Thanks to Al Bethard, of Lafayette, for the copy of a May 23 New York Times article containing the news that “Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the turn of the century.”

The long article, by Leslie Kaufman, tells of efforts Chicago is making to prepare for “a wetter, steamier future” due to upcoming climate changes:

“Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority.”

Three days later, in a letter to The Times, reader Eric B. Lipps, of Staten Island, wrote: “If Chicago must prepare itself for having the climate of present-day Baton Rouge by 2100, one can only wonder what Baton Rouge is in for. …

“Baton Rouge, along with New Orleans and many other Gulf Coast cities, may actually become, if not uninhabitable, then barely habitable, hammered by heat, humidity and hurricanes to a degree unknown in their prior history.”

So if Chicago becomes Baton Rouge, does that mean we become Cancun?

Just wondering. …

What friendly skies?

Steven J. Bergeron says years ago, when he worked for People’s Bank in New Iberia, he encountered some real characters, such as board member Perry Segura:

“Sparky Pratt, an older gentleman who had retired from the gas company in town, told me about a trip he made to Dallas with Perry for a banking course.

“When Perry overheard that Sparky was headed to Dallas he offered him a ride in his twin-engine plane.

“While flying up to Dallas, Sparky commented, ‘Well, Mr. Segura, you have a really nice plane with a lot of fancy equipment!’ and pointed to the fancy screens and dials on the dashboard.

“Perry smiled and said, ‘Yep, that’s why I’m flying to Dallas! I want to find out what all this stuff is and how to use it!’

“Sparky said he wasn’t quite as comfortable during the rest of the trip. …”

Highway heroes

Bob Parsons says, “One Sunday afternoon my wife was driving on Comite Drive, which is under construction.

“While she was attempting to turn the car, it left the road and a tire became wedged between construction pipes and the road.

“She called AAA and prepared to wait.

“Right after she made the call, good Samaritans including James Wether and Blackie Bell stopped to help. (Unfortunately, she failed to get names of several others.)

“They got right to work finding bricks and timber.

“One of them went home to get his hydraulic jack, and within 20 minutes the car was freed and the Samaritans were gone.

“I would like to thank those men who stopped to help a damsel in distress.

“Things like this serve to restore my faith in the human race.”

Be prepared

The third annual “Picnic in the PARC” (Preparedness-American Red Cross) will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Red Cross Louisiana Capital Area Chapter, 4655 Sherwood Common Blvd.

There will be a free indoor picnic lunch, door prizes, presentations, exhibits and other activities.

Seated is limited, so registration is required. Call (225) 291-4533.

Special People Dept.

A.L. and Audrey LeBlanc, of Denham Springs, celebrate their 69th anniversary Monday.

Sticker shock

Gerald Hubenak says he’s seen some great bumper stickers lately, such as:

“Your kid may be an honor student, but you’re still an idiot!”

“All generalizations are false.”

“Cover me, I’m changing lanes!”

“Out of my mind, back in five minutes.”

A reason to live

Janet Swain Blazo, of Colorado Springs, Colo., tells this story of youthful enthusiasm:

“Madelyn and friend Jessica were riding in the back seat of mom Angela’s car.

“As they drove along, Angela could hear excitement in their voices as they talked about their upcoming seventh birthday parties.

“Practically squealing with delight, Jessica piped up that birthdays are so special, and that she was looking forward to her 100th one — ‘because when you turn 100, the president sends you a birthday card!’ ”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.