Dear Smiley: Tookie Hendrys’ suggestion that the Baton Rouge Zoo move next to the Capitol, where a “zoo” has been operating for decades, is a good idea.

However, it would be the SECOND zoo to locate there.

Back in the ’40s, my dad would take me in our 1936 Chevrolet to the Capitol on our Sunday ride, and I would visit a zoo, a small chicken-wire enclosure north of the Capitol, on the shore of Capitol Lake and across from the original Our Lady of the Lake hospital.

As I recall, the “zoo” had a few ducks, some parrots, raccoons, a monkey and other small creatures.

There also was another at City Park that featured more and larger animals, but my favorite was a three-legged chicken. Honest!

Rather than move our beautiful Baton Rouge Zoo to the Capitol, I suggest we sell tickets to folks to view our sterling Legislature in action and donate the proceeds to the Baton Rouge Zoo.

We might be able to double, or triple, the zoo’s annual revenue!



Die-hard fan

Dear Smiley: In July of 2010, my dad, Charles Dale “Pa Dale” Smith, was at home under hospice care.

About a week before he passed away, our pastors came by to visit him.

After a short visit, they prayed with us and asked my dad if there was anything they could do for him.

After he said yes, they said, “Name it and we’ll do it.”

He then asked them to pray that LSU had a better baseball team the next year.

They smiled and said they would, and left.

When it was announced that LSU-Eunice star Ralph Rhymes was transferring to LSU, Dad said, “The prayers are starting to work.”

I know he is up in heaven still cheering on his LSU Tigers.


Baton Rouge

Wild Kingdom South

Dear Smiley: In the ’50s, we would go to St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans to see the homes decorated for Christmas. They were very elaborate!

There was always a man standing on the corner selling flying squirrels. My sister would always cry and carry on, but my mother never gave in.

Of course, this is the same sister who would throw a fit when we passed the snake farm on Airline Highway. We did stop there once.

I’ve often wondered, when the snake farm closed, if they just let the snakes go. This is what nightmares are made of.



Altar athletes

Dear Smiley: These stories of altar boys catching hosts with the paten (we called it the plate) reminds me of my career as a server at Sacred Heart Church in Ville Platte.

Not only was I an excellent reciter of Latin prayers, but I caught several “accidents” — no small feat considering that the host was round and brittle and the plate was pretty flat.

We altar boys took great pride in catching falling hosts. Like a gunslinger putting notches on our guns, we keep track of our “record.”


Ville Platte

Sorry, wrong language

Dear Smiley: Recently, when I noticed there was a message on our answering machine, I pressed the button to hear it and heard a friend say, “Hey, you guys, what’s with the Spanish voice asking me to leave a message?”

In the background I could hear a gruff male voice saying over and over numbers I took to be Italian. He was still talking when the friend’s message was over.

My first thought was what my European grandma would have said about this: “Somebody put a curse on your phone.”

Coming back to the 21st century, I told my husband that our answering machine had been hacked. As we went to fix it, another gruff voice came on speaking what I knew was Spanish, and then other languages, even one that sounded like Russian. We realized that the machine was probably not worth fixing.

When an appliance gets totally out of control around here, I am tempted to do what I once did to an electric percolator: threw it out in the backyard, yelling, “You’ve made your last pot of lousy coffee!”

It’s a good thing this did not become a habit for dealing with bad appliances. Our backyard would by now be a large landfill. Be assured, the crazed machine and all of the gruff guys are resting in peace in some legit dump site.


Baton Rouge

No French connection

Dear Smiley: I am tired of picking up bags of trash tossed out near my home.

Yes, I live on a cul-de-sac, but I wish people wouldn’t take it literally.



Dear Doug: You mean “cul-de-sac” isn’t French for “Drop your bag here”?

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.