Dear Smiley: While I have a couple of nicknames I answer to (other stories), my father, Henry, had a whistle for each of his five kids — one whistle for the oldest, two for the next, etc.
When he whistled for you, you better get there runnin'!
Worked like a charm in crowds (lost kids), in the woods, across parking lots …
Since I was the oldest, I had the single whistle, which went, kinda, "Woo-WEET."
Alas, this was also the call of the bobwhite. We used to have many in the area before the red ants drove 'em further north.
So it was often I'd hear a bobwhite call, freeze and start running — then realize it was a bird and not my dad!
Dear Smiley: I have a habit of editing the newspaper with whatever pen or pencil (usually red) is nearby.
I am a ruthless editor, and my biggest pet peeve is the misuse of "only," which is rarely used correctly.
For instance, instead of writing, “I only eat tuna salad without mayonnaise,” one should write, “I eat tuna salad without mayonnaise only." If you only eat tuna without mayo, that is all you ever eat.
This applies to nearly every instance of the use of "only."
“I only go to Mass on Sunday.” Is that all you do? “I go to Mass on Sunday only.”
“I only read The Advocate.” Ever? No books or magazines? “I read The Advocate only.” You get the point.
I believe only you, sir, can clarify this, and eliminate my red edits on the paper.
Dear Julaine: Thanks. I just love more editors …
Dear Smiley: I grew up in the Bywater section of the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans in the 1940s.
I worked for the phone company, and when I worked in the French Quarter I was frequently asked questions by tourists.
Once, when I gave directions to an elderly couple, the woman asked how long I had been here.
When I told her I had only been there for about an hour, she said, "No, I mean how long has it been since you moved from Jersey?"
RALPH R. BARBE
Dear Smiley: Some of your writers said the New Orleans accent is very similar to that of the Boston region. Having grown up in the New Orleans area, that's hard to understand.
If anything, the New Orleans accent is similar to that of New York or New Jersey.
Many years ago, my old Navy buddy Al, from Bayonne, New Jersey, made me show him my driver's license as proof of being from New Orleans. He still held that I was from New York.
Many other friends and acquaintances, from other parts of the U.S., have also accused us of being from the New York area.
Stop the music
Dear Smiley: When my great-niece Harper Leigh (aka HL) in Kentucky celebrated her third birthday, the first gift she opened was from my sister Judy, her great-grandmother.
It was a music box with a unicorn twirling to music. HL, clinging to the box and swaying to its music, completely lost interest in participating in her party, refusing to open other gifts.
Judy was pleasantly embarrassed, and Mama Laura saved the party by telling HL the music box needed to be charged. HL quickly relinquished the box to her mom (not realizing it needed to be rewound, not charged), and the festivities resumed.
Dear Smiley: If we're still on the subject of green peas, my precious, smart little rescue dog, Punkin, of blessed memory, hated green peas.
She lapped up all the other table scraps put out for her on a piece of wax paper. But no matter how we covered them in gravy, they were always left licked clean and rolling around on the paper.
One day she even went so far as to fold the wax paper over the peas and press it down with her paw as if to say, "I REALLY don't want those peas!"