Warren Perrin contributes to our series on hometown banks of the past:

"The Bank of Erath, founded in 1910, had the first telephone in town. Mayor Louis Relie LeBlanc made the first phone call from there in the late 1930s.

"To accommodate customers, the bank would leave the telephone on the window sill of the back window inside the bank. The window was left unlocked. If someone needed to make a call after banking hours, they opened the window and made the call.

"If there was a long distance charge, the next day the customer would go to the bank to pay for it.

"Since 1990, the Acadian Museum has been housed in the old bank building at 203 S. Broadway St. At the museum, we have a picture of the first call by Mayor LeBlanc, mayor of Erath from 1938-53."

Slide rule rules!

Alex "Sonny" Chapman, of Ville Platte, told me the story about former state Rep. Raymond “Lala” Lalonde, when Lala was a math instructor at T.H. Harris Vo-Tech School in Opelousas.

Lala was famous for beating calculator-armed students in solving a complex problem, armed with his trusty slide rule.

Lala confirms the story, and adds, "Before calculators, I would teach my classes to use the slide rule.

"When hand-held calculators hit the market, most of my students bought them, and I encouraged them to do so, knowing it was the future, and the decimal place accuracy is much better.

"But sliding the ruler is easier and quicker than punching the numbers on the calculator.

"They didn’t believe me, so I challenged the class, and we went several rounds. I would beat them every time."

Tasty escape

Jean Weeks Tally, an LSU journalism graduate, is in the hotel business in Colorado, but she hasn't forgotten her Louisiana days.

She says an "Escape to the Vieux Carre" dinner at the Wine Country Inn in Palisade, Colorado, "raised more than $33,000, after expenses, for a clinic that treats uninsured or underinsured patients in our county."

The dishes, accompanied by appropriate Colorado wines, included Oysters Bienville, turtle soup, red snapper with crab sauce, Bananas Foster and Community Coffee au lait.

The Big Easy Dixie Cats serenaded the diners with New Orleans music. 

Finishing touch

Sarah Stravinska, from "what's left of Chestnut" (after the big fire in that Natchitoches Parish community), says, "I'm passing this on because it worked for me today.

"A doctor on TV said in order to have inner peace in our lives, we should always finish things that we start.

"Since we all could use more calm in our lives, I looked around my house to find things I'd started and hadn't finished.

"I finished a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bottle of. …"

All right, Sarah, we get the idea. …

Special People Dept.

  • Lavenia Faulk celebrates her 95th birthday Thursday, April 18. She is a Monroe native, a Lafayette resident for 50 years and a Baton Rouge resident for the past 24 years at Ollie Steele Burden Manor.
  • Victor Berthelot, of Livingston, celebrates his 90th birthday Thursday, April 18, with family, friends and "some unfortunate mudbugs."

A toast to Ernie

Thursday, April 18, is National Columnists Day, and the date wasn't chosen at random by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

It's the day the great war columnist Ernie Pyle was shot and killed by a sniper on a Pacific island near the end of World War II. Ernie, writing for the Scripps-Howard newspapers, was fresh from covering the war in Europe from the point of view of the foot soldier.

Ernie's work is a reminder that sometimes we humble scribes can touch lives in special ways and a testimony to the power of good writing.

So today I'll quaff a root beer for Ernie and all those who string words together for a living.

Louisiana haiku

This one refers to the move in the Legislature to remove the word "rice" from cauliflower rice, evidently so we won't confuse it with Louisiana rice:

Veggie rice ban sought

Lawmakers eye more products

Zapp's versus kale chips?

Write Smiley at smiley@theadvocate.com or by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.