When The Advocate was located in downtown Baton Rouge, on the banks of the Mississippi River, folks floating down the river on canoes or rafts would often stop by.

They were sunburned and a bit fragrant, but they all had stories to tell about their adventures.  

Jerry Pankow recalls his river trip:

"Just 70 years ago, on June 5, 1949, I was one of three young Army vets to put canoes in the water of the upper Arkansas River — destination: New Orleans.

"Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas were crossed; on the Mississippi stops were made at Vicksburg, Natchez, Lake Providence and Baton Rouge.

"We carried a letter from the governor of Colorado (William Lee Knous) to the governor of Louisiana (Earl K. Long).

"On August 11, we reached New Orleans, where we were greeted as celebrities, toasted and given keys to the city."

In 1965 Jerry returned to Louisiana to make his home in Slidell. He says people still ask him, "You are not from here, are you?"

The trio wrote a book, "Snags and Sawyers: 2000 miles down the Arkansas," available through wagonbridgepub@gmail.com.

Watch for gators!

Mike Manes, of New Iberia, says, "In 1972, spending 10 months in the Army in Heidelberg, Germany, I was amazed by the stereotypes people had about our state and us Cajuns.

"I was often asked, 'On an average day, how many alligators do you see?' My answer was 3 or 4!

"We can’t change their ignorance about us, so why not just feed it? Much (most?) of the world is clueless about us. We can’t change them, so let’s just feed their ignorance. That way we’ll both be happy!"

D-Day memories

Robert Cabes, of Lafayette, says the D-Day anniversary on Thursday reminds him of his stepfather, George J. "Rockhead" Fanning, and his World War II adventures, including landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day:

"I went to Normandy a few years ago and brought him a rock, which he claims was the one he tried to get behind that day!

"Rockhead told me about those taking part in D-Day: 'None of us thought we were going to go home.'

"It still overwhelms me to understand how all those men were willing to wade onto a beach into German gun emplacements.

"I challenge everyone with a story about D-Day to flood your column with stories — and visit the World War II Museum in New Orleans, soon!"

Seafood from home

Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, says, "The Legislature passed a law requiring restaurants to label the country of origin for the crawfish and shrimp they serve.

"Being a strong supporter of Louisiana products, I have asked this of restaurant servers for many years.

"A 'seasoned' waitress at the old Don’s on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge responded to my question by saying, 'Honey, once they are in the state they are all Louisiana crawfish.'”

No, Doc, no!

Willie Price, of New Iberia, tells of a SERIOUS illness:

"As an air traffic manager, I transferred from New Orleans to Monroe Regional Airport in 1986, with the intent of transferring back to New Orleans after a couple years.

"One morning I woke up with my ankle swollen to the size of a softball. After some tests, the doctor said I had the gout. He said to refrain from shellfish and peanuts in particular.

"I said, 'Doc, I’m transferring back to south Louisiana in a couple of years, and you are telling me to stop eating shellfish?'

"He laughed and said I should limit my consumption to 'light.'

"Over the years I have continued testing my consumption of shellfish by raising my level from 'light' to 'moderate' to 'heavy.' "

Obit coincidence

Loren Scott says, "The Monday note from Jan Chategnier, about more obits in The Advocate as the week progresses, is actually not the biggest oddity.

"The biggest oddity is that people in this region all die in alphabetical order."

Aging process

Algie Petrere, of Central, tells a story we senior citizens find all too easy to believe:

"I thought the dryer had shrunk my clothes. Turned out to be the refrigerator."

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.