Dear Smiley: One more on grits:

In 1957, our ladies’ card group sat waiting in a local country club lounge for lunch and an afternoon of bridge.

All eight of us, under the age of 30, were excitedly discussing the possibilities of sighting the actors making the movie “Band of Angels.”

Our listening waiter sidled up to the table and murmured that Clark Gable and his latest wife, Kay Spreckels, had just entered.

Shocked and excited, we waited until they were seated in a small booth, which we must pass to reach our table.

Then, like a row of slow penguins, we went single file to ogle the legendary Rhett Butler.

Just as my turn came, I heard Mrs. Gable say to the club’s manager, “Grits? I don’t think I know grits.” Unfortunately I was nudged forward and missed his explanation. Fifty-eight years later, I still wonder if she tried the grits.

There’s more to this encounter with Clark Gable, but it’ll keep until another day.


Baton Rouge

Dear Eleanor: There’s more? Come on, Eleanor, don’t leave us hanging like that. …Tell us!

Cheerful giver

Dear Smiley: My son Craig is an Episcopal priest in Houma. He keeps a bowl on his dresser where he tosses change at the end of the day.

He took the bowl of change to the bank, where there is one of those machines that sorts and counts the coins.

He was standing there holding his big old now-empty salad bowl talking to a friend when someone he doesn’t even know walked up and feigned pulling out his wallet and putting money in the bowl.

They all had a great laugh about it.


Baton Rouge

Miss Sophisticate

Dear Smiley: As a student at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, fellow students and I quickly learned the advantage of attending a “commuters” college.

Prior to registering each semester, we compared the ending time of our last class and ensured that we’d have ample time between it and departure of the bus to go to the College Inn, drink beer, smoke and dance.

This informal curriculum formed the basis of lifelong friendships.

I remember vividly us girls sitting on stools at the bar, a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, trying to look sophisticated and worldly. Oh, Smiley, those were the days!

Now, however, when doctors ask me if I smoke or ever smoked and I share this scenario, I seem to confuse them.

Some record, “Not a smoker;” some, “Former smoker,” and one, “A wanna be.”

When I asked him, “What’s a wanna be?” he said, “Wanna be asked to dance!”

That, Smiley, is my kind of doctor!



Northern exposure

Dear Smiley: Since you are running stories about Minnesota, here’s one:

A while back my wife and I took a cruise down the Mississippi River into the western Caribbean.

One morning somewhere around Belize or Honduras, while we were at breakfast we could hear two men engaged in a conversation.

They were obviously newly acquainted and sat in the booth next to us to share their meal.

One had a distinctive New Orleans accent; the other I surmised to be a Midwesterner because he had no detectable accent.

After a bit MW’er asked, “And where are you from?”

N.O. answered, “Slidell” then went on with a lengthy explanation on how he came to be in Slidell after spending most of his life in New Orleans. Then he returned the question, “Where are you from?”

MW’er: “Oh, I’m from the other end of the river.”

To which N.O. blurted, “Buras?”

MW’er: “No, St. Paul.”


Baton Rouge

Memory lessons

Dear Smiley: Speaking of forgetting: One day, while at work, I wrote a note to remind myself to run an errand on my lunch hour.

I forgot the note on my desk as I left for lunch, and upon returning remarked that I had forgotten the note on my desk and thus had failed to run the errand.

My co-worker suggested attaching the note to my purse the next time this occurred.

Well, that didn’t work. I forgot to read my purse!




Dear Smiley: About your insults collection:

I don’t like to use the term “insults.” I call them “Back-handed compliments.”

As in, “He has a face made for radio or a newspaper column.”



Dear L.P.: I don’t know about that; all the newspaper columnists I know are extremely attractive people. …

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.