This sad commentary is offered by Shlomo Pielstick-Kennedy (possibly an alias):

“In case you’ve ever wondered how good a job our schools are doing at preparing students for college, this may give you an idea:

“I teach at a university in Texas. Yesterday in a lab, a student asked for my help with a problem. I pointed to his paper and said, ‘You have to add those two numbers.’

“The numbers were 7 and 1. He picked up his calculator to perform the addition.”

Here endeth the lesson

John R. Baker says, “My wife was giving a Halloween party for Miss Green’s second graders at Highland Elementary five or six years ago. I went along to help her with the refreshments, but decided it would be good to teach the students a little church history. (John is a former LSU professor.)

“With the answer ‘All Saints Day’ in my head, I asked what day followed Halloween.

“No one responded initially, but then a little lad raised his hand. With great anticipation I asked him to respond. Somewhat tentatively, he said, ‘November 1.’

“To hell with church history, I thought, and congratulated him on the correct answer.”

Men at work

“In the ’40s,” says Pat Alba, of Metairie, “my father, who was on a six-month construction assignment in South America, received a letter from me, age 9, which he treasured.

“I had written: ‘Dear Daddy: Are you an office man or do you work?’”

Quick thinking

Sarah Stravinska tells this story to illustrate the importance of covering your, uh, behind:

“In order to impress a Very Important Guest, the couple decided to really do up their dinner party. They hired a butler to admit the guests, a chef to roast a swan and a maid to serve the meal.

“All was going well until the maid staggered in carrying the roast swan. The platter tipped, and the swan slid off onto the floor!

“There was a horrified silence. The maid was cowering. Then the host said to her, ‘Take that swan out to the kitchen and bring in the OTHER swan.’”

Nice People Dept.

Lisa tells this story about her dad, 93:

“Pop went to Sam’s Club in Metairie the other day to purchase a few items, and when he went to check out he learned that his daughter forgot to renew the Sam’s membership. No worries — the cashier allowed him to renew it on the spot.

“But Pop doesn’t have a Discover card, so he had to pay with cash. When they rang up his bill, he was less than $5 short.

“A gentlemen in the back of the line put up the money, and told my Pop to pay it forward. It was a special gift from a stranger. I can’t wait to find out how he pays it forward. There is good in the world.”

Type casting

Ralph Caplan says, regarding our nostalgia items about Underwood typewriters, “I sold them many years ago and have been through the Underwood factory. I was in the office products business for 46 years, and during that time I collected many antique typewriters: Blickenderfer, Mignon, Fox, Yost, Williams, Caligraph, Oliver, American, and the standard ones, Underwood, Royal and Hammond.

“Many years ago I displayed them in the Goodwood Library. I also have their instructions books. If anyone is interested in antique typewriters they can call me at (225) 803-6879.”

Special People Dept.

A.J. and Arlene Hymel celebrate 54 years of marriage on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

It’s catching

Karen Poirrier, of Lutcher, says, “Reading the malapropisms in Smiley’s column is affecting my vocabulary!

“One day last week after he returned from school, I told my grandson, Taylor, to be sure to put his school clothes in the ‘hamster.’”

Marie who?

“Speaking of mispronounced words,” says Loretta Toussant, “while at a funeral in St. Francisville, the minister in charge kept referring to the family of the deceased as ‘The Marie Family.’

“That confused me, because that was not the family name nor that of the deceased. I then realized that he meant the ‘bereaved’ family!”

Thought for the Day

Harriet St. Amant quotes John Mortimer: “I refuse to spend my life worrying about what I eat. There’s no pleasure worth forgoing just for an extra three years in the geriatric ward.”

Horsing around

T. Med Hogg says, “Our daughter, Judy Mills, has come with some good sayings. One was, ‘Never kick a gifted horse in the mouth.’”

Extreme measures

Donald says, “A few years ago, I was in my sister-in-law’s flower shop in Napoleonville and I heard a woman tell someone that her husband was ill in the hospital, and the doctors were going to ‘perform an autopsy to check if he has cancer.’”

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.