Duke Rivet, of Baton Rouge, tells this story about LSU's legendary Civil War history professor (and Huey Long biographer) T. Harry Williams:

"One afternoon in the early 1970s, when I was a graduate student in the History Department at LSU, I attended a presentation by Dr. Williams.

"I was sitting in an aisle seat when he strode in on his way to the podium. Unexpectedly, he stopped, turned to me, and asked, 'Young man, where are you from?'

"I figured the distinguished professor, born in Illinois and reared in Wisconsin, would no more know where Marksville, in Avoyelles Parish, was than the man in the moon.

"When I replied, 'Marksville,' Dr. Williams, without hesitation, responded, 'Don't you have an expression up there" "Tonnerre ma chien!" — "May thunder strike my dog!"'

"While I had uttered that phase often while growing up in Cajun country (but not speaking Cajun French), I had no idea what the phrase meant (only that it was meant to express astonishment)."

Thanks to T. Harry, says Duke, "Thunder had indeed struck my dog!"

Mama's medicine

Ted Varnado says, "On the subject of old family remedies, when our oldest daughter was about two months old she developed the colic.

"I called our small-town doctor, and he said, 'Put some sugar in a teaspoon and add a couple drops of whiskey.'

"My wife screamed, 'I'm not giving my baby whiskey!'

"The doctor told me, 'Give the mother a jigger.'"

A Tangi champ

"It's human nature to enjoy asking others a question you know they cannot answer correctly," says Perry A. Snyder.

"I've asked many friends the following question, and only one had the right answer:

"Who is the only person in basketball history to play on a national champion team, win an Olympic gold medal in the sport, and serve as an assistant and head coach of more than one national championship team?

"Wrong answers have included Bobby Knight, John Wooden, Pat Summit and Dean Smith.

"Who answered correctly? The 'dean of American sportswriters,' the late Furman Bisher.

"He named Baylor women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey.

"'Twas a proud day for Tickfaw and Tangipahoa Parish when Notre Dame's 'Luck of the Irish' ran out Sunday night."

Roy the yodeler

G. Beauford continues our series on close encounters with movie/TV cowboys:

"We met Roy Rogers and Dale Evans after their show at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

"Mother knew Dale's sister, who lived in Vidalia.

"Roy Rogers could yodel like no one else!"

Ancient artifacts

Harold Mayeux asks me, "Smiley, can you get the name of the person who wrote to you about getting rid of boxes of cassette tapes because a player can't be found?

"I'd like to ask the person if he or she would be interested in swapping them for my boxes of 8-track tapes."

Selling coffee

Our Wednesday story about the Community Coffee commercials by Jim Henson's Muppets brought this recollection from Sam Stout, of Algiers:

"Not being from Louisiana, I never saw the Community Coffee spots, but I do remember Muppet ads for Wilkins Coffee in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

"Nice that my memory still pulls up things from that long ago."

Hear, hear!

Joan Hall, of Baton Rouge, figures there's just no way to stop telemarketers from clogging our phones:

Recently she was preparing for ear surgery when "the man on the phone kept calling to offer a discount on hearing aids."

Don't ask me how he knew about her ear surgery…

Special People Dept.

  • Charles Maas celebrates his 100th birthday Thursday, April 11. A World War II Army veteran, he served in the military police.
  • Floris Richard Duplechin celebrates her 90th birthday Thursday, April 11.

Eat your veggies!

Marvin Borgmeyer has a question for me:

"How much mint do you have to use in your mojito for it to count as a serving of vegetables? I thought you might know!"

Groaner of the Week

"Skiff Life Tony" tells this fish story:

"Three fish — a striper, a bass and a redfish — walk into a bar. The bartender asks, 'What will it be, fellas?'

"The bass replies, 'We are dying for a glass of water.'"


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.