Cards are seen at a memorial for nine dead animals killed by a jaguar at the Audubon Nature Institute Zoo in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Valerio, the zoo's 160 pound 3-year-old jaguar, escaped through a stainless steel wire barrier in the roof of its enclosure before going onto kill the nine animals in the zoo Saturday.

With New Orleans' Audubon Zoo in the news recently due to the story of the escaped jaguar, Keith Horcasitas, our Yat reporter, thought it appropriate to mention the man who played a role in establishing two New Orleans icons — the zoo and Dixie beer:

Keith, who once worked at the zoo, says, "I didn't realize till recently that the Dixie founder, Valentine Merz, was largely responsible for this New Orleans landmark."

Merz, an Indiana native, moved to New Orleans in 1870 and was successful in several fields, including banking and brewing.

He was in a group of investors who founded Dixie Brewing Co. in 1906.

He enjoyed walks in Audubon Park, site of the 1884 World Exposition and, prior to that, the Etienne De Bore sugar plantation.

When Merz died in 1929, he bequeathed $50,000 to the small "zoological gardens" at Audubon Park. This was enough to cover local matching funds for a $282,000 project by the federal Works Progress Administration — and the zoo was off and running.

Sounds of animals in agony were the first sign something was terribly wrong at Audubon Zoo

Those Buckeye joints

"Just had a session with Dr. Brent Bankston," says Ernie Gremillion, "to examine my left hip prosthesis.

"Dr. Bankston is the team doctor for LSU.

"I asked if he would send a copy of the X-rays to Dr. Andy Glassman, who installed the prosthesis in 1995.

"After he agreed to do that, I told him he might want to reconsider — Dr. Glassman is the team doctor for Ohio State.

"Needless to say, he was amused."

It was bedlam

Carol Stutzenbecker, of Kenner, says, "All the stories about last-minute wins at LSU football games remind me of a memory I have as a freshman at Oklahoma State.

"I attended a 'Bedlam' football game in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1965. A 35-yard field goal was kicked with 1:31 minutes remaining, and OSU won.

"When the game was over, some OSU fans ran onto the field and tore down the goalpost.

"All the way back to campus, my friends and I were hanging out of the car screaming 'victory' words. Stillwater was crazy for a few days after the win.

"Because of the extended celebration, OSU classes were canceled on the Monday after the upset game."

Equal time

Z. David Deloach says, "In all the discussion about bologna and Spam, the lowly Vienna sausage has been overlooked.

"When I was in grammar school, I took 1½ Vienna sausage sandwiches for lunch every day for three years.

"My dad, a conductor for the KCS, would take two sandwiches for lunch.

"My mom was the most frugal person in the world. She could take two cans of Vienna sausages and make 8½ sandwiches. Those things would make a butcher go blind, they were sliced so thin.

"They were augmented with tomatoes, pickles and a lot of Blue Plate. Today, I love the occasional Vienna sausage sandwich but always seem to use a whole can on one sandwich. Hers were better."

Special People Dept.

Herbert and Lynette Hernandez celebrated their 70th anniversary Saturday, Aug. 11, in Lafayette.

Rescue mission

S. Tureau recalls the famous 1968 rock concert in Baton Rouge:

"I was a sophomore in college and went with my longtime boyfriend. I remember seeing Herman’s Hermits.

"However, my boyfriend’s mother heard on the news that there were riots close to the concert. She sent his dad to find us.

"I cannot believe he actually found us. We were sitting in metal fold-up chairs in rows, and we were on the end of a row.

"He made us go home. I was very disappointed, but I know his mom just wanted to make sure we were safe."

(Yeah, Herman's Hermits could be a pretty dangerous bunch to be around. …)

Festive occasions

Nobey Benoit says, "This tale about the '69 pop festival in Prairieville could be a Boudreaux/Thibodeaux joke, but it's not. I overheard this conversation back then:

"We ought'a go to dat pop festival in Prairieville next weekend."

"Man, I ain't wasting my time going to dat. The ag teacher made us go to one in St. James when I was in high school. Mos' bored time I ever had."

"Pop festival, stupid. POP festival, not CROP festival."

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.