Mariano Hinojosa, of Baton Rouge, says wife Bertha's English as a second language students from Central America "were excited to learn the next class project was 'Stone Soup' (from the European folk story about the value of sharing):

"Each of the La Belle Aire students could bring an ingredient for the communal soup.

"They volunteered to bring carrots, onions, green beans, celery, and potatoes.

"And one excited youngster from Honduras announced, 'I can bring two cans of cerveza!’ ”

Thanks, rat!

Lauren Wightkin, of New Orleans, says, "Like Katie Nachod (in Saturday's column), I too had a 'rat' who would take my tooth and leave money under my pillow.

"We called him 'The Good Rat.' I even have a letter that I wrote to him when I lost a tooth down the bathtub drain and had nothing to place under my pillow.

"I am now in my 60s, and regret that I never asked my mom why we had a rat, when everyone else had a Tooth Fairy.

"Not until a recent trip to Spain, on which my granddaughter Livia mentioned 'Raton Perez,' or Perez the mouse, did I realize that this custom was not unique to my family.

"With a little Google research, I learned that in France the Tooth Fairy is also a mouse, 'La Petite Souris.’ ”

Murder, he wrote

Richard O'Neill, of Metairie, offers this confession:

"Enjoyed the story about the Tooth Fairy/Golden Rat, but in the 9th Ward of New Orleans during the 1940s it was simply called 'The Rat.'

"On the subject of rodents, back then we would get a shoe box, stick, cheese and a long string and set a trap for kitchen mice.

"My brother, sister, and I would fix a trap on the kitchen floor, then lie still on the floor in the next room to wait. When the trap closed, we would rush in and hold the box down, then spin it round and round until we were sure the mouse was dizzy, then grab it by the tail and flush it down the toilet.

"O what simple fun, in the good old days."

Where To Go, What To Eat

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Halloween every night

Nathan G. says mention in the Saturday column of a fangs-wearing gent spending Halloween at The Dungeon, a French Quarter bar, brought back some memories:

"We used to go there a long time ago. It opened at 12 a.m. Had two stories. The upstairs had a total floor space of about 20 square feet, including the bar and dance floor. Yes, there were a few vampires."

Be cool

Wana Lee Mills says this about our recent mention of snowbirds who flock to the South in winter:

"A 'snowbird' leaves cold weather behind for warmer temps.

"A 'sunbird' does the opposite, escaping the heat for a cooler climate."

Special People Dept.

  • Inez “Nez” Landry, a native of the River Road in Donaldsonville and a current resident of Magnolia Assisted Living in Gonzales, celebrates her 102nd birthday Tuesday, Jan. 11.
  • Audrey Maduell, of Mandeville, celebrated her 97th birthday Jan. 4.
  • Tony Latino, of French Settlement, celebrates his 95th birthday Tuesday, Jan. 11. He is a veteran of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. He is an Ormet Corp. retiree.
  • Brett and Donna Mellington, of Lafayette, celebrated their 50th anniversary Friday, Jan. 7.

Vanishing Belcherites

In Monday's column, Robert Cabes tells of getting "Medicare assistance" phone offers from a number of Louisiana towns, including Belcher, a place he hadn't heard of before the call.

I helped him out by telling him Belcher was in Caddo Parish, with a population of 482.

Later I realized the data I had on hand was fairly old, so I went to Google for the 2010 census information — and found the population was listed as 263.

Sorry about your loss, Belcher, but I'm glad some of your people are gainfully employed as phone solicitors.

By the way, Robert tells me that since his Monday report he's had Medicare assistance offers from phone callers in not only New Orleans and Metairie, but also Mangham (Richland Parish) and Monterey (Concordia Parish).

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.