Dear Smiley: I have a church story.

When I was a third- or fourth-grader at Holy Name of Mary School in Algiers, I became an altar boy, like all good Catholic schoolboys.

Back in those days, worshippers received Communion by kneeling at the altar railing. The priest placed the sacrament of Communion (bread) on the tongue of the recipient.

The altar boy held the paten (a gold plate) below the chin of the one receiving, so in the event the host was dropped, it would be prevented from falling to the floor.

Accidentally, I touched the neck of one of the recipients and he recoiled — from, I assumed, the cold metal on his neck.

I thought this funny, so I did it again to the next one.

After about four or five times, I received a swift kick in the shin from Father Hebert. Apparently, he was not as amused as I.

Soon after, I decided altar serving was not for me.


Baton Rouge

Old enough

Dear Smiley: I am a World War II veteran, with service in the Coast Guard.

After being discharged, I went to the Office of Motor Vehicles to get my driver’s license. The clerk told me because I was not 21 years of age yet, one of my parents had to sign.

I told the clerk, “I am not a smart-aleck, but six months ago, I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as helmsman on a troop ship with 5,000 combat veterans aboard.”

He said, “Thanks for serving; here is your license.”



No live people?

Dear Smiley: Without doubt, one of the most exasperating experiences in our present-day American culture is reaching a live person on a business telephone call.

Too often, it’s: “You are being put through to voicemail,” or “Press 1, press 2, press 3, etc.” or “Your approximate wait time is 33 minutes.”

After all, when I make a business telephone call, it’s not like I’m trying to reach John Beresford Tipton.


Baton Rouge

Dear Earl: Perhaps we should explain to younger readers that John Beresford Tipton was a reclusive billionaire on the TV show “The Millionaire,” which ran from 1955 to 1960. On every show, Tipton, who was never seen, would arrange to give a million bucks to someone. Then viewers would watch how the windfall affected its recipient.

Ode to endurance

Dear Smiley: For your “marriage longevity” discussion:

A few weeks ago, in the Diocese of Tyler, there was a Mass held for World Marriage Day, honoring all married couples.

Just over 160 couples attended from around the diocese, ranging from one year to 70 years of marriage.

The diocese reported that those in attendance represented 7,000 years of marital bliss!


Tyler, Texas

Bugling off key

Dear Smiley: The article by Carl Spillman in the Monday column, about Prince Albert smokers when they were broke, reminds me of my days in the Army.

We got paid on the first of the month, so we had to stretch the paycheck as best we could.

I remember one occasion (maybe two) where I was short on funds to buy the ready-rolled cigarettes. I decided to purchase a pack (10 cents) of Bugler “roll your own” tobacco.

After finally getting enough of the tobacco into the paper and sealing it the best I could, I lit up and took a drag.

I was so dizzy I had to sit down. That was the last time I tried Bugler.


Baton Rouge

Short story

Dear Smiley: Mention of the difference in strides between short and tall folks reminds me of something that happens every spring when I chase turkey gobblers in the Vernon Parish ravines near Bayou Toro.

Being 5-foot-6 and never possessing lung capacity, the climb up hills leads to much huffing and puffing. Then the thought pops into my head that I’m only progressing 18 inches each painful step.

On the plus side, Leslie Schiff, of Opelousas, once mentioned to me, while we were attending a “standing room only” court event and having trouble seeing the participants speaking, that we’d be the last to die if the roof suddenly collapsed on the crowd.


Ville Platte

Nut-ty prefixes

Dear Smiley: I have noticed that many products have names that start with the word “Nutra.” Others start with the word “Nutri.”

If it starts with “Nutri,” it is supposedly nutritious.

If with “Nutra,” it is supposed to neutralize bad odors.

If it says “Nutria,” don’t buy it. You can get ’em free in Louisiana.



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.