Dear Smiley: While in the Navy I was stationed on an oiler out of Newport, Rhode Island.
One day a kid in my division came to me and told me he had to go on emergency leave. His father had been arrested and was in jail on a gambling charge.
I asked him if he had known his dad was a gambler.
He said, “Not really, but I always wondered why the owner of a two-chair barber shop needed six accountants working in the back room.”
Dear Smiley: I grew up on Main Street in Ville Platte, about a mile from the Catholic church.
Just about every Saturday morning around 11:30 you could count on a racket of honking car horns, as a wedding procession had left church and was heading to the bride’s parents’ home for the reception.
Just past our house was the funeral home. It was like turning a light switch on and off. The honking would stop when the celebrants realized (usually) that they were passing in front of the funeral home.
Then the celebration would start up again after passing it by a safe distance away.
ALEX “SONNY” CHAPMAN
Dear Smiley: Since my dad was general manager of the New Orleans MGM distribution office, I had a movie star advantage. Many stars visited his office to do their PR obligation, then head to the French Quarter for fine dining, etc.
When Tarzan (Jock Mahoney) came to town (about 1961), he just wanted a quiet evening with good home cooking. My dad invited him to our house for dinner. What a treat; he was a great, down-to-earth guy.
Years later I was in the advertising business, and was invited to a reception for Roy Rogers, another down-to-earth guy who told my wife and me all about his bowling league, not his career.
Also, in about 1961 Dad was asked to find a teenage escort to accompany Sue Lyon, the teen star of the upcoming movie ‘Lolita,’ to a dinner when she was in New Orleans.
I was 17 and the obvious choice. After I told everyone I knew, her schedule was changed — and so was the end of this story.
Dear Smiley: Mention of Picayune cigarettes in Thursday’s paper reminded me of an event in 1963.
A friend and I came to Baton Rouge from north Louisiana for an LSU football game. His dad was a legislator, and we were seated in the esteemed Legislature seats on the 50-yard-line.
The two of us were puffing away on Picayunes when about three rows up, a well-dressed lady commented “What’s that God-awful smell?”
We just laughed and kept on puffing.
Dear Smiley: This is a belated (65 years old) “thank you” to a nice person.
When I was a teenager attending boarding school in Brookhaven, Mississippi, I frequently traveled by Trailways bus to my home in Rayville.
The route passed within one block of my home on the way to the station.
On one occasion, after I had mentioned to the driver that it was my birthday, he detoured and deposited me and my suitcase at my front door!
Hoppy and Gabby
Dear Smiley: In the early ’50s, Dad got a secondhand TV. It looked like a suitcase with a screen on the end, not even as big as a dinner plate.
We eagerly gathered round to watch our favorite radio shows come to life. My personal favorites were the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy.
When Hopalong was in a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, we had to go. I will never forget the picture I have of Hopalong riding down the street in his signature black outfit, on a magnificent white horse, waving to the crowd.
Also, I have to mention my favorite sidekick, Gabby Hayes.
Dear Pat: My favorite cowboy sidekick was Gene Autry’s buddy Smiley Burnette, for some reason...
Dear Smiley: Husband Pete is a freshman geezer, but he still has that romantic impulse.
I found a Coke can with three roses from our garden on the dinner table. He said he couldn’t find the right vase.
Somehow, I find the Coke can even more charming.
Dear Smiley: As I was pressure washing my patio, I came across some dark lines that just couldn’t be removed.
While I don’t claim to be the smartest person in the world (or even in Watson), I do learn quickly.
What I learned was that if you just wait a couple of minutes, the sun will move and the shadows will disappear.
Write to Smiley
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.