"Aren't you afraid to live down there?"

Thirty years ago, that was the question I got when I told people I had a home in downtown Baton Rouge.

I loved the Spanish Town neighborhood for its diversity, rare in Baton Rouge, and the quirky nature of its residents.

But after the office workers left for the day, downtown was indeed a spooky place, dark and almost empty.

Today, thanks to the tireless work of the late Davis Rhorer, of the Downtown Development District, and his ability to inspire others to join the effort, downtown is the heart of the city. It's spruced up and, as COVID-19 winds down, ready to get back to hosting musical events, arts festivals, parades, runs, etc.

National firms like IBM are here; new buildings are going up; old office buildings are hotels or apartment complexes; old stores are restaurants and bars; there's a supermarket and a farmers' market, all fulfilling the vision Davis had for this part of town.

Now, when I tell people I live downtown, the question is different:

"Will you tell me if you hear of any property for sale down there?"    

Rapid aging

Emmett Irwin says, "I had a thought about the effects COVID-19 has had on me over this past year. I have sung 'Happy Birthday to me' so many times while washing my hands over the past year, I feel like I must have aged 50 or more years."

Equal time for grits

In the Thursday column, a reader told of diners in Oklahoma who weren't familiar with the concept of putting red beans over rice.

This reminded me of a story I tell often about folks from the Frozen Nawth who encounter grits for the first time.

Lady Katherine has relatives in Minnesota and spent time there in grad school at Winona State.

She was having breakfast with me at Frank's in Baton Rouge when she suddenly got up and went over to the table next to ours.

She addressed the two couples sitting there with, "What part of Minnesota are you from?"

Shocked, they told her the town in that state where they lived, and asked how she knew where they were from.

She explained, "When I saw you putting sugar and cream on your grits, I figured it out."

Choose your evil

Brot Capers says, "Discussions of the blue laws in the past reminded me of another set of blue laws.

"I remember years ago driving down Florida Boulevard toward Denham Springs. A couple of miles before the Amite River bridge were numerous bars and liquor stores, evidently designed to serve dry Livingston Parish.

"And fireworks stands could be found just east of the bridge, in Denham Springs, evidently to serve Baton Rouge, where they were banned.

"It seemed to me that Livingston Parish thought that it was a sin to consume liquor, and East Baton Rouge Parish thought that it was a sin to shoot fireworks."

Couzan O

Warren Perrin, of Lafayette, says he has been doing some genealogical research regarding LSU's football coach:

"Since all Cajuns are related, I traced Coach Orgeron’s Acadian genealogy. He is my sixth cousin. The surname was originally spelled Augeron.

"His fourth great-grandfather was Louis Augeron, son of Jean and Louise Levron, and Cecile Louise Maziere, his second wife.

"Louis Augeron and Cecile Louise Maziere were married in Assumption Parish, which was then part of Lafourche Interior.

"The Acadian Museum in Erath would like to honor Coach Orgeron by inducting him as a Living Legend."

Special People Dept.

  • Gloria Newman, of the Lake Terrace area of New Orleans, celebrates her 94th birthday Friday, March 12.
  • Anthony Cantillo Jr., of Lutcher, celebrates his 90th birthday Friday, March 12. A native of Gramercy, he is retired from Shell Chemical in Norco.
  • Mickey and Dennise Lee, of Baton Rouge, celebrate their 55th anniversary Friday, March 12.

Well named

"Marvelous Marvin" says, "Speaking of fitting names:

"Dr. Soileau was an ENT doctor in Ascension Parish.

"Dr. Butz was a proctologist who my friend in Houston visited.

"Dr. Pullum was the childhood dentist of my wife in Alabama."

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.