Frances Pickering Billeaud says, "My dad, Jack Pickering, was with Desi Arnaz’s band (before the 'I Love Lucy' show), and the band was on tour a good part of many years.

"They played a Chicago theater many times and grew fond of a Catholic priest, Father Pat, who loved show people.

"One night, Father Pat came in on crutches with a large cast on one leg.

"He had officiated at the funeral of a young soldier killed in World War II. The soldier was from a very large Chicago Italian family, all of whom attended the military funeral.

"The emotion of it all was finally too much for the great-grandma, and she fainted, falling to the ground as the rifles fired the salute.

"When a 7-year-old boy shouted, 'Oh no. They shot grandma,' Father Pat, holding his prayer book to his face, could not control his laughter, and as he tried to do so, took a step forward and fell into the open grave, breaking his leg.

"Needless to say, it was a funeral nobody present would ever forget."

Cowboy cliches

James Clary Jr., of Baton Rouge, says, "Recent memories from old western movies prompts the memory of THE most reliable scene from innumerable such movies — going back to at least 'The Lucky Texan' in 1934, a John Wayne/Gabby Hayes flick.

"It is dark. Crossing some expansive western landscape, the cavalry troop or the wagon train or the stagecoach or some such similar assemblage has stopped for the night. Guards are posted in the darkening twilight. As the night wears on, one posted sentry crosses paths with another.

"'Sure is quiet tonight,' the first guy says.

"'Yeah,' replies the other, staring into the darkness. …

"I will let your readers finish the scene.

"As we all know, just like clockwork, hell breaks loose after that exchange."

Cliche No. 2

Wayne Weilbaecher, of Covington, says, "After reading a few articles about old-time cowboy movies, I want to ask the readers if they can explain something I have wondered about for years.

"Why in the world do all the cowboys break the windows in the house every time they start to shoot at someone?

"Just open it."

Nice People Dept.

They're the service people you don't see, unless you wake up a heck of a lot earlier than I do. But they're out there in all kinds of weather, at a godawful hour, making sure you get my column (and, of course, some other stuff) to peruse with your cup of dark roast. 
Members of the Hands family, of Prairieville, express their gratitude for one such person:
"Please tell Tana, our paper carrier, thanks for going above and beyond for us. She delivers our paper to our back door, and we appreciate that. She is the epitome of caring customer service."

Special People Dept.

  • Dick Hallenus, of Woldenburg Village, New Orleans, celebrates his 100th birthday Monday, Feb. 4. He is a Navy veteran of World War II.
  • Lillian Treuting Sehrt, of Metairie, celebrated her 91st birthday Sunday, Feb. 3. She is a Golden Meadow native.

The great fleecing

Doug Johnson, of Watson, says, "Like Marsha R., I get regular scam calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS.

"It’s not such a bad business, as people in the U.S. have sent them more than $23 million in the last five years.

"We do have some really stupid people in this country. Don’t worry about this comment. Those really stupid people don’t read your column."

Here, Fido …

Algie Petrere, of Central, says an animal-loving friend posted on Facebook the story of her attempted rescue mission:

"This morning I am driving across a busy, dangerous intersection when I see a dog, a big one, in the middle of the intersection, with cars driving around him, almost hitting him.

"I hit the brakes, jump out and open my back door of the car. I call the dog over, afraid for his safety.

"Then a trucker slows down, rolls his window and says calmly, 'That's a coyote. …'"  

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.