A story about our unique accents in this part of the world:

T-Bob Taylor, of Panama City Beach, Florida, tells how in 1975, after getting his LSU journalism degree, “I auditioned for one of seven worldwide Air Force slots for the American Forces Radio-Television Service and got a slot.

“But there was a requirement to pass a four-month course on how not to embarrass the USA while overseas and how to speak ‘metropolitan’ so others could understand us.

“After a few weeks, I was counseled by a USAF broadcaster, Cal Lamartiniere, who notified me that ‘warsh’ was actually ‘wash,’ ‘y’all’ was a no-go and that people go ‘shopping,’ they do not ‘make groceries.’

“Then he explained that he was from the Lafayette area and slipped into a fantastic deep Cajun accent to say, ‘Lat me gess. You’re frahm New Orleans, hain?’

“Then he added, in perfect diction, ‘Here’s your list of words. You adapt your diction or you won’t pass this class … cher.’

“Now, years later, I slip in and out of an accent as I feel justified with my Louisiana friends.

“I also speak ‘metro’ so others can understand, too.”

Fear the eel

Joan Waguesback Barré, of Metairie, says, “The story of people in New Roads fishing for eels brought to mind the times I went to the river with my dad Claude and brother Bubby to raise the shrimp boxes.

“When there was an eel in the box, Dad placed it in a bucket for the only person in the area who ate eels — the French pastor of St. Philip Church in Vacherie, Pere Fontaine.

“Since my brother did not want to deliver the eel to the nearby rectory alone, I went with him.

“I disliked snakes, and since the eel resembled a snake, my brother made the trip miserable, threatening me with it.

“The sight of an eel still brings to mind that childhood experience.”

Fonville the mentor

Margaret Hawkins, of Ponchatoula, comments on our mention of the Baton Rouge photographer Fonville Winans:

“Adding photography to my journalism led to thoughts of freelance, home-based work, and mutual friends introduced me to Fonville.

“He added the freedom of art and changed it all.

“A grapefruit can painted flat black and mounted on a short stand as a background light? Fabulous.

“Stretching a piece of nylon stocking over a needlework hoop to soften black and white portraits? Really.

“How an enormous antique view camera worked. How to bounce light. His own invention to automatically process film? Unbelievable.

“Looking at the portraits on the walls. Hearing a story.

“He made you think.

“His generous sharing of ‘secrets’ to a neophyte changed the direction — and quality — of my studio career that lasted 30 years.”

About that flag

After a reader inquired about disposing of an American flag, I heard from several folks:

Ted C. McNeel Sr., past commander of American Legion Post 175 in Metairie, advises, “Take your unserviceable American flags to any American Legion post for proper disposition (burning) at their June 14 Flag Day ceremony.”

Scout leader Russ Wise, of LaPlace, says Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts hold ceremonies to properly dispose of old flags.

A Knights of Columbus flag retirement ceremony is at 5:30 p.m. on Flag Day, June 14, at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church in Algiers.

Lauren Pourciau says the Alexander Stirling Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution has a flag retiring ceremony on July 4:

“A group cuts the blue field of stars from the stripes. We cut each star out and distribute them to veterans across the state as a memento and ‘thank you’ for their service.”

Nice People Dept.

Betty Chauvin says, “My husband and I were at Applebee’s at Airline and Old Hammond for lunch when we were advised by our waitress that a firefighter paid for our meal.

“Please convey our thanks and appreciation for his kindness and thoughtfulness.”

Special People Dept.

Effie McGhee Cambre celebrated her 97th birthday on Sunday.

Aging process

J. Ron Thibodeaux says, “Everything I do is slower, now that I am older. The only thing I do faster now is FORGETTING!”

On foot?

Bob Biletnikoff says, “While traveling through a neighboring state recently, I pulled up behind a dilapidated pickup truck, towing an equally dilapidated car.

“Both vehicles looked like they were held together by chewing gum and baling wire.

“Then I noticed the sign taped to the trunk of the car.

“It read, ‘IN TOE.’ ”

Speed merchant

Dan Burkhalter, the Carecro Curmudgeon, tells of the guy he knows who’s a true “Type A” personality:

“He’s so hyper he looks for the passing lane at a car wash.”

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.