On Monday, Sondra, objecting to "utilize" instead of "use," offered advice I heard from all my LSU journalism profs: "Don't use a thousand-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do."

I've been inundated (sorry, flooded) with letters agreeing with this sage advice (sometimes with tongue in cheek).

Fred Thomas, of Abbeville, says, "Re the 50-cent word entry in Monday’s column reminds me of its corollary: 'Never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice.'"

Mike Muller, of Baton Rouge, says, "Sondra hit upon one of my (many) pet peeves. Not only does 'utilize' sound pretentious, in many cases it is misused. It is not a direct synonym for 'use.'"

After Sondra asked, about her aversion to unnecessary big words, "Am I the only one?," David Couvillon replied: "Indubitably, you are not!"

Paper angels

There's been considerable praise for The Advocate's delivery people, those early-rising heroes (I've never seen my carrier, and won't unless we start publishing The Noon Advocate).

For instance, Lois Orillion, of Metairie, says, "I would like to commend the delivery people of The Advocate/Times-Picayune.

"I live on a dead-end street which was blocked by a huge downed oak tree after Zeta left. Our delivery person managed to use the circular driveway opposite the downed tree that all the dead-end residents had to use.

"I was able to read the paper with my flashlight for the dark days we had. Thank you, driveway owner, and thank you, delivery person!"

And Don Anderson, of Baton Rouge, said he received in his Advocate one morning a "remarkable" two-page letter from his carrier, Penny Dyess.

She told her customers her family had delivered The Advocate and the earlier afternoon paper, the State-Times, since 1966, but now she was moving to Tennessee.

Of her customers, she said, "Not a single customer I saw out and about had anything but smiles and 'thank you's' for the paper" — even when it was late "due to football games, press issues or storms."

She thanked her customers, gave them her new address, and urged them to "be patient" with the new carriers as they learned the territory.

I think "remarkable" pretty much covers it.        

Photo finish

David Capeheart says, "With all the conversation around Hoovers and Frigidaires (used to refer to all such appliances), the Kodak camera was also accorded the same status back in the day.

"In Vietnam we even adopted Kodak as our call sign, since we flew reconnaissance missions and used multiple types of cameras. For instance, my call sign was Kodak 52."

Protect the brand

Russ Wise, of LaPlace, says, "Your discussion about using Hoover as both a brand name and a verb caught my eye. Did you know that dozens of common words were once trademarks for particular products?

"The list includes everything from aspirin to zipper and includes both elevator and escalator, cellophane and linoleum, trampoline and kerosene. Laundromat was a trademark. So was dry ice and even heroin.

"I don’t know who decides when words become common, but I know Kleenex and Coke are close to it. And I remember when I worked in broadcasting I used to get a letter every year or so reminding me that Xerox was a trademark of the Xerox company, not a verb or a word for all copiers."

Ice age 

"Suzanne from Mandeville" addresses a recent column topic:

"When I was a child (born 1947) we shortened 'icebox' to 'box.' I told my son (1974 born) to put something in the box. He had questions."

Special People Dept.

Dolores Alost, of Loranger, celebrates her 95th birthday Wednesday. She was born at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, where her dad was a civilian employee, and grew up there through her teenage years.

Age and wisdom

Rick Marshall, of Baton Rouge, offers "some observations from someone playing the back nine on this round we call life.

"Grandchildren are a priority; children not so much.

"It is perfectly OK to wear slippers to the grocery store.

"I finally get the Sansabelt thing.

"When Nature calls, answer on the first ring."


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.