Dear Smiley: In 1958 I was drafted into the Army. With four other individuals, I was driven to the induction center in New Orleans.
There we were given a physical, which consisted of taking our blood pressure, doing two pushups and adhering to the commands of turning your head to the right, turning your head to the left.
We were then driven to the airport and flown to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, for basic training.
This was my first ride in an airplane. The stewardess passed by each passenger and asked if they would like a cup of coffee. Wow — how nice was that?
She gave me a full cup of hot coffee. Being anxious to have a sip, and realizing that above me was an air conditioner vent blowing cool air, without thinking I raised my cup up to the air duct.
Unexpectedly, all the coffee was blown out over the surrounding seats. Not a good start for a long trip to Arkansas.
MARTIN ST. ROMAIN
Dear Martin: So, were you assigned to military intelligence?
Dear Smiley: In 1959, when I was at ROTC summer camp at Fort Hood, Texas, my company commander was a regular army captain.
He pronounced my name "Ra ba lee us."
After a couple of weeks I got up enough nerve to say, "Sir, I pronounce my name 'Rab a lay.'
He replied, "When I call you Ra ba lee us, you know who I'm talking to, don't you?"
A couple of days later I encountered him in the barracks.
He stopped me and said, "How did you say you pronounced your name again?"
I had already graduated and was commissioned. He congratulated the new Lt. Rab a lay.
Fort Worth, Texas
Dear Smiley: Greatly enjoyed reading your article on pronouncing the names of different places.
I am president and CEO of the First National Bank of Quitaque.
Shortly, when I have a little more time, I will send you more information on its meaning and how to pronounce Quitaque.
Even the locals can’t agree on the correct way to say it, or what it means.
Dear Guy: Thanks. I guess our reader who reported seeing the huge billboard on the highway into town saying "It's pronounced KITTY-QUAY!" was a bit premature in announcing "Case closed!"
Not just Louisiana
Dear Smiley: As a recent (only 7 years) resident of Louisiana, I have an education on the “proper” way to say street and city names in this part of the world.
I was born in Idaho. I have also lived in Arizona, and moved here from north central Idaho.
The names of towns (and they are pretty small) would probably cause a bit of confusion to some of the local residents. How about Kamiah, Kooskia, Weippe, Lapwai, and Ahsahka?
Who needs French?
Dear Smiley: Your readers' submissions of pronunciations of Cajun names takes me back to the year 1954.
As a freshman at Wayne State University in Detroit, I signed up to take French as a foreign language.
By the eighth week I withdrew, as I could not make sense of the pronunciations.
As a foreign language was necessary for my degree, I signed up for German and passed the 12 hours necessary for my BS degree.
Dear Smiley: Your columns regarding turtles reminded me of an incident involving my brother and a neighborhood friend.
After playing in the muddy ditch on the side of our yard, Wayne came home with a small green turtle in a shoe box and proudly showed his treasured catch, named Tiny, to my mother, Melda.
Frantically, she instructed him to return the turtle to the ditch without touching it, emphasizing that if he played with the turtle he was going to catch salmonella.
A few days later Dennis, one of Wayne's friends, visited our home to show Wayne his newly caught green baby turtle, holding it in the palm of his hand.
Wayne excitedly told Dennis to "Hurry and put Tiny back in the ditch without touching it — before you catch salamander!"