Dear Smiley: I was born and raised in Tangipahoa Parish, and as a youngster, my family traveled to see my grandparents in Zachary.

I have a memory of my father driving on I-55 between Amite and Hammond before it was open to traffic, so I’ve been around for a while.

I also remember a weekend trip to Zachary to visit my grandparents, when on the way home, Papa wanted to cross the “new bridge” over the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge.

We made the trek, and it was exciting for a 4-year-old to see.

Question: Why is something that opened to traffic in 1968 called “new”?

It seems that no one has called me a youngster since the early ’70s.

If they build another bridge, will it be the “new, new bridge,” or will the I-10 bridge become the “old bridge” and the U.S. 190 bridge the “old, old bridge”?

Seeing news anchors on TV refer to the “new bridge” that opened years before they were even born continues to baffle me!



A damp shame

Dear Smiley: The remembrances of hurricanes Katrina and Betsy make me recall one of my father’s favorite tales.

He was 6 years old during the Great Flood of 1927, when water forced several relatives to move in with his family for a while.

One of the highlights of the “family reunion” was when one of the new visitors gave birth to a baby girl.

I don’t remember what name the baby’s parents gave her, but I do remember Dad telling me that the rest of the family quickly nicknamed her “Floodina.”



Clock worshippers?

Dear Smiley: I went to convent boarding school in Covington in the ’50s, but we shopped in New Orleans.

The Greyhound bus ride was long because there was no Causeway. We traveled U.S. 190 around the lake through Mandeville, Lacombe and Slidell, a two-hour ride.

Once in the city, we walked up and down the length of Canal Street “shopping” — looking, not buying. We met our friends “under the clock at Holmes.”

For some reason, the clock at D.H. Holmes triggered a strange response. Everyone admitted they had caught themselves making the sign of the cross as they passed under it.

One friend claimed she had done more than bless herself — she had actually genuflected on the sidewalk of Canal Street. She had to pretend she was bending down to fiddle with her shoe.


Baton Rouge

Southpaw’s lament

Dear Smiley: Early in her employment at the Louisiana Department of Revenue, Virginia called the IT department to service her computer.

Becoming frustrated, they told her they would have to get another mouse, as hers apparently was broken.

Light bulbs went on when she asked if switching the accessibility controls to a left-handed mouse could have caused the problem.


Columbia, Tennessee

Dear Pops: When I call people at our Technical Place about a computer problem, they come into my office, take a look at my left-handed mouse, sigh, and move it to the right so they can work. Southpaws are an oppressed minority.

Backfired joke

Dear Smiley: Mention of sending new employees to get an imaginary tool reminded me of having that joke pulled on me many years ago in the National Guard.

When our unit arrived at our camping area, I was assigned to a group unloading trucks and setting up tents in the woods. It was hard work, and the weather was hot and humid.

Shortly after the work started, a sergeant told me to go to the supply truck and get a left-handed monkey wrench.

I took a leisurely walk to the supply truck and asked Cpl. Carl Wallace for the wrench. Carl and I had known each other for years. He smiled and said, “Doug, you know there is no such thing as a left-handed monkey wrench.”

“Yes,” I replied, “but walking over here to ask for it is much easier than unloading those trucks.”

By the time I got back, the trucks were empty and the tents were up.



Getting personal

Dear Smiley: I saw two different quotes today and thought of you both times.

The first, from Leo Tolstoy, was: “Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.” This is what your column is all about!

The other quote was from Thomas Szasz: “The greatest analgesic, soporific, stimulant, tranquilizer, narcotic, and to some extent even antibiotic — in short, the closest thing to a general panacea known to medical science — is work.”

This also made me think of you, just not in the same way as the first quote from Tolstoy!


Baton Rouge

Write Smiley at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.