I know, I said I wasn’t going to reopen the grits controversy, which took up much of the column a while back.
But this note is from Tom DiNapoli, a retired LSU professor. And back in my student days I made it a rule to never cross a professor. (Later in life I made it a rule to never cross a Family Court judge, but that’s another story...)
Says Professor Tom:
“At the risk of adding grist to the mill — or the alternative to just grit my teeth and bear it: the recent suggestion in the column that ‘grits’ is singular is wrong.
“The only way to use it with a singular verb is to say, ‘Grits is plural.’
“Would you say, for example, ‘The mashed potatoes IS good?’ ‘The refried beans IS good?’ Stewed tomatoes? Of course not.
“The reason is ‘potatoes,’ “beans,’ ‘tomatoes,’ etc. have singular forms, while ‘grits’ does not. It has no singular!
“One can eat one potato, one bean, one tomato, but one can’t eat one grit.”
(Which brings to mind the scene in “My Cousin Vinny” when Brooklyn lawyer Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) is served breakfast in an Alabama cafe and asks the cook, “What’s this over here?” When the cook asks, “You never heard of grits?” Vinny replies, “Sure I’ve heard of grits. I just never actually ‘seen’ a grit before.”)
Young at heart
Wade J. “Papa Bear” Labat, says, “My wife and I dined at a restaurant Sunday for lunch. My wife ordered an adult beverage, and was asked to provide some proof of age.
“This did not seem too unusual to me, since she looks very young. But when the waitress asked for the same thing of me, I was surprised.
“Although I am considerably older than my wife, the waitress must have read my mind — since I still think like an 18-year-old.”
(I know the feeling, Papa Bear — my wife claims it’s 16 for me...)
Tony Falterman, of Napoleonville, says, “Every article I read about aging and becoming forgetful says that the best thing one can do is write oneself a note, so that it will aid in remembering things to do or purchase or whatever.
“I wrote myself a note last night to remind me what I had to purchase today on a shopping trip.
“Darn if I can remember where I put the note!”
Party with Luther
I treasure the few radio stations that still promote local and regional music — in New Orleans, WWOZ; in Acadiana, KVPI in Ville Platte, and in Baton Rouge, WBRH and KBRH, the Baton Rouge High stations.
Rob Payer says the Baton Rouge stations will have a new simulcast music show starting Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The great blues singer Luther Kent will host the show, “Luther’s House Party.”
Says Rob, “This is the time slot that has been the home of Will Roberts, John Fred, S.J. and Mickey Montalbano, and most recently Winston Day.”
Guy LaBauve says our mention of the teacher Sister Teresa Martin and St. Mary of the Pines in Chatawa, Mississippi, came just after he and wife Betty visited there:
“The School Sisters of Notre Dame’s retirement home/convent currently has 50 retired sisters in residence, the oldest 105.
“When I attended St. Anthony and Redemptorist, these wonderful nuns selflessly dedicated themselves to affording us the best education to benefit and prosper. We should consider giving back to them for their needs in retirement years.
“The mailing address is St. Mary of the Pines, 3167 Old Highway 51 South, Osyka, MS 39657.”
Special People Dept.
Mervin Medine, of Baton Rouge, celebrated his 94th birthday on Dec. 29. A native of Samstown, he is a World War II veteran.
J.B. Smiley, of Pride, celebrates his 91st birthday on Thursday, Jan. 7.
Pat Alba says, “After reading a quip in a John Sanford novel that ‘Minnesota’s state bird is the rotisserie chicken,’ it occurred to me that Louisiana’s state bird might be the turducken.”
Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut, says our seminar on colorful old sayings reminds her of this one:
“My grandmother used to say, ‘We had to go ’round Robin Hood’s barn to get there.’
“I thought it was odd, but understood that it meant some meandering rather than a straight path.
“The dictionary says that since the whole of Sherwood Forest was Robin Hood’s ‘barn,’ the expression came from that tale.”
Wayne Weilbaecher, of Covington, says, “Recent articles about old sayings brought back memories of this saying.
“My grandfather would always say, just before his goodbyes to the family, ‘See you in the gumbo with the rest of the crabs.’”
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.