gerald Levet, of Romeville, celebrates his 90th birthday. He is a World War II veteran.

— On Sunday, June 28, Carl and Mary Ann Mistric celebrate 63 years of marriage.

— Charles and Jane Gravois, of Vacherie, celebrated their 60th anniversary on Thursday, June 25.

— Louis and Loretta Savoye, of Metairie, celebrate their 50th anniversary on Friday, June 26.

Mules being mules

An anonymous reader (who has good reason to remain anonymous) says:

“Your June 19 column mentioned the Mule Day celebration held yearly in Columbia, Tennessee.

“I’ve been there — it was a kick.”

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.