Dear Smiley: In late 1952 my father came home from his job at Standard Oil with two tickets to see Hank Williams perform at Baton Rouge High.

At the age of 10 I wanted to stay home and play cops and robbers with my friends, but Dad insisted.

When we entered the auditorium Dad began talking with his friend, the late Eddie “Cornpone” Bishop, a local DJ.

Eddie was close friends with Hank and asked Dad and I to go backstage and meet Hank Williams.

I was wearing my blue and gold Cub Scout uniform.

As we entered the small dressing room, Hank was sitting in a chair wearing only shorts and a white cowboy hat.

The room had the smell of bourbon and cigars. At age 10 I was not familiar with either smell.

I shook hands with Mr. Williams and got his autograph, which I still have framed in my office.

The next week, when I ushered my first LSU football game in my Cub Scout uniform, there was that unfamiliar smell of bourbon and cigars.

Dad picked me up after the game, and riding home I asked dad if Mr. Williams was a Tiger fan.

He said, “No, not at all. He is from Alabama. Why did you think that?”

I said, “He sure smelled like Tiger Stadium.”

JIM CARRUTH

Lafayette

Mickey in the marsh

Dear Smiley: Your reader’s story about the “horse-bunny” reminded me of a similar one involving my granddaughter, Emmy.

She was about 2 at the time, and her mom and I took her to Lafreniere Park to feed the ducks.

As we walked toward the pond, we crossed paths with several animals and asked Emmy what they were.

She correctly identified a duck, a chicken and a squirrel.

Then we came to a nutria and asked what it was.

She looked at it, and then at us, and said, “A mouse?”

TRICIA ARCENEAUX

Metairie

Poor Poly

Dear Smiley: In days of yore, when I raised beef cattle in Mississippi, I had a pet heifer (bloodline unknown) that was first up to the truck when I drove in the pasture distributing stale French bread.

She would take it from my hand, and balanced her meal with Stroh’s beer, right from the can. Two was her limit, and she refused any other brand.

She was a short-legged, morbidly obese creature who maintained her feminine attributes, but was ignorant with regard to the scientific mores of reproduction.

Since folks from Mississippi are referred to by first and last names, i.e. Billy Bob, Sudie Pearl, etc., and since she was sui generis, or one of a kind, I dubbed her Poly Esther.

It was a sad day when I had to tell her adieu.

So sad that she was never a 4-H candidate!

You can’t win ‘em all.

RONNIE HOTZ

Lafayette

Just a number

Dear Smiley: At what age are you old?

When I was growing up, anyone 60 years old was considered old. Now they are just getting strong and capable of doing big things in their life.

I’m 94 years old, and I don’t consider myself old — only when I forget something or do something stupid.

I just saw a 99-year-old woman on “Price Is Right,” and she did as good as the younger players. She was really remarkable.

I guess being old is how you let yourself see it.

So what is old?

LORAINE BRUNER

Baton Rouge

Grab a gator

Dear Smiley: Since my first visit to the Bass Pro Shop in Denham Springs, I’ve known an exquisite level of planning and minute detail went into the design, construction and furnishing of this establishment in order to make the place “Louisiana’s own.”

A first impression fondly remembered — the door handles, cast in brass as Louisiana alligators.

These, so uniquely appealing visually and to the touch, inspired me to keep an eye out for other such creativity.

It did not take long to notice after so long having ignored the trademark door handles of many a Burger King restaurant, a grill spatula.

I’m passing along a suggestion for a new fun contest sponsored by you and The Advocate, “Smiley’s Favorite Door Handle Contest.”

If the contest becomes a reality, I do hereby submit Bass Pro’s brass gators as my entry.

While pizza and root beer with you at the Pastime is a worthy and traditional prize, may I also suggest a meal and adult beverage with you at the Baton Rouge (or New Orleans if the winner be there) Galatoire’s.

I happen to know the owner of your paper has strong connections with the establishment, and could probably arrange it, even outside your rigidly budgeted expense account, should you have the “brass” to ask him.

DAVID BRETZ

Zachary

Dear David: OK, the door handle contest is on. If you should win, what would you like on that pizza?

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.