One for the books
Leading to: Our times
Mounds View Swede: “My seventh-grade Civics teacher, Miss Drain (in Illinois), was a tough old bird, single, no-nonsense. We boys joked about her being an ex-Marine sergeant.
“She insisted I learn to write legibly or she would not accept my homework. I tried typing it, which was a learning experience in itself, but she would not accept it. On my first report card that year, I got a ‘D’ in Civics due to the unaccepted homework. What excuse could I offer to my parents? She wasn’t asking anything unreasonable.
“So I looked at the handwriting of other classmates, and it was usually the girls who had the best handwriting. I began to practice by copying passages out of the encyclopedia and tricky words out of the dictionary. I used larger strokes and carefully formed each letter. Eventually I could add some style. She was so proud of my efforts and results … and then I was embarrassed by her compliments.
“To this day, every time I write a perfectly legible check with everything spelled out, including the dollars and cents (hundredths), I do two things: I remember and thank Miss Drain, and I check to see if it meets her standards — every letter must be clearly legible.
“This summer when I was renting a car in Sweden, the clerk saw my clearly written signature and walked about the office showing it to people. Her signature was an illegible wiggly line with no letters visible. I didn’t realize how unusual clear writing has become.”
Till death us do part
An entry in the Permanent Spousal Record maintained by Madame Polarfleece: “Dear Bulletin Board,
“Upon the early retirement of my husband eight years ago, my dear brother sent me this card. I’ve kept it all these years because it makes me laugh — again, and again.”
How far back?
Arbee from Burnsville (“a new contributor” — to whom Bulletin Board says an enthusiastic “Welcome!): “My earliest memory was pain.
“My father had died when I was barely 2, leaving my mom alone with me and my 7-year-old brother. While I have no memory of Dad at all, or of his funeral, shortly afterward my mother came home with a coal-black Cocker spaniel puppy, in a cardboard box. Being curious, I stuck my face in the box for a better look. The puppy, in response, bit me sharply on the nose … and I do remember that!
“Rudy, the Cocker, became a member of the family, and stayed with us until I was a senior in high school. Never bit me again!”
The Armchair Cook of Roseville: “I have been reluctant to share my earliest memory, for fear that my reputation for having a somewhat mellow temperament would be ruined. But here goes:
“I was about 3, and there was an empty lot between our little house and a big house where an older little boy lived. One day, we met on the sidewalk between the two houses, and I said I wanted to play with his toy rake. He didn’t respond, so I grabbed it and gave him a whack on the head.
“I don’t remember the consequences, and my mother didn’t recall that the event even happened, so there the story ends.”
Crazy Dog Lady: “First of all: I am in awe of anyone who can remember back when they were 1 or 2; my earliest recollections are when I was 4. I hear I was a very ‘high-maintenance’ child, so maybe I have just blocked stuff from my memory.
“I DO remember an incident when I was about 4 years old: My younger sister (the baby of the family — the cute one with the curly hair!) was playing in our sandbox with me. I had a kitchen spoon, and she wanted it. My mother was probably weary of our squabbling, so she told me to just give it to her. In a little fit of temper, I said ‘OK then … here … HAVE the spoon’ and threw it at her — hitting her just below her eyebrow.
“Of course there was blood — and panic — and chaos. My mom called the doctor, who came over to the house (yes, back then they actually did that). I ran and hid behind the door in the back porch, and I just knew that the doctor was going to take me away and put me in prison for the rest of my natural life.
“My mother found me behind the door, and as I recall, nothing horrible happened to me — other than the guilt my sister still can call up in me when she shows me the little tiny scar under her eyebrow. She’s been doing this for over 70 years now, and I still can feel the shame and guilt over this horrible act.
“Yes, she still has the scar, and I still have the temper — but I no longer throw spoons. There are times, though . . .”
How far back? (responsorial)
Horntoad of White Bear Lake: “Two BB stories about rock crushers (10/20 and 10/21) caught my interest. IGHGrampa (BB, 10/21) grew up with the noise of a rock crusher two to three miles away. He aptly described the overpowering daily noise of the machine, and said that since Wayne in Mac-Grove (BB, 10/20) had one across the road from his house as a child, ‘that must have been a real nightmare.’
“Imagine what it was like to have one 50 feet from your back door! That’s what my family endured one summer in the 1950s in our home on St. Paul’s East Side. The mega-size ready-mix-cement company of the Twin Cities had their start one block from our house, and wanted to mine the gravel from the large hill right next to us. From early morning to dinnertime, Monday to Friday, every day of the summer, we endured the ‘crushing’ noise. And our poor Mom endured the ever-present dust and dirt in a hot house with six kids.
“Eventually the crushing was complete, the hill was leveled, and life returned to normal, without the pounding noise and the constant dust. Since the implementation of environmental regulations, I doubt these operations are allowed next to residences anymore. I sure hope not.”
A close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Old Dave Tucker: “Here is a picture of our friendly neighborhood Cooper’s hawk perched on one of our back-yard bird feeders, looking for a nice sparrow lunch.
“A moment after the picture was taken, he dived to the ground and came up with a house sparrow in his claws. Unfortunately, he apparently wanted more privacy to eat his lunch, so I wasn’t able to get another picture before he took off. Might have been a bit gruesome, anyway.
“Enjoy a picture of a good-looking bird!”
Our birds, ourselves (responsorial)
Kevin of St. Paul: “Subject: Roadblock.
“I noted the (lovely) pictures of sandhill cranes on the 10/31 post. We really can’t get enough roadblocks and associated civil disobedience committed by wildlife — although sloppy anthill-dwelling primates like us may not like their message…”
The ‘working’ life
Minneapolis Witchy Poo: “Our office has had the privilege of being the ‘neighborhood’ for a nearby day care for several years. This year, my co-workers decorated their cubes, had sound effects, and dressed in kid-friendly costumes. We lined the hallway of our office with our big sacks of candy, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the little ‘munchkins.’ Looking up the hallway, I was very impressed at the effort my co-workers had put forth for these tiny, itty-bitty kids.
“We waited for almost an hour for them to arrive, because you know coordinating children is like herding cats — it takes time and proper planning! They arrived in strollers with bags for candy hanging on the handles. They arrived in a line holding fast to tethers all the while, jabbering away and as excited as we were! We ooo’d and ahh’d at each other’s costumes.
“Yes, Halloween was a success. Now we sit back, blissful in our sugar rush.”
The Permanent Granddaughterly Record
Monday-afternoon email from Cee Cee of Mahtomedi: “Subject: You’re gonna hear me ROAR!
“Couldn’t pass up sending in this pic of our youngest granddaughter, trying on her Halloween costume. She’s too little to Trick-or-Treat, but she will be greeting the ghosts and goblins who come to the door.”
Band Name of the Day: Sugar Rush
Website of the Day: Cooper’s hawk, at tinyurl.com/Cooper-raptor