Stories of Christmas mishaps reminded readers of other near-disasters.

James B. Hébert, of Abbeville, told on Tuesday how, as a child, he burned up the family Christmas tree.

Here's another of his winter mishaps:

"Previously I said I now live in the house where I grew up. I should have said I live in the house where I survived childhood.

"I remember standing in a flannel robe with my back to our gas log fireplace when I smelled something burning.

"I went to the kitchen to ask what was burning. My robe was on fire!"

Speaking of disasters

Donette Thomas, of Lafayette, says, "I had a dear friend who said, 'Never challenge worse.' 2020 proved him right!"

And 2021 isn't looking any better so far…

When academics won

Perry Snyder, of Baton Rouge, was fascinated by "When Studying Came Before Football," by Bob Greene in the Monday Wall Street Journal.

It tells of the time in 1961 when Ohio State, Big 10 champion with an 8-0-1 record, was invited to the 1962 Rose Bowl to play UCLA. 

"Wind was in the sails of the Buckeyes, as they were coming off a 50-20 trouncing of Michigan.

"As the team prepared for the trip to Pasadena, the Faculty Council met to take the required formal vote to accept the invitation.

"But the council voted 'No.' The vote was 28 to 25. Why was the invitation declined? The academic leaders of the university felt the students were paying too much attention to football and not enough to studying.

"The council believed that saying 'No' would send a signal about the university's priorities and reason for being."

Sure enough, legislators and administrators of other state colleges, including big SEC schools like LSU, got the message and began devoting more time, effort and resources to academics than to football.

And that, children, is our fairy tale for today…

Living dangerously

William Ross has one for our "Think Before You Speak" file:

"The other day my wife was reading an article about naming the actor who was the big sex symbol the year you were born.

"She wondered, 'Who was the big actor the year I was born?'

"All I can say is 'John Wilkes Booth' was definitely not the right answer."

Waiting for puce

Edie Bender, of Baton Rouge, has this contribution for our series on drivers' woes:

"Have you ever been waiting behind a car at a red light, and they still don’t move forward when the light turns green?

"It makes me wonder if they are waiting for a color they like..."

Name that circle

Creative readers continue to offer suggestion for New Orleans' former Lee Circle.

Gayle Farrell, of Meraux, says, "How about 'Founder's Circle,' with LaSalle, Bienville, Iberville, etc., around the bottom?"

Special People Dept.

  • Herman "Dutch" Prager, of Metairie, celebrates his 96th birthday Thursday, Jan. 14. He is a World War II veteran, serving on the submarine USS Kingfish.
  • Jerry and Rose Berggren, of Baton Rouge, celebrate their 54th anniversary Thursday, Jan. 14. (Jerry refers to his spouse as "the long-suffering Saint Rose," for some reason…).

Geography lesson

J.B. Castagnos, of Donaldsonville, offers this additional information about our mention of Inez "Nez" Landry, his wife's aunt, who celebrated her 101st birthday Monday:

"She was listed as a native of 'the River Road in Donaldsonville.' She lived in the middle of Faux Bourg La Pipe (Fo Bo La Peep)."

Thanks, J.B. I should have known that…

Pillow talk

Dudley Lehew, of Marrero, adds to our seminar on warning labels:

"Speaking of warning labels — my generation, which includes you, always feared that if we tore off that pillow label that boldly said 'DO NOT REMOVE' the FBI would rush in, handcuff us, and take us to a dungeon, nevermore to be heard from!

"As much as I wanted to rip that sucker off my favorite pillow, I was too scared to try it.

"How about you, bro? Did you risk all and do it?"

Heck no — there was a part about "UNDER PENALTY OF LAW" or something like that I found scary enough to make me a law-abiding citizen. 

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.