Dear Smiley: Recently you had several notes about guys in uniform getting upgraded from economy seats to first class. My wife prompted me to write about my return from overseas duty in Vietnam and West Germany in 1973.
I had been out of the country for more than four years, and was looking forward to my return. The Army had a plan for returning soldiers to be reimbursed the charge they paid for each seat on the charter/troop flights if they took an American-flagged airline. The airlines came out with a new fare that matched that reimbursement.
After getting my ticket for a Pam Am flight on a Boeing 747 from Frankfurt, West Germany, to New York, I was told by the agent that they had overbooked the flight, but I looked so good in my uniform that I was being moved to first class.
As I was ushered to my seat, I noticed the guy in the next seat was Jim Nabors. After I ordered dinner from a menu and wine from a list, Mr. Nabors took me upstairs to the cocktail lounge, where he introduced me to several NBA players who were also traveling to the U.S. Life was good.
Dear Smiley: Charlie Anderson's Wednesday story of his father cursing while trying to fix a car reminded me of similar experiences, except with little cheap air-cooled outboard motors.
As the "caboose" of five, I was rarely spoken to in French by either parent. I guess they didn’t think teaching me to speak or understand their native tongue would be of benefit to me. (Probably reinforced by teachers banning the speaking of French.)
But when my pop attacked a stubborn outboard motor, the French cuss words flowed freely. I guess he was really trying to give me French lessons, because he repeated those words often during one of those encounters.
ALEX "SONNY" CHAPMAN
Dear Smiley: Last week we took care of our grandchildren while their parents were on a short holiday.
Before leaving, our daughter told us the bed linens, blankets, etc., were in the armoire in their bedroom. It is the armoire we bought at an antiques warehouse on Magazine Street in New Orleans in July, 1975.
At the time, it was a "thing" to convert an armoire to a china cabinet, which we did. We had glass shelves made, and it worked very well holding our dishes, serving pieces, etc., in the little dining room in our first house on State Street.
We invited a friend and her mother to dinner one evening. Our friend's mother had grown up, and still lived, in Bywater, a faubourg just outside the French Quarter.
We were in and out of the armoire during the evening, so the mother could see how we were using it.
The next day, our friend told me that after they left our house, her mother said, "We were poor growing up, but we were never so poor we had to put our dishes in the arm'er."
To this day, every time I see the armoire, I think of our friend's mother and smile.
Dear Smiley: No one whistles anymore … can't remember the last time I heard someone whistling.
My late dad, Dr. Ford, would whistle while working on his dog and cat patients. He whistled shopping in Bet-R, driving, cutting grass, working around the house — everywhere but church. He sounded like a canary.
Maybe that's what the world is missing. I know I miss it.
Dear Smiley: Regarding your stories from readers about funny things their grandchildren come up with:
It is getting close, and hopefully we will get some clever comments when our grandson, Colin Schell, soon publishes his PhD thesis.
What's the word?
Dear Smiley: I just recalled a cartoon I saw years ago (probably in Look or Saturday Evening Post):
A dog sled team is barreling full speed toward a cliff edge. The driver is frantically calling, “Dismush! Demush! Unmush!”