Dear Smiley: Your beard stories brought back an experience at Johns Hopkins' geology camp in the Bear Pond mountains of the Appalachian chain.
The camp lasted six weeks, and we let our beards grow. And each day we brought back to the camp any snakes we had killed.
A small store and gas pump in the mountains sold soft drinks. One day I approached it with full grizzly beard and a stick over my shoulder with a copperhead hanging from a string on the end.
As I approached, a Plymouth with about 6 kids and their parents stopped and the kids piled out.
As the last one, a cute little girl, exited, she smiled at me and I said, "Hello."
The mother took one look at me and said, "Let's get out of here!" They got back in the car and speedily drove off.
I knew how the Wolfman must have felt when he was shunned.
Loose liver blues
Dear Smiley: Mention in your column about seat belts, car seats, etc., reminded me of a family outing to Whiskey Chitto River we made when I was a kid of 11 or 12.
The whole “fam damily,” consisting of 6 kids and 2 parents, was packed into our shrimp-boat-sized 1963 Ford Galaxie with not a seat belt to be had.
To reach the river’s edge my dad drove through the woods, hitting every hill and hole along the way, throwing us around the car like rag dolls.
When we finally stopped and everyone was commenting on how rough the ride had been, my baby sister (about 4 years old then) chimed in with “Oh Lord, I think my liver’s loose!”
It became an instant classic.
Dear Smiley: As an adopted Cajun, I am enjoying the discussion about gradou.
I am surprised no one has mentioned grémises. I was told gradou was wet and sticky but grémises were dry.
It is grémises you find under the sofa cushions. The dried coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup are also grémises.
But if you find a half-full cup of coffee left on a table three days ago, the viscous goo in the bottom is gradou.
I guess the wonderful bits of meat you use to make gravy could be either, depending on whether they are wet or dry.
(In New Orleans the bits of meat at the bottom of the iron pot are known as débris. Here débris is quite different!)
The Dictionary of Louisiana French, my guide in all such things, has no entry for either gradou or grémises. I know different parishes have different words, but I am amazed there is no mention of either one.
DR. MAY WAGGONER
Dear Smiley: Having the name "Jaime Bourgeois," I found that in Louisiana, everyone could pronounce "Bourgeois," but most people could not pronounce "Jaime," which is Spanish for James, and pronounced "Hymie."
Then I moved to Texas, with its huge Hispanic population, and everyone there could pronounce Jaime, but most people could not pronounce Bourgeois.
When my wife was in a hospital in Houston, a nurse entered her room and said, "Good morning, Mrs. Bourgeois," pronouncing the name correctly.
My wife said, "You know how to pronounce my name!" and the nurse said, "I should know how to pronounce it. When I was born in Opelousas, I was delivered by Dr. Bourgeois."
She was delivered by my brother, who was a friend of yours.
Dear Smiley: I enjoyed the recent piece about the Library Lounge near LSU in Baton Rouge.
I frequented The Library, a bar near the University of New Orleans (then LSUNO) when I was a student in the early 1970s.
A few years later, I moved to Philadelphia to go to graduate school. In the nearby town of Elkins Park there was a hospital, and directly across the street from its entrance was a bar called The Emergency Room.
I bet there are many more examples of this clever naming of bars out there.