Dear Smiley: I don’t know just when electric automobile turn signals were invented (of course, half the world still refuses to use them!).

But when I was a child, my mom used left arm signals, which meant the driver’s window had to be open in all kinds of weather.

For a left turn, the arm was stuck straight out. For a right turn, the arm was bent at the elbow with the hand up. Mom would add a poking gesture, pointing over the roof.

If you were going to slow down or stop, the arm was held down. Mom added a patting back gesture to make sure folks stayed back.

Her right arm was busy, too. Since there were no seat belts, if Mom had to stop suddenly, she would throw her arm across whoever was in the passenger seat. (She did that even after we were adults.)

I guess whoever was in the back seat just ended up on the floor.



Early “Bird”

Dear Smiley: Speaking of the Cotton Club:

There was a loud-mouthed guy who sat at the bar in the early ’70s who talked politics all the time. I think his nickname was “Bird.”

He went to law school but hated practicing law.

Whatever happened to that guy? I think his real name was James Carville.


Baton Rouge

Love and sodas

Dear Smiley: Griffon’s Drug Store on Government Street was the quintessential gathering spot for Baton Rouge teenagers from 1920 to 1992.

We soda jerks (we preferred the title “sweetwater chemists”) made malts and floats and served hamburgers and chili dogs.

Our manager often complained, “You boys are eating me out of house, home and job.”

In those days all the young people who went to the Convent (St. Joseph Academy), Catholic High, the Demonstration School (LSU Lab School) and Baton Rouge High would drop by Griffon’s to see who was there.

Former Metro Council member Mary Frey Eaton, at 15, met her husband Lewis “Puna” Eaton at Griffon’s while sipping soda in a booth with friends.

Puma sat down with the girls, and he and Mary formed an instant attraction. Later that evening, the phone rang at Mary’s house. The voice on the other end said, “This is Puma Eaton, and I want you to know that when you grow up, I’m going to marry you.”

And a few years later, he did.


Baton Rouge

Proud father

Dear Smiley: You may remember me. I was your “correspondent in Mongolia” a while back. We’re back in Baton Rouge now and have been for a while.

Just a short few years ago, I reconnected with my father, from whom we’d been estranged for about 40 years.

I was able to spend a few days with him before he passed away a couple of years ago, and the re-connection was a good thing.

A few months ago, his wife was finally able to send me some of his personal papers that she thought I’d find to be of significance.

Among them was an envelope with the words “Notes from Scott” written on it.

I opened the envelope and found inside it the newspaper clippings about me from your column.


Baton Rouge

Greek to him

Dear Smiley: Recently I wore a new T-shirt while shopping at Walmart and noticed that quite a few people were checking it out.

After some thought, I concluded that they thought it was an LSU shirt.

The shirt is purple and has letters in gold that spell “Santorini,” and the numeral “3.”

They were probably trying to remember who Santorini is and which position he plays.

The shirt is one of two that my wife brought me after a month-long visit to Greece and Paris.

Santorini No. 3 is a Greek island!

I am happy that the shirt gets some attention, since each of them set me back around $2,000.



Pet that peeve

Dear Smiley: Football sportscasters who refer to the turnover margin as the “turnover ratio” are one of my pet peeves. (Actually, I have more pet peeves than I have pet cats.)

But The Advocate deserves congratulations for an Oct. 9 article on the UL-Lafayette football team in which Dan McDonald used both terms correctly — in the same sentence!

He first referred to “the Cajuns’ 1-to-10 turnover ratio” and then mentioned they “spent most of last season ranked in the top 10 in turnover margin.”


Baton Rouge

Pet that pooch

Dear Smiley: Harriet St. Amant feels sorry that I don’t own a dog and have to pick up my own food when it falls on the floor.

I feel more sorry for dog owners who have to pick up their dog’s food after it’s been “processed” by the dog.


Baton Rouge

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.