Tim Torkildson writes: “Subject: My First Can of Sardines.
“Long immured, as a child, by my mother’s staid Norwegian cookery, when I at last burst the shackles of home and joined up with the circus, I craved the finest and most exotic of cuisines. On a First of May’s salary, this was hard to conjure up; $90 a week, even back in 1971, did not allow me to order bowls brimming with vichyssoise or platters of filet mignon very often. Mostly I subsisted on a grilled cheese and bowl of tomato soup at Woolworth’s for 75 cents.
“Still, I managed my first taste of oyster stew in Boston; fried scrapple in Philadelphia; and thin slices of country ham swimming in red-eyed gravy with cow peas on the side in Little Rock.
“I loved all of it. There wasn’t anything you could serve me that would turn my stomach. Bring on the pickled pigs’ feet! Slice me a wedge of halvah! Pour me an egg cream — and don’t be stingy, baby! And don’t forget the chopped liver, oy!
“In New York City, it happened that I stopped by a deli close to Madison Square Garden for a bottle of Dr. Brown’s Celery Tonic, and there I spotted my first can of sardines. My parents abhorred tinned fish of any kind, so I had never become acquainted with this homely staple. These were King Oscar brisling sardines, in olive oil. I purchased a can, then wended my way back to clown alley at the Garden.
“Settled at my steamer trunk, I began the arduous operation of opening my virgin can of sardines. Back then, there was no such thing as a pull tab. The can was opened by winding a key around the edges — a procedure that proved nearly beyond my meager skills. But finally I got the tin open, after having spilled most of the pungent olive oil onto my clown pants and the cement floor.
“I had not thought to take a plastic fork, or a paper napkin, from the deli, and so I dug in with my fingers. It was lip-smacking good — in fact, I was smacking my lips so loudly that I failed to hear the first bellows of outrage from my compatriots as the unmistakable scent of sardines wafted over the alley.
” ‘What in the Sam Hill are you eating?’ cried Swede Johnson, one of the veteran clowns. ‘Get it out of here. This ain’t the city dump!’
“His request was followed by several others of like import, all implying without much subtlety that I was a heedless simpleton to be bringing such a stinking mess into the alley during working hours.
” ‘What smell?’ I finally hollered back, as I took my tin of sardines outside the confines of clown alley. For it was true then, as it is true today, that I cannot smell anything offensive about sardines. To me they are like a breath of fresh and salty air.
“As luck would have it, Rhubarb Bob, the assistant Performance Director, chose this moment to stride into clown alley to make some kind of pronunciamento. The slick soles of his black dress shoes encountered the olive oil from my sardine can, and over he went bass-ackwards. [Bulletin Board muses: Or, in this case, sardine-ackwards!] When he had recovered his dignity, he demanded to know who was poisoning the building with the foul stench of sardines. His tuxedo pants were ruined! Everyone remained silent, innocently looking up at the ceiling. With rare wisdom, I had ditched the sardine can in a nearby Dumpster. Rhubarb Bob threatened a thorough investigation into the outrage, but we all knew he was blowing so many bubbles.
“After he stalked out, I shyly reentered the alley and tried to stammer my thanks to the fellows for not squealing on me. They pooh-poohed the whole episode. Clowns didn’t snitch on one another; that was part of The Code of Clown Alley. But for God’s sake, don’t ever bring another can of sardines into the alley!
“And I never did bring in another tin of sardines. Although there was some difficulty with a bit of Country Castle Limburger I tried to smuggle in later that season . . . .”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Semi-Legend: “If you’re going to bring up ‘Laugh-In’ [Bulletin Board interjects: We are, and we did — a couple of times this week already … and now we interrupt Semi-Legend‘s email for this late-arriving bulletin]:
“Nothing surpassed the park encounters between Gladys Ormphby, played by Ruth Buzzi, and the dirty old man Tyrone F. Horneigh (pronounced ‘horn-eye’), played Arte Johnson. Among my favorites:
“TYRONE: Would you call my face ruggedly handsome?
“(Gladys whacks him with her purse.)
“TYRONE: Would you call my body sensually attractive?”
“(Whack! Whack! Whackity-Whack-Whack!)
“TYRONE: Would you call my next of kin?
“(He slides off the park bench.)”
Month at a glance (responsorial)
Inspired by the mentions of Sadie Hawkins Day and Sadie Hawkins Dances in The Stillwater Scouter’s belatedly published first-of-the-monthly report (BB, 11/11/2016), our Official Attorney (off the clock again!), Mr. Tulkinghorn, writes: “I was invited to the local Girls’ Club’s Sadie Hawkins Day dance in November 1967 when in 9th grade.
“I was excited to go, but of course looked like a total dork in my Levi’s, gray cutoff sweatshirt, and the straw hat my mom had brought home from Mexico years before.
“My date, Annette, had gone to a great deal of trouble to make her own clothes: an elegant A-line dress made out of a burlap sack, coyly secured by a hank of dirty gray rope. The pièce de résistance was Annette’s homemade corsage, consisting of a half-head of cabbage with some carrots twined in somehow for that additional ‘Wow!’ factor. How she managed to pin that big hunk o’ greens to her dress, I’ll never know.
“Dancing to the likes of Chicago, while gently resting my fingers on Annette’s burlapped back, was, somehow, sublime. As I swayed back and forth with her in my 14-year-old arms, I could’ve been in moonlit Dogpatch, or Paris.
“The only problem, such as it was, was that after a couple of hours, Annette’s corsage was completely wilted and rather sad-looking.
“But, 49 years later, the evening is still memorable.”
Democracy in America, 2016
Anonymous Woman: “Dear neighbors,
“I am grieving right now because I’m disappointed and worried.
“Could you understand this, and leave me alone to process my feelings?
“I have a nearby neighbor who told me today that I should forget my sadness. Kinda like ordering me to forget all the Stages of Grief — which doesn’t work.
“I need to mourn right now, and I have a right to do so. Please do not make things worse.”
What this country has been needing?
Bruce from Blaine now Brooten (“currently: Surprise, Arizona”): “I was channel-surfing on Tuesday (Election Day) and discovered one channel called ‘Escape the Election,’ which featured soft, pleasant music and nature videos!”
What’s in a name?
Or: It’s a small world . . . (Especially Around Here Division)
Mounds View Swede: “A different kind of ‘Joy of Juxtaposition’ while voting:
“When the man in front of me at the voting check-in table got up to the clerk, I heard her caution him that there were two people with the same name and to be sure to sign the right line. I heard her say the names to him, and I smiled.
“When I got to her, I told her not to turn the page and handed her my driver’s license. I was the other person with the same name, just a different middle initial, so I signed my name right above the previous person’s. She laughed.
“When my wife got to the table, she told the lady not to turn the page yet, as her name was just a few lines up the list. She laughed again.
“When we were house-hunting in Mounds View back in 1985, one of the houses we looked at was right across the street from the other man with the same name as mine. We didn’t know that at the time and were very relieved that we didn’t buy that house, when we later found out. The mail people would have had a hard time with that.
“We ended up about four blocks north, but still on the same street. The mixed-up phone calls still occasionally happen.”
Vanity, thy name is…
Lola: “An SUV was parked next to my little Honda Civic today. The SUV’s license plate is ‘TINY 1.’
“Hah — my car is tinier!”
The Oldest Sister: “This picture is at the beginning of the trail ride at Bryce Canyon National Park.
“This one was taken on the ‘Thunder Mountain’ trail ride in the Dixie National Forest.
“They call that ridgeback trail ‘Pucker Butt’!”
She has been back home for a while now, but (better late than never) here’s a transatlantic dispatch from Bicycle Babe of the Midway: “Subject: Greetings from Across The Pond.
“Travel is always filled with surprises — sometimes wonderful, sometimes not what is expected, but travel is a great way to expand horizons, as well as to appreciate what I have.
“My spouse and I are currently on holiday in Europe, traveling through Germany, France, and Luxembourg. Our trip included a trip in a barge converted to a small hotel. We traveled down the Mosel (Moselle) River for a week, stopping each day to get off and ride bicycles through the countryside. The scenery is beautiful, but one thing we noticed was how the trees do not turn vivid colors like those back home. A lot of them have leaves that turn brown around the edges; then the leaves turn a dull yellow in the middle. The oaks turn brown, similar to what we are used to. However, very few of the maples turn bright red or orange like the ones in my neighborhood in St. Paul. I am hoping that there will be some color left when we return.
“The food along the way has been delicious, but it is strange to order coffee and not get a second cup. You also have to pay for water with your meals.
“Finding bathrooms where you don’t have to pay can be challenging.
“Because we are at higher latitudes, the days are a bit shorter than back home.
“I am writing this from a hotel room in Luxembourg where the amenities are many and the internet is free. It will be fun to go out and explore the center of town. We are here for a couple of days; then we finish our trip with three days in Munich. We plan to sample the beers.
“There is so much to see, but I’m sure I will be glad to return to my comfy room, where I can enjoy reading all the Bulletin Boards that I have missed while out of the country.
“I recommend travel to anyone who can afford to do it — but go while you are young and healthy enough to be comfortable. Don’t wait. Take that dream trip. You won’t regret it.”
Our pets, ourselves
IGHGrampa: “When I stepped out to get the paper this morning, I greeted a woman walking by with her dog.
“The dog had two artificial legs. They were his back legs, artificial from his knees (heels?) down. He had an odd gait, and his artificial feet made a little click with each step. But he was keeping pace and seemed to be enjoying a sprightly walk.
“We could all follow the example of that little dog.”
Band Name of the Day: Dancing in Dogpatch
Website of the Day: President Nixon has a 60th-birthday chat (about comedy and pro-football gambling!) with Dan Rowan & Dick Martin, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQFXGzp8Tl4