Millie Matherne, of Gonzales, discusses the impact of a dedicated teacher:

"Recent stories about overuse of 'like' and 'you know' remind me of an incident in my high school business English class, taught by Karen Poirrier, a regular contributor to your column.

"She had us do many oral presentations. To keep us from overusing 'uh' as a filler, she suggested we insert 'for example' or 'for instance.'

"I admittedly was unprepared one day, but Mrs. Poirrier insisted I present in front of my classmates. Midway through, I panicked. My mind went blank and could feel a dreaded 'uh' rising in my throat. Then I remembered her suggestion and continued: 'For example…' followed by a lengthy pause and 'uh.'

"I earned a D, but I learned a valuable lesson, nailing my next oral report with correct enunciation, eye contact, and hand gestures, without a single 'uh.' I got an A. Thanks, Mrs. Poirrier."

Not a problem?

Jill Keating responds to objections about using "No problem" rather than "Thank you:"

"The phrase 'no problem' may be a consequence of our multilingual population. Both French and Spanish use phrases (de rien, de nada) that translate into 'it's nothing'. British is 'no worries.'

"All four phrases are a lovely way to say it was no trouble for me to do this small thing for you, no matter how large the favor or gift.

"I hope this helps your readers get past the aversion to 'no problem,' as I don't think it's going away."

Piling on

Barry Dufour says, "I read your Monday column, and two stories (visiting Plaucheville and sleeping at Grandma's house) reminded me of visiting my dad's parents for the weekend.

"We would take weekend trips to visit my grandparents in Plaucheville during the winter months. They lived in a big old house that was hard to keep warm in cold weather.

"When Maw Maw would put my brother and I to bed, she would pile on the homemade quilts. She made sure we were warm enough, even though we couldn't breathe…bless her."

Which reminds me

My Natchez, Mississippi, grandmother, Camille DeMarco, believed in keeping visitors warm when they were sleeping in her home.

She was in the habit of coming into your bedroom during the night and making sure you had enough cover on you. If she didn't think you did, she'd add a quilt or two.

This habit lasted all through my high school and college years: every time I slept there, I could expect a visit in the night.

It became more of a problem during visits after I was married. We soon learned to keep the bedroom door locked…

Made to last

Lately we've been discussing appliances from the past that never seem to wear out:

— Elaine Labat says, "Thought I would give you our story on a long-lasting wedding gift. My husband Ralph and I will celebrate our 53rd anniversary Nov. 18.

"We received a Toastmaster 'steam and dry' iron as a gift from a friend. It is still in working order and has never needed repairs. They made things to last in those days: much like our marriage."

— "Old Friend," of Baton Rouge, says, "Our 1953 General Electric refrigerator/freezer was a wedding gift. It is still running perfectly, and silently.

"I will admit to 2 house calls from a licensed tech. The first was 6 months after receiving it, when I was told, 'Young lady, you must defrost the freezer periodically; read your manual.'

"The second call was 30 years later, when it needed a new thermostat.

"My toaster is 53 years old, and our cars are 22 and 21 years old. So far, so good."  

Small good citizen

Gordon Daniel says, "About 10 years ago I brought my mom to her polling place so she could vote. Also there was her daughter-in-law with her two kids.

"Mom let Steve, 9, go into the voting booth with her.

"Before she could vote, Steve reached up and cast the vote, (we don’t know who he voted for).

"Steve kept saying, 'I voted, Maw-Maw; I voted!'" 


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.