Virginia Howard, of Metairie, offers this story about Southern accents:

“Two dear friends of mine, natives of Chicago, moved to New Orleans.

“On viewing their first high school football game in the South, they were baffled.

“The enthusiastic cheerleaders were waving their pom-poms, hopping up and down, and shouting, ‘Fat, team, fat!’”

Little big spender

“I have a church collection story,” says Ann Minnich, of Luling:

“It was in the early 1980s, before the days of ATMs and when a family of two adults and two toddlers could enjoy a day at the Audubon Zoo for $20.

“On one Friday afternoon I cashed a check at the bank for $20. This was going to go towards a family day at the zoo after Mass on Palm Sunday.

“During Mass there was a second collection passed. I opened up my purse to see if perhaps I had a dollar bill to drop in the basket, but my ever so helpful 2-year-old beat me to it.

“She pulled out the $20 bill and dropped it in. Now what were we going to do? That was our zoo money!

“After we got home, I decided to swallow my pride and call the rectory.

“I explained the situation to the priest. He laughed and said, ‘Well, there was only one $20 bill in that collection, so it must be yours. Come by and get it.’”

Give it up!

Mike Manes, of New Iberia, comments on our Tuesday story about the priest who passed the collection basket and stood near parishioners he felt weren’t giving enough, not moving until they put more money in:

Mike asks, “Could that priest and church in Destrehan been the model used for the modern day IRS?”

Creative collecting

Clay Williams says, “Your recent coverage of counter deposit slips and checks at banks years ago reminds me of one of our father’s (Wilbur Williams) adventures in business.

“Seems a rather slow paying customer gave him a check that the bank informed him wasn’t good; not enough money in the customer’s account.

“Our father proceeded to make counter deposits to the customer’s account in small amounts until the check was good.

“He then cashed the check, receiving a majority of his receivable from the angry former customer.”

Ewww, gross!

Billy Braswell just ruined my lunch with this little item for our seminar on canned more-or-less food:

“My friend Paul is a connoisseur of the finer things that come out of a can.

“On the job one day, as he is finishing a can of sardines, out comes a honey bun to mop up the juices left in the can.”

I know beans

When John Letard, of Magnolia, Mississippi, asked me to help him find some hyacinth bean vines, I had no idea what he was talking about.

But with a little research, I discovered that the plant, Lablab Purpureus, is native to West Africa and cultivated for food in the tropics.

In this country it’s a popular ornamental annual vine, with purple blooms and pods.

It’s also called a Jefferson bean vine, because Thomas Jefferson is believed to have grown it at Monticello.

If you can help John find some, he’s at (601) 783-3475.

Special People Dept.

Gertrude Duhé, of Garyville, celebrates her 96th birthday on Saturday, April 9.

Betty MacQueen celebrates her 94th birthday on Friday, April 8.

Carl and Anne Johnson celebrate 63 years of marriage on Sunday, April 10.

Thought for the Day

This one’s from me, after lunch at Zeeland Street Market: “How can you not love a lunch place when the menu lists mac and cheese on the vegetable plate?”

Deranged duffers

John Larkin, this column’s chief Arizona correspondent, says with all the attention being paid to the Masters golf tournament, “you might be interested in some of the golf terms that you will not hear the announcers use:

“1. A really big hook is called a Muhammad Ali.

“2. A really nasty slice is a Lorena Bobbitt.

“3. If you have a putt that is a really nasty five-footer, it is a Danny DeVito.

“Don’t thank me — my golfing friends are a bunch of misfits.”

Birdbrain blues

Gene Duke, this column’s senior ornithologist, explains to us why hummingbirds hum:

“Their brains are so tiny they can’t remember the words.”

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.