Smiley: Don’t fool the Pack Rat

Dear Smiley: Growing up in Gentilly in the ’40s, we were too poor to have a Tooth Fairy.

Instead, we had the Pack Rat.

He would take your tooth and leave 5 or 10 cents, and if you were lucky, a quarter.

I once tried to sneak my grandmother’s dentures under my pillow, figuring I could have candy money for a month.



Don’t ‘meh’ me!

Dear Smiley: A new word in our American vocabulary is “meh,” used to denote indifference.

Kinda like the dreaded teenage saying, “whatever.”

The new word resembles a common Cajun/Creole word “Mais,” which translates to “well,” and is a common tagline to lotsa sayings.

A mini, but more pleasant, “whatever.”


Ville Platte

Rinky-dink tinky

Dear Smiley: Reading the recent stories about Southern accents and pronunciations made me think about something that happened to me in the mid-’90s.

During a break from LSU, I worked at a small wine shop in Kingwood, Texas.

The woman who was training me was from a nearby rural county.

She was showing me how to close out the register and count the till at the end of the night.

She asked me if I knew how to use a “tinky.”

I was confused until she retrieved a 10-key adding machine.



Pretzel days

Dear Smiley: I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Coach Dale Ketelsen, the former LSU wrestling coach.

I was in one of Coach Ketelsen’s wrestling classes when he first came to LSU.

The class consisted of P.E. majors, many of whom were very large football players.

Since at the time I was a little smaller, he selected me to demonstrate the various wrestling holds and moves on.

There was one hold he demonstrated on me that he called “Jam Up and Jelly Tight” that I still have nightmares about.

In wrestling, your opponent is supposed to release you from the hold when you tap the mat, but I found it very difficult to tap the mat when I was twisted into a “human pretzel.”

I’ll remember Coach Ketelsen as an enthusiastic motivator of youth, which is a high compliment for any teacher or coach.


Baton Rouge

Hot news

Dear Smiley: Friends of ours arrived last week for a visit.

The first morning here, John was reading The Advocate and remarked to his wife, “Look, Susan, it says here that we will have some cool weather in a couple of days. The high will be only 66 degrees!”

Both got a good laugh out of that.

Meanwhile, I turned to the Weather Channel on TV and checked the conditions at their home area in the northern part of Wisconsin.

“Look,” I said, “you’re having a heat wave back home. It’s getting all the way up to 37 today!”

Yes, I got the last laugh.



Stay off the grass

Dear Smiley: I remember the Domino’s on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans very well.

I frequented that establishment back in the 1960s.

The owner was a very nice Italian gentleman we all called Mr. Domino.

As was the case back in those days, pizza often came with oregano sprinkled on it.

That was not to everybody’s liking, and I fondly remember a young waitress at Domino’s asking me if I wanted it with or without “the grass.”

Thanks for rekindling this delightful memory of mine.



Grin and bear it

Dear Smiley: My friend from Jonesville related how his son came home from church saying he liked the hymn “Gladly the Cross-Eyed Bear.”

Must’ve been “Gladly the Cross I Bear.”


Baton Rouge

One train too many

Dear Smiley: In 1955, my husband, Robert “Bob” Meador, was coaching and teaching at Istrouma High School.

We lived in the Belfair/Fairfields area near the Choctaw Drive Western Auto Store.

Bob went to the store and put an electric train on layaway for Christmas, even though our children were only 2, 3, and 4 years old.

The Fairbell Drug Store was near our home, and we traded there quite often. Mr. Bob Bryant was the pharmacist.

They had a drawing for an electric train, and we won it a few days before Christmas.

Now, what to do with the one on layaway?

We went to Western Auto to plead our case, and the nice manager, I think Mr. Nichols, refunded our money.

He turned out to be a good friend through the years.

All six of our children enjoyed the train. One son, Randy, added more cars to it.

Our oldest son, Bobby, still has the train for his grandchildren to enjoy.


Baton Rouge

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.