In August of 2005, everything changed.

Due to Hurricane Katrina and the resulting flooding, New Orleans residents found themselves homeless and seeking new homes elsewhere.

The Baton Rouge area was one place they landed, and suddenly two very dissimilar cities were united as never before.

While the former New Orleanians have settled into their new home comfortably, a part of them remains in that other city on the river, and no doubt always will. 

Camile Leonardi Van Gorden was one of the new Baton Rouge residents, as was her friend Carrol Jennaro.

Before her death, Carrol sent her friend this poem about their new and old homes. Camile feels it captures the emotions of many people who went through the same experience:

"I lost my home to Katrina,

and I had to move away.

I live now in Baton Rouge,

and I guess that's where I'll stay.

I've made many friends here,

and I'm always on the go.

But I'll always miss New Orleans

and my friends of long ago."

Hooked on hats

"I am so glad we finally got around to a topic of extreme importance — hats," says Z. David Deloach.

"I wear handmade fedoras or panama hats routinely. They cannot be beat for keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.

"But there are no places to store your fine headwear in restaurants. Unless you only have two friends for your four-person table, the floor is the only option, and I refuse to put an expensive tailor-made hat on the floor, so you may see me wearing it inside.

"Get a hat and you will be hooked; then maybe we can get hat hooks again."

Mama says

Regarding the wearing of hats indoors, both Chuck Falcon, of Donaldsonville, and Alex "Sonny" Chapman, of Ville Platte, remind us that when he was coaching the Saints inside the Superdome, Bum Phillips didn't wear his cowboy hat — saying his mama told him not to wear a hat indoors. 

Thoroughly modern Santa

Christmas may be well over, but stories keep coming in:

Rose Chester, of Metairie, says, "Two of my grandchildren, Ellis, 6, and Amélie, 4, were still singing 'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town' last week.

"I overheard them discussing the varieties of ways Santa could possibly know whether they had been bad or good this year.

"After much serious thought, they settled on, 'Santa uses a video cam!'

"That’s logical, I thought. Beats precognition or a transporter!"

Saving Chris

Diane Tate chairs the Pennington Foundation's "Great Performers in Concert" series, which on March 15 brings trumpet player Chris Botti to Baton Rouge to play with the Baton Rouge Symphony.  

She was heading into the Starbucks in Perkins Rowe with some written material "when a sudden gust of wind caught my files. Chris Botti was flying everywhere!"

Diane sends a shout-out to Aaron and Damien, who were sitting outside Starbucks:

"I would like to thank these wonderful gentlemen for coming to my aid and chasing after the flying pages. I so appreciate their kindness extended to me on that windy day."

Special People Dept.

  • Juanita Maillet Tassin, of Valley View Nursing Home in Marksville, celebrates her 94th birthday Thursday, Jan. 17.  She was a resident of Bordeonville for 89 years.
  • Beatrice Tullier, of Addis, celebrates her 90th birthday Thursday, Jan. 17.

Rich man, poor man

Another in our series on look-alikes:

"The first time was in Ontario, California, in 1994 and the last time was in Dallas, Texas, in 2012," says John Logreco Jr., of Metairie.

"During that period, in numerous cities, I was mistaken for former NBA Commissioner David Stern.

"I do facially resemble him, and my eyeglasses and the way I comb my solid white hair increased the likelihood of mistaken identity.

"However, by comparing our bank accounts, the mistake would have become obvious."

Product placement?

Laurence Bland, of Baton Rouge, says, "I find it ironic that when Monday's Advocate article titled 'Fans made noise, and lots of it, during victory' (about noisy Saints fans) jumped from Page 1A to 6A, a full-page advertisement for hearing aids was found on Page 7A."

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.