"I swear this is true," says Wayne Smith, of Covington (as if all my stories aren't true!).

"When I read the caution about licking your forefinger before turning a page of a book, magazine, etc., because of COVID-19 transmission danger, I was reminded of a scene I witnessed years ago.

"I was at a table in a library reading a magazine, and across from me was a guy reading a magazine as well. The magazine was sitting flat on the table.

"The guy absent-mindedly licked the forefinger of his left hand, then turned the page with his right hand.

"I was mesmerized. He never stopped doing it until he finished the magazine. There you have it; a fail-safe solution to a potential problem. You're welcome."

Mom the groomer

Bill Haynie, of Slidell, has a finger-licking story:

"Growing up outside of Marksville in Gum Ridge (unincorporated and unknown, except to its residents), Sunday was as a special day for worship.

"Just before piling into the car, my mom would wet her fingers and reach down to groom my eyebrows.

“During those preteen years I was probably a sniffling kid with dirty fingernails, but I had the most well-groomed eyebrows in the congregation!”

Drew's habit

And while we're on the subject, Tom Boone, of Gonzales, says, "If licking your fingers before you do certain routine tasks increases your chances on catching the 'rona,' Drew Brees is in trouble."

Bear with us

Earl Newman, noting our critter stories, sends a copy of a column item from April 12, 1983, that he and his wife Lisa came across while rummaging through old newspaper clippings.

In the item, Richard Munson tells of the time in the ’60s when Cotton Fairchild, director of Wildlife and Fisheries, had black bears imported from a northern state to the Atchafalaya Basin.

One of the bears wound up in Melville, where he rooted through garbage cans and killed a dog before he was finally treed, tranquilized and returned to the swamp.

Richard recalled Cotton's quote when asked about the bear: "Those aren't my bears — the bears are for everybody."

The incident gave the Advocate's Jim Johnson (Lisa's dad) an opportunity to write a memorable headline over the story: "What's Bruin in Melville?"

Creative geography

A while back we discussed the ways locals give directions in south Louisiana — "up the bayou," "down the bayou," "across the bayou," etc.

Z. David Deloach, of "up on Angola Road," says the St. Francisville area also has its own geographical language:

"I learned when I moved up here that even if you live out in West Feliciana Parish, 'I live up in St. Francisville' is usually the best description for the outside world.

"And those who actually live here know how to describe your home location with 'I live in town' or 'I live up off such and such road.'

"We can always tell if you are from here and what part, or if you come from 'the other side of the creek.' I will let your readers figure that part out."

Special People Dept.

V.J. Bella, a former state representative and former State Fire Marshal, celebrates his 93rd birthday Wednesday, July 29. An advocate for firefighters and sponsor of sprinkler system legislation, he's also known for his demonstrations supporting motorcycle helmet laws. (As I recall, they involved a baseball bat and a cabbage standing in for a human head.)

Thought for the Day

From Ronnie Stutes, of Baton Rouge: "It used to be considered an insult if someone crossed the street to avoid passing you on the sidewalk. Now, in the era of social distancing, it's a sign of respect."

Lost and confused

Monte Briggs, of Crowley, says, "When I was a kid in Jennings, I was riding my bicycle in front of our house when an elderly couple pulled up to the curb.

"The man (obviously a Yankee) asked me if I knew where 'Gooey Dan' was. Racking my brain, I told him I had never heard of such a place.

“'Can you spell it?' I asked. His reply was 'G-u-e-y-d-a-n.'”


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.