It’s shaping up to be a great weekend.

Friday is National Doughnut Day, and Saturday marks the 37th birthday of this column.

It started as an experiment — an effort to, as one editor put it, “allow people to get their name in the paper without dying or holding up a convenience store.”

I was taken off the business desk and told, “Give it a shot for a few weeks, and if it doesn’t get much response you can go back to covering business news.”

I’ll be chatting about the origin of the column (and all the folks who write it for me) at 4 p.m. Friday on the Jim Engster Show on Talk 107.3 FM in the Baton Rouge area (on 1560 AM in New Orleans/Slidell, 960 AM in Lafayette/Abbeville, and several other stations around the state).

Birth announcement

Marion Denova, of Baton Rouge, says, “Way back in the mid-1950s, I was spending the evening with a date. Traveling down a curvy country road, I saw the critter in the road and then felt that tell-tale bump.

“It was the middle of winter, and I knew how Noon, our favorite tenant on our place, could make a mean stew out of that ill-fated little animal. So, with the purest of intentions, I slowly backed the car up, jumped out into the cold, grabbed up that ball of fur and flung it in the trunk.

“By the time Noon got to work that next morning, I was planning on a good possum stew. I told Noon I had brought his lunch for him, and walked around to the back of the car. I popped the trunk, and went in headfirst to retrieve my trophy.

“And there she was, Mama Possum, grinning that big toothy smile — with all SIX of her babies running under her feet.

“I suppose she was just ‘playing possum,’ with all those babies in her pouch along for the ride.”

Trapper Joan retires

Joan Barre says, “A couple of years ago there were about 20 feral cats roaming my neighborhood, causing a flea infestation. Upon the advice of Animal Control, I began trapping them.

“I was able to eliminate a few cats, but had competition from the possums coming from the nearby railroad tracks.

“After trapping 14 possums, I decided it was time for 80-year-old ‘Trapper Joan’ to end her career. I am sure there are still many residing in the bushes near the railroad tracks, but I no longer tempt them to venture into my yard.”

Possum country

Recent mentions of both possums and country music remind Barbara McKaskle, of Hammond, of “one of the great country songs of all time. The first time I heard it, a long time ago, I near ’bout ran off the road.”

The line that got her was, “Six-pound possum in the headlights; whoa, supper tonight!”

Nice People Dept.

Russ Wise, of LaPlace, says, “As we were leaving Shreveport on Memorial Day, we met for a family lunch at Strawn’s Eat Place, a delightfully tacky restaurant near Centenary College.

“As I paid the bill, which was only slightly smaller than the proposed state budget, I asked the manager whether I could get 10 percent off just because I was so good looking.

“‘No,’ he said, ‘but veterans get 10 percent off.’”

Russ terms the establishment “a high class joint” for offering this discount.

Complaint Dept.

Dee Murphy is another reader who cringes when youngsters greet adults by their first name.

“I frequently receive calls in the office from obvious young things (they sound about 12 to me, but...) with just this: ‘Hey, is Ed in?’

“Unless you know Mr. Smith THAT well (he’s your best bud), don’t call and ask for ‘Ed.’

“Maybe I’m old school, but I was raised to place a call like this: ‘Good morning, this is Dee Murphy from Smiley’s Fan Club. Is Mr. Anders available to speak to me, please?’”

Special People Dept.

— Russell and Eloise Mayeur celebrate their 71st anniversary on Friday, June 3.

— Ronald and Hazel Scioneaux, of St. James, celebrate their 62nd anniversary on Sunday, June 5.

— On Saturday, June 4, Ed and Mary Nell Sanchez, of St. Francisville, celebrate their 50th anniversary.

— Douglas and Helen Campbell, of Harahan, celebrate their 50th anniversary on Saturday, June 4.

That’s better...

Murphy says, “When I was at LSU, our final grades were posted on the professor’s office door for all to see.

“A buddy of mine got an F, and assured me that he could talk the prof into changing his grade.

“The next day the new grade was F+.”

Hail the patriarch!

Virginia Booth, of New Orleans, has a story for our “Why We Love Children” file:

“When I was at the doctor’s office the other day, he told me about an elderly patient who had gone to a family reunion.

“His great-grandchild climbed in his lap, looked him straight in the eye, pointed to the crowd and said, ‘Grandpa, look what you started!’”

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.