Dear Smiley: Some years ago, while driving through Texas, my wife and I stopped at a diner for lunch.

Being in Texas, we thought quesadillas would be a good bet.

With a New Orleans accent, my wife asked if they had quesadillas.

The waitress responded with a startled look: “You want a case of beer?”



Flushed with pride

Dear Smiley: As Earth Day approached, I was reminded of an incident involving grandchildren Celina and Rex Satter, ages 7 and 5, in Ipswich, Mass.

Hurrying to see the movie “Frozen,” I scurried them into the restroom while my husband, Pat, waited in line for tickets.

“Let’s hurry so we don’t have to get up during the movie,” I told them.

We crammed into one stall. As soon as Celina finished, I reached over and manually flushed.

Both exclaimed in unison, “Gam! No!”

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“You should not flush the toilet until we all go, to save water,” Celina admonished.

“That’s right,” explained Rex. “We need to save the planet.”

I know it may seem weird, but whenever I flush the toilet, I now think of my grandkids.



The neighborly thing

Dear Smiley: I have a friend in West Tennessee who prides himself on being an apprentice Jerry Clower.

A retired radio guy and local celebrity, Conrad is in demand as an emcee and speaker.

He told me of a recent incident where he was the emcee at a meeting of the Jackson Area Realtors.

He made the passing comment that he always sees a house “for sale by owner” and never “by neighbor.” He said he could never figure that out.

That afternoon, he returned home after running some post-meeting errands to find a sign in his yard — “For Sale by Neighbor: inquire next door.”

Humor is not dead.


Little Rock, Ark.

The Wild, Wild South

Dear Smiley: After retiring from the Army, I lived in the far “Wild West” of Texas, near the Mexican border, for over 20 years.

But I have seen more shootings in the 15 years I lived here, so I think Baton Rouge should be in line for a change of name, maybe “Dodge City” or “Abilene,” although my best guess would be “Tombstone,” unless you have a better suggestion.



Dear Bob: I don’t have a suggestion for a new name, but I have come up with a new city slogan: “Welcome to Baton Rouge — Now Duck!”

They nailed it

Dear Smiley: Your item about “stone gumbo” brings back memories of the Great Depression during the 1930s, when men would hop on freight trains to go looking for work.

They called them hobos, and at times when hanging around the water tank in a hobo jungle waiting for a train, they would make “rusty nail soup.”

They would find a garden or some meat to make the soup or stew, find a pot, make a fire and cook it.

They always carried a rusty nail to tie a string to and drop in the soup to flavor it. They took the nail out to use again.


Baton Rouge

Temporary captain

Dear Smiley: Within the last couple of years, there have been numerous news stories about disasters involving cruise ships, ferries, trains, etc., in which the person supposed to be at the helm was either incapacitated or had left the task to someone unqualified for it.

A few years ago, my wife and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and took a day trip along the Pacific Coast on a boat carrying about 100 passengers.

At one point, the man at the helm of the boat turned to a passenger standing on the deck just outside the wheelhouse and asked him if he would take the helm for a few minutes.

The captain pointed to a hill rising above the horizon several miles away and said, “Just keep in a straight line towards that peak.”

He returned about 15 minutes later, with no harm done by the temporary helmsman — me!



Turning pro

Dear Smiley: Speaking of doughnut holes:

When I was about 4 years old, my mother used to make me perform at her beauty parlor.

My repertoire consisted of “Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee” (“Buzz around, buzz around”), “Three Little Fishies” and “Jesus Loves Me.”

One day, I wandered next door to a bakery. The lady there offered me doughnut holes if I would perform for her.

I thought she was having me on, as “holes” would be air, right?

But I did a number for her anyway and got a bag of tasty holes — the plugs from the center of the doughnuts.

After that I was a “professional” and refused to perform without payment.



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.