Smiley is on his Well-Deserved Vacation, but he left behind these old stories.

Meeting Mr. Lea

I guess everybody who ever stopped at Lea’s, the Lecompte eatery, has a story about its colorful owner, Lea Johnson.

When I heard he had died at 98, I recalled the time I first met him.

I was young and foolish, and thought Lea’s was just a roadside cafe. I had not experienced its great ham sandwiches, pies or plate lunches.

And I did not know that Mr. Lea was a firm believer in a menu pretty much limited to those items.

I sauntered in, sat down at the counter, and ordered a hamburger.

Mr. Lea, standing nearby, called me over, took me to the window, put an arm around my shoulder, and pointed to a place down the highway.

“Son, you see that drive-in across the road? You go over there and I’m sure they’ll be happy to fix you a hamburger. BUT, if you want the best ham sandwich you ever had in your life, you sit yourself back down and I’ll serve you one.”

I did, and he did, and it was love at first bite. …

The ultimate hazard

Benny Fruge recently asked if I played golf.

“Oh yes,” I said, “quite often.”

“Really?” he said. “What’s your handicap?”

“Well, mostly that little windmill. …”

A long strange trip

The death of The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia reminds Judge Bob Downing (now retired) of some trivia involving the band.

He recalls that it was Clarence Giarusso, formerly chief of police in New Orleans (and now a judge there) who busted the Dead on drug charges.

The bust was immortalized in “Truckin’,” probably the best-known of the band’s songs.

It tells of being “busted, down on Bourbon Street; set up, just like a bowling pin …”

“Imagine,” says Bob, “if they had been fined 10 percent of the gross from ‘Truckin,’ New Orleans probably wouldn’t need gambling money.”

Musical interlude

Iris LeJeune, of Port Allen, says grandson Zach Weimer, 3, kept asking his mom to sing “the oatmeal song.”

She kept telling him she didn’t know it, and finally asked him to sing it for her.

He sang, “Oatmeal Donald had a farm. …”

High-tech world

One evening Lisa Kleinpeter sat down with sons Daniel and Alex, 3 and 4, to read them their nightly stories. As she opened the storybook and began reading, Daniel told her he wanted her to go back to a previous page.

“Rewind the story a little bit,” he asked.

Shortly afterward, Alex jumped up and said, “Mom, will you put it on ‘pause’ while I go to the bathroom?”