Dear Smiley: After reading all the “church key” nostalgia, it suddenly dawned on me that I once owned the ultimate church key!

From 1963 to 1965, while in the Navy, stationed in Sanford, Florida, my three best buddies and I made many excursions to Daytona Beach and other R&R destinations IN my “church key.”

It was lime green with white trim, had four doors and weighed about 4,300 pounds. I bought my DeSoto sedan from someone who was leaving the Navy in 1963.

On one of our first trips to Daytona after loading up the trunk with, uh, root beer from the Enlisted Men’s Club, we discovered upon arrival that no one had brought a church key.

It only took a few minutes (driven by necessity) of using our powers of observation to notice that the upside-down V-shaped trunk ornament stood out just far enough from the car that a bottle cap just might fit under it.

Lo and behold, cap under V, pull down, and pop, opening accomplished!



Sunday crafts

Dear Smiley: Recent reader comments about church memories prompts this question: How many ways can a kid forced to stay still fold the Sunday church bulletin into an object?

Speaking for myself, I could kill 30 minutes by folding an 11-by-14-inch bulletin into a hat, boat, two types of airplanes and a box. I still can.

The box had to come last, because it required tearing the paper into an 11-by-11 size.

The real skill, however, was required when I had to blow into the box to make it unfold — without making a noise.

Didn’t always succeed, and sitting on the third row with my mom and dad usually resulted in a little discipline after the service ended!



Thumping good tale

Dear Smiley: Your stories about ushers brought two stories to mind:

About passing collection plates — some of them used to be metal. So the trick was to thump the bottom of the plate and make the change rattle to give the appearance of donating.

That was when change was considered worthwhile. Not many people put change in the plates anymore — except when our church asks everyone to dump all their change in the plates to help finance helping the needy.

Because we rarely count out change when purchasing with cash, we have quite a bit in our pockets or purses. It can add up to a considerable amount of money!

The second story:

In the late ’50s, Paul Dietzel was an usher at University Methodist Church, and he would escort all the ladies to their seats — husbands trailing behind.

Paul was very good-looking, and all the ladies loved to hold on to his arm. The service that he ushered was always packed!


Baton Rouge

Thank the doctor

Dear Smiley: In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and our Read Across America celebrations, I would like to share one of my favorite stories.

When my nephew was a little fellow, he would really get involved with the actions of the characters as I read his favorite stories aloud.

One such story was “Tortoise and the Hare” because his cheering and leg slapping encouraged the tortoise to win every time.

After one major victory, nephew said, “Auntie Bobbie, Momma Lisa doesn’t wead the story like you. Does she want that rabbit to win?”

I thought of my sister’s naturally quiet disposition and responded, “Well, when Momma Lisa was a little girl, I would read to her just like I read to you, but she developed her own way of reading.”

Nephew wistfully responded, “I wish I knew how to wead by myself!”

Now, 30-ish years later, Nephew Nil is employed in a position that requires considerable reading skills.

Carry on, Dr. Seuss!



Busy work

Dear Smiley: The stories about rolling cigarettes brought to mind spending the day at Grandma and Grandpa’s house as a 7-year-old.

Mornings were spent in the kitchen “helping” Grandma cook. After lunch, Grandpa would pull out his little cigarette rolling machine, and I would roll for hours.

Remembering this, I realized Grandma didn’t smoke, and Grandpa smoked a pipe.

I must have been rolling the same tobacco over and over.



No return

Dear Smiley: About those gondolas across the Mississippi River at the 1984 World Exposition in New Orleans:

My son Collin “chickened” me into getting on that ride.

I was so shaken by it that when we finally got to the other side, I took a taxi back to the fair from across the river and paid a new admission fee to return to the fair.



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.