Every year on this date I mention that we started this column on June 4, 1979.
I say "we" because while my name (and high school graduation photo) appears on the column, we all know who writes it — you do.
My editors, in their wisdom, fashioned a six days a week column where the readers would contribute the content and I would edit their submissions and receive a modest stipend for my efforts. Works for me.
When we started this thing in 1979 I was told it was an experiment, and it was up to the readers/contributors to decide if it was worth keeping.
To those of you who have kept it going these 40 years, my sincere thanks, and the hope we can do this a while longer.
Oscar Lofton, of Baton Rouge, tells of email correspondence with a friend where they discussed "some of the words and phrases that have gotten lost from the modern vocabulary."
A few they mentioned were:
Fender skirts; jalopy; phone booth; pay phones; wooden nickels.
Hunky dory; gee willikers; okey dokey; jumping Jehoshaphat; fiddlesticks; holy moley.
In like Flynn; heavens to Betsy; the life of Riley; not for all the tea in China; I’ll be a monkey’s uncle; knee high to a grasshopper; pretty as a speckled puppy.
"Your readers probably have a ton more," says Oscar.
Bruce Dyson, of Prairieville, says, "I read in Friday’s column about the best barbecue place in Ruston and the owner, Bill.
"After getting his discharge from the Army Air Corps at the end of World War II, my dad, Jerry Dyson, became a student at Louisiana Tech.
"After class and at night, he would work 40 to 60 hours a week at 'Greasy Bill’s BBQ Shop' in Ruston to make ends meet for his wife and infant daughter (my mom and sister).
"Dad graduated in 1950 with a degree in civil engineering, but I believe the thing he took from Ruston that was most valued was Greasy Bill’s barbecue sauce recipe.
"Dad passed the recipe down to my brother and me, and I prepare Greasy Bill’s sauce monthly for my family and friends."
Meet Bruce, my new best friend …
Some like it hot
Ernie Gremillion says, "With quite a few Mexican workers in Baton Rouge, I've observed that on the job at lunch time, they prefer to eat their regular Mexican food, which usually is required to be heated.
"On a construction site today in my neighborhood, I noticed one of the Mexican workers bring out a small microwave from his truck, plug it into the construction electrical service pole, and heat up his lunch."
Which reminds me
Many years ago, I got invited on a dove hunt at an upscale hunting lodge deep in Mexico. (Since no doves ever did anything to me that would make me want to kill them, I did my shooting with a camera.)
Our first meal there was lunch, and the staff prepared grilled chicken and a green salad.
As the folks at my table started to eat, we smelled wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen.
Upon investigation, we found the kitchen staff about to dine on a huge pot of beans with chili peppers, plus handmade tortillas and tamales.
Overcoming some language barriers, we finally convinced them they didn't have to make "gringo food" for us; we would happily eat what they were having.
We were all delighted with this arrangement.
Leah the legend
I can't hope to equal the eloquent tributes to Leah Chase, but have to put in my two cents worth.
I knew her mostly from the memorable lunches she served the National Society of Newspaper Columnists at Dooky Chase in 2004 (pre-Katrina) and 2008 (post-Katrina).
She charmed the writers as they marveled at her gumbo, while reminding us of the days not so long ago when people of her race had few options when dining out.
Her hard-won success showed us that talent, grace, and love can triumph over hate and bigotry — a lesson I hope we never forget.