Ray Schell, of Prairieville, tells a story that readers of a certain age will find rather sad, while younger readers will wonder why it’s even worth mentioning:

“While working as a volunteer for VIPS (Volunteers In Public Schools) at Broadmoor Elementary, I had given my student a children’s encyclopedia as a gift.

“At a later date, when an appropriate subject came up, I suggested he look it up in his encyclopedia.

“He looked at me very seriously and said, ‘Why should I do that when I can just look it up on my phone?’”

Oh, Granny!

Karen Poirrier, of Lutcher, tells me, “Please note that my 15-year-old grandson, Taylor, dared me to send this ‘moment of truth’ message to you:

“Taylor says, ‘I saw my grandmother text a message, then raise the phone to her ear for a reply.’

“There you have it, Smiley; I told on myself!”

Smoke fighter

Frances McCord remembers bygone days when cigarette smoking was thought to be cool:

“In the late ’60s I was chairman of the East Baton Rouge Parish PTA Council’s newly-formed Smoking and Health Committee. At that time the parish School Board allowed ‘bull pens’ in high schools, where boys, with a note on file from their parents, could smoke a cigarette during recess.

“I still remember that School Board meeting, and how my knees were shaking as I presented our request to abolish bull pens to that group of men.

“Amazingly to us, the members agreed with us, and eventually bull pens were banned!”

Priestly put-down

Speaking of smokers, George Couvillon reminds us that “in the ’50s there was a TV cigarette ad proclaiming ‘Viceroy: Thinking man’s filter and smoking man’s taste.’

At St. Joseph’s in Marksville, we often had some very animated religious instruction. The Baltimore Catechism was the ‘question and answer’ method of teaching the faith.

“Once, on hearing the answer given by a bright student, the priest, with a very thick Irish accent, said ‘Boy, when you grow up, you won’t be smoking Viceroys.’ Then he smiled.”

Grits and love

Fernand Dionne, of Metairie, adds to our grits lore with this tale:

“In the summer of 1982, in the middle of an Atlantic crossing, one lady prepared grits for breakfast.

“I never had grits before; did not even know what it was.

“I tasted it and, yuck! It was very plain. I asked the lady to see the container, and dumped it overboard.

“I said, ‘As long as I am on this boat, no grits will be served!’

“Then 24 years later, my fiancee, now my wife, (a Louisiana lady) offered to cook grits.

“Love can make you do things, and I said yes.

“This time it was way better: ­with cheese, bacon, butter and chives. I ate the whole serving, and then told her my story.”

Meaty topic

A recent comment about bag lunches at school reminded me of this:

When I was a school kid, my mom would try to get creative with the sandwiches in my bag lunch.

In addition to usual sandwich meats: roast beef, chicken, ham, bologna or Spam (actually Prem, the version of Spam once made by my dad’s employer, Swift & Co.) sandwiches, she would mix canned deviled ham with diced sweet pickles, hard-boiled eggs and mayo. Sometimes, I assume when money was tight, she would make sandwiches with Vienna sausages or canned “potted meat.”

These two items, I later learned, should only be consumed in a boat while fishing, accompanied by saltine crackers, yellow mustard and cold root beer.

And no matter what you do, avoid reading the ingredients on the can...

Special People Dept.

Inez “Nez” Landry, of Donaldsonville, celebrates her 96th birthday Monday, Jan. 11. Daughter Debbie Peltier Roques says her mom’s grocery list reads “birdseed, Boost and beer.”

Thought for the Day

From Marvin Borgmeyer: “It helps to put a little humor into doing your taxes by reminding yourself that when you put the words ‘The’ and ‘IRS’ together, you get ‘theirs.’”

That’s dumb!

Daniel from Gonzales says our insult collection reminds him of “this one I heard often from an old foreman I worked with long ago: ‘If that boy’s brains were gasoline, he wouldn’t have enough to run an ant’s motorcycle halfway around a BB.’”

(Actually, he mentioned a specific type of ant, which I edited out to assure this column of a “G” or possibly “PG” rating.)

That’s lazy!

Chick St. Germaine, of Harahan, says, “My dad told my brother once that he was so lazy he could ‘fall asleep on a barbed wire fence.’”

Contacting Smiley

Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.