Dear Smiley: Your story about the grade-school knuckle-rapping reminds me of the favorite attention-getter of the nuns teaching at Cathedral Elementary in Natchez, Mississippi, in the ’50s.

It was either grabbing an ear or a handful of hair.

A classmate named Will, with a full head of red hair, was a favorite target of Sister Beatta.

One day, Will came with about a half-bottle of Wildroot Hair Cream combed through his hair to the consistency of 10w-40, and baited Sister Beatta with a little mischief during recess.

Will’s head never moved at all as the hair glided through her fingers.

JIM PITCHFORD

Baton Rouge

Type casting

Dear Smiley: Teachers should never doubt that they make a difference in individual lives!

I am a third-generation educator from the lovely small town of Eunice. My dad, L.J. Stark, still resides in Eunice, after a long teaching and administrative career.

One of my dad’s former Eunice High students told him he had saved his life. Daddy just laughed and said he couldn’t imagine how.

The student told of how he was drafted for military service during the Vietnam War and was assembled with other troops to receive deployment orders. An announcement was made asking if anyone in the group could type.

He said Daddy’s face and high school typing class flashed through his mind, and he raised his hand. He spent the war in the United States and is convinced this saved his life.

CLAIRE STARK WEAVER

Lafayette

That magic card

Dear Smiley: I have always told anyone listening about the teacher who, through no fault of mine, turned me into a reader.

At Dufrocq Elementary, Ruth Williams was my third-grade teacher. She lived a couple of blocks away from our home on St. Joseph Street. One Saturday morning, she told me to get in her car, and we went to the downtown library on Convention Street.

With my first library card, the downstairs children’s section was to become my Saturday morning home, my runaway place, my door to the whole world. I read in the library and checked out as many books as were allowed. When old enough, I moved upstairs to the adult section.

I continue to use the local library system, and I prefer the written word for entertainment and information to this day.

It was Ms. Williams taking me, on her own time, to obtain that card that planted a seed of success for anything that came after the third grade.

I will always gratefully acknowledge this teacher, who looked me in the eye and said, “You are too smart to do nothing.”

JIM PACKARD

Baton Rouge

Small blessings

Dear Smiley: Recently my husband, Marty, and I took a trip to Tennessee with three of our grandchildren: Ayden, 8; Cohen, 6; and Kade, 4.

During a night out “on the back porch,” Marty recalled something told to him by the late Gerald Hubbard, of Baker:

“Marty, one day you will know just how special grandchildren really are.”

Now we know what he meant after spending seven days on the road with these wonderful young men. Papa Gerald knew what he was talking about!

JENNIFER GUEHO

Baton Rouge

Chow down!

Dear Smiley: A prominent magazine had a tantalizing photo on the cover of summer tomatoes, with the headline: “Southern Food Issue — 50 Dishes You Must Eat Now!”

Now, Smiley, how are we supposed to eat 50 dishes right this very minute? (At least that’s how I interpreted it!)

SUE SPERRY

Metairie

Dear Sue: Does it give you a time limit to complete your feast? And is there a prize for finishing all the dishes?

He’s alive!

Dear Smiley: You have a following in Fordoche, in Pointe Coupee Parish.

I had not been to my favorite bourre game there in a while, but I ventured there last weekend.

A couple of the regular players told me they thought I had passed away.

They said they hadn’t seen anything in Smiley’s column about me in a few months, and it seemed to have stopped when I ceased going to the bourre game.

So please print this for the other regular players to know that I am still kicking and will return to play bourre soon. Merci beaucoup.

LESLIE TASSIN

Baton Rouge

Thanks, Algie

Dear Smiley: I know that public service is your life. Can you print a public service announcement for me?

Here it is: “There are so many scams on the Internet these days. Send me $19.95 and I’ll tell you how to avoid them.”

ALGIE PETRERE

Baton Rouge

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