Dear Smiley: Some Americans have only the foggiest notion of what this country is like.
When I was a cadet at the Merchant Marine Academy in New York, I dated a girl who took me to her home in New Jersey, where I met her parents.
We were sitting in the living room talking when her father asked me, "Does it ever get cold in Louisiana?"
I said, "Yes, sir, it gets cold sometime — but it usually only lasts for a few days."
He then said, "Well, even when it's cold, I suppose you don't feel it very much, because it's so dry down there."
Stumping the flood
Dear Smiley: The high water in Pierre Part reminded me of a conversation with my wife's grandmother.
She grew up in Pierre Part, and said that during the flood of 1927 her father cut stumps, put them on the floor and built another floor over them.
They stayed in the house. The biggest problem was the snakes.
Dear Smiley: When I was a young boy, in order to access our home it was necessary to open a gate that prevented our cattle from getting onto the seldom traveled highway (gravel road to be more precise).
When riding with our parents, none of us wanted to get out of the vehicle and open the gate.
On one such occasion, when I was about 7 years old, I told my mom that I would do the task if she would let me drive to the garage. She agreed.
Sitting next to me, she showed me how to push the clutch in (standard transmission) and slowly release it while pushing in on the accelerator.
I did that, and we were off and running! In fact, I drove so fast and far that I didn’t stop until I had run through the garage and into the chicken house!
Talk about misplaced chickens, feathers, broken eggs, broken windows and dents!
I didn’t drive anything else but a tractor for a long time.
Wake up call
Dear Smiley: When I was growing up in Shreveport, café au lait was not the preferred term used for steamed milk and strong hot coffee.
My dad called this beverage "coffee milk," and he prepared it for me every morning. On Sunday mornings he would bring me coffee milk AND the funny papers and wake me up to go to church.
I still enjoy my "coffee milk," but when I moved to New Orleans, I quickly learned to call it café au lait.
Dear Carol: When I was a lad, coffee milk was mostly milk with a little coffee in it, for kids. But if your dad steamed the milk and made it half coffee and half milk, you could call it café au lait; especially if it was strong coffee (or better yet, coffee and chicory). And then there's café latte, but that is another story for another day. …
Dear Smiley: I see that the St. John Public Schools’ all-male STEM Chess Team won three events last week in a National Chess Federation tournament in Texas.
Next year they plan to field a girls’ team too.
I think it has something to do with building a separate dressing room.
Expensive bar trick
Dear Smiley: Many years ago I frequented a bar that served beer in a frosted mug. The bartender was quite the wag.
One evening I went in and ordered a beer. "Do you want the foam on the top or the bottom?" he asked.
Always ready for a barroom trick, I told him I would take it on the bottom. He turned the mug upside down and filled the indention on the bottom with beer, set it on the bar and said, "25 cents please."
I paid up, and always got the foam on the top after that.
Death and horticulture
Dear Smiley: Recently the state of Washington became the first state to legalize human composting.
This could give a whole new meaning to Granny Smith apples.