Smiley: Ecumenical moment

Dear Smiley: Your stories about “Mass mishaps” remind me of what I consider to be a wonderful, memorable moment.

Shortly after moving to New York in the early ’70s, my family started doing the tourist thing — visiting the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, etc.

One day my wife and I attended a Mass at beautiful and historical St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

I was sitting next to the central aisle, enthralled by the cardinal holding the Mass, when I was suddenly tapped on my shoulder and looked up to see an usher standing there holding out a long-handled offering basket, obviously asking for assistance in taking up the day’s collection.

I promptly got up, took the basket, went to the back of the cathedral and began going down the aisle extending the basket down rows the usher had assigned me.

I assume this was probably the only time in history that a collection was taken up in St. Patrick’s by a good ol’ Louisiana Southern Baptist boy!


Denham Springs

A soldier’s story

Dear Smiley: Recent comments about someone getting a meal paid for because of a uniform (or something identifying them as a member or former member of the military) remind me of this incident during my freshman year at college.

I started college at the University of Tennessee Martin Branch.

Martin is in a county which did not sell liquor back then.

But it is only about 10 miles south of Fulton, Ky., where there were several liquor stores.

On one trip there to make a few purchases, the clerk commented, “You don’t look like you’re 21, but if you are man enough to wear that uniform, then you’re man enough to buy liquor!”

It was all we could do to hold in the laughter until we were outside the store with our purchases.

After that, however, we always wore our Army ROTC uniforms on a liquor run!



The crabby cook

Dear Smiley: I have to tell about my adventure with live crabs.

The person I bought seafood from called one day to say he had two dozen crabs just caught in Lake Pontchartrain.

I was thrilled, as my sister and brother-in-law were on their way from Illinois for a visit, and loved crab stew.

I put the crabs in the sink — and in no time they were all over the counter and on the floor.

Someone told me to put them in the freezer for a while. They were paralyzed as I attempted to clean them — it was like I was murdering them.

The stew did turn out good, however.

But I was exhausted.

Never again!



Antique enthusiast

Dear Smiley: My wife, Annette, drives a 2001 Infiniti that we brought new.

It has around 150,000 miles on it, but replacing for a newer model is out of the question.

We live in a nice home that we built over 40 years ago.

It’s too big, but selling it and “downsizing” is not going to happen.

At a meeting the other day, I mentioned her ways to the group.

“It seems,” I told them, “that Annette just likes to hold on to old things.”

Steve Barry spoke up. “Well, that explains it.”

“Explains what?” I asked, but I knew what was coming.

He laughed. “Why you are still around.”


Church Point

The littlest literalist

Dear Smiley: My 3-year-old grandson, Reid Pilgreen, asked his mom Louise to download a game on her “work” iPhone for him.

She told him that if she did that, her boss would fire her.

She asked Reid, “What do you think I should do?”

He told her, “I think you would have to come home so I could spray water on you to put the fire out!”



Knife fight

Dear Smiley: Reading Lillian Cheramie’s story (in the Monday, Feb. 10 column) about her father playing “mumblepeg” reminds me of my childhood days in Bunkie.

We played a game very similar to what she described as mumblepeg, although we called it “territory.”

A circle was drawn in the dirt, and the object was to stick a knife in the dirt, drawing a line on the angle the knife landed to the edge of the circle.

After alternating throws by the competitors, “pie shaped” territories were created.

When the pies got small, the rules required one to protect his territory by sticking his foot in it and making his opponent throw around it.

I specifically remember one instance where the knife stuck in the top of the opposing player’s shoe.


Baton Rouge

Dear Ernie: Oh, you wore SHOES! That doesn’t sound very sporting…

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.