Dear Smiley: During the early ’50s, I gave my girlfriend (now my wife) the best “Sweet 16” birthday present: a night of dancing and a floor show at the Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel.

My father gave me his credit card, we dressed in our best clothes and off we went.

We were both blind as bats, but neither wanted to tell the other we wore glasses. How we got there without an accident was a miracle.

The Blue Room was like a movie dream — but I wish we could have seen the floor show a little better.

When the waiter came with drinks and the check, I signed the tablecloth and she sipped the swizzle stick instead of the straw.

But the most embarrassing moment was when we got to the parking garage to get my car.

There we stood with people waiting for their Cadillacs, T-Birds, etc., and heard my car coming down the ramp. It was a ’49 Chevy I named the Beige Bazooka, with no muffler and black smoke pouring out the back, while shaking and sounding like a train.

When it came to a stop I yelled, “Run fast, don’t make eye contact and jump in.”

We were married two years later and both got contact lenses — but she still says it was her best birthday ever!



Uneasy rider

Dear Smiley: In pre-air conditioning days, we three brothers would fight over who got to sit next to the car windows to dangle our arms out and catch the breeze.

A family friend (tobacco chewer) sat in the front passenger seat, expectorating (I try to make it sound nice for your readers).

It didn’t take long to realize why the window-seated brother joyfully surrendered his position to his sibling.


Baton Rouge

A smashing show

Dear Smiley: I have several concert memories, but my favorite is not because of the bands playing, but the curious juxtaposition of their appearance.

Most of your older readers will recall the Friday night dances at the Redemptorist gym. They were fantastic.

Periodically, they would also have an outdoor concert on Magellan Field.

The concert I remember featured Herman’s Hermits, and what makes it most memorable is that the opening act was The Who, complete with smashing instruments and all. Heck of a show.

Many in the crowd (probably not more than 200) didn’t really know what to make of The Who.

I am sure many thought that the way they went through instruments, the band wouldn’t last long.



Some substitute!

Dear Smiley: A few years ago at Jazz Fest, my daughter and I decided to cool off in the WWOZ tent.

The scheduled performer was someone I had never heard of, but we needed some shade.

An announcement was made that she had a medical emergency, and a substitute artist would perform.

I was thinking they got someone at the last minute, and it must be the guy who plays the sax in the Quarter.

Then they announce Ramsey Lewis, who did a piano solo that blew the audience away.



Bucket list

Dear Smiley: My wife and I moved from Lake Charles to Mandeville in ’05 to be near children and grandchildren.

Before moving, we made several trips house hunting.

I’ve been an avid sailboat person almost my whole life, so every trip we would drive by the lake and I would always say, “If I can sail out there in that big ol’ lake just one time, then I can die happy!”

Well, we’ve been here 10 years now and I’ve sailed in that lake a couple hundred times by now, and hope for a few hundred more!



Jerry’s the problem

Dear Smiley: When I read the comment overheard in a restaurant that our state government needs “Jerry Manda,” my first thought was that we’ve already had his help.

Just look at the shape of some of the voting districts in Louisiana!



Suspicious behavior

Dear Smiley: A few years ago my husband and I decided at the very last minute to join fellow friends, all ULL fans, for a football game at UL Monroe.

We made last-minute reservations at a not-so-wonderful motel (the only room we found available), then headed out late for Monroe.

We made our mandatory stop at Lea’s Lunch Room in Lecompte for ham sandwiches and pies.

When we got back in the car, VISA called me to see if my card had been stolen — since a cheap hotel, ham sandwiches and several whole pies did not follow my normal purchasing patterns.

Guess that fellow had never been to Louisiana.



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.