Ronnie Seaton, an Army veteran, says he received this letter from a third-grade student after the Denham Springs Veterans Day parade:

“America is special to me because we are free, and have the right to make our own choices. … I am able to be whatever I want when I am older. …

“I thank all veterans, because when you fight you put your life at risk, and you fight to keep us free. I thank you so much for your work at war, alive or not you have my thanks.

“You are so important to me, even more than my dog, and I love that dog. …”

The camel has landed

I thought I detected an unseemly amount of glee in Gene Shelburne’s voice when he called to tell me there will be a camel in the Drive-Though Live Nativity Scene at Florida Boulevard Baptist Church from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.

(The scene will be repeated, camel-less, on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.)

For years I’ve been lamenting the lack of a camel in the scene, expressing the opinion that while sheep and cattle are OK, a camel would add immensely to the appeal of the event.

Gene says, “After all those years of waiting for the camel, you can come to Florida Boulevard Baptist on Friday night and the camel will be there.

“She can only be there on Friday because of other obligations. So I hope you can make it to see your wishes fulfilled.”

(Which brings up the question — what kind of obligations does a camel have?)

Light humor

Faye Hoffman Talbot, of Jackson, isn’t saying she procrastinates on putting up her holiday decorations, but:

“My sister and I took out Christmas decorations and we found ‘Mr. Christmas’ lights that had never been used.

“They still had the price tag on the box — and it said ‘D.H. Holmes.’ ”

The Peanut Show

Kay Harrison adds to our seminar on great places to eat:

“Since we discovered that The Advocate is New Orleans’ new best friend, I wanted to make everyone aware that the Camellia Grill can now also be found at the corner of Chartres and Toulouse in the Quarter.

“In addition to a super breakfast, sit at Peanut’s counter for the entertainment: ‘911, Chef, pancakes and chicken! It’s an emergency!’ ”

Talk about filling!

Continuing our discussion of New Orleans po-boys, Joseph Cooper says, “My very good friends, the late Simon Landry Sr. and his sons, Jack and Eddie, the founders and longtime owners of Mother’s on Poydras Street, would serve you up a potato salad po-boy.”

Signing day

I’ll be at the new Barnes & Noble just off Highland Road on the LSU campus at 2 p.m. Saturday to sign my new book, “Smiley! A Laughing Matter.”

Thank-you notes

Francis “Frank” Grouchy, of Pride, thanks those who helped him when he fell and broke his hip: Central Fire Department, EMS, the staff of Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary, the folks at Dry’s Pharmacy in Zachary, his family, and members of Central’s “Veterans Helping Veterans” program.

He says, “I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I’ll get there.”

But no camels?

Suzanne Cresie says University Baptist Church holds its Live Nativity Scene from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, with refreshments, a petting zoo and arts and crafts for the children.

Worthy causes

Students and faculty at ITI Technical College in Baton Rouge held a Thanksgiving food drive for the Food Bank, filling three barrels and adding 15 to 20 boxes of canned goods for the needy.

Special People Dept.

  • Faune (Mrs. John) Futral, of Port Barre, celebrates her 96th birthday Thursday.
  • Naomi Blouin celebrated her 92nd birthday Nov. 29. She sold Avon for 43 years.
  • Antoinette Gueho, of Livonia, celebrated her 91st birthday Wednesday. She’s a World War II war bride, born in France.

In denial

John Gaidry says, “The very vocal 3-year-old daughter of friends of ours shouted from the bathroom, ‘Help, help, my mouth is burning!’

“Her mother rushed into the bathroom expecting the worst — whereupon the 3-year-old immediately and emphatically pointed to a bowl of potpourri and said, ‘I did NOT put that in my mouth.’

“All ended well.”

Which reminds me

Many years ago I attended a party for the media during the New Roads Mardi Gras.

It was in a lovely home on False River, and the host and hostess had put out several bowls of pecans, cracklings and other crunchy snacks.

Several of us were listening to a TV guy telling a long story about his adventures when he reached behind him and gathered up a handful of potpourri from a bowl similar to the snack bowls.

We watched in horror as he popped the stuff in his mouth and started chomping on it.

Suffice it to say that his story ended rather abruptly …

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.