Dear Smiley: On my first date with my future wife, we attended a graduation dance party.
The room, when we arrived, was crowded, so we went outside.
When I sat down, it felt cold. My first thought was that the chair was wet — but when I put my hand there, I discovered that I had a large tear in my pants.
I was able to get four friends to surround me and walked through the crowd to go home and change my pants.
The pants I was wearing were the only summer pants I had, so I had to change into my winter ones.
The problem was, my mother had filled the pockets with mothballs. I realized how strong the smell was, but I had no choice.
Upon returning to the dance, it took me a while to convince my date about why I had left the party. She finally believed me when the smelled the mothballs.
The rest of the night was equally embarrassing — while dancing I received a ton of looks from the crowd for the smell I was giving off.
Dear Jim: And she STILL married you after that? Now that is true love!
Dear Smiley: Mary Pramuk's letter about "back belt pants" brought back some memories about an old friend from Air Force days.
After pilot training in Georgia, my next assignment was to the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center in downtown St. Louis.
I shared an apartment with two other young second lieutenants, and we were as about diverse in terms of native culture as could be — one was from Colorado, the other from New York.
My friend from New York was an industrial design major from Syracuse University, and an ultimate believer in the philosophy that there should never be "form without function." (He drove a Volkswagen with no air conditioning and bare necessities).
When pants came out with a little buckle on the back (Ivy League pants), he liked the pants, but could not suffer the buckles. So he would buy the pants and cut the buckles off.
We remain good friends to this day.
History of travel
Dear Smiley: A recent item about the correct pronunciation of New Orleans brought back recollections of how people traveled to "La Ville."
There were no bridges from the east to the west bank of the Mississippi River, so someone traveling to New Orleans on the Southern Pacific Railroad from Napoleonville would have to stay aboard the rail car as it was placed on a ferry to be transported across the river.
This continued until the Huey P. Long Bridge was completed in the 1930s.
The first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River was built at Rock Island, Illinois, across from Davenport, Iowa, in 1856.
It pitted steamboat interests against the railroads. It also pitted two lawyers against one another who later would both change our country forever.
Abraham Lincoln represented the railroad interests and Jefferson Davis represented the steamship interests.
The courtroom battle over the bridge was epic, and Lincoln even used a survey of the river completed by Robert E. Lee!
I highly recommend that lovers of history research and read about the trial!
Dear Smiley: The other day I picked up my iPhone and said, "Hey, Alexa." No response.
Again I said, "Hey, Alexa." Still no response.
Trying one more time, I said, "Hey, Alexa," but was interrupted by Siri:
"I think you have the wrong personal assistant, Richard!"
I had to laugh at being corrected by an android.
Dear Richard: Sounds more like HAL 9000, the computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Dear Smiley: Leon Minvielle's recent suggestion in the column to add eyebrow and ear hair trimming to your birthday mention qualifications makes sense for men of a certain age.
Now, who's brave enough to make a similar suggestion for women?
Dear Paul: Not me, that's for sure — on subjects like that involving women, "Brer Smiley, he lay low…"