Annie has an alligator story:

"Aunt Carolyn thought it would be funny to send me an alligator when she went to Cuba and came back through Miami.

"I was about 9 years old in 1954, living in Memphis. My Mama was horrified. Daddy put 'Elvis,' the alligator, in a big barrel with water. I would come in from school and tap him on his little head to say hello.

"One day he bit my finger. Mama, frantic, called Dr. Johnson to say, 'What can I do? Ann's been bitten by an alligator!'

"The doctor replied, 'Mrs. Marley, have you been drinking? We don't have alligators in Memphis!'

"She told him how I got Elvis, and he said to bring me in. Laughing, he washed my bite, put medicine on it, and said I was fine.

"Daddy took Elvis over to Catholic High in Memphis to my twin cousin priests, Father Tom and Father Pat, and they raised him in the science department.

"My poor Mama!"

Louisiana's own Bagdad

After I asked about the Louisiana community named Bagdad, Patsy Maxwell Sharbono, of Prairieville, sent an article by Grant Parish attorney and history buff Trevor Fry:

"The Grant Parish community of Bagdad got its name from a British soldier stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, during the Crimean War in the 1850s.

"The British were allies of the Ottoman Empire, which controlled modern day Baghdad during that conflict. The Allies (British/French/Ottomans) defeated the Russians in this war.

"This soldier later emigrated to Grant Parish, and established the Bagdad Mercantile Company which he named for the Iraqi city (but without the 'h' in it). His name is lost to history, but his legacy lives on in this community’s exotic name!"

The names book

I don't normally promote books other than my own, but I'll made an exception here. That's because Ed, of Baton Rouge, makes a good case for a book in The Advocate library I've consulted often:

"In response to the interest shown recently regarding the origin of town/city names across the state, I suggest that The Advocate start periodically republishing columns that Clare D'Artois Leeper wrote for the Sunday Advocate between 1960 and 1974.

"A hard-bound collection of these columns, titled 'Louisiana Places,' was published in 1976 by Legacy Publishing Co. It is an enjoyable read as well as a wonderful resource."

Save the ducks

Since I'm related to many firefighters, I'm always happy to mention ways they help folks other than putting out fires.

Richard O'Neill, of Metairie, says, "Just wanted to give a shout out to heroes of another kind — the Jefferson Parish Fire Department and Jefferson Parish Animal Control Department.

"On Wednesday they rescued 11 ducklings trapped in a storm drain in Metairie's Pontchartrain Shores subdivision.

"One fireman climbed inside the drain, and using a compressed air tank, chased the ducklings to another opening, where the Animal Control person was able to catch them in a net.

"She then located the mother duck and released them unharmed to continue wandering in our neighborhood."

For emergency use

Fred Rabalais says this about my recent mention of Dudley LeBlanc's tonic, Hadacol:

"I have a bottle on a shelf in my office that my father-in-law gave to me years ago. I am 83 and am saving it for when I really get sick.

"Since it contains quite a bit of alcohol, I might just think I'm cured for a while."

Fred, I also have a bottle of Hadacol on my desk, sent me by a reader after I mentioned the stuff. I once opened the bottle, thinking about tasting it. But one whiff cured me of that urge.

Special People Dept.

  • G.W. Richardson, of Gonzales, an Army veteran of World War II, celebrates his 101st birthday Tuesday, July 21.
  • Mary Broussard Daniels, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 98th birthday Tuesday, July 21. She is the widow of Judge William Hawk Daniels.

Inquiring Minds Dept.

Nancy C. Van Den Akker asks, "After we are done with the mask thing, will we need plastic surgery to put our ears back where they belong?"

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.