Want to cut your own Christmas tree? Read on:

Marsha R., of Baton Rouge, tells two stories about "free" trees:

"A friend told me of the year they couldn’t afford a tree, so they decided to cut one. They bought an ax, found a tree along the road and cut it down. When they got home they realized they had left their new ax in the woods.

"And my stepdaughter Leslie says she and husband Bert Toney had moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was starting a new job as an emergency room doctor.

"They made a tree-cutting trip to delight their 3-year-old.

"As Bert trimmed the branches, his handsaw slipped and he nearly severed his thumb. As the new ER doctor, reporting in three days, he didn’t think appearing there as a patient was the best way to meet the staff.

"He had a suture needle in his kit. Leslie said she didn’t remember what they used for thread; from her sewing machine, or dental floss.

"He would insert the needle and she would pull it through as he held the wound together. Then she would help with knot-tying as he tried to explain the technique.

"Together they got it together, though I wonder how he was able to pull rubber gloves over their suturing when he began his new job.

"Now they have an artificial tree."

Off to war

Boo LeBlanc, of Donaldsonville, says, "In 1940 the U.S. enacted the Selective Service and Training Act, requiring every young man to serve one year in a branch of military service.

"In December, 1940, the first three men to leave Donaldsonville in obedience to that act were my brother Dick LeBlanc, Harold Ramirez, and Nick Inzerella.

"I was in the sixth grade, and all school children marched in a parade to the bus station to honor these men. The band played and the flags flew.

"These men were to return home in December 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 changed their plans. My brother served until 1945, and I am sure the others did also. They became the first of 'the Greatest Generation.'"

Lights out

Alex "Sonny" Chapman, of Ville Platte, has this seasonal thought: "All of this talk about the 'good old days.' Has anybody noticed how well Christmas lights are made these days?

"Remember when just hanging them on a tree caused half of them to go out? You used to buy a bunch of extra bulbs when you bought a set of lights, in anticipation that there would be a high mortality rate."

And, sticking to the subject of Christmas lights, Alex says, "Do any of your readers, maybe those who read Popular Mechanics, know the rationale behind the water-filled Christmas lights that looked like missiles? Do you think there’s anyone out there under 40 who's ever heard of a magazine called Popular Mechanics?"

Tennessee connection

I thought I could get through 2020 without making a mistake in the column. But Ray Serpas, of New Orleans, uncovered one, when I described the H.G. Hill supermarket chain as being headquartered in New Orleans:

"The mention of H.G. Hill Food Store brought back memories, as there was one on the corner of State and Magazine streets in uptown New Orleans that I frequented growing up.

"It should be noted that this is not a New Orleans chain. This family-owned chain, established in 1895, is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and still operates four stores in middle Tennessee."

Special People Dept.

Herb and Linda Hughes Whitman, of Denham Springs, celebrate 53 years of marriage Wednesday, Dec. 9. Linda says, "He’s from north Louisiana, and got here as fast as he could. I took pity on him and married him."

Save the date

Marvin Borgmeyer, of Baton Rouge, says, "During the Middle Ages, they celebrated the end of a pandemic with wine and orgies. Does anyone know what is planned when this one ends? (Asking for a friend.)"

Let me get back to you on this, Marvin; I have to check with some people… 

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.