The practice of giving every kid who takes part in an event some kind of trophy, ribbon, medal, etc., is common these days, despite complaints from parents of youngsters who actually won.

Richard Fossey, of Baton Rouge, tells of his experience with this:

"I grew up in Oklahoma in the 1960s, and was on my high school track team. One Saturday morning, the team was loading into a school bus to go to a regional meet in a neighboring town.

"As we were getting on the bus, Coach Wells asked if anyone wanted to sign up for the pole vaulting contest. I was astonished.

"No one on the team had ever trained for pole vaulting. I was surprised the team even had a vaulting pole. But my friend David said he would try it.

"David's debut as a pole vaulter was a disaster. He showed no form whatsoever, and clung to the pole like a koala bear clutching a eucalyptus tree.

"Fortunately, most of the other contestants were just as bad. About 10 small-town Oklahoma boys competed, but only one kid cleared the bar in the first round.

"The competition was over in 10 minutes, and the only kid who cleared the bar got a first-place medal.

"At first, the referee didn't know what to do with the second and third place medals. Finally, he decided the nine losers would draw straws.

"David got the second-place medal! When we got home, he showed it to his girlfriend, who was quite impressed.

"That's when I knew the old saying is right: 90% of success is just showing up."

Just passing through

Paul Duffy, of Baton Rouge, says, "The mention of ladies using the men's room at the Louvre brought back memories of a family trip in the mid-1960s.

"After a long flight to Brussels, the first stop was obviously the restroom.

"While the ladies room was separate from the men's room, it was only a back section of the men's room, and the ladies had to walk through ours to get to it!

Needless to say, it was a bit disconcerting…"

Which reminds me

While on a business trip to New York in the mid ’70s, I visited McSorley's Old Ale House, the venerable (since 1854) Irish pub in Manhattan's East Village.

The bar, always resistant to change, had just started admitting women in 1970, when Mayor John Lindsay signed a nondiscrimination law. But women didn't get their own restroom until 1986.

At the time I was there, the one restroom was labeled "Toilet." Inside was a row of marble urinals down one side of the room and a row of stalls down the other side, for both women and men.

There were only a couple of women in there when I visited, but neither they nor the men seemed to have a problem with the single-restroom system.

Terry's highway

Ed, of Baton Rouge, says, "In discussing whether the name of a circle in New Orleans should be renamed in honor of Drew Brees, it is worth noting that, in 2003, one of the highway loops around Shreveport (La. 3132) was officially designated the 'Terry Bradshaw Passway.'

"This begs the question: Why doesn't Baton Rouge have even one highway that loops the city?"

Special People Dept.

  • Bettie Anderson, of Holly Court Assisted Living and Memory Care of Baton Rouge, formerly Amber Terrace, celebrates her 97th birthday Thursday, Jan. 28.
  • Joe Guilbeau, of Plaquemine, celebrates his 93rd birthday Thursday, Jan. 28. A longtime column contributor, he is a Navy veteran, serving on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Valley Forge.
  • Gerard and Clothilde Hymel, of Vacherie, celebrate 65 years of marriage Thursday, Jan. 28.
  • Bill and Connie Cotten, of Simpsonville, South Carolina, celebrate their 65th anniversary Thursday, Jan. 28. They are originally from Baton Rouge, and Bill is an LSU graduate.

Cutting remark

Bobby D., of Abita Springs, says, "While reading the operator's manual on my new scroll saw, I came across a warning: 'Do not use saw if the on switch is not working.'"

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.