We recently had several stories from folks who agreed that if you're going to give someone a pet, a gift monkey is a terrible idea.

Jamie Owen Parkerson, of Lafayette, tells of another gift pet that's just as bad, or worse: 

"In the ’60s, my daddy liked to play tricks on us four girls. One day he said, ‘I have a new pet for y’all,’ and walked inside with an alligator, about a foot long.

"Needless to say, we were screaming and scared to death. He, on the other hand, loved it!

"He said, ‘We will let it live in the atrium pond next door at your grandparents' home so y’all can visit it.’

"It wasn’t too long until my grandmother insisted that it had to go.

"The yardman, Sol, found a perfect place — the Vermillion River. One of my friends told me last week she saw 'our pet,' 10 feet long, swimming down the bayou by her house. It must have had a great life!"

Local language

Joan Felder, of LaPlace, says, "About your recent articles on Louisiana town names; a few years ago my friend worked as a door greeter at Walmart.

"One day a truck driver pulled up to ask directions to 'Boyette.'

"She had never heard of it, and other employees she asked hadn't heard of it, either.

"When the driver spelled it, she realized he was looking for Boutte (BOO-tay) in St. Charles Parish, across the Huey Long bridge from New Orleans.

"The driver griped about people 'who don't even know how to pronounce common names' — but she still gave him directions to Boutte."

Which reminds me

Back when I was with the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, we got a letter from a gentleman who was incarcerated somewhere in New England or upstate New York for a robbery.

He asked us to confirm his alibi — that he had spent the night of the heist in "Butte," which he said was near New Orleans, with a lady who owned a bar there. He was writing the Chamber because he couldn't tell the police who arrested him just where Butte, Louisiana, was located. (Alcohol had been involved that evening.)

"Butte" isn't exactly a Louisiana name, but after I found Boutte on a map, I gave the story to Jim Hughes, executive editor of The Morning Advocate and State-Times, who sent reporter Bill Bankston down there to check it out.

Bill found the lady, who confirmed the gent's story, and he was eventually released. (Police officers up there told Bill the guy had an arrest record, and they would probably see him again.)

And that's my Boutte memory.

See New Orleans

Joyce Simoneaux, of Harahan, says for many years, until she reached 87 (she's 92 now), "if I saw someone I thought was a tourist, I would offer to give them a tour of New Orleans."

She says she was inspired by a former nun turned streetcar conductor, then hired as a tour guide by New Orleans Public Service. Another source of inspiration was a streetcar tour book written by Peggy Wilson in 1975.

Special People Dept.

  • Ruth Pulver, of Ponchatoula, celebrates her 98th birthday Saturday, Aug. 22. She was a teacher in Sulphur.
  • Owen Lange Jr. celebrates his 93rd birthday Saturday, Aug. 22.
  • Lela Buhler, of Watson, celebrates her 90th birthday Friday, Aug. 21.
  • Elliott and Sandy Raisen, of Metairie, celebrated their 70th anniversary Monday, Aug. 17. He was a home oxygen supplier, she was a kindergarten teacher. Elliott's Israeli folk dance group performs in Metairie's Starlight Ballroom.
  • Darryl and Mary "Alene" Bourgeois, of Prairieville, celebrate their 55th anniversary Friday, Aug. 21.
  • Paul and Cindy McMillan, formerly of Baton Rouge, now in Birmingham, Alabama, celebrated their 54th anniversary Thursday, Aug. 20.

That's heavy, man

Billy Braswell, of Baton Rouge, tells why the newspaper delivery people are glad to see my column back in The Advocate after my vacation:

"Your column is so weighty that it makes the paper easier to throw from their vehicles."

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.