Dear Smiley: In 1972, I was stationed with the U.S. Army in Heidelberg, Germany.

I quickly discovered that a majority of GIs and Germans had preconceived notions of our state, and nothing I would say could change their minds.

So quickly I started going along to get along.

Once I was asked, “How many alligators do you see on an average day?”

I responded, “Seven or eight.”

She asked, “Really?”

My answer was, “Really.”

Once when a woman asked, “What’s the educational system really like in Louisiana?” I explained that we have the most efficient system in the world.

If you want to teach 5th Grade, you must complete the 6th Grade.

Completing the 5th Grade provides the information necessary to teach — the 6th Grade merely reinforces your knowledge, confidence and technique.

“Really?” she responded.

I echoed, “Really.”


New Iberia

D’ville days

Dear Smiley: I, too, have wonderful memories of Donaldsonville’s “Club.”

I become its A-No.1 fan through the good fortune of meeting Josephine Cataldo at the LSU Leadership Conference in the summer of 1963.

I visited her later that summer, and was introduced to a wonderful happy place. I was part of Josephine’s “cool” Donaldsonville High circle of friends, dating her boyfriend’s brothers, dancing the night away at The Town & Country Club.

Among the acts that played the Club were my all-time favorite, Irma Thomas; and Ernie K-Doe, Bennie Spellman, Cookie & the Cupcakes, and Esquerita, who was “camp” before Little Richard made the style more well-known.

Josephine married her sweetheart, and became Mrs. Stephen Rousseau. I went off to Newcomb in the fall of 1964. I did not marry any of my “down the Bayou” boyfriends, but I will always be grateful for having the experience of being part of the D’ville scene in those heady days. Lasting friendship and great memories.



Where there’s smoke...

Dear Smiley: Another musical memory:

On an early date with my now-husband of 43 years, in 1969, we went to hear Three Dog Night in some sort of warehouse in Baton Rouge. It was amazing.

But being a very naïve young woman, I asked my date (with watery eyes) why they had to use so much incense.



Heaven on earth

Dear Smiley: A few weeks ago a lady from Iota wrote in about her love for her hometown. This reminds me of an anecdote from my college years at USL (still can’t bring myself to call the school ULL, and neither can my wife, also a graduate) almost half a century ago.

Don Cornwell, who was an economics professor at USL in those days (and I believe was also originally from Iowa, the state, not the Louisiana town), lived in Iota and drove the 80-mile round trip to Lafayette every school day.

When asked why he didn’t move to Lafayette, or at least closer to Lafayette, to cut down his commute, he replied, “No, I can’t do that; living in Iota is like a little piece of heaven.”



Tight fit

Dear Smiley: I’d like to know who the genius was who designed small restroom stalls with doors that open to the INSIDE!

Sometimes you almost have to climb up on the toilet to shut the door.


Pine Grove

Dear Laura: It wasn’t me!

Only in Louisiana

Dear Smiley: Your column’s mention of job applications reminded me of one submitted to me when I was first elected sheriff.

A question on the application was “Name and address of last school attended.”

The response was “Assumption across the Bayou.”



Happy place

Dear Smiley: Sign at a swimming pool: “No Diving. No Running. No Horseplay. Have Fun.”


Ville Platte

Joys of youth

Dear Smiley: I have noticed over time that quite a few of the readers’ stories in your learned column refer to the “good old days.”

For those interested in when this particular era occurs in one’s lifespan, it’s back when you weren’t good OR old!


New Orleans

It’s official!

Dear Smiley: After applying for my Medicare benefits, it got me wondering — am I now officially old?



Dear Chuck: Yes.

Contacting Smiley

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.