Dear Smiley: The other day I bought a new package of six rolls of toilet paper.

Printed on the front of the package was the phrase “Ultra Strong.”

In my naiveté, I naturally assumed that this phrase referred to the strength of the paper in each roll.

Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that “Ultra Strong” actually referred to the plastic wrap that held the six rolls.

I won’t go into detail of how all the following happened, but I had to call my next-door neighbor and ask to borrow a pair of tin snips to get the toilet paper bag open.

All of which was done with a minimum amount of embarrassment.


Baton Rouge

Texas on stamps

Dear Smiley: Your mention of S&H Green Stamps reminded me of a time long ago.

When we moved from a mobile home to an unfurnished rent house, we needed furniture.

We bought the furniture at Rosenfield’s on “double stamp” day.

So we got the original amount when we bought it and the “double” part as we paid it off.

Subsequently, Six Flags Over Texas opened, and we bought the tickets (two adults and five children) with the stamps.

Sure do miss those stamps!



Letter perfect

Dear Smiley: I have a theory about why the spelling of last names change.

(Such as Boudreaux for Boudreau.)

The more modern the age, the more letters in the last name.

I think it makes people feel better to have their last name contain more letters.

My mother’s family name was originally spelled Verret.

It then became Verrett.

Some of my relatives now spell it Verrette.

I hate to think how it is going to be spelled in 100 years.

By the way, the original spelling for my last name was College.

What can I say?


Breaux Bridge

The x factor

Dear Smiley: About those final x’s in Cajun names:

I’ve pored over many old courthouse and church records, and I think that this was because the final “u” in these names looked so much like x.

It was a peculiarity of the penmanship of the times.

The final flourish on their u’s looked just like x’s.

And that’s how the later transcribers in Louisiana entered them.

Notice that present-day Boudreaus and Thibodeaus up north don’t have x’s.


New Iberia

Hymel’s memories

Dear Smiley: Mention of Hymel’s Restaurant in Convent brought back a lot of pleasant memories.

In late 1973, after accepting a job near Donaldsonville, Hymel’s was suggested to my wife and me as a good place to sample local cuisine.

Then it was “Hymel’s Restaurant and Service Station.”

I’ve returned many times.

One memory from that first visit was meeting a man in Convent named Schexneyder.

Thinking that was an unusual name, and we had just purchased a home in nearby Donaldsonville from a family named Schexneyder, I asked him if he was related.

I was surprised when he said “No.”

Later I learned that Schexneyder (with several spellings) is a very common name in the area, and the name Johnson is a very rare one.



Speaking of names

Dear Smiley: I’m with your reader on the name of Clintese Wood for the famous actor.

When I was a kid I would listen to a radio show starring Vaughn Monroe, a singer.

I thought his name was Vaughnmon Roe.

I think we all talk too fast, and run things together, assuming everyone knows what we are talking about.



Dear Sarah: And closer to home, for a long time I thought a WJBO broadcaster in the ’60s was named Kenwin Stanley, only to discover upon meeting him that he was Ken Winstanley.

How embarrassing!

Fear factor

Dear Smiley: My son was visiting one of our neighbors when he noticed the man of the house reading a book.

He said, “What book is that? I’m a bit of a bibliophile.”

And the wife said, “You’re afraid of books?”

And no, she is not blonde.


Athens, Ala.