Dear Smiley: Your recent references and accolades to food-obsessed writer Calvin Trillin made me very happy.

I agree that he understands the Louisiana eating experience better that any other New Yorker.

His article on boudin is an excellent example, but I also love a New Yorker piece from Jan. 12, 1981, on a government-funded program to put the entire town of Natchitoches on the Pritikin diet.

Dr. Pritikin promised that his diet could reverse cardiovascular disease with a low-fat, high-fiber diet, along with exercise.

In Trillin's very amusing report, he described townsfolk, many of them Cajuns used to eating very differently from the Pritikin regimen, sneaking out in the middle of the night to buy bags of Mrs. Wheaty's Meat Pies, which apparently were deep-fried and made with hog lard.

I think it is safe to say this project was not a good use of government funds.

Trillin also wrote an equally funny story on the efforts to get Louisianans to eat nutria.

I could say many more wonderful things about Mr. Trillin, but instead, I will recommend that you and your readers seek out his work, sit back, and enjoy a good read.


New Orleans

Mystery cheer

Dear Smiley: Here's another LSU cheer story for your consideration.

When husband Pat and his siblings (there were 13 kids) get together and tell stories of growing up in Grand Point, this favorite never fails to bring lots of laughs.
Curtis "Chinee" Matherne, their dad, was among avid LSU fans who rode the Illinois Central train from Lutcher to Baton Rouge in the mid 1960s.
After one game, he admitted being confused by the cheer "Bush-a-lack, Bush-a-lack, Waaay back."
The Matherne kids are pretty sure the misunderstanding of "Push ’em back" could be attributed to some Jack Daniels in a paper cup.
Dear Millie: That last line can't be true; back then alcoholic beverages were not allowed in Tiger Stadium, and an announcement to that effect was made before every game.

Common language?

Dear Smiley: Here's an example of the difference between our English and the Queen's English.

In 1972 I was hired as an automotive technical training instructor for American Honda Motor Co. They were preparing to introduce the Civic in the U.S., and one of my jobs was to develop the U.S. shop manual for technicians.

Since translation from Japanese was very difficult, Honda recommended we source our info from England, where the Civic had already been introduced.

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The troubleshooting portion of the British manual said in a "no start" situation, "Using a torch, check for the presence of fuel in the tank." ("Torch" is a British word for "flashlight.")

Needless to say, we revised that statement.



Dirty story

Dear Smiley: As a child, I knew the dirt ring around my neck (mentioned in previous columns) as “Miss Minerva’s necklace.”

I grew up in Bogalusa on a dairy farm, so I had dirt around my neck every day.

Apparently, there was young lady in Bogalusa who "invented" the dirt bead necklace because she played in the dirt and never took a bath. My Momma said her name was Minerva.

So, every night my Momma would tell me to take a washcloth and wash away “Miss Minerva’s necklace.”

This tradition is still going strong in my home. Whenever any of my five grandkids spend the night, they are dutifully told to take a washcloth and wash away “Miss Minerva’s necklace.”

My grandkids ask me what Miss Minerva looked like. I don’t have an answer for that, but I am pretty sure you can spot her, because she will be wearing a dirt bead necklace.


Baton Rouge

Cajun call

Dear Smiley: Many thanks to Dr. May Waggoner for the historical context and correct spelling of “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”

To get across the same idea, I’ve heard many shout out: "AAAAAAYeeeeeeeee!”

Yeah, I’m not sure of the spelling of that either.



Concerned wife

Dear Smiley: My husband puts dill pickles in gumbo.


Greenwell Springs

Dear Karen: Sorry, this column does not deal in marital problems.

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.