Dear Smiley: Your boat launch stories remind me of an Arkansas friend who took his son on a combination hunting/fishing trip back in the ’80s.

They were returning to the launch when the son accidentally triggered a shotgun lying on their flatboat’s deck. It blew a hole in the right side of the boat, right below the water line!

As the water began to pour in, the father quickly motored to the launch and told his son to jump in, swim ashore and back the boat trailer down the ramp.

The father kept making left turn circles, raising the hole in the boat above the water line, as the son swam ashore and got the truck and trailer in place,

Then the father straightened out the boat and powered it up and onto the trailer!

No one was hurt, the boat was later repaired — and the son learned a valuable lesson about handling firearms.


Denham Springs

Dangerous accent

Dear Smiley: A long time ago, while I was a college student, I got a summer job in Montana.

I had never been in the North before and was completely unaware I had a Southern accent.

One day, I was in a restaurant in West Yellowstone, Mont., and ordered a glass of iced tea.

The waitress became very upset and told me not to curse at her!

I was so shocked that I didn’t ask her what she thought I had said, but I made a note to myself to never order a glass of iced tea in Montana.

This incident remained a mystery for almost 50 years.

Then a couple of weeks ago, a friend from eastern Oklahoma said he ordered a glass of iced tea, which he pronounced “oss tay,” at a restaurant in Minnesota.

The waitress looked at my friend coldly and said, “Sir, around here ‘oss’ is something we sit on.”


Baton Rouge

Party school

Dear Smiley: In the late 1960s, Oklahoma State University was one of the best places to attend graduate school.

The academic life of the community at Stillwater was thriving and exciting, with no distractions from studies.

We grad students in agricultural engineering developed our own ritual for celebrating anything of import — completing a term paper, B+ or better on an exam, minor acknowledgement by a major professor, enough rain to muddy your shoes, cessation of the prairie wind for more than an hour.

The celebrations started about 10 p.m. and consisted of making the rounds of 3.2 percent beer joints, where young ladies often danced on the bars.

These evenings ended at about 2 a.m. in the one open diner in town, where we feasted on liver and onions cooked in a brown gravy made with the finest Oklahoma goat grease.

Oh, would that the students in Ivy League schools could have had our advantages!


Baton Rouge

Robert’s blues

Dear Smiley: Sunday’s Jazz Fest showed how much the South has changed in my lifetime.

You once ran an item from me about a 1976 “History of Mississippi” that did not even mention the many great blues musicians from that state, not even the legendary Robert Johnson.

On Sunday, Baton Rouge bluesman Henry Gray started his set with Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago.”

At the end of the day, Johnson fan Eric Clapton played Johnson’s “Little Queen of Spades” in traditional blues style and the rocking Cream version of “Cross Roads Blues.”


Baton Rouge

But not forgotten

Dear Smiley: Your mention of the fine North Baton Rouge restaurant The Ranchero cannot go by without mentioning Ms. Carrie, the fastest, most friendly and proficient waitress in Baton Rouge history.

Thanks for the memories, Ms. Carrie — you were the best.



The whole toof

Dear Smiley: I’ve enjoyed all the stories about strange pronunciations of Cajun names.

Our family still laughs about my sister Margaret.

She had taken some mixes back to her home in New York. Later, she called and told me she had made a Cajun dinner for her family and they loved the E-toof-ee.


Baton Rouge

A joking matter

Dear Smiley: Comments about epitaphs had me scrambling to add my favorite — but truth doesn’t hold up to legend.

We have chuckled about the legendary W.C. Fields’ “tombstone” I’ve always heard read, “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.”

It ain’t so. I checked to find it’s NOT on his tombstone.

Supposedly it came from his stand-up comments, not his lying-down final position.

The tombstone has only his name and date of birth.


Panama City Beach, Fla.

Famous last words

Dear Smiley: I’ve come up with an epitaph for my wife that every married man can relate to:




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.