As I've often said, public service is my life.

While technically on vacation, I was still working to make this world a better place.

For example, I helped improve the restrooms at a car dealership.

After Karen Poirrier told of "What A Wonderful World" signs in airport restrooms — JFK in New York, Louis Armstrong in New Orleans — I heard from Mike Stedem at Hyundai of Slidell.

He liked the idea, and wanted to place lyrics to the great Louis Armstrong song on his restroom mirrors.  

After consulting with me about the project, he sent me photos of the result. The lime green signs are striking, and the lyrics should cover the proper time for hand washing recommended during the pandemic.

So the next time you're Hyundai shopping in Slidell and visit the restroom, don't sing "Happy Birthday" while washing your hands.

Sing: "I see trees of green, red roses too,

I see them bloom, for me and you.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world."    

Christmas roast

Mike Baldwin tells how not to dispose of your Christmas tree:

"After Christmas in the ’60s, when the pine tree in the living room was dry as a bone and shedding handfuls of needles, Dad decided to burn it.

"He stuffed all nine feet of tree up the chimney and proudly declared to his five boys, 'Let’s watch this thing burn.'

"And oh boy, did it! Flames shot out of the fireplace and scorched and blackened a huge swath of ceiling.

"Bob, my oldest brother, dashed out and brought in the garden hose. He controlled the flames till the fire department arrived.

"Ever after, the event was known as 'Dad’s marshmallow roast!’ ”

Christmas owl

While city folks might regard owls as just funny-looking hooting birds, if you live in the country and raise chickens, you quickly learn they're serious predators.

Spike Barras says, "One Christmas in the '50s I shot an owl, which pleased my Gram. The kids used the dead owl as a toy.

"We all left Gram's house after Christmas and returned home, but someone forgot to throw out the owl from behind the sofa.

"I've been an outcast ever since."

Christmas and cats

Mary Kay Cowen, of Marrero, says, "Several decades ago, determined to have a real Christmas tree for the kids after my divorce, I proudly bought a mid-sized one and decorated it.

"Not ever having a Christmas tree and cats, I would find it on the floor with ornaments about every morning and when I returned home from work every night.

"Still determined, I put the tree and ornaments back up twice a day for a couple of weeks.

"When my sister and brother-in-law came for the family Christmas gathering, he solved the problem by putting a ceiling hook up, tying dental floss to the top of the tree in a loop, and hooking the loop onto the hook.

"The cats would still knock off some ornaments, but the tree never went down again."

Handle with care

Katharine Bennett says, "This happened many years ago, but we still laugh about it.

"Our father was a carpenter. His boss’s son needed a job for summer break, so he was hired as a carpenter’s helper.

"He was sent to measure a door on his first day. He came back and told them that it was six and a half hammer handles long."

Special People Dept.

  • Ida Mae Deverney, of New Orleans, celebrated her 97th birthday Dec. 18.
  • Audrey Maduell, of Mandeville, celebrates her 96th birthday Monday, Jan. 4.
  • Herman Charles Brignac celebrated his 90th birthday Dec 19. He is one of the Brignac twins from Head of Island, who came to Baton Rouge in 1956 to teach school in north Baton Rouge.
  • Richard D. Milano celebrated his 90th birthday Dec. 23.
  • Gaston and Lorraine Cambre Gerald, of Baton Rouge, celebrated 69 years of marriage Saturday, Jan. 2.

Divine intervention? 

Terry Grundmann, of Kenner, tells of a memorable wedding:

"The priest asks if anyone objects to them being married.

"There is a loud clap of thunder.

"He pauses, then asks, 'Anyone else?’ ”

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.