Fifty-three years ago today: Where were you when JFK was murdered?


Willard B. Shapira of Roseville writes: “I was working in the KSTP newsroom when, about 12:30 p.m., the teletype bells began ringing as I never had heard them ring before. A major story was breaking: JFK had been shot in Dallas and was being rushed to a hospital, where he subsequently died. Our news director, Harold ‘Bud’ Meier, now deceased, swung into action. He told me to grab a photographer and to shoot some footage of the gray, misty day along the Mississippi River, to use as a backdrop for the developing local aspects to the story.


“That done, he said: ‘Go up and down University Avenue (from our offices at 3415 University, where the Twin Cities meet) and see what people are doing.’ This was about 6 p.m. — and to my surprise and disgust, many people were visiting their favorite watering holes this Friday evening as they did most Friday evenings.

“The ‘natural sound’ from the photography told the story on the then top-rated news station in town. Johnny’s Bar at Prior and the Cromwell Bar at Cromwell Avenue were packed, music was blaring from the jukebox, and one had to conclude that the patrons either didn’t know what had happened — hard to believe — or just didn’t care. ‘News? What news? Come here often, honey? Let’s have another round!’ My shift was over.

“My wife and I had tickets to a concert of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra at Northrop Auditorium that night. We thought it would be canceled, but when we turned on the radio, we discovered that Maestro Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, now 93 and recovering from a stroke, had changed the program to befit the sad occasion and that the hall was about half-full. Too late to go by then, and I regret that decision to this day.

“The JFK assassination was just about the only story for days to come. Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby became historic figures. LBJ was President.

“So, BB readers, where were you and what were you doing the day JFK was assassinated?”

How far back?
Or: Life (and death) as we know it

Cindy Bindy of Woodbury writes: “One of my earliest memories came flooding over me as I was helping my mom prepare my dad’s clothes for donation after he died last spring. She had all of his clothes neatly laundered and hanging on a clothesline in the basement. As I sorted and bagged up his belongings, I came across my dad’s heather-gray woolen jacket with a black, knitted collar, which was, I’m sure, quite the bee’s knees when it was new in the early 1960s. I ran my hands over the rough fabric, and I remembered with a broken heart that the last time he wore it was at his final radiation treatment. He was so weak that he was unable to zip it himself. I wrapped my arms around that old, well-worn jacket, sobbing. He’d had that jacket for as long as I’ve been around.

“As I stood there, tears streaming down my face, I remembered quite clearly one Christmas when I was just a little girl. After all the excitement of the day, which consisted of opening presents, visiting both sides of the family, eating entirely too many sweets, and playing with my favorite cousins, I fell almost immediately to sleep for the short car ride home from Grandma’s house. I remember halfway waking up as my dad hauled me from the big old Buick to the house, the cold air stinging my face after the warmth of the car. I felt so safe and cared for in his big, strong arms as he carried me up the stairs to tuck me in, my 4-year-old cheek resting on his scratchy, gray woolen coat.

“I finished crying, took a deep breath, and washed my face. I managed to finish bundling up all of Dad’s things, and I dropped them off at the donation center. I brought everything except that 50-year-old, well-worn, gray woolen jacket. Perhaps it’ll make its way out of the basement another time. I just could not bring myself to part with it that day.”

‘Twas the season — already?

A late-October email from The Lunchtime Reader: “Subject: Holiday bear.

“Since our local big green box store (Menards) has started putting out their Xmas decorations already, I decided to raid the office’s supply and do my own decorating, too. Most of my co-workers find this a little disturbing.


“There is a second one in a Santa suit, but it didn’t photo well.”

Then & Now
Golden Age of Department Stores Division

Sports Driving Grandma: “My memories are from the great Philadelphia store Wanamaker’s, the first such store in the country.

“Wanamaker’s was an entire city block and eight floors high. The crystal court in the center was dominated by the bronze eagle statue. The center rose all eight stories, with the famous Christmas tree of a million lights at one end. This tree was part of the most magical, magnificent holiday show, with dancing fountains and music from a huge pipe organ. People came from everywhere to see the show every year; you never got tired of seeing it.

“I will never get the urge to rush out for the Black Friday shopping frenzy. My memories of that day will always be of taking the Reading Railroad local train into Philadelphia with my mom, heading to Wanamaker’s, watching the holiday show, looking at all the wonderfully decorated display windows, eating lunch, doing a little shopping and then taking the train back home. It was a yearly tradition, a memorable event, not a frenzied consumer orgy.

“How I miss those days.”

Keeping your eyes open


Doris Day: “I am trying to be more mindful of my surroundings on my daily walks. This is a delightfully colorful vine growing on a wall of the Trane Company plant on the south side of La Crosse. It provides a little glimpse of nature’s beauty in an urban, industrial spot, year-round.”

You are what you eat
Blood Sausage Division (responsorial)

Dolly Dimples writes: “Fudge Brownie [BB, 11/21/2016] got me reminiscing about the strange (to me) -smelling and -looking foods my mother urged us to eat ‘because it’s good for you’ when I was growing up.

“Limburger cheese was a staple in our kitchen. I passed on that. The smell of it was enough to keep it far from my plate.

“And liver — I didn’t like the smell, looks or texture of it, but I had to eat it. I doused it with ketchup so I could swallow it

“I also passed on eating lard. Mom considered lard to be a choice topping on bread.

“Let’s add sauerkraut and lutefisk to the smelly category.

“You can believe that none of those foods were on a menu when I cooked for my family.”

Our theater of seasons


Lino Lady reports: “On Thursday, I picked this big bowl of lettuce ahead of the rain/snow that came as predicted on Friday. I seeded it in August. Usually I do three plantings a year, the first one in April (or whenever the ground is thawed). Lettuce is a cold-weather crop. Handy Husband made a nice cover for the little garden on my deck, where the veggies are safe from Bambi and Bug Bunny. My back likes being able to stand rather than bend over the veggies.

“I have a question for Mounds View Swede: How do you take care of your raspberries? Do you only take out the ‘dead wood,’ or do you cut them back? When? My patch is so overgrown, but all the branches bending all the way to the ground are full of berries. It’s hard to get to the inside bushes with all the thorns grabbing one’s arms. If possible, please respond on a Sunday. TY.”

BULLETIN BOARD WONDERS: Why on a Sunday? You do know we’re publishing daily at  — don’t you?

See world (Photography Division)
Or: Highway 61 Revisited

Here, again, is Mounds View Swede: “Of course, on our second photo trip to the U.P., we had to revisit the end of Highway 61, near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, where I could try some more ‘Driving Autumn Roads’ photos. [Bulletin Board notes: You can see the first trip’s beauties here:]

“The slower changing of the leaves the second year provided a great range — from green to red — and not so many yellows. I actually liked this color range better than the first fantastic color year there that we had in 2007.

“I was experimenting with the green leaves’ providing some ‘framing’ for the rest of the scene. The challenge was to have both the nearest leaves and farthest ones all in focus—or at least to appear that way.



“This photo is among my favorites, and I have a large version of this hanging in my family room:


“Turning the camera towards the right provided this view, also one of my favorites:


“I have not been to the U.P. in the winter to try any of these scenes with a heavy snowfall — nor, at my age, am I likely to. I have been content to do my scenic winter photography on the North Shore of Lake Superior and have found that to be very satisfying and almost breathtaking (literally) at times.

“At one time, the four of us photographers all belonged to the same camera club, and getting photos like these was for the monthly competitions. Two of our foursome have severe dementia issues now and can’t do anything. I am the youngest, and the remaining photographer of our little group is the oldest and fortunately seems in good health and still mentally sharp. He is a Coon Rapids Norwegian.”

See world (Geology Divison)
Plus: The Zucchini Wars of Summer (and Fall) 2016

Farmer Jeff: “Subject: Rock Doc Responsorial, and Zucchini Victory!

“I just finished reading Rock Doc‘s note about the Michigan Upper Peninsula (U.P.) geology [BB, 11/20/2016] and am reminded of a time over 40 years ago (yes, I’m considerably older than that) when I and my two smart-assed young brothers were helping our dad dig (by hand) a new dry well for his septic system on Lake Eshquaguma in northern Minnesota.

“My youngest brother (just past ‘toddler-age’ at that point) was digging under a stump with a hand scoop and found a perfectly formed pure copper spearhead. Subsequent to that, we also found a pure copper axe head.

“We were advised that these copper tools were made from native surface copper deposits ‘mined’ by ‘the miners,’ a truly prehistoric people, some 7,000 years ago, on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan. I believe that I remember (always a stretch) that we were told that these people originally migrated across the theoretical Bering Land Bridge from Siberia to Alaska and then down to the Midwest. They predated modern-day Native Americans and eventually migrated south along the Mississippi flowage and eventually all the way to Central America.

“Would be grateful for any historical details/corrections to my recollection.

Farmer Jeff (BTW, the zucchini are gone from our farm forever!)”

“I knew I had a can of WD-40! How could I have overlooked it?”

Tim Torkildson: “How to fill a garage — courtesy of my neighbor Duke.”



Band Name of the Day: Sauerkraut and Lutefisk

Website of the Day: The Wanamaker Organ

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