Dear Smiley: We had taken my mom, Lucille LeBon, to visit the Cabildo in New Orleans.
Mom’s grandfather, Charles Mangin, owned Mangin's Iron Works shop in the French Quarter. Many of his iron balconies, fences, railings, etc., can be found there, and his anvil and a large key that hung in front of his shop are at the Cabildo.
As we were looking at this, a family stopped by, and we started a conversation with them about Grampa and his iron works.
The family was on vacation from California, and the children were given an assignment to write about where they visited. They were taking notes, and when I told them that Grampa’s iron works shop was at "809 Rall Street," they asked, “How do you spell that?”
I had to explain the New Orleans pronunciation of ROYAL Street.
Dear Smiley: A few years after being discharged from the Army in 1972, I had a buddy from Chicago come down to New Orleans on a second honeymoon. He called me from his hotel and asked my opinion of several "world famous" restaurants he might visit.
With a little persuasion, I convinced him to trust me. I took him and his wife to West End, where we enjoyed stuffed crab on French bread at Maggie and Smitty's, with ice-cold Dixie beer. The po-boys were $4.95 each, and I think the beers were $1.25.
Eating great food by the sea wall (and throwing bits to the ever-present cats) made the mid-afternoon meal a much better experience than "fine dining" in the Quarter.
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Dear Smiley: A few years ago some young sophisticated friends from France, touring the U.S., visited us. We feasted on the best food in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and on the Great River Road — then adieu.
Weeks later an email came with these comments: “New York was ritzy; Vegas, dazzling; the Grand Canyon, a dream fulfilled; New Orleans, our history.
"But Hymel's (in Convent) on Thursday evening — its joyful gathering, delicious food, fine old musicians and old Louisiana songs sung in French patois, give us the best reason to soon return, et, oui, retourner à Hymel's. A bientôt mon âmes.”
Gotta have pull
Dear Smiley: Speaking of the old Western Auto stores:
My father bought a Wizard outboard motor in 1962. Years ago I dusted off that old Wizard, and started using it myself.
I went to a repair shop hoping to find some spare parts. The guy told me I did not look like a Scott-McCulloch man (the builders of the Wizard motors).
He said, "They’re built like a fiddler crab — one arm bigger than the other …."
"I still have the outboard, and never had issues starting it, but have heard of the reputation."
ROBERT A. LIPE
Dear Smiley: Speaking of William Tecumseh Sherman, anyone who has seen “Gone With the Wind” remembers Rhett Butler’s rebuttal to Charles Hamilton, Scarlett’s first husband, about the futility of waging war against the Union.
It turns out that Margaret Mitchell lifted that line for her book from Professor Sherman. He was the president of a fledgling college in Pineville that became Louisiana State University.
Sherman was trying to dissuade his fellow academia brethren that the South could not prevail against the industrial strength of the North.
I don’t know if Miss Mitchell ever gave credit to Professor Sherman for those lines, but he should be given a little credit for trying to stop a war by using facts.
ALEX "SONNY" CHAPMAN
"Don't I know you?"
Dear Smiley: John Singleton's Tuesday story of sighting a Larry David look-alike in a Baton Rouge restaurant was similar to one of my star sightings, only my star was real. I was just a few seconds late to realize it.
When I got onto an elevator in Washington, D.C., I saw a familiar face and said, "Hi."
The gentleman smiled and said "Hi" back.
Only after I got off the elevator did I realize that he was Dustin Hoffman.