Dear Smiley: A couple of years ago, my relatives took me on my first duck hunt. We brought along Knox, our family's springer spaniel. Our mission was clear: the hunters would shoot some ducks and Knox would jump in the water and retrieve them.
But it was late in the duck hunting season, and we didn't see any ducks. One bored hunter shot a nutria as it was swimming by; this confused Knox, who concluded we were hunting nutria and not ducks.
A little later, another nutria swam by and Knox jumped out of our boat and chased it into a canebrake. For a little while we heard Knox's howl of pursuit, then a different sound — the yelp of pain. Apparently, the nutria decided to stand and fight.
A couple of minutes later, Knox swam out of the canebrake with an ugly gash on his neck.
That night, Knox lay by the fireplace and did not move. He looked so ill and lethargic, we figured the nutria bite had given him a serious infection. We agreed to take him to the veterinarian the next day and get him some antibiotics.
But Knox rallied in the night. Early the next morning he jumped on the kitchen counter and ate all the breakfast bacon.
We decided Knox had not been injured by the nutria so much as humiliated. We resolved never to speak of the incident again in Knox's presence, and over the past couple of years, he's become a reasonably competent duck-hunting dog.
Spoken with conviction
Dear Smiley: A very long time ago, when I was first elected sheriff, I was sitting in on a trial with District Attorney Bert Talbot, who was prosecuting a defendant for second-degree murder.
One of the defense witnesses, an elderly lady from Pierre Part, spoke no English. The judge had the only attorney in the parish who spoke fluent French, the late “Toot” Dolese, sworn in as an interpreter for the court.
The defense attorney would ask questions in English and Toot would then ask the witness in French, and repeat her answer in English for the court.
One of his English interpretations was way off of what the French response had been. I immediately leaned over and told Bert. He rose from his seat and told the judge that Toot was incorrect.
The judge inquired as to how he knew, and Bert said I told him. The result was me being sworn in and interpreting her response — which actually incriminated the defendant. He was found guilty.
A sweet location
Dear Smiley: In the ’50s, as a young girl, I was so lucky to be friends with Ann Keller, whose family owned Keller's Bakery in Lafayette.
I'd spend the night at her home over the bakery, and in the evening when it closed we'd go down to where delicious goodies were — such as my favorite, crispy oatmeal cookies!
After a fun "giggling girls" night, we'd go to Borden's across the street to enjoy a fabulous banana split!
TONI SIMON BENNETT
Her 'major award'
Dear Smiley: Speaking of beer:
In 1970, the Schlitz beer distributor in Natchitoches held a jingle-writing contest. My dad entered and won a Schlitz T-shirt.
I decided to enter, too, and we both sent multiple entries. Schlitz merchandise began arriving daily — more tees, sweatshirts, a stein; apparently they liked all of our entries.
The principal threatened to send me home for a dress code violation when I wore the sweatshirt to school.
Finally I won a "major award" — pizza for two and a pitcher of beer at a local pizza place. Alas, I was only 15 and couldn't redeem my prize.
I held onto the certificate for 3 years, but by the time I was legal, the pizza place was out of business.
P.S. The major-award-winning jingle: "If I were out of Schlitz beer, all my friends would disappear. I'd be in such a flurry, that for more Schlitz I'd hurry."