Dear Smiley: While attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, I was the associate pastor at a small church in Grand Prairie.

Since the staff consisted of the pastor, a secretary and me, I often was referred to as the minister of music, minister of education, and/or minister of youth.

The custodian had recently retired, and the church offered to combine the salaries if I would assume that responsibility.

One day while I was cutting grass, one of the 10-or-11-year-old boys was walking home from school with a friend and yelled out to me, “Hi, Brother Seago.”

I heard his friend ask, “Who is that?”

I chuckled when I heard, “Oh, that is our janitor.”

I have always remembered that people may not see you as you see yourself.


Columbia, Tenn.

After the storm

Dear Smiley: I went to the New Orleans Lakefront after Hurricane Katrina to repair the lawn at a beautiful church.

This is when I met a guy my age who was taking things by the horn and making sure his church was getting repaired and ready for his parish.

This man happened to be Mr. John Georges.

My crew and I left Gonzales every day for over a month to get their grounds back in order, while watching other contractors repair the building.

I realized then what kind of man he is.

He was taking time out of his business to make sure his church was in order.

I am glad this man is at the helm of The Advocate.

He will make a great publisher.



Getting clipped

Dear Smiley: In my hometown, my family of four females frequented the local salon, then called the “beauty shop.”

The shop always smelled of Dippity-Do, and the majority of customers were regulars, who had their weekly roller-sets (my mom was one of them). On occasion, we kids would get haircuts.

My balding father had his hair cut from the barber shop up the street, complete with the old-fashioned pole.

When I was 12, I wanted a then-stylish shag hairstyle.

My mother gave me $5 to get the haircut.

When I came home, Mom was very upset — apparently I didn’t get enough hair cut off to make the $5 investment worthwhile!

My dad remarked that if his barber charged by the inch, he would pay a nickel for every haircut.

That ended the issue.

Father always knows best!



Memory train

Dear Smiley: I fondly remember the train stopping in Garyville.

Mr. McRae was the depot agent, and though he has been deceased for a long time, our families are still in touch with each other.

As a child I remember my mother telling my sister, brother and myself if we were good that day we would catch the train and travel to LaPlace to visit my grandmother.

Well, guess what? It was one of the only times I remember being punished.

We did not go until the next day.

I remember playing in the depot and Mr. Mac holding out the mail on a stick of some sort to be picked up as the train passed by.

Good memories.



Memory train II

Dear Smiley: The story about the businessman taking the Panama Limited and asking the porter to wake him up in Memphis for an important meeting, but waking up in Chicago instead, was oft told by the famous Mississippi-born comedian Jerry Clower.

Jerry told another story on how fast was the Panama Limited.

As an example, you could be boarding in Hammond, turning to say goodbye to your loved ones only to be kissing a bull square on the lips in McComb.


Tyler, Texas

Stirring the pot

Dear Smiley: The brewing City Park situation in Baton Rouge is generating public response.

It brings to mind my early days as a reporter for the McAlester, Okla., News Capital.

When things would get slow on the editorial page, the editor would have the reporter write a “letter to the editor,” arguing that the three remaining watering troughs in the city be removed because they were traffic hazards.

We even had a fictitious family name we used, identifying the author of the letters.

The newspaper would get a flurry of responses, each published.

When that response died down, we would pick another local controversy to attack.


Baton Rouge

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.