Dear Smiley: Years ago, my son and his family from Tucson, Arizona, decided to come for a visit during Mardi Gras.

He had been gone for 20 years, and his wife and children (ages 10 and 11) had never experienced Mardi Gras or a New Orleans parade.

As we prepared to go to the parade, the look on my daughter-in-law’s face was priceless. She wanted to know how long would we be gone, and why the 10 chairs, blankets, ice chest and all the food for a few hours?

While the first float was passing, we noticed my daughter-in-law just standing there with arms folded like a statue.

She informed me that everyone was crazy, and she was not about to roll all over the dirty, cold ground for that junk.

Suddenly, an explosion of beads, swords and stuffed toys came raining down on us from a passing float.

My grandchildren screamed and threw themselves on the ground, and right next to them was my daughter-in-law, also screaming and crawling all over the ground for that junk. She was even pulling stuff away from her own kids.

She saw us watching and informed us she “remembered she promised to bring beads back to her friends.” (If you believe her story, I have oceanfront property in Arizona for sale.)

This is New Orleans and Mardi Gras — the girl couldn’t help it!



Dear Fay: This same thing happened to a friend of Lady Katherine’s visiting from Minnesota. She started slow but wound up not only rolling on Canal Street to snatch Bacchus parade throws but kissing some guy in exchange for an especially nice strand of beads.

The littlest surgeon

Dear Smiley: Dudley Lehew’s mention of those little Valentine candies reminded me of the time I performed open heart surgery on my Raggedy Ann doll.

The books said she had a candy heart that said, “I love you.”

Being of the school of “trust but verify,” I opened her up.

Sure enough, there was a candy heart, which I promptly ate.

Then I cried huge crocodile tears until Mom bought a bag of those candies, found one that said “I love you” and gave Raggedy Ann a transplant.



No tracks needed

Dear Smiley: After retiring in 2000, I had a 32-foot “train” constructed in Baton Rouge that consisted of a Kubota tractor transformed into an engine that pulled three passenger cars.

Hundreds of children and adults traveled to imaginary places in “Pops’ Choo Choo” at birthday parties and special events with engineer “Pops” and conductor Jim Cowart, both dressed in train bibs and caps, calling out “All aboard!”

Imagine the surprise of seeing and hearing a train as it traveled, not on railroad tracks, but on the streets of Baton Rouge and surrounding towns with the engine bell ringing and that whistle sounding, “Whooo, whooo!”


Columbia, Tennessee


Dear Smiley: Don Uggen’s mention of Baton Rouge’s Regina Theater brought back this memory of long ago.

Bubba Leteff lived not far from the Regina, and if 20 cents could be scraped up between us, we’d go on a Saturday to see the latest shoot’em-up.

Although we had long passed the 12-year age limit, we still paid only 9 cents.

That is, until one day the teller asked me my age.

I said, “11.” Then she asked what year I was born.

I got flabbergasted and couldn’t give her another lie.

She said she would let me go this time but that I would have to pay a quarter from then on — which, of course, I did.

Bubba was two days older but continued for a long time getting in for 9 cents.


Santa Maria, California

Crisis of faith

Dear Smiley: Many members of Disciples of Christ churches refer to themselves simply as “Christians.”

Many years ago, a man raised in that faith moved to the Pitkin area.

Finding no church of his denomination, he began attending a Baptist church but was discouraged to find out that to be a member, he would have to be baptized in a “church of like faith and order.”

After a long time, he agreed to be baptized in the church to become a member, telling the pastor, “I realized if I was going to be a Baptist, I would have to give up being a Christian.”



Safety first

Dear Smiley: Regarding your mention of cabbage parade accidents:

They can’t throw cabbages from St. Patrick’s Day parade floats anymore.

Football games are suspended because of lightning, and when they do have the games, they can’t tackle or block anyway.

All this “safety, safety, safety” stuff is getting dangerous.


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.