Dear Smiley: I lived in Iceland, at a NATO base, for two years. Because of the weather and rationing restrictions, I chose to live in the bachelor officers’ quarters instead of off base.

We had two rooms and a private bathroom, but had to share the kitchen on each floor.

We decided to get together every Sunday evening to cook a dinner and eat together.

People would sign up for the ingredients they would bring.

One day, shopping in the commissary, I found frozen crawfish tails — from Louisiana!

We decided that I would cook crawfish étouffée that Sunday.

So many people signed up that we ended up needing seven pounds of crawfish!

Usually, we were able to eat around the table in the middle of the kitchen. This time, though, we had card tables and chairs lining the hall.

I’d hoped there would be enough left over for me to have an additional private session with one of my favorite Louisiana dishes.

No luck. The pot was so clean it looked like someone had licked the last remaining bit!


Baton Rouge

Better than bait

Dear Smiley: We often hear people from other areas make the derogatory comment about crawfish — “We call it bait.”

Where I grew up in Tennessee, there was a small spring-fed stream about 100 feet from our back door. It was full of crawfish, which we did use as fish bait.

After moving here and attending crawfish boils, I realized the bait was better eating than the fish.

It still irks me that I had that delicacy in my back yard all those years and failed to realize it!

To those who make that comment about bait, I just chalk it up to ignorance.



Humble beginning

Dear Smiley: With the mention of mule and horse-drawn wagons, I couldn’t help but think of the start of a local business here in Donaldsonville.

There was a man named Bernard Lemann, who in 1836 started selling merchandise from a horse-drawn wagon.

This was the start of the business that came to be known as B. Lemann & Brothers.

He built the historical B. Lemann & Brothers building here around in 1877. The Lemann family to this day still owns and operates the business.



Don’t celebrate yet

Dear Smiley: I am grateful that I have sired five children over a span of 20 years.

My eldest was born on Sept. 6, and 20 years later my youngest was born on Sept. 1.

At the end of May, with the grace of God and the hard work and dedication of Parkview Baptist School, he will graduate from high school.

I am all atwitter. This fall will mark the first time in over 30 years I will not have to pay private school tuition.

I’m thinking new boat, vacations in the south of France, a secluded cabin in the Adirondacks. Life will be sweet.


Baton Rouge

Dear Howell: Allow me to give you just one word: “College.”

Mom was right

Dear Smiley: Our Russian Blue cat, Alyosha, had a real lust for Butterfinger candy bars.

I would open one and he would be on my chest, demanding some.

I would break off a piece and put it on the floor, but by the time I had peeled back some paper to get a bite Alyosha would be back on my chest demanding more.

One time I peeled the paper really fast and actually got a bite. Alyosha jumped on my chest and forked the bite right out of my mouth!

Maybe that’s why Mom told us to chew with our mouth closed.



Cutting remark

Dear Smiley: Another moon story:

My sister, Kelli Fairchild, was driving home one night with her then 4-year-old, Ben.

He spotted a sliver of moon and said, “Look, Mama! It’s God’s toenail!”

Upon arriving home, she told husband Jack to find another spot (preferably OUTSIDE!) to clip his nails — and to please make time to teach young Ben an astronomy lesson!


Baton Rouge

Mystery call

Dear Smiley: Las Vegas is calling me. Literally.

Twice during recent evenings the phone rang and the computerized female caller-ID voice on my phone announced, “Call from Las Vegas, Nevada.”

I haven’t had the nerve to answer. And Las Vegas apparently doesn’t leave messages.

I’ve never been to Las Vegas, so I can’t imagine why it is calling me.

I asked my husband, who has been several times, why Las Vegas might be calling him.

He said he thought what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas, so he has no idea why it would be calling him either. Hmmmm.



Dear Cindy: If I was your husband, I’d be alarmed at that “Hmmmm.”

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.