From my "Nocturnal Visits By Escaped Beasts" file comes this tale from Peggy Duffel Simmons, of New Orleans:

"When we were about 12, 10 and 4, my sister Joy, my brother Val and I asked our parents to buy a pet hamster.

"They finally did. My father, Valery, made a very thick wood cage with wire mesh all around and a little door at the top. We put in wood shavings, a water bottle and a feeding dish.

"One night, my mother, Elsie, screamed very loudly. We all rushed to see what had happened. Our little hamster, Christine, had gnawed a hole in her cage, made her way to my parents' bedroom, crawled up the bedspread and was crawling up my mother’s leg.

"When Elsie woke up and felt it, she grabbed Christine and threw her against the wall. Christine was lying lifeless on the floor, but after a few minutes, she revived and began to move.

"We all thought this was very funny. Needless to say, my mother did not.

"We bought a thick plastic cage to make sure this never happened again."

Banking made easy

Vallan Corbett adds to our series on helpful bankers:

"When I was 18, I married my husband, a dental student in New Orleans. We lived in a housing project on Basin Street, where you could walk to just about any place you needed to go.

"When I walked to Hibernia Bank to deposit our first income tax refund check from the IRS, the teller showed me how.

"That’s when John Timmons, the vice president of Hibernia, introduced himself and asked me if I knew how to manage my check book.

"I said no, and he said, 'Please step into my office and I will teach you.' That’s how banking used to be."

Nice People Dept.

Rachel Carr, a Baton Rouge native now living in Arlington, Texas, says this happened during her Easter visit with her parents:

"My father's car got disabled in downtown Baton Rouge, and the staff at the Hilton on Lafayette Street could not have been kinder.

"They have a five-star staff: the manager in his seersucker suit jump-starting the car on Easter morning; the security guard helping my dad rest until a kind neighbor could pick him up; the valet team being so understanding until we could have the car towed.

"I cannot thank their team enough for helping a non-customer."

What's a 'shift'?

Alton Duke tells of his encounter with the generation gap:

"As I was looking for another vehicle, a sales person inquired as to what type of a vehicle I was interested in finding.

"Since all dealers list automatic transmissions as an accessory, I told her I wanted a vehicle with a standard transmission.

"Her inquisitive expression was worth the levity. After I explained the difference, she said they did not have one."

He's a character?

Courtland Chaney says, "Recently two of my wife's cousins from Belgium visited us for two weeks, and we had a wonderful time showing them the sights in Louisiana.

"At the airport saying their goodbyes, one of them complimented me and asked my wife, 'Does he have any faults?'

"She paused, reflected and then answered, 'He doesn't have faults. He has characteristics.'

"I plan to get mileage out of this for the rest of my life."

I don't know, Courtland — your "characteristics" may not all be GOOD ones. …

Special People Dept.

  • Guy Naquin celebrates his 101st birthday Wednesday, April 24, at his weekly canasta game at his local seniors center.
  • Lowell and Mary Anne Singletary, of St. Amant, celebrate their 71st anniversary Wednesday, April 24.

Close call

Ernie Gremillion, of Baton Rouge, says stories about St. Mary Parish's "flying sheriff," Chester Baudoin, "reminded me of a story about him that former East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Bryan Clemmons used to tell.

"It seems that during one of his reelection bids, Sheriff Baudoin won by a very narrow margin — I don't remember the exact amount, but I think it was fewer than five votes.

"This prompted him to refer to himself as 'Landslide Baudoin.'"

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.