Rhetta Sellers says, “Several years ago, while traveling in Greece, Gretchen Fairbanks and I were sitting in a tavernsipping root beer and conversing with the owner.

“When he realized we were from Louisiana, he asked if we would show him how to make a gumbo.

“It was agreed that we would come the next morning to make a seafood gumbo with his staff.

“We arrived bright and early, to find beautiful prawns — and one large octopus — set out for us.

“After contemplating the octopus, Gretchen and I looked at each other and spontaneously responded that chicken gumbo was a much more ‘Cajun’ dish.”

Sleeping problem

Several readers recall wagons pulled by horses or mules, but Naresh Sharma tells of a different beast of burden:

“My family moved to Lucknow, India, after India gained independence in 1947.

“The elementary school I went to had a wagon pulled by a water buffalo. The driver stopped when the student pointed out his/her house.

“One afternoon my mother had to call my father at his office and ask him to drive around in his car and find the wagon, as I had not reached home.

“I took a nap, and when awakened was unable to point out our house to the driver!

“Father did find the wagon, and gave me a short talk.”

The rice diet

Mike Gauthier, of Thibodaux, says he was dismayed when his dietitian told him to cut out his favorite dish, rice and gravy:

“After two very long weeks of utter despair, there magically appeared in your column an article relating to the Donner-Peltier Distillery in Thibodaux producing an excellent vodka MADE FROM RICE!

“I now have a replacement for one of the two banned foods. I will check with my friends Drs. Donner and Peltier to find out if they plan on making a vodka or rum from gravy.”

The egg diet

John Torbert says, “Talk about ‘how men cook’ brought to mind an episode in my military career.

“During basic training we were on bivouac, and each man was allowed to order any uncooked rations for a day and prepare them as he could.

“My culinary skills were somewhat limited, so I traded to other GIs all of my supplies for their eggs, and subsisted on boiled eggs for a day.”

Valuable cargo

Sue Decoteau tells us how far Louisiana products travel to bring a “taste of home”:

“When my sister and her husband moved to Singapore several years ago, the staples of home were Blue Plate Mayonnaise, Community Coffee and Steen’s Syrup.

“She would pack these very carefully, as they were precious tastes of home.”

Mail call

George Lane says, “Did you hear the post office is terminating Saturday mail delivery? I found out when they notified me in an email, and then they confirmed it with a text.”

Friday is fry day

Fried shrimp dinners will be sold for $7 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Aloysius School cafeteria, 2025 Stuart Ave.

You can dine in the cafeteria, or pick up dinners in the gym parking lot. Call (225) 383-3871.

A “dahlin’ ” gift

The LeBlanc family of automotive fame will present a 2013 Nissan van to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at 11 a.m. Tuesday. A ribbon-cutting will mark the presentation at Price LeBlanc Nissan on Airline Highway in Gonzales.

Worthy causes

Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge has a Western benefit from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday at LSU’s Parker Coliseum, with a petting zoo, pony rides, a mechanical bull, dancing, silent auction and food.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $2 for children 12 and under. Call (225) 927-9810 or go to http://www.fsgbr.org.

Special People Dept.

  • Ronald “Ronnie” Sammonds Sr. celebrates his 91st birthday Tuesday.
  • John and Evelyn Miller, of Addis, celebrate their 69th anniversary Tuesday.

Ringing endorsement

Sarah Stravinska, of Chestnut, says, “Your story about waking from a nap at the sound of the ice cream man’s bells reminds me of young Donna.

“Her first time at Mass she fell asleep. When the altar boys rang the bells, she snapped awake and hollered, ‘The ice cream man!’

“Talk about Pavlov!”

Fashion critic

Linda Dalferes says this is a favorite family story:

“Fresh out of seminary, during his first week at Trinity Episcopal School, my son shows up for work in his brand new clericals.

“His first encounter on the playground was a sweet little girl who greeted him with (now here you have to hear a soft, sweet Southern accent) ‘Father Craig, I lak your outfit.’ ”

Speaking of clerics

Chuck Willis, of Elizabethtown, Ky., apologies for this one — as well he should:

“My nomination for pope is Cardinal Sicola from Italy. We need a refreshing Pope Sicola!”

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.