On Saturday, Baton Rouge will lose a 52-year-old Mexican eatery (and drinkery), La Fonda Restaurant & Lounge on Airline Highway.

My friends who drink tell me that in addition to authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, La Fonda served a very special beverage, which they called, I believe, a “Margaret.”

There are tales of customers who went to La Fonda intending to dine and ventured into the bar first to have a before-dinner drink.

One thing led to another, and when they finally decided it was time for dinner, the kitchen had closed. (One version of this story was told to me by a young lady related to me by birth.)

My family and I have been La Fonda customers since it was near the intersection of Airline and Plank Road, by a bowling alley.

I recall that it featured a strolling guitarist and sometimes even a mariachi band.

La Fonda was noted for its loyal regulars, and an evening there could feel like a reunion. Everybody knew everybody else, and the longtime servers knew who was getting tacos and who was getting tamales before they ordered.

There are newer and fancier Mexican restaurants in town now, but I’ll miss the old place.

I might even break with tradition and toast them with one of those Margarets. …

Meaty topic

David Salbador says that old joke I mentioned about the Cajun zoo that displays recipes for the animals is no joke:

“The Louisiana pavilion at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans DOES have recipes posted as part of the animal displays.”

Strong words

Marvin Verbois, of The Villages, Fla., thinks his former Exxon co-worker Gene Duke “was stretching it a bit on biting a chunk out of strong coffee.

“I always thought when a spoon stood straight up in the middle of the cup it was strong enough.”

Stronger words

Glenn Giro, of Denham Springs, says our talk about coffee “reminded me of the story I used to tell in the Army about my aunt’s coffee.

“I told the guys she made coffee so strong you could repair inner tubes with it.

“I joked that I drank it 50-50 with milk, but my uncle ate it black.

“I told them that if I wanted a second cup, I would ask her to slice me another piece of coffee, please.

“What’s really funny is that this tale is, as they say in Hollywood, based on a true story.

“Although I never had the spoon stand up in the middle of the cup, you definitely had to drink all of it to see the bottom.”

Nice People Dept.

Joe Glass says Ted Mosterk, when he walks his dog down their street early each morning, “picks up our paper on our driveway and places it on the hood of our car.

“That really helps when it is raining or very cold.

“Thanks, Ted. We appreciate the kind effort.”

Looking for stuff

Bob Hartman says Raven’s Outreach, a shelter for homeless veterans at 1913 North St., needs pants and shirts in smaller sizes and men’s deodorant and toiletry items.

Go to http://ravensoutreachcenter.com.

Baby talk

Susan Eaton says the Woman’s NICU Reunion will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday on the Woman’s Way Café Plaza at the hospital, 100 Woman’s Way (Airline at Stumberg).

If you plan to attend, call (225) 924-8444.

The event celebrates “alumni” of Woman’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and their parents.

Cool cats

Cathy Coates says Companion Animal Alliance is holding a “Spring Break” half-price sale during April on adult cats to make room for the upcoming “kitten season.”

For $40, you get the cat of your choice, spayed or neutered, with microchip and all vaccinations.

Drop by the shelter, 2680 Progress Road, or call (225) 774-7701.

Special People Dept.

Hazel Porta celebrates her 95th birthday Wednesday.

The kicking kid

Lionel Jardell says, “I overhead our 4-year-old grandson Emerson Traylor tell my wife, Lynda, this as he was preparing to leave our house after a visit:

“ ‘MawMaw, before I kick the road, I want an apple juice box.’

“It reminded me that Emerson ‘don’t hit nuttin!’ He kicks the hell out of it.”

Secret weapon

Carl Spillman was the first of several readers to pass along this tale:

Little Pete came home from the playground with a bloody nose, black eye and torn clothing. It was obvious he’d been in a bad fight and lost.

While his father was patching him up, he asked his son what happened.

“Well, Dad,” said Pete, “I challenged Larry to a duel. And I gave him his choice of weapons.”

“Well,” said the father, “that seems fair.”

“I know, but I never thought he’d choose his sister!”

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.