Dear Smiley: I’d like to relate my story to you about church keys/bottle openers.

Some time in the 1950s, my wife Sybil and I were in a slow-moving line of traffic on the River Road, having made our way from Bunkie to Baton Rouge en route to an LSU football game. It was very dark and was raining.

Suddenly we see a young man running alongside the traffic in the rain knocking on windows.

When he came to our passenger side window, Sybil rolled it down, and the young man asked if we had a church key (bottle opener).

We actually had two in the glove compartment. Sybil said yes and gave one to him.

He said that he would be right back to return it to us after they opened their bottles; however, Sybil said “That’s OK, keep it. We have another one. I gave you my husband’s, and I kept mine.”

If that young — now old — man is still living and reads this, I’d like to hear from him! (Maybe I can get my church key back!) He can call me at (318) 346-2392.



What about Huey?

Dear Smiley: In the early ’60s, when I worked for the Louisiana Department of Health, an official holiday for state agencies was Huey P. Long’s birthday.

Does anyone remember when, why and by whom that observance was revoked?



Dear Pat: While Louisiana Revised Statute 1:55 lists “Huey Long Day” on Aug. 30 as a state holiday, it’s one of those holidays that “shall be observed only in such manner as the governor may proclaim.” And it’s not on the list for 2016 state holidays. Maybe if we elect another Long governor…

Bomber run

Dear Smiley: The Wednesday article about the flight of the B-24 bomber over France reminded me of a flight by my uncle Irvin Small.

He was stationed in either Alexandria or Shreveport at the beginning of World War II, and was a pilot.

One sunny day the sky over the little community of the Canal Road southwest of Napoleonville was inexplicably taken over by a thunder like the residents had never heard before.

The noise was deafening, and people were afraid that our country might be under attack by a foreign invader.

Lo and behold, it was my uncle and his team of conspirators flying at treetop level over my grandfather and grandmother’s home.

Don’t know how he was able to fly (probably a B-17 or B-24) so far off course, but I would assume in those days radar technology was in its infancy and lots of young pilots were lost on training missions!

Remember this was the age of horses and mules in that area and very, very few automobiles!



Reason to drink

Dear Smiley: In 1991 I spent the summer in St. Petersburg, Russia (still called Leningrad at that time).

All drinks were served in a bottle, and everyone had their own bottle-opener. I never saw any drinks served in a can. I still have my Russian “church key.”

The only time I was offered hard liquor was the vodka they broke out on the flight from Helsinki, Finland, to St. Petersburg.

Considering the condition of the rubber bands holding that plane together, I drank the vodka!



Talk that talk

Dear Smiley: We seem to be making some headway with the English language in the U.S. Now all conversations seem to be started with “so.”

That is better than the previous “actually” by three syllables. If we could just get rid of “like,” we could shorten conversations by a good 50 percent in many cases.



Choose your word

Dear Smiley: A lot of people who should know better, including journalists and teachers, often use “impact” for “affect.”

A recent contributor asked you to encourage your readers to contact a teacher who “positively impacted” their lives during the annual Teachers’ Appreciation Day, March 17. But impacts rarely have positive results. As a teacher once told me, “When someone’s fist impacts your nose, it might affect your breathing.”



Dear Russ: My dictionary gives as one of the definitions of impact, “to affect.” But it adds, “a usage objected to by some.” I assume you are among that “some.”

Just you wait

Dear Smiley: I was reading your column, and in the “Special People Dept.” it seems that one needs to make 90 in order to get your attention.

I have always wanted to get in your “Special People Dept.,” and will be 90 in 10 years.

Do you think you can wait 10 years for me?


Baton Rouge

Dear John: I’ve made a note to include you on your birthday in 2026. Let me be the first to congratulate 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.