Dear Smiley: Stories regarding Sears reminded me of the special Christmas gift I received when I was a fourth-grade student at St. Michael Catholic School in Convent.
The "powers to be" allowed students in grades 4-8 to skate on campus during recess. Students in kindergarten to third grade were fascinated — and envious — as they watched the sharp turns, smooth curves, complete stops and various tricks their heroes mastered.
To skate on the cement from the front of the school, past the church hall, to the front of the church itself was the highlight of this privilege — none of the nuns supervised this area.
Eager to try out my shiny, lightweight Sears skates with ball-bearing wheels, I strapped them on as I'd seen students do for four years, pushed off — and fell flat on my derrière.
I learned two lessons in one fall: skating was harder than it looked, and I needed more cushion on my butt.
Dear Smiley: Here's a rotten memory I have regarding Sears as a child.
Several favorite TV shows featured walkie-talkies. My family was definitely not rich, so I could request ONE item.
I got excited about getting a pair of walkie-talkies, which would be a real treasure for me and the friend du jour.
But after my folks ordered them, Sears said they were on back-order. The worst part is that they sent ONE really cool looking walkie-talkie.
Now that I think about it … they said I could ask for ONE item … hmm.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Dear Smiley: Don’t get me wrong; I love the state of Alabama, especially Orange Beach.
But why are the only positive things in "Sweet Home Alabama" are that the skies are so blue and the governor’s true?
Dear Smiley: Our 5-year-old grandson, Mikko, came back from school with the "wrong color" behavior dot on his daily paperwork.
With my eyes cast downward I told him, "Oh boy, your parents going to be mad at YOU!"
After a few silent seconds, he patted me on the hand and said: "That's OK, Nanan; it's going to be all right."
Do you speak Yat?
Dear Smiley: Serving two years (1955-57) in an Army Signal Corps company in East Africa made up of 90 men mostly from the Midwest and New England, I gradually lost most of my New Orleans accent and speech patterns.
When I returned to New Orleans, my friends said I sounded like a Yankee.
I may have sounded differently, but I remembered many quaint phrases and pronunciations I heard growing up:
"Where ya at?"
"What time it is?"
"Art square" for linoleum.
"Banquette" for sidewalk.
And certainly "Noo All-Yuns" or "Nawlins." I only heard "New Orleens" (rhymes with beans) in songs.
What common language?
Dear Smiley: I spent a year in England teaching mathematics in an English secondary school, but I learned that I was teaching "maths," not math.
I also consistently mispronounced the word "half" by not giving the vowel its correct British sound.
I learned I could not reward students for correct answers around Christmas time by giving them candy: I was actually offering "sweets."
I never did get used to the English custom of ending a sentence with a question, as in "I didn't do my homework, did I?" That one still sounds strange to my Southern ears, doesn't it?
And on the day I arrived in the classroom to find that someone had scrawled "MUFC" on the chalkboard, I learned it was was a reference to "Manchester United Football Club."
Dear Smiley: Stories on outhouses brought back this World War II incident told to me by “T” from Innis.
Somewhere in Europe, "T" was given the task of burning the outhouse before his unit moved forward.
Through error, he used a barrel of tank fuel rather than kerosene. The detonation launched the top of the outhouse hundreds of feet into the sky. All within the area hit the ground, thinking it was incoming shells.
Dear Alton: Did he say if the outhouse was occupied?