Gary E. Penton, of Pineville, has a possum story:

“My father told me about the possum he killed in a persimmon tree when his dog wouldn’t stop his nightly barking at it.

“He mentioned the kill to his pastor, a very country boy from North Carolina.

“The pastor said, ‘Why didn’t you keep it, Kenzie? We could have a barbecue and eat it.’

“My father said, ‘You might eat it, but not me.’

“The pastor did collect several possums and raccoons and held a men’s barbecue at the Bonner Creek Baptist Church. But my daddy did not eat any possum.”

Possum pranks

Roy Pitchford, of Monroe, says possums played a role in a couple of college pranks:

“At Louisiana College, two Costa Rican brothers fled their room when fellow students tossed a possum onto their bed. Not familiar with possums, they said they thought it was a giant rat.

“And the late Central coach and educator Charlie Kinsley was raised a city boy. So the phrase ‘playing possum’ meant nothing to him. One day, while a college student, he threw a heavy textbook at a possum. The animal rolled over on its back and lay still.

“Kinsley picked up the ‘dead’ possum by the tail, carried it back to the athletic dorm and put it nose to nose with a sleeping friend. Man and beast revived at the same time.”

Cat house blues

Our mention of possums brings to mind the encounters with the nocturnal critters that Mrs. Anders’ cats have had over the years. Evidently the cats got the worse of their battles — her vet pointed out the possums’ distinctive teeth marks on the kitties.

Ellen Mayeur McCubbin has a cat vs. possum tale:

“When my husband and I built our house in Lakeview, we had the contractor build a 6-by-6 shed-type house with a pet door for our two cats to use. Their food, water, beds and toys were in the ‘cat house.’

“One day, I went in the yard and both cats were sitting on the porch about 20 feet away from the cat house, staring at it. I went in to check on their food, and there was an opossum making himself at home in there.

“I got a broom, chased him out, and he ran out of the yard between the sliding fence door.

“After that, my cats would not go into their house, so it became just a shed with a locked pet door. And my cats got to stay in the garage — which they liked a lot better.”

Roux boo-boo

Criss Morgan, of Port Allen, has another kitchen mishap for us:

“A good friend stopped for a visit a few weeks ago, left me some red snapper fillets and suggested a way to cook them on a grill. He said to squeeze some lemon juice on them, shake a little Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on them, add a little butter, wrap them up in aluminum foil and place them on a hot grill for a couple of minutes on each side.

“I told my 83-year-old mother what my buddy said, and she decided to surprise me and cook a couple of fillets for us.

“When she went to cook them she discovered she didn’t have any Tony’s, so she went to our local supermarket and bought some. When she brought my fillet over and unwrapped it, I noticed it had an odd smell to it. When I tasted it, it tasted odd too.

“I asked her what all she put on the fillets, and she said she put exactly what I told her. So I asked her to bring me the can of Tony’s seasoning — and then I knew what the odd taste was.

“She had mistakenly bought a can of Tony Chachere’s roux mix! It makes a good roux, but doesn’t work well as a fish seasoning.”

Special People Dept.

Dorothy Bridger Eglin, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 100th birthday on Tuesday, May 31.

Calvin Bajon celebrated his 92nd birthday on Monday, May 30. A retired pharmacist, he is a Navy veteran who served in the Pacific in World War II.

Mac and Thelma Phillips, of St. Amant, celebrated their 63rd anniversary on Monday, May 30.

That’s o’pitiful!

There was some discussion around the newsroom about whether to call the little critters “opossums” or “possums,” which the dictionary says is an informal title for the opposum.

As a Mississippi boy, I argued that nobody I knew had ever called the critters anything but possums.

Editor Vicki Ferstel just couldn’t resist telling me that “possums” was an acceptable term, “unless they’re which case they’re o’possums...”

A modest proposal

Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, our unpaid legislative correspondent, offers this idea:

“With the Legislature about to go into special session focused on revenue and strippers’ age and weight, I think there is an opportunity.

“They can pass a bill that taxes strip club patrons $1 for every year over 21 and for every pound over 160 for each visit.

“That alone could eliminate the deficit...but we should expect the bill to have a legislative exemption.”

That exemption, says Bo, would defeat the purpose of the bill.

Contacting Smiley

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.