Dear Smiley: One of my seminary profs said a church to which he once belonged had a man who was on the offering counting committee for several years.

When the counters had finished their work and rolled the coins, he would write the church a check for the coins, saying it saved him a Monday trip to the bank.

A few years later he was in federal court.

Seems he was claiming those checks as a church-and-charity deduction on his income tax.



Burning issue

Dear Smiley: The recent spates of horrific weather associated with El Niño or whatever it is called, and the recent celebration of Palm Sunday, reminded me of my dear mother’s fear of bad weather and her resolve to keep us safe.

When the weather got really bad, she would cut a piece of the palm branch which had been blessed on Palm Sunday, set it afire and throw it out into the storm.

I don’t know if it worked; but I can say that she never set the house on fire, and it was never struck by lightning or damaged by the many storms that passed through our area!

I have no idea as to when or where she picked up this custom, but it was a firm religious belief for her.



Minimalist Poetry Dept.

Dear Smiley: Enjoyed your Spam stories. Here’s another:

An old friend, Dr. Joseph Roppolo, a long-time professor in Tulane’s English Department, served with the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

He was fond of relating some of the cleaner poetry verses he wrote about life on the front.

One of his favorite three-liners was:

“Wherever I am

Is Spam.


Thanks for the memories.



Salad days

Dear Smiley: While driving to and from Baton Rouge to Lutcher, I noticed thousands of tall blooming choudrants growing in pastures and on ditch banks.

Their colorful powder-puff flowers glistened in sunlight as they stood proudly like soldiers waiting for battle, with their prickled leaves shielding their bodies.

I remembered fondly the spring days when my mother permitted my siblings and me to venture out on Sunday afternoons to the ditch banks aligning the sugarcane fields on Welcome Plantation to beat down sharp leaves, behead fluffy blooms, and cut the stalk at ground level.

After capturing a dozen or so stalks, we returned home to peel the stalks, cut them into bite-sized pieces and season them with salt and vinegar.

What a treat! The best salad ever!

Youth was not wasted on the young!



The beer ladies

Dear Smiley: Here’s another trip down memory lane:

Does anyone recall the Jax Girls softball team in New Orleans, sponsored by Jax beer?

Herb Ragas was manager; Dottie Pitts, catcher; Blanche Soniat, first baseman, and star players were sisters Freda and Olympia Savona.

(How can I remember that, when sometimes I can’t remember my own name?)

They played at the old Franklin Stadium in Gentilly, and my mother would walk a group of us youngsters 10 blocks to the games and home again at night.

What a wonderful mother I had!



Texas veggies

Dear Smiley: Your Tuesday story of the Texan braggart reminded me of my own joke.

I worked one summer at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

I was out where the campers park; I think they called it “Frontier World” or some such.

I sold food in a cabin made to look old-timey.

One day we had a big pile of very long, thin watermelons.

One guest asked what they were.

Straight-faced, I told her they were Texas cucumbers.

She actually fell for it.



Juicy thoughts

Dear Smiley: Recently I was put under anesthesia.

When I came to, I had this revelation:

If you dry a grape, it becomes a raisin. If you dry a cranberry, it becomes a Craisin (a copyrighted name, by the way). If you dry a plum, it becomes a prune.

I can buy grape juice and cranberry juice, but not plum juice. I can’t buy raisin juice or Craisin juice, but I can buy prune juice. Explain that to me, old wise one!



Dear Phil: Tell me, what was the name of that anesthetic? Just curious...

Contacting Smiley

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.