The story in the Friday column about a turnip-throwing festival in a Spanish town (which led to speculation about the possible use of these vegetables as Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade throws) led me to think about other memorable throws of the past.

Back in the ’80s it was a tradition for past kings and queens to ride in convertibles in the parade.

One year I was lucky enough to ride with the lovely Mary Canella, the first Spanish Town Mardi Gras queen, who reigned in 1982.

We had a supply of beads to toss out to parade-watchers, but as the parade wound on we realized we would run out before it was over.

After that happened, we resorted to tossing out cans and bottles of beverages from our ice chest (Cokes and water, I believe).

Finally all we had to throw were handfuls of ice from the chest.

This didn’t faze the folks along the parade route, who started yelling, “Throw me some ice, mister!”

Agony of de feet

One more “weird throws” story about past Spanish Town Mardi Gras parades:

One of the early krewes thought it would be clever to throw “flamingo feet” in honor of the official bird of Spanish Town.

So the guys obtained a quantity of chicken feet and dyed them bright pink.

As I recall, this went on for several parades, and the reaction of those who caught the feet usually ranged from “Gross!” to “Yuck!”

The practice ended when one mother on the parade route discovered that the cute “rubber chicken foot” her child was playing with was the real thing. She was not amused, and threatened all sorts of dire punishments.

So it was back to plain old boring beads …

The wrongest number

“There has been a lot of publicity lately about ‘IRS’ scam telephone calls to attempt to get you to pay back taxes that you don’t owe,” says Ernie Gremillion.

“Being a poor choice as a possible victim of these calls (I am a retired special agent with the criminal division of IRS) I received two of them in one day earlier in the week.

“They were recorded calls with someone with an Indian accent giving me a phone number to call back.

“I called back both times, and before I answered any of their questions regarding my ID, I asked if they had access to the Internet. When they said yes, I gave them the reference of ‘18 USC Section 1343’ and told them to look it up — because that was the U.S. Criminal Code section they would be prosecuted under when they got caught.

“Both times they hung up immediately.”

Modern love

Dudley Lehew, of Marrero, says his thoughtful wife, Mary, rushing the season a bit, “gave me a box of little Valentine’s Day candies. You know, the heart-shaped, multicolored hard sugar candies about the size of your little fingernail that have things like ‘Kiss Me,’ ‘Smile,’ ‘Love,’ etc., stamped on them. They’ve been around for decades.”

Dudley says he was searching through his box of candy to find one that said “Hug me” to put on Mary’s pillow when he discovered a more contemporary message on one: “Text me.”

(There’s probably also one that says, “Tweet me, sweet.”)

Joyful noise

Our “mystery train” saga in the Thursday column, about a guy in a car who imitated a train whistle, brought this response from Jim Call, of Metairie:

“In the early 1950s, while in high school in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a friend, ‘JP,’ had a Buick in which he had installed a set of semi-truck air horns and a tank for the compressed air to operate said horns.

“Our local teen hangout had a large gravel parking lot. ‘JP’ would roar into the lot and slam on the brakes. Gravel would fly, and when he hit the air horns, those inside weren’t sure whether or not a ‘semi’ was coming on through!”

Serving religiously

Keith Horcasitas adds to our waitress stories:

“A New Orleans friend, Al, was at Tony Angelo’s beloved restaurant and was paying for his wonderful meal when the waitress noted that he had given too much money, over and above the nice tip she had received.

“After she returned the overpaid cash amount, he remarked, ‘You must be a Christian!’

“Her reply was, ‘No, I’m a Catholic!’”

Special People Dept.

Ruth “Diddy” Hooker celebrated her 92nd birthday Saturday, Jan. 23. She taught first grade for 33 years at Greenbriar Elementary School.

Sister love

Jim Broussard says he’s been enjoying the remarks about St. Anthony School in Baton Rouge and Sister Theresa Martin:

“I loved Sister Theresa, and named my daughter after her.

“When I told my parents I was going to marry her when I grew up, my father responded, ‘That’s OK, son, provided you do not get in the habit.’

“Went over the head of this first grader.”

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.