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Government has always had trouble regulating drinking, sex and gambling — people continue to engage in this activities no matter what laws are passed.

Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, deals with one of these formerly illegal, now legal, pastimes: 

"Nostalgia includes sports betting. Today's excitement can't compare with being a teenager going to the barbershop to listen to the local 'experts' discuss the games and point spreads.

"We would get our illegal football cards, pick the hopeful winners, and turn them in with a huge bet of $1 (which would have bought two foot-long hot dogs and cold drinks).

"If we won, which was rare, we could go the following week and actually collect our winnings. The good old days when crooks were honest."

Yes, at my neighborhood barbershop when I was young I recall the barber cutting my hair while he kept the phone receiver on his shoulder with his chin and took bets.

Electrifying news

"Since you're having a seminar on bugs, here's my story," says Joel d'Aquin Thibodeaux, of Baton Rouge.

"I bought a wonderful new invention last month for getting rid of bugs! It looks like a tennis racket, except that the strings are electrified with battery power.

"All you have to do is turn it on and WHACKO! the flying insect is killed in midflight.

"It even works with roaches — just put the racket flat on top of them on the floor. There is a flash of light and a popping sound, and the bug is toast. It works great!

"Only problem is that electrocuting the bugs so easily like this somehow makes me feel like a villain!"

Books for Christmas

Since shipping woes mean some Christmas gift items may be late arriving, I am offering as a public service gifts you can get immediately.

I'm speaking of my three books, covering the first three decades of this column. They are "Best of Smiley" (1979-1990), "Smiley! A Laughing Matter" (1991-2000), and the paperback, "Smiley and Friends" (2001-2010).

For details on how you can get them, just email me at smiley@theadvocate.com.

On Christmas morning, the recipient of these thoughtful gifts will be laughing uproariously, or chuckling mildly, or groaning loudly, whatever.

Where To Go, What To Eat

Each week we'll highlights the best eats and events in metro Baton Rouge. Sign up today.

Fred's place

After a reader asked the name of the cafe in Baton Rouge's Goudchaux's department store, we heard from restaurateur Fred Kimball:

"I leased The Patio Café at Goudchaux's from 1969 to 1977."

Robert Crawford was the first reader to mention Fred's ownership, and "Goldfinger" told of working at the second-floor eatery as an 18-year-old cashier:

"The food was heavenly, and I ate things there I had never eaten before, such as a rueben sandwich. There were salads and sandwiches and plate lunches. I was not overweight when I started working there, but I sure was when I left!"

Goldfinger also mentioned Fred's Paddlewheel Express, in the American Bank building in downtown Baton Rouge, where I'd stop for his great biscuits when I worked at The Morning Advocate a couple of blocks away.

Terror on the tracks

After readers told of taking the Greyhound bus to Baton Rouge or New Orleans for shopping trips, I heard from Sheryl Bourdier Sherlock, of Baton Rouge:

"When I was growing up in Houma in the ’50s, my sister, Janelle, and I spent a week with my paternal grandparents in Donaldsonville.

"Our grandfather was the train depot master; thus, train trips were free.

"My grandmother took us on the train to 'The City,' as she called New Orleans. It was a great ride until we had to cross the Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi River. We were terrified to be so high, seemingly with no tracks or support beneath us, while another train whizzed by in the opposite direction.

"We had a fun day, but dreaded the ride home across the bridge."

A 'letter' to Santa

"I thought of you the minute she responded," Nancy Purpera, of Baton Rouge, tells me:

"I asked my 6-year-old granddaughter, Emrys, if she was writing a letter to Santa this year.

"She responded, 'No. I'll just get Mommy to text him.’ ”


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.