Dear Smiley: My wife, Kathy, and I recently returned to live in the New Orleans area after jobs had taken us away in 1989 for 30 years.

We carried New Orleans in our hearts wherever we went, often providing “a native’s insight” on visiting our fair city. Your recent article on directions reminded me of my opening advice to visitors:

First, disregard anything you ever knew about north, south, east, and west directions; get out your navigation chart and see that the Mississippi River coming down from the north loops below the city and is actually flowing almost due north at the foot of Canal Street before once again turning south to the Gulf of Mexico.

The city is a “crescent" formed by the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain and the river looping below.

Directions in New Orleans are “downtown” (down river direction of flow), “uptown” (upriver), “lakeside” (toward the lake), and “riverside” (toward the river).

LARRY GRUNDMANN

Metairie

Name that soldier

Dear Smiley: While in the Army in the mid-’50s, I was stationed at Fort Kobbe in the Panama Canal Zone for about 17 months.

When I first arrived at the base, I tried to get my new Army buddies to pronounce my last name correctly — without success, I might add.

They insisted on calling me "Melan-con," so this was my new name in the Canal Zone.

On the last day of each month the captain in our barracks paid each soldier their monthly salary in cash personally. When you were next in line to get paid, you stood in front of the captain and said: "Pfc. Melan-con reporting for pay, sir."

My last month at Fort Kobbe, as a joke, I decided to ask for my pay using the correct pronunciation.

When it was my turn to get paid, I told the captain: "Pfc. Ma-lawn-zon reporting for pay, sir."

The old captain looked at me and said, "What?"

I repeated, "Pfc. Ma-lawn-zon reporting for pay, sir."

He looked at me and said, "Melan-con, come get your money."

RONNIE MELANCON

Gretna

Amusing the deer

Dear Smiley: Many years ago, my older brother (I'll call him Larry) got into bow hunting. He got all the good stuff and practiced a lot. He even bought a tree stand; a fairly simple unit even he could install.

So when bow season came along he was ready. The tree stand was set up in what he considered the perfect tree. (He never did tell me how high it was.)

One frosty morning (he lives in Connecticut) he awoke, gathered all his stuff (the latest razor blade tipped arrows, compound bow, etc.) and headed for the tree.

He visit to the stand was short-lived. As he plummeted toward the ground, he figured that landing and rolling around with those razor blades in his hand was a bad idea.

So he threw the bow one way and the arrows another, then hit the ground as safe as he could, with nothing but rocks and logs to soften his fall.

No broken bones, no cuts, no problem.

After reading the directions (for the first time) he found the stand had spikes that would dig into the tree when any weight was placed on it. But he had installed it upside down, with the spikes pointing up instead of down.

I don't think he applied for a patent for his new invention, the "Tree Trap Door."

PERRY ROSE

Denham Springs

Complaint Dept.

Dear Smiley: I'm really tired of people who complain about the price of everything.

$2 for a cup of coffee.

$3 for a coat check.

$4 an hour for parking.

I'm just going to stop inviting them to my house.

ALGIE PETRERE

Central

Please forgive me

Dear Smiley: How do you get an elephant into a cigarette pack?

You remove the camels first.

KERRY PALMER

Lafayette

The ultimate groaners

Dear Smiley: Hitting the bottom with elephant jokes?

Au contraire, mon frère. Please try these subterranean ones:

"What’s worse than raining cats and dogs?

"Hailing taxi cabs."

And:

“A grasshopper walks into a bar.

Bartender: Hey, we have drink named after you.

Grasshopper: You have a drink named Steve?”

You’re welcome, I’m sure.

DAVID MEEKS

New Orleans

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