Dear Smiley: I noted that an LSU attorney blamed efforts to obtain public information on the search for the new LSU president on “press curiosity.”

It reminded me of an incident when I was working for a paper in Arkansas.

A board considering selection of a site for a new prison wanted to have an executive session to talk on the matter, though they knew it would be illegal.

They said they were going to do it “unless some member of the press has an objection.”

Before I could get to my feet and object, a young man sitting next to me stood up.

“I’m not a member of the press,” he said, “but I am a citizen, taxpayer and registered voter, and I object.”

He carried the day.

Public meeting and public records laws aren’t made for the press, they’re made for all the people.



Most happy fella

Dear Smiley: A recent column said that the original owner of Smilie’s restaurant in Harahan never smiled, and that this led to the name of the restaurant.

I happened to know both of the original co-owners of that restaurant, Rodney Salvaggio and John Santopadre Jr.

They were brothers-in-law; Rodney was married to Jeannie Santopadre.

I was in the National Guard 256 Aviation Company at Lakefront Airport with Rodney from 1970 to 1976.

I met John Jr. while the restaurant was under construction.

The elder John Santopadre insisted that they actively participate in the construction of the restaurant, as he was the owner of the land on which it was being built, and wanted to be sure both were willing to work.

Both Rodney and John Jr. smiled often. In fact, Rodney was very funny and entertaining while in Army boot camp, and for the entire six years I was around him.



Dear Richard: OK then, how DID Smilie’s get its name?

Train nostalgia

Dear Smiley: In 1957 I boarded the Southern Belle at the Baton Rouge station, headed for Kansas City with my two sons, ages 4 and 3.

When topping the old Mississippi River bridge, Jeff loudly insisted that everyone look at the lab building at the Kaiser plant, “where my daddy works.”

The next morning a porter assisted us in crossing the open doorway into the dining car and to a table for breakfast.

He later came by to encourage Phil to finish his huge plate of pancakes.

Service was very personal and helpful, to make a memorable trip for a young mother.


Baton Rouge

No roux for you!

Dear Smiley: I was a construction brat growing up in south Louisiana right after World War II.

We were living in Church Point when my daddy met Dudley J. LeBlanc in the only pool hall in town.

I went to meet my daddy with my 30-pound tame raccoon, Cooney.

Cooney took to Coozan Dud like I had never seen.

My family was leaving the next day for another job, and I could not take Cooney.

My heart was broken, but I asked Coozan if he would look after Cooney, and he said yes.

Flash forward to 2008. My daughter works for a large insurance company in Baton Rouge, and one of her agents is from Opelousas.

He told her the story of Coozan having a tame raccoon in the late ’40s.

It seems Coozan kept my Cooney until he died of old age, loving him as I did. I always worried that Cooney would end up in a black iron pot with a roux.


St. Amant

Coffee with a kick

Dear Smiley: Part of my kitchen duties the summer of 1957 at Deer Valley guest ranch in Nathrop, Colo., was to clean the two 60-cup coffee pots and prepare them for the morning.

I forgot to clean the pots one night, and reheated the leftover coffee the next morning.

The owners and many of the guests were from Illinois, and were used to weak coffee. …

Clara, owner and overseer of the kitchen, said, “You better not let that happen again if you want to spend the rest of the summer in Colorado.”


Columbia, Tenn.

Patient mules

Dear Smiley: In his short novel “Old Man,” published in 1939, William Faulkner, at the end of an 85-word sentence, says “(the mule) had waited patiently the ten years in order to do (this), as a mule will work for you ten years for the privilege of kicking you once.”

Some 23 years later, Faulkner still enjoyed this thought enough to repeat it in the “The Reivers,” where he says in a sentence with only two semicolons “he (the mule) will work for you patiently for ten years for the chance to kick you once.”

Socrates, or Homer or perhaps Pogo, said, “Plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery” (especially if you are quoting yourself).


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.