Dear Smiley: When in the Air Force in England, I got into an argument with a parachute rigger by the name of Rooney.
Finally, in frustration, I said, “It’s a fact, just as sure as you’re from Brooklyn.”
He replied, “It’s not a fact, just as sure as you’re from Long Island.
“And furthermore, I’m not from Brooklyn; I’m from New Orleans.”
I answered, “So am I,” and we both started laughing.
The first time
Dear Smiley: I vividly remember my first pizza.
It was in the summer of 1953. I was away from home for the first time, going through Marine Corps boot training at Camp Upshur in Quantico, Va.
Somehow a buddy and I got a weekend pass to go “mainside” into Quantico.
Always hungry, we stopped in a restaurant named Diamond Lou’s because we believed — and still do — that it was associated with one of our great Marine Corps heroes, Lou Diamond, who had a chest full of campaign ribbons garnered in both World War I and World War II.
Diamond was renowned for his stentorian voice that could be heard above any battle noise, his expertise with mortars and his disrespect for officers.
He was a master gunnery sergeant, the highest enlisted rank in the Corps, when he retired.
The pizza was actually pretty common — pepperoni with cheese and tomato sauce, no other variety.
We ate it and lied to each other about how good this exotic dish was, and came back home to Louisiana étouffée, boiled crawfish, gumbo and dirty rice.
Let ’em eat pie
Dear Smiley: Back in 1949, when we were just married, my husband Julian was in the Navy, stationed at Fort Monmouth, N.J.
We decided to go out and eat, and we came across this restaurant with “tomato pies” on the menu.
“OK, let’s try tomato pie,” we said.
It turned out to be what we now know as pizza.
It consisted of the pastry, tomato sauce, herbs and cheese. That was it.
Naturally, people always improve on things, and now we have pizza.
So we knew pizza before it was pizza!
Dear Smiley: During wartime in the ’40s, many items were either rationed or scarce.
My sister and I, 10 and 12 at the time, were like kids today with their TV and smartphones. Our family radio was our source of entertainment but was battery powered, and batteries were one of the “scarce” items.
The only store in Gonzales to purchase radio batteries was the Western Auto, owned by our hero, Mr. Banta.
We were put on a waiting list for the treasured items.
We were always on the top of the list, because we pestered Mr. Banta every day on the way home from school: “Are the batteries in yet?”
He started shaking his head as we opened the door.
We knew by the grin on his face when we struck gold.
We knew that we would be entertained that evening (after doing homework, of course).
JOYCE H. BABIN
Dear Smiley: One morning my grandfather was putting on his field boots, and he was fussin’ and cussin’.
I said, “Grandpa, don’t you know it’s a sin to curse?”
He looked down and then up at me and said, “Well, Father Savoure said it’s OK to say ‘damn’ — just don’t put the ‘God’ in front of it.”
GERTIE M. BEAUFORD
Dear Smiley: Instructions to plant seeds “10 days before the last frost” reminded me of similar instructions given by a gunsmith who was asked how much to tighten screws when installing a scope mount on a rifle.
His answer was to stop tightening the screws just one quarter of a turn before the threads stripped!
Seems the main difference in these instructions was the gunsmith was joking.
Skinny as a statue
Dear Smiley: So many people talk about weight loss and joining a gym each new year.
I told my sister I think we should apply to work for Liberty Tax in Baker.
As we drive by, there is always a young man dressed like the Statue of Liberty dancing away to get your attention.
He is thin — maybe if we did that all day we would be thin also. Just a thought. …
The upside to this would be that they would be paying us instead of us paying them.
You could stand to lose a few pounds — maybe you could get on at the one on Government Street.
FAYE HOFFMAN TALBOT
Dear Faye: Thanks for the thought, but I’m already working to look like another statue — Buddha.
Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.