Dear Smiley: In the 1960s I was cargo officer on the USS Betelgeuse, a Navy supply ship (I'm a retired Navy commander).

Our regular operations were crisscrossing the Atlantic with missiles and general cargo. We operated independently of other Navy ships, which meant long, boring days at sea.

The current COVID-19 imposed isolation reminds me of life aboard ship. There was nowhere to go for days, sometimes weeks at a time. There was no internet, email, or television, but there was a daily movie.

The current shutdown of churches reminds me that there was no chaplain aboard, so no shipboard church services.

Because the pace of operations was low, there was much time for reading, study, and individual training. I spent time improving my skill as a navigator, including using the ship's namesake star, Betelgeuse, on a regular basis.

Currently isolated again, I looked at Betelgeuse and remembered how I dealt with the monotony and boredom.

An astronomy article reports that Betelgeuse, which was apparently dimming for months, is again brightening, Maybe this is a sign that things will get better.


River Ridge

Repeat performance

Dear Smiley: When my brother, Bob Pickering, and I were 8 and 6, respectively, our household was quarantined twice, because of measles and chickenpox invasions across the country.

A large printed 'QUARANTINED' sign was posted at our front door. Our mother could not go out to shop, but my father worked at an aircraft plant and could stop on his way home for provisions.

There was only one radio in our house. We read comic books and children’s novels, played cards and guessing games, listened to music, radio dramas, sporting events, and comedy shows.

Our parents’ bed was ours, because it was easier for us to be cared for there, and also easier for the doctor when he made his house calls.

Our parents were relegated to our bunk bed in the second bedroom; mom had the lower, and dad had the top — much to his consternation. The quarantine lasted until the doctor notified the health department it was safe.


Baton Rouge

Blame the tonsils

Dear Smiley: This is not the first time I have been quarantined.

In the early ’50s my family was living in the Pensacola area. One of my brothers was found to be a diphtheria "carrier."

The county health department came and nailed a big red quarantine sign on our front gate post. My brothers and I were taken to the county hospital to have our tonsils removed. It was thought that the germ grew on our tonsils.

Not very pleasant memories.



The new normal

Dear Smiley: I don't know about the rest of your readers, but I have become really tired of every newscast beginning with the phrase "BREAKING NEWS."

It's not breaking news anymore. It is now the standard news of the day, and for the foreseeable future. COVID-19 and all of the accompanying measures and restrictions are now the news.

Unless it all of a sudden disappears or a miraculous cure is discovered, what you now have to report is just the day's progress, or lack thereof. Give us all a break.


Selective shopping

Dear Smiley: There’s been a little panic supermarket shopping around here the past couple of days.
I noted that the toilet paper shelves are just about completely bare — but the liquor section is normally stocked.
I’ll never understand some people’s priorities.


Mow better?

Dear Smiley: You may not like daylight saving time due to it being dark in the mornings, but as the days go by, that will change.

Meanwhile the extra hour in the evening is a blessing to most people, especially working people who then have more time to cut grass or do other chores. Plus they don’t have to come home in the dark.

If anything was to change in the law, it should be to keep DST year round!



Dear Marie: If you enjoy yard work, I suppose DST would be helpful. However, in my case. ...

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.