Dear Smiley: One morning during our recent visit to Ipswich, Mass., granddaughter Celina Satter was being rushed to get ready for school.

From the bathroom, she lamented, “Being 5 is not easy. People are always telling you what to do: eat, brush your teeth, fix your hair, get dressed.

“Then at school somebody tells you to do this, do that, keep quiet, stand in line, walk slowly. It is just not easy being 5.”

I replied, “If you think being 5 is hard, just wait until you are 62 like Papa and me.”

Her quick comeback, “No, Gam, you get to stay home all day and play games on your iPad.”

Well, I guess there’s a little truth there!



Gifts you can’t wrap

Dear Smiley: As I reflect on 2012 and gifts received throughout the year and look forward to 2013, I’m reminded of the many gifts we all have the opportunity to receive daily:

The beauty of nature’s flora and fauna; the majestic sky with its ever-changing clouds creating an unfolding canvas of beautiful pictures; the beauty of a person’s smile; the wonder in a child’s eyes.

Although tragedy strikes each of us in many ways, these gifts help us to meet life’s challenges.



Fish story

Dear Smiley: Thirty-odd years ago we took a Sunday afternoon drive, way out in the country.

On a dirt road we passed a little church that was having a fundraiser.

Hand-painted on a piece of plywood, the sign read “Fish Sandwich. Pay as moved.”

My wife and I were “moved” to make a small donation to the congregation, many of whom were huddled around a huge cast-iron pot.

I asked for two fish sandwiches, and in less than five minutes witnessed the entire culinary procedure.

The cook pulled up a fish basket from a nearby pond and grabbed two bream, each about twice the size of a robust cocahoe minnow.

The live bream then were rinsed in tap water, rolled in cornmeal, and dropped into the iron pot filled with boiling lard.

Swiftly the fish were pulled from the grease and slapped between two pieces of white bread. (Evidently their custom did not include ketchup, mayonnaise, etc.)

Finally, each sandwich was wrapped in a paper towel and proudly presented to me.

We left feeling somewhat virtuous for supporting the church.

I still wonder how that fish sandwich would have tasted.


Baton Rouge

He loved to laugh

Dear Smiley: How sweet and special it was to see your funny story about my father, Tommy Gibbens, in your column.

Of course, the family is missing him so very much, especially during the Christmas season.

Daddy was well known for all of his funny and true stories that he loved to tell and often retold.

More than once he went to an outdoor pool-side party in old clothes and shoes (no one realized this but my mother).

Then he would jump in the pool fully dressed and watch all the other guests do the same in their good clothes.

He would get out and get dressed in the better clothes he had left in the car.

Everyone else went home wet, and he had a good laugh.

Thank you for keeping his name alive — he so loved family, friends, life and a funny story.


Baton Rouge

No, that’s litter-acy

Dear Smiley: My daughter, Judy Mills, who taught third-grade reading, one day told the class that the school would celebrate Literacy Day — each student could dress in costume as their favorite character in a book and participate in a school-wide parade.

One student spoke up and said, “Mrs. Mills, does that mean we are going around the schoolyard and pick up trash?”


Baton Rouge

Moving hair story

Dear Smiley: About your hair loss stories:

Years ago, while I was shaving in pajama bottoms, my son, age 5, was watching.

He said, “Dad, I know why you don’t have any hair. It’s all under your arms.”

This was 52 years ago, and my son is now a Ph.D.



Stuck for life

Dear Smiley: I got this one from my friend Rhonda, who teaches art at UL Lafayette:

“Enjoying my drive to Monroe with 16-year-old son Dylan on the way to a soccer game, we discuss girls.

“He informs me that he doesn’t like clingy ones.

“I look over at him with a big goofy smile: ‘But I’m kinda clingy.’

“He responds, ‘Yeah, but I can’t break up with you.’ ”



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.