Keith Horcasitas says our tales of misheard words, and the recent talk about “spiked ice cream” legislation, brought a memory to mind:

“Back in the late ’80s, when I worked at the New Orleans Council on Aging, we would sponsor a senior meeting in May, ‘Older American’s Month.’

“Being the social services director, I helped other staff with organizing health screenings for the seniors. We also arranged for some treats.

“Midway through the program, I made an announcement, using the unfortunately bad sound system in the gym, about the availability of free eye screenings for those seniors who were interested.

“Next thing you know, my other COA members who were helping staff the vision screening booths were inundated with crowds of elders chanting, ‘I’ll take vanilla!’ ‘I’ll take chocolate!’ ‘I’ll take strawberry!’ ”

Have a seat

George Lane says a recent Advocate story refers to the electric chair at Angola as “Gruesome Gertie,” but in the 1970s it was “Old Sparky.”

Says George, “Former LSU history professor Dr. Mark Carleton wrote a book about Angola and capital punishment entitled ‘Politics and Punishment,’ in which he describes the evolution of ‘Old Sparky.’

“In 1974, I produced a documentary for Louisiana Public Broadcasting, ‘Louisiana Prison: Angola,’ based upon Dr. Carleton’s book.

“The last scene of the film was a tight shot of me discussing the future of capital punishment. As I closed, the camera pulled back to reveal me sitting in ‘Old Sparky’ (which I was assured was unplugged).”

In the Clover

Tookie Hendry says no discussion of late-night New Orleans dining is complete without mention of the Clover Grill at Bourbon and Dumaine.

He reminds Jazz Festers that the Clover is a 24/7 operation and that its eggs, served with grits slathered in butter, work wonders after a long evening.

A bite to eat

Mary Pramuk says T. Med Hoggs’ comments about hobos brought back memories of her grandmother’s generosity:

“Born in the ‘old country,’ she and my family lived in Ohio.

“Across acres of swampy land, trains could be seen moving. Hobos must have been on those trains, because they often turned up at our side or back door asking for food.

“Grandma thought they were gypsies. She kept special enameled plates, cups and flatware just for these visitors.

“As a child, I would see one or two hobos sitting on the back porch eating whatever food she would serve us later.

“I can’t imagine her turning anyone away — hobo or gypsy.”

Dead reckoning

Gwen Gum, of Plaquemine, says, “My family recently went to a restaurant for dinner.

“I was seated between my 5-year-old great-grandson and my husband, whom the grandchildren call ‘Papadu.’

“When the waitress asked my husband what he would like to order, he replied, ‘Nothing, thank you. I’m on a diet.’

“Excitedly, the 5-year-old exclaimed, ‘Oh Papadu! When are you going to die?’

“The family, and everyone around us, enjoyed a good laugh.”

Local hero

I’ve often mentioned my admiration for the folks who pick up our trash in the early morning hours, in all kinds of weather, and do it with a smile.

So I’m pleased to mention that, for the second year in a row, a Baton Rouge-area trash truck driver has been named Driver of the Year by the National Waste & Recycling Association.

Johnny Caine, a driver for Republic Services, won in the large residential category and was honored at the WasteExpo trade show in Atlanta.

Johnny drives nearly 460 miles each week to complete 7,200 garbage pickups.

Special People Dept.

  • Phyllis Sobers, of Flannery Oaks Guest House, will celebrate her 93rd birthday on Monday, May 5.
  • Art Hannaman, of Denham Springs, celebrates his 93rd birthday on Monday, May 5.

Let’s do launch

A couple of boating stories:

Loretta Toussant says the boat launch items “reminded me of a certain colorful character in St. Francisville, who was known to successfully launch his boat using his bicycle!”

Doug Johnson, of Watson, comments on my statement that my only duties involving my wife’s “Lady Kat” bass boat were helping to get it on the trailer and acting as ballast.

I mentioned that I wasn’t very good at either task.

“You are way too modest,” says Doug. “I think you would make excellent ballast!”

Stealing second

Bertha and Mariano Hinojosa report that their 5-year-old grandson, Grant Zeisig, is now playing T-ball in Georgia and recently had an interesting at-bat.

The young lad belted the ball into the outfield and ran straight to second base, where he was called out.

Asked why he took the direct path to second base, Grant explained, “I wanted to get to second base, and first base was too far out of my way.”

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.