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The Slice: Maria nabs notebook in ode singoff

Pass the biscuits, please.

Quite a few Slice readers knew that the 3rd of June/Billie Joe McAllister reference in Monday’s column came from “Ode to Billie Joe,” the soaked-in-summer 1967 hit song by Bobbie Gentry.

And, as requested, several dozen left voice mail messages in which they sang a little bit of it. Thanks to all.

Not everyone got the lyrics exactly right. For instance, it’s “Tallahatchie Bridge,” not “Tallahassee,” as a few had it. And the song’s narrator was out “choppin’” cotton, not “pickin’” it.

But those are quibbles. My admiration for the good-natured folks who were willing to have fun with this blast from the past is profound and sincere.

Selecting a winner was hard. The song stylists were such good sports, I couldn’t easily choose one over another.

So I am awarding the reporter’s notebook to Spokane’s Maria Washington. She sang a fine version of the Top 40 Southern gothic. And I have sort of owed her something ever since hitting her in the head with a softball back in 2004, during one of The Slice’s extra-credit forays into reader interactivity.

Hear a sampling of readers singing “Ode to Billie Joe.”

(Don’t worry, Slice vocalists. Your names and other personal information have been carefully edited out of this entertaining recording.)

Slice answers: Pat Williams said her dogs should go to Music Camp. “If my terriers are going to yap at everything, they might as well learn to do it in harmony.”

Sue Hille said her dog might want to go to a camp where she could learn to climb trees and improve her squirrel-chasing skills.

And Steven Wells said his miniature dachshund might want to sign up for Camp Chewwittupp.

Today’s Slice question: Someone from another part of the country is moving here to take a job. What does he or she need to know about Spokane?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail Paul Ruch’s small but book-stuffed library is his favorite room.