Dear Smiley: One Saturday before Easter at Calandro’s on Government Street, a red Mustang convertible with the top down drove up.

Seated majestically on the back seat was a large gray and white dog.

As the driver got out, I heard him tell his dog, “Don’t drive off while I’m gone.”

I laughed and complimented him on having such a great-looking, well-behaved pet.

He told me the dog was of the Malamute family and, despite his size, was very good and gentle with children.

I told him about our rescue dog Rufus, who is large but also very loving and gentle.

As I got in my car and was preparing to drive off, I heard a knock on my window.

I looked over and saw it was the Mustang driver with the big dog.

He said he wanted to tell me something he had learned just recently — that the word “dog” spelled backward was “God.”

He said, “I immediately thought ‘unconditional love.’

“I don’t know if you are religious, but I just wanted to tell you that.”

I assured him that I was indeed religious and thanked him profusely for telling me that story.

As I drove away, I thought how appropriate it was, as we were about to celebrate Passover and Easter.

And every time I pet Rufus, I am reminded of it.


Baton Rouge

A mule’s revenge

Dear Smiley: We lived on a farm from the 1930s to 1946.

We had no tractor, no truck — only three mules to work the farm.

The mules were named Baby, Easter and Lilly.

Lilly was a hard-headed mule, and Daddy always had to fight to get a bridle on her.

He made a noose on a stick about 18 inches long, and when he grabbed her halter, he put the noose over her upper lip.

Then he twisted the noose so he was able to put the bridle on her.

We hauled sugar cane from the field in a wagon to put in a rail car to go to the mill.

A mule would be hitched to a long pole and walk in a circle to raise the cane and drop it into the open car.

One day when Lilly was hitched to the pole, Daddy put his hand on it.

Lilly kicked her back leg, hit his hand and broke his thumb.

I thought I saw a smile on that mule’s face. …



It’s what’s for dinner

Dear Smiley: A few years ago, I was preaching for a pastor friend of mine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

He took me to dinner one day at a fancy restaurant and insisted on ordering for me.

When the meal came, it was bowls of soup.

As we were eating, he asked if I knew what kind of soup it was.

I answered that it is turtle soup.

He was surprised, and exclaimed, “How did you know that?”

I answered, “My dad was a commercial fisherman, and if it had not been for turtle soup, we would not have had any soup at all.”

I found out it was expensive and a real delicacy in Florida.



His cup overfloweth

Dear Smiley: The mention of coffee in recent columns reminded me of an incident at the old Lambert’s restaurant in Sorrento.

My carpool would routinely stop there on the way to work for a little coffee.

On this particular day, a distinguished gentleman came in wearing a suit and tie and ordered a cup.

The waitress poured up his coffee and was about to leave when he said, “If I have to pay 25 cents for a cup of coffee, I want a full cup.”

The waitress promptly filled his cup up until it spilled over into his saucer, then stood there for a couple of seconds with a look that only a seasoned waitress can give.

The gentleman placed some napkins in his saucer and was quietly drinking his coffee when we left.

I have always wondered if he could hear us laughing outside as we were leaving.



Fun with math

Dear Smiley: The late Lou Clouatre was my math teacher, my mentor when I was a young teacher and a dear friend.

He used to assign students who didn’t do their homework subtraction problems he called “lollipops.”

The problems started with 1,400 minus 7, and the student had to subtract down to zero.

They were a highly effective motivational tool.

I asked Lou why he called them “lollipops,” and he said with that grin, “’Cause they’re for suckers who don’t do their homework.”

His most famous math joke: A teacher was showing his students how to find the area of a circle, using the “Pi r squared” formula.

Johnny raised his hand:

“That’s wrong, teacher. Pi r round. CORNBREAD are square!”



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.