Earl Newman says no song captures the ennui of our days during the COVID pandemic than the Statler Brothers' 1965 hit, “Flowers on the Wall,” about a lonely soul who's counting the flowers on his wallpaper, playing solitaire with a 51-card deck, and watching Captain Kangaroo while smoking cigarettes.

Says Earl, "It was the theme song of Linda Smith’s 'A Brief History of Time Wasting,' a situation comedy on the BBC in the early 2000s. Kurt Vonnegut quotes the complete lyrics in his 1981 book 'Palm Sunday,' and portions are recited by Bruce Willis in 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Die Hard With a Vengeance.'"

And "Flowers on the Wall" leads a list of songs compiled by Robert Downing, of Baton Rouge, for us to sing during the uncertain times ahead:

"I put together a COVID playlist, along with suggestions by my friend, Erin, for entertainment while stuck inside.

In addition to "Flowers on the Wall,' the playlist includes "Hello Walls," by Willie Nelson; "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," by Tony Bennett; "Don't Stand So Close to Me," by The Police and "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. 

Hat trick

A lady signing her letter "Something Else" (I know her, and she is indeed something else) adds to our discussion of various lures churches use to attract converts:

"During World War II, my mom and I relocated to her family in south Texas while my dad was in the Pacific.

"I had two good friends, sisters and Catholic. I hugely admired their little church 'hats' made of bits of net and ribbon; so much so their mom made me a hat!

"We had a trip planned to shop in the big city (San Antonio), and I put on my new hat.

"No way! In my mother's eyes it was not appropriate for San Antonio — or Baptist Sunday school.

"I realized as an adult that conceivably my friends' Catholic mom had an ulterior motive, but it was useless. Hat or no hat, I was not going to religious instruction as they did on Saturday mornings!"

Pump nostalgia

Barbara Maderson says, "Comments regarding old water well hand pumps reminds me:

"My grandfather, who lived outside of Abita Springs, in 1917 had a pitcher-shaped hand pump in the rear yard, about 10 feet from the kitchen door.

"He had a new well drilled next to the kitchen's outside wall, then built an addition to the outside wall over the well head. He added a countertop and cabinets, and cut holes in the floor and countertop to install pipe from the pump to the well head.

"My grandmother still had to pump the pump, but had running water inside. There was no electrical service in the area as late as 1948."

Forget what?

Thom Lieb, of Covington, pens this ode to aging:

"Concerning memory: I am 82 years old and I've discovered that there are two things that happen when you get old.

"1. You have a tendency to forget things — and I can't remember the other one."

Special People Dept.

— Julia Hawkins, of Baton Rouge, celebrates her 105th birthday Wednesday, Feb. 10. One of her many accomplishments is leading the drive, in 1960, to plant Taiwan cherry trees in University Acres and along Highland Road. She encourages everyone to drive through the area now while they are in full bloom.

— Gordon Jarnigan, of Holly Court Assisted Living in Baton Rouge, celebrated his 98th birthday Wednesday, Feb. 10.

— Rosalie Marino, of Baton Rouge, celebrated her 90th birthday Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Groaner of the Week

From Yogi Naquin: "A friend from 'down da bayou' who moved to the big city told me his granddaughter wanted to go to a magnet school. When he asked her why, she replied, 'I'm not sure; I'm just drawn to it.'"

Food for thought

Marvin Borgmeyer, of Baton Rouge, tells us, "On average, a panda feeds for 12 hours a day. This is the same amount of feeding time as an adult at home under quarantine, which is why we call it a 'pandemic.'"


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.