Alright, I got some more info from Hubby. The white smoke came from the exhaust. When the cord is pulled, there is spinning but it doesn't even sound like it might start.
I bought a new air filter and spark plug, but I really couldn't get any further. I don't know how to work on this thing at all. I tried finding a manual, but all I got was the owner's guide. The repair manual is $30 new, and $25 used.
Our plan is to replace the spark plug and air filter, and see if that works. If not, we are going to take it to a repair shop. I looked for a replacement on craigslist and the pickin' is slim. Most lawnmowers listed are riding or other sorts of unnecessary.
After that, I am going to look into adult ed classes or some further education I can do to fix it next time.
By the way, I looked into borrowing a mower, but most ouf our neighbors have replaced their yards with concrete pads for parking, the rest have services. We *should* cut our grass once a week, but we don't. However, after three weeks, it is between knee and waist high depending on how much it has rained. A neighbor did come over to offer his services to cut our grass, but we have to supply the mower.