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Here's a Veterans Day story from Jacques Frère:

"Seeing the recent story about a barbershop got me to recall an experience in 1968, at the age of 9 or 10.

"As I sat in the barber chair, there were several men sitting in the waiting chairs along the wall. The youngest, a hippy-looking guy, was talking about his time in Vietnam to the man next to him, who served in Korea.

"As they discussed their experiences a third man chimed in. He was a veteran of World War II. A fourth man was drawn into the conversation who served in World War I.

They all gave accounts of the horrors of war. Probably talking about PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), before we knew what it was. Anyway, the four men concluded that no one had it worse than the other, and that war was hell.

"At this point, the youngest man got the attention of the fifth gentleman sitting along the wall, asking if he was a veteran.

"He said he surely was. Being older then the others, they asked which war he was in — World War II, or perhaps World War I.

"The older gentleman replied, 'Not any of those wars, but an older war. He said he was in the Spanish-American War. Now, I knew that was in 1898, as it was the year my grandfather was born.

"Well, this young boy was awestruck, feeling very privileged to be a fly on the wall to witness veterans of five wars, talking about their combined service.

"Any wonder I grew up to be a history teacher?"

First class treatment

Barry Dufour, of Carencro, says Tuesday's story of an airman moved to first class on a commercial airline reminded him of a similar experience.

"I was stationed at RAF Lakenheath, England, and had emergency leave. By the time I flew across the Atlantic to Philadelphia, I had been up over 15 hours.

"When I boarded the jet to New Orleans, they sat me in first class. They offered me any kind of drink, but I wanted coffee. Just coffee! And the breakfast was awesome!"

Whole lotta shakin'

Jim Nichols, of Lafayette, adds to our tales of bridges and  travelers:

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"When I was in dental school in New Orleans in the early '80s, a barge broke loose and hit one of the supports for the Huey P. Long Bridge.

"They closed the bridge for about a week while they checked for structural damage, then re-opened it.

"A few weeks after that, another student and I had to give a presentation to a grade school in Boutte. Coming back afterwards, we were stuck in 5 p.m. traffic at a dead stop on top of the Huey P. Long Bridge when a train came over the bridge!

"We could feel the bridge shake, and all I could think about was the barge that had hit it, and the cover of that Doobie Brothers album with the bridge that collapsed!

"But we made it."

Floating puppies

Since we've worn out the subject of putting potato salad in gumbo, here's another gumbo addition suggestion from Bill Huey:

"I was at the Baton Rouge Press Club meeting at Drusilla Seafood Monday when they served their delicious seafood gumbo for lunch.

"They also served some hot, crispy hushpuppies in bowls placed on the table. Adding those crispy critters to gumbo is a new taste sensation for me, and it works very well.

"Later, I saw a guy who came in late break hushpuppies up into his brimming bowl of the stuff. So I'm not alone."

Taps at 11

In the Wednesday column we mentioned the nationwide playing of "Taps" at 11 a.m. Thursday, Veterans Day. The site for more information on the program is TapsForVeterans.org, not the incorrect one given Wednesday.    

Special People Dept.

Beatrice Ebbs Brown, of New Orleans, formerly of St. Francisville, celebrates her 102nd birthday Thursday, Nov. 11.

Question of the Week

From T-Bob Taylor, of Tyler, Texas: "Why are the backup quarterback and the next head coach always going to be better?"


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.