Smiley: What, no change?

Dear Smiley: Reading about “Mass mishaps” in your column, one incident comes to mind that always makes me laugh when I think about it.

My dad, Carroll DiBenedetto Sr., almost needed to receive his last rites one summer Sunday morning about 40 years ago, in the middle of Mass at Our Lady of Mercy.

My family — mom, dad and four children — was in the front row when the collection basket was sent down our pew.

My father had given each of the children a dollar to put in the basket.

We were excited, because we usually received 50 cents each Sunday for the collection plate.

When the basket was passed to my brother Buck at the end of the pew, he held on to it with all his strength, playing tug-of-war with the usher who was holding on to the basket.

My brother was trying to retrieve 95 cents change from his dollar.

I just knew Daddy was going to have a heart attack right then and there, and that money was going to go flying everywhere.


Baton Rouge

Take that, Banana Man!

Dear Smiley: In the early ’60s my brother-in-law Floyd Pace and I, returning from a fishing trip at Lake Verret, stopped at the Rainbow Inn in Pierre Part for crawfish étouffée.

There was a large crowd, so the waitress told us we could go next door to the bar to wait until we were called.

Everyone at the bar seemed very friendly, except this one man sitting alone, who didn’t speak to anyone.

Suddenly a rough-looking guy stepped in the bar and shouted, “Hey y’all, I’m a tough banana and I’m hard to peel!”

The lonely man spun around on his bar stool, walked up to “banana man” and said, “I like bananas and I eat them peelings and all!”

And with one punch he sent “banana man” sailing through the screen door and out to the gravel parking lot.

He then turned and walked back to his stool without another word.

Floyd said, “Let’s go check on our dinner.” Heading toward the door, I said, “I think that’s a good idea.”


Denham Springs

Banana hitchhiker

Dear Smiley: The story from Sarah Stravinska about the tarantula in the bananas brought back a memory of about 20 years ago.

Returning from my brother’s camp in northern Michigan, we stopped at a fruit stand in the small town of Pinconning, Mich., to get some fruit for snacking on the return trip to Louisiana.

After a half-hour or so I heard a slapping sound in the back seat, and our daughter Donna (now Donna Courter) said she’d killed a black widow spider.

Having lived the first 40 years of my life in Michigan, I informed Donna that they did not have black widow spiders there, as the winters were too cold.

But she insisted she had seen the red sign on the black spider.

Further down the road on the return trip, it dawned on me that one of the things we had purchased at the fruit stand was a bunch of bananas.

I took them out of the car and took a better look at them — and sure enough, in the middle of the bunch was a spider web.

We all laughed, and I did have to apologize to Donna.



Chubby’s revenge

Dear Smiley: Your story about the guy trying to keep his date from eating too many tamales (by telling her there might be cat meat in them) reminded me of how my husband would try to save on dinner out.

Knowing that I was weight conscious, he would peer over the menu and say, “Well, what will you have, Chubby?”

Since I weighed 95 pounds soaking wet, I would just smile and order everything on the menu.



Really, Grandma!

Dear Smiley: “Get down from there! You’re going to fall and break your neck!”

That’s what I shouted out the window to my grandson, who was crawling to the top of his toy car 2 feet off the ground.

I heard the indignant 3-year-old mutter under his breath, “Oh Lord!”

Apparently he was pleading with God to deliver him from this overprotective old grandma.


Baton Rouge

Dear Linda: And when he gets a BB gun you’re going to say … well, you know…

The tamale man

Dear Smiley: I know that as an older man, I should buy a little hat and a convertible.

But I passed that up to purchase a tamale machine.

I know this is an expensive way for me to satisfy my need for hot tamales, but I now have the best tamales in Baton Rouge.

And I have no complaints from family or friends.


Baton Rouge

Dear Don: And your address is…?

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.