Try your page with no mods installed on a test site. What I would find hard to believe would be that this wouldn't have already been reported if it was an smf problem.
I gotta say you hit the nail on the head right outta the box, I tried a whole buncha things (which I don't regret because I learned alot) but took you last suggestion and looked at ssi_examples.php on a couple other sites where I use smf and it looked like I expected it to.
Back on the troubled site I started turning off mods (which I normally hate to do because it almost always seems to introduce new problems.
When I turned simple portal down ssi_examples.php looked ok, when I turned it back on ssi_examples.php looked bad again.
I checked the other sites and I am using simple portal 3.3 on them, on the troubled site I was using simple portal 3.2.
Upgraded the troubled site to simple portal 3.4, checked ssi_examples.php and looked good, checked my newPage2.php file and it looks good.
Now I can get back to the original problem I was working on several days ago when someone suggested that I see if using SSI would solve it.
Thanks very much, I probably would not have been able to resolve this one without your suggestion that I check the mods