Dear Smiley: Libby, child No. 6 of 7 (five boys, two girls), was overheard by my daughter-in-law praying while traveling to one of many ballgames recently.

When Mom asked what she was telling God, Libby replied that she was asking God to make Whitt, the youngest, into a boy.

When her mom told her God probably would not answer her prayer like she requested, Libby asked if God would give her another little brother and sister.

Seeing the wild-eyed look of her frazzled mom, Libby bowed her head and said, “Dear God, never mind.”


Columbia, Tennessee

Honoring “Loo-EE”

Dear Smiley: My first job in Louisiana was as news director at KWKH, a 50,000-watt powerhouse radio station in Shreveport, where I was instructed to pronounce the name of the state as “Louis-e-ana, because it was “named for King Louis, not Queen Louise.”

I didn’t want to tell my new boss that even a hillbilly from West Virginia knew that the French king pronounced his own name “Loo-EE” — so for two years, I lived in Shreveport, Louis-e-ana.

Someday, I’ll tell the tale of how I learned to pronounce Natchitoches and Thibodaux.



Hail the king

Dear Smiley: As I recall, we were taught in elementary school back in the ’60s that the name “Louisiana” was derived from King Louis XIV of France and his queen, Anna — “Lou-eez-e-anna.”

There is no LOSE (Louz) in Louisiana.

I can remember this clear as day but cannot remember what football bowl game LSU went to this year.


Baton Rouge

Dear Billy: Louis XIV’s queen was Anne of Austria, but the history I consulted said La Salle named the territory “La Louisiane,” or “Land of Louis.”

That’s show biz

Dear Smiley: As we prove every year in the Capitol Correspondents’ Gridiron Show, the appropriate pronunciation of Louisiana depends on how many syllables you need to fit the rhythm of the song you’re singing.

Likewise, the pronunciation of New Orleans totally depends upon which song you’re singing and what you’re rhyming it with.

Can you imagine singing, “Do you know what it means to miss N’awlins”?

We are nothing if not flexible.


Baton Rouge

Cheap cuts

Dear Smiley: About haircuts: I had two interesting haircuts in my life.

Years ago, our family visited relatives in a small town in Kentucky, when haircuts were $1.

My dad saw a sign on a farmhouse: “Haircuts 25 cents.”

We went in, and the man draped an old American flag over us and went to town with scissors. Well worth the quarter.

Later in life, when I was in the Air Force in Korea, the barbers on base gave you an upper body massage in the chair with every haircut for $2.50. I went every week and gave them a tip.



$2 words

Dear Smiley: I was wondering how many people out there in newspaper-land had to get out their dictionaries like I did before they read the article by George Will in the Sunday Advocate titled “Lyndon Johnson’s bifurcated legacy.”

Before I looked the word “bifurcated” up in the dictionary, I didn’t know if poor President Johnson had regurgitated at an improper moment at some point in time or if he had some other embarrassing moment during his presidency.



Circular travel

Dear Smiley: Some years ago, my cousin and I visited a relative near Asheville, North Carolina.

He gave us directions on how to take a shortcut and avoid Atlanta.

We stored it in our “mental GPS.”

On our way, we crossed the “French Broad River,” turned right and ended up lost in Georgia’s great Chattahoochee National Forest.

Two hours later, we came back to the “French Broad River,” and realized we had just circled Asheville.

When we arrived back in Baton Rouge two days later, we decided — never take directions from a man.



Fear factor

Dear Smiley: Often in conversation, we express our emotions and trust that the listener fully understands our feelings.

In an attempt to convey the feeling of fear, as in “I was afraid” or “I was in fear of,” we really aren’t certain they share that emotion, fear.

Here is how I would explain fear (not necessarily Webster’s version):

It is two cups of strong coffee, a bran muffin and stuck in heavy traffic.

If this has ever happened to you, you definitely know the true meaning of FEAR!



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.