Dear Smiley: I had a wonderful German shepherd mix named Alfie when I was in college, and he loved to ride in my VW Beetle.
He took up pretty much the entire back seat, but would manage to turn around and go from side to side, checking out people and dogs we passed.
He had golden wheat-colored hair (like alfalfa), and he was a rascal, hence his name. He was my constant companion for 13 years. When he died, I was heartbroken.
A couple of years after he died, I had trouble starting my Beetle. I took it to my mechanic, Ronnie Cormier, who said he thought the problem was my battery.
When he pulled up my back seat to check it, I burst into tears. Alarmed, he tried to console me, saying, "Katie, it's just a little battery acid."
"No," I wailed, "look at all the Alfie hair."
The whole battery section under the seat was full of golden hair, which must have fallen off Alfie as he paced back and forth.
Ronnie helped me into a chair and got his mechanic Emmett to bring me a glass of water. They patted my shoulders awkwardly until I stopped sobbing, and Emmett vacuumed up the Alfie hair. I was grateful for their kindness.
Dear Smiley: About Louisiana hills:
My family prepared for walking the Grand Canyon rim to rim by walking up and down the levees in New Orleans. They also walked on some of the bridges.
Once our dog, an American Eskimo, was with them and she got so hot that my husband had to carry her!
The Grand Canyon hike was done in August, and they stopped at Phantom Ranch at the bottom, the halfway point of the hike.
I have a bad back, so my job was to pick them up at the other side. What an accomplishment for them! My son, the youngest, was only 10.
Stow that sled
Dear Smiley: Living in Denver as a child, I used to always go sledding on the hill by my junior high.
It was called 'Suicide Hill' because of the rocks and boulders placed down its slope and a steep drop off into the school's basement.
When we moved to New Orleans, my trusty sled, ice skates, and skis were left behind.
Dear Smiley: Another "running away" story:
I took my responsibilities as my little sister's big brother (by 12½ months) very seriously.
When she was 5, she sometimes would send herself from the dining table to her room when our mother mildly chastised her for always trying to get the last word in a "frank exchange of views."
I would loyally excuse myself to follow and try to calm her down.
She would threaten to run away to Roy Rogers' ranch, where she could groom Trigger and Buttermilk and get to ride some other ranch horses.
Thankfully, she never tried to carry out these alarming threats. I like to think I deterred her by my reminding her that crossing the street was against the rules.
Dear Smiley: Early in my career as a chamber of commerce executive I worked in Beeville, Texas, close to Corpus Christi.
A good friend of mine had a son-in-law who was a rancher in McMullen County. One day working cattle he fell off his horse and hit the left side of his face on a rock and lost the sight in his left eye.
"That is awful, Dudley," I said to him a few weeks after the incident.
He replied, "Yeah, it is not good — but at the same time, whatever happens to you in life there are often some positive angles.
"Right now, when I stop for a cool one on my way home on a Friday night, I don't have any trouble finding a men's room — because I don't see the 'WO!'"
Dear Smiley: You know what was the best thing about the good old days?
We weren’t good and we weren’t old!