Dear Smiley: Saturday brings with it some problems for us retired people.

The stock market is closed.

The big-box and the hardware stores are mobbed.

Right now the college football season is over.

This morning my favorite fishing spot had too many boats.

Tomorrow morning no Smiley.

Payback comes with Monday morning, though.

Old comfortable clothes and shoes, that extra cup of coffee and a little chuckle when we think of the morning traffic.

A big smile when we think of our five-day weekend.

Tough job, but somebody has to do it.


Baton Rouge

Taste of home

Dear Smiley: My husband and I, lifelong residents of Denham Springs (61 years), retired a bit over a year ago and moved to Texas, to be near our grandchildren, and their parents too.

As Mardi Gras has come nearer, I was really missing the great king cakes from down south.

I posted this longing on my Facebook page, and one of my former students from Live Oak High School in 1973, Kathy King Mitchell, noted the post and sent me two AMAZING king cakes. They were delicious. Thank you, Kathy.

Now, if we could just get Zapp’s Potato Chips …


Fairview, Texas

Early gifts

Dear Smiley: I was interested in your recent comments about the old Louisiana custom of saying “Christmas Eve Gift!” to everyone you meet on Dec. 24.

Although I am descended from generations of north Louisiana ancestors on both sides, I had never heard of this until I married in 1947.

My husband, the late Tom Norman, who was originally from Natchitoches Parish, acquainted me with this, and soon established it as a ritual in the family we created.

The main object seemed to be first to say it to each person you met that day, especially family members and close friends.

Thinking about this recently, I remembered having seen a reference to this custom in Lyle Saxon’s 1919 classic “Old Louisiana.”

I pulled out my copy and found a chapter on Christmas customs.

In Saxon’s introduction, he concludes with this sentence: “The chapters pertaining to Christmas and New Year have been rewritten from stories of mine which appeared in the New Orleans Times-Picayune a few years ago.”

How about looking for those earlier Saxon articles?



The first Pelicans

Dear Smiley: The item in the paper about naming New Orleans’ basketball team “Pelicans” reminded me of an incident in 1947.

Five of us from the University of California, doing research in Mexico, stopped at a restaurant just west of Mexico City for lunch.

In the restaurant were two couples on their honeymoons. One of the fellows came over and asked if we knew how the Pelicans were doing.

We didn’t, and we four junior members of the team got into a discussion as to what were the Pelicans.

After a while Professor Carl Sauer, much to our surprise, said “Oh, they are a minor league baseball team from New Orleans.”

We wondered why a professor from Berkeley should be aware of a New Orleans team.

It just so happened that the two professors at LSU who started the Department of Geography and Anthropology, Richard Russell and Fred Kniffen, had been his students at Berkeley.

In 1947 the Pelicans team was affiliated with the Boston Red Sox and had a roster of 27 players, about half of whom had big league experience.


Baton Rouge

That doggone cat!

Dear Smiley: I loved the snippet about the dog dressed as a cat for Halloween.

I have a cat, Ryder (a rescue cat from Cat Haven), that I swear is a “dog trapped in a cat’s body.”

I have actually taught him to “Sit” and “Stay” ­— otherwise my two girl cats, Rose and Callie (also rescues) would not get their treats, because I think he is part pig also!­



Sad discovery

Dear Smiley: Like the 6-year-old in your column, my 15-year-old, Michael, had no use for math.

One day he was practicing his drums, an activity I tolerated because at least I know where he was!

Suddenly Michael threw down his sticks and hollered,“Oh, NO!”

He stomped around the room muttering to himself and slapping his head.

So I asked what was the problem.

Michael wailed, “I just realized that music is MATH! Now I’ll have to pay attention in math class!”



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.