Every year around Father’s Day I think about the death many years ago of my dad, also named Smiley.
When I tried to write about him for the column back then, I found it was much harder than I had expected. How do you sum up a long, full life in just a few words? Here’s part of what I came up with:
“One minute Smiley Sr. was laughing with his buddies over a dominoes game, and the next minute he was gone.
“It was an appropriate exit for this joyous man, who proved so often that his parents knew what they were doing when they named him.
“My dad didn’t so much live his life as savor it, relishing each new day as a gift from above, to be enjoyed to the fullest.
“He believed — and tried to teach his sons to believe — that you say grace before every meal; that Sunday mornings are spent in church; that you can have anything you want if you’re willing to work hard enough for it, and that no sacrifice is too great to make for your family.
“There’s no epitaph on his tombstone in Oakdale, but this one would fit pretty well: ‘When he left us, he left behind no enemies — because every person he ever met became his friend.’”
What was I thinking? Obviously, I wasn’t...
When my Marrero buddy and former Associated Press guy, Dudley Lehew, invited me down to have coffee with some retired wire service/newspaper types, he told me to meet them at the Cafe Du Monde on Veterans Highway in Metairie.
Now, I’ve been to Cafe Du Monde (mostly the one in the French Quarter) probably over a hundred times.
Back in 2008, when New Orleans was hosting the National Society of Newspaper Columnists annual conference, I wrote in the conference booklet some advice about visiting New Orleans (don’t wear your convention badge in the Quarter, avoid strong sweet drinks meant only for tourists, don’t eat Lucky Dogs while sober, don’t give a guy money to find out where you got your shoes, etc.).
One piece of advice was: “Don’t wear anything dark while having beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. The fried doughnuts are covered with powdered sugar, and the first bite causes a sugar explosion that resembles a snowstorm. Walking around covered in sugar makes you look like a tourist, and attracts annoying ants and flies.”
So guess who wore BLACK pants to Cafe Du Monde? Some people never learn...
I was especially pleased with the note from Betty B. Weber, “The Cake Lady” of Baton Rouge, because so many in my family are either active or retired firefighters: son, two grandsons, son-in-law, grandson-in-law.
Betty likes to bake “cakes, cookies, muffins and pies” for firefighters in the Baton Rouge area. When she attended a funeral in her hometown of Natchez, Mississippi, she did the same thing, dropping by a local station with her gifts:
“I was greeted by six handsome and fit firefighters and a lovely secretary. They gladly retrieved the cakes, muffins and cold milk from my truck.
“My visit there made my sad day so much better, as I realized how life passes on from us ‘oldsters’ to such fine young people. God bless our firefighters everywhere!”
Special People Dept.
On Saturday, June 18, John and Betty Torbert, of Tioga, celebrate their 72nd anniversary.
Dr. Joseph & Natalie Roumain, of Baton Rouge, celebrate their 68th anniversary on Sunday, June 19. He is a World War II Air Force veteran. She is a volunteer at Baton Rouge General Medical Center.
Ann and Bob Becker, of Metairie, celebrate their 55th anniversary on Friday, June 17.
Jimmy and Joann Brewin, of Pearl River, celebrate 50 years of marriage on Friday, June 17.
Glynn and Patsy Cambre, of Baton Rouge, celebrate their 50th anniversary on Saturday, June 18.
Willie and Cynthia Elmer, of New Iberia, celebrate their 50th anniversary on Sunday, June 19. Willie is a Vietnam veteran.
Thought For the Day
From Bo Bienvenu, of Prairieville, this bit of Cajun philosophy: “If you don’t think too good, then don’t think too much.”
Patrick R. Hughes offers these thoughts on aging and technology:
“Recording TV programs and movies allows me to fast-forward past all the advertising, and watch a two-hour program in 30 minutes, so I never watch live TV anymore.
“However, I have discovered an added advantage I never expected.
“Although I can remember that I have seen one before, I can’t remember the plot or outcome, so I can watch the same collection over and over, for the rest of my life!
“Can’t wait to watch ‘Belizaire the Cajun’ for the 25th time and see how it ends.
“Aging isn’t so bad after all; ain’t science grand?”
Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.