Kevin O'Neal, a "Baton Rouge boy" living in San Francisco, has a cautionary tale about traveling with a powdery white substance in your luggage:

"When I was living in Japan, I found myself longing for grits I remembered from childhood.

"My parents were about to observe their 50th anniversary, and the entire family would be meeting in Rome to celebrate. I appealed to my mom to bring along a bag of grits for me.

"She proudly presented me with two enormous bags of grits, with a third bag to enjoy on our holiday.

"When the time came for us to return home, I carefully packed the two bags deep inside the suitcase I was planning to check.

"Upon arriving at the Leonardo da Vinci International airport in Rome, I was informed that my bag was too heavy to be checked. Scrambling quickly to the nearest duty-free shop, I bought a backpack so I could carry the grits on the plane.

"At Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for my connecting flight, I was going through security when my backpack was pulled aside for inspection.

“ ‘What is this?' said the no-nonsense security clerk as she wrestled one of the bags from my backpack.

"Bursting into laughter, I blurted 'It’s grits!'

“ ‘What is grits?' she barked, clearly not amused.

“ ‘It’s a delicious breakfast food from Louisiana — you know, laissez les bon temps rouler!'

“ ‘Please go,' she responded, without a trace of warmth.

"I felt a bit sad that the curmudgeonly clerk might never experience the comfort of a bowl of freshly made grits."

Fear the beer

Leon Toups offers this beer story:

"During the early 1940s I was a lad in grammar school, but I can vividly recall that there was rationing, or at least shortages of most of the products readily available to us today 'because there was a war going on.'

"The main reason for the shortages was lack of civilian manpower and the fact that most of these products were sent to our fighting forces.

"At the time one thing that hit the adults very hard was that popular beer such as Dixie, Jax, or Regal were for the most part unavailable.

"There was, however, one beer named WorthBrew that for some reason was available.

"Apparently it was a very poor substitute for the other beers, because it was soon referred to as WorstBrew by beer drinkers and bartenders alike."

Bargain beers

Our beer seminar reminds me of a couple of beers I discovered back when 1) I drank beer regularly, 2) I was just out of college and not flush with cash, and 3) K&B drugstores were favorite Baton Rouge shopping venues.

There was K&B beer, in cans colored the chain's signature purple. I would get a six-pack for those lean days just before payday. The beer inside those purple cans was … cheap.

K&B also carried Red, White & Blue beer, which I understand was a less expensive form of Pabst. As I recall, it wasn't quite as good as K&B.

Hard times.

Horsing around

Marving Borgmeyer says, "Years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars. Today, everyone has a car and only the rich own horses."

Special People Dept.

  • Sarah Duplechain celebrates her 90th birthday Sunday, Feb. 9.
  • Bryan and Jackie Guillot celebrate 61 years of marriage Friday, Feb. 7.
  • Joe and Nancy Dicharry, of Metairie, celebrate their 50th anniversary Friday, Feb. 7. Both are Lutcher natives. He is retired from the U.S. Corps of Engineers; she is a retired teacher.

Groan in your beer

Our series on beer inspired Nobey Benoit and Joe Fairchlld, of Thibodaux, to send in the same ancient groaner.

Joe's version:

"All the emphasis on the return of Dixie beer brought to mind an old Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke.

"They got jobs at the Dixie brewery, and after three weeks, Boudreaux fell into a vat of beer and drowned.

"Shortly thereafter, Thibodeaux was consoling the widow Boudreaux when she inquired, 'Did he suffer much?'

"Thibodeaux replied, 'Mais, I don't think so — he got out three times to go to the bathroom.’ ”   

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.