Dear Smiley: My fireworks story — other than the ones where we made bombs from firecrackers and created blast zones. But we shouldn’t mention those.
My brothers and I were shooting firecrackers into the air with a slingshot one afternoon. I was wearing a shirt with a top pocket filled with those explosive little critters.
As I let go a flying firecracker, a spark from the fuse landed in my pocket, setting all of them off.
I’m sure I was a funny sight running around trying to rip my shirt off while being deafened from tiny explosions so close to my ear.
My brother, Kerry, verified that by laughing at me. That is, until he realized it was his shirt I was wearing and had blown the pocket off of.
Dear Smiley: When Tropical Storm Claudette was deemed a "shoo-shoo" for this area in a recent headline, there was discussion as to the origin of the word.
We knew from childhood (in the late ‘30s) that was the sound we heard when a nonfiring firecracker was ignited … a little sparkling and a fizzy sound. A shoo-shoo!
Dear Smiley: The whole time I lived in Florida, about 10 years, I never heard a Southern accent.
The first time I encountered it was as dance professor at Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The first day of class I sat down with my list of students and said I would call out their names, and if they preferred that I use a nickname or something to let me know.
First name was Katherine Claire. She responded with, "K.C."
Next student also responded with her initials rather than her full name. OK. So using initials was evidently a trend here.
I worked my way through the list, but one girl had not yet responded.
I asked her what her name was and she said, 'C and D.' (Sounded like a gynecological term to me.)
I looked all over the roster but couldn’t find any name with the initials C and D. I looked at her and said, “C and D?”
She responded with “Yay — us.” OH! Head smack! Her name was Cindy!
Dear Smiley: When you printed a spray of nicknames across your column, I had to say, "Well, I never!"
Some of them sounded like words used to call the cows to the barn or goats out of trees.
When I took a position in a large public library, I already had a friend, Tommy, working there as a page for a senior librarian named Mrs. Cage.
When Tommy started working with her, her name was Mrs. Bird, and when she divorced she became Mrs. Cage.
Tommy always thought of her as Mrs. Bird Cage, but he never would address her that way, and he made me vow that I would never, either.
Buddy in Gretna
Dear Smiley: Former Gov. Buddy Roemer's passing triggered memories of when he attended the city of Gretna's 75th anniversary celebration on Saturday, Aug. 20, 1988.
As event planner commemorating Gretna's 1913 incorporation, I had invited Gov. Roemer to be our guest of honor. Few could remember when a governor had visited Gretna before, and we relished his visit.
His office said he'd fly in, weather permitting. It was touch-and-go all morning, but about half an hour before the scheduled event, as if by heavenly decree, the black clouds parted and a helicopter dropped down into the parking lot across from City Hall.
Gov. Roemer and his entourage emerged and headed for the outdoor stage peopled with elected officials and descendants of Gretna's first families.
As I walked over to greet them, I remember the surprised reaction of the governor's bodyguard as I asked him to please step aside so I could shoot the governor. I quickly added, "With my camera, of course."
SEVILLA WHITE FINLEY
Dear Sevilla: That's why professional photographers never use the "s-word," always saying instead, "Excuse me, may I please take a photograph of this person? Thank you very much."