Dear Smiley: The other day I was visiting with my parents, Mae and T. Med Hogg, and we were talking about all of the sinister phone calls we get these days and our reactions to them.

I told my parents I don’t even answer the call if the number is unknown.

My mother said she asks them if they know Jesus as their personal savior, and they hang up quickly.

Daddy replied, “Well, I pretty much do the same thing. I tell them to go to hell — but before I can tell them about how to get to heaven, they hang up.”


Baton Rouge

The flying Beetle

Dear Smiley: In the early 1970s, my fuel money was lean but my thumb was strong.

Fortunately, I had an upper class friend named Fred. He'd let me catch a lift in his Beetle late Fridays if he was headed near Covington.

Fred had mastered Beetle "drafting." He'd get near the end of a speeding 18-wheeler trailer and save a few pennies until the driver flashed lights to protest us.

One trip home, on our way along the interstate, Fred broke away from a truck at the precise time we hit a giant clearing.

His Beetle lifted up and jumped laterally several feet in the air as a strong wind caught us.

It was one of the more educational experiences, away from the classroom, that I ever had at LSU.


Panama City Beach, Florida

Playing astronaut

Dear Smiley: In the ’60s at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California, where I had been chaplain, the Mercury Simulator was used in the Aerospace Test Pilot School to prepare potential astronauts for future flights.

Col. John Prodan was the school's programs director, responsible for the Mercury Simulator.

Once he took me to the Simulator, and with me in the pilot's seat he manned the controls from behind me, so I could feel the blast of takeoff and take a "flight into space."

That was an amazing experience for me, the "sky pilot" (chaplain).



Not so reassuring

Dear Smiley: The recent 50 year anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing reminds me of the quote attributed to astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, about how he felt at the launch of his historic space flight:

"I felt exactly how you would feel if you were getting ready to launch and knew you were sitting on top of two million parts — all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract."


Ville Platte

Time to go

Dear Smiley: On a return trip from Houston I stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant to use the restroom.

When I pulled into the parking lot there were not many parking spaces available.

But right in front there was a couple of parking spaces available, with a sign that read "For To Go Only." So I parked in one of them.

Until now I didn’t realize that there was a reserved parking spot for people who had to go.



Faithful elevators

Dear Smiley: Eight years ago we moved to a three-story house on my wife’s absolute condition that I install an elevator to allow our aging parents to easily visit.

The elevator worked fine all week, but it wouldn’t move on Saturday when our parents visited.

I reset it as instructed by tech support and it worked. Then it happened the next weekend and a couple times more. Each time I reset the computer and it worked again.

I became very frustrated and demanded they send out a technician. He offered to come Sunday evening to check it out.

After a thorough inspection, he couldn’t find any malfunctions, which started raising my blood pressure. Then he asked if we were Jewish.

Perplexed at the question, we replied, “No, we are Baptists.” A good laugh ensued. It turns out the elevator had a Sabbath setting for Orthodox Jews, where it doesn’t move on Saturdays when they cannot by faith use a machine.

One flip of a switch and we were golden!



Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.