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Dear Smiley: We were a rather large family growing up in Donaldsonville: Mom, Pop, an aunt and nine children.

We rented a house on Mississippi Street, with a store front that had a separate entrance.

Pop got the bright idea to start a business to bring more money into the household.

He opened up a candy store.

Need I say more?



Dear Donald: Nine children living in a candy store … what could possibly go wrong?   

Ins and outs

Dear Smiley: Stories about nicknames brought to mind a colorful, well-known character (now deceased) from my hometown of Malvern, Arkansas.

The story goes that sometime back in the ’50s in the course of a junior high football game, he was jerked off his customary and comfortable seat on the bench by the coach and sent into the game with a play call.

He sprinted onto the field, ran up to the referee, and announced, "Mr. Referee, I'm a-checkin' in now." Remaining in the game for the obligatory one play, he was then pulled back out, whereupon he ran to the referee and informed him, "Mr. Referee, I'm a-checkin' out now," and sprinted off the field.

Inquiries about Harlan Tolleson would likely be met with blank stares. But inquiries about Checkout Tolleson would produce immediate responses.


Searcy, Arkansas

Thanks, Dad

Dear Smiley: On the subject of nicknames for children, my dad had two for me.

One, due to my tendency to get overwrought, was "Sarah Heartburn" after the famous actress, Sarah Bernhardt.

The other was "Squirrel Bait." Took a long time for me to realize he was calling me a nut!


Nashville, Tennessee

Treasured title

Dear Smiley: So many of your columns lately have discussed nicknames. That got me thinking about names people have come up with for the good, old-fashioned “Grandma.”

I received my name of “Grandma” before my son and daughter-in-law gave me grandchildren.

Sarah is the oldest granddaughter of “the man in my life,” a widower. When she was very young, she said to her mother, “All the stories you read to me have a Grandpa and a Grandma. I have a Grandpa. Do you think Miss Diane would mind if I called her Grandma?”

Can you imagine the heady feelings I got when Sarah called and asked, “Can I call you ‘Grandma’?”


Morgan City

Buddy's books

Dear Smiley: While reading Danny Heitman's article on Gov. Buddy Roemer's love of books, I remembered this:

One afternoon in the late 1980s, while in Baton Rouge, I stopped at Barnes & Noble to purchase a book on current legal issues affecting education, and noted Gov. Roemer browsing the same stacks. We nodded.

After finding the book unavailable, I drove to Books-A-Million and found no book, but Gov. Roemer browsing there. This time we exchanged a nod and a smile.

Next stop, Claitor's Books. This time I found and purchased the sought-after book — and spent 30 minutes conversing with Gov. Roemer about education.



Quick-draw sailor

Dear Smiley: When I was in the Navy, on the transport ship Gen. W.A. Mann, the food was a little better than just OK. However, they had grits almost every day.

I tried to educate my shipmates about grits: butter, salt, black pepper. They never really got it, but they would wolf down creamed chipped beef on toast like it was gourmet chow.

One old salt from Louisiana made a leather holster to hold his bottle of Tabasco. He was never without it, except during our weekly inspection.



Gremlin alert!

Dear Smiley: As I get older, I'm starting to notice more unusual happenings.

I think I have invisible gremlins near me.

One puts its fingerprints on my glasses while I'm wearing them.

And another ties my shoelaces in knots while I sleep.

I wonder, does anyone else have such gremlins?



Dear Paula: I have a gremlin who removes one sock from every load of clothes in the dryer, never to be found. Another clouds my mind so I can't find my morning coffee until my spouse tells me it's right in front of me.

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.