If eastern North Dakota were “western North Dakota,” would you notice anything amiss?

Unclear on the concept
Leading to: Hmmmmmmmm

IGHGrampa: “In a shop at the Mall of America, I noticed some state-shape decorations on the wall above the display shelves.

“They had North Dakota backwards. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota — they were all the right way. But they had North Dakota up with the eastern border on the west.


“I told the clerk at the register about it. She didn’t even know the shapes of states. I had to describe just which of the shapes was the backward North Dakota.

“She said she’d pass the word along, but I think she just laughed it off: ‘Ha! What a loser!’ — as soon as I was out the door.”

The Permanent Family Record

Newport Reader: “The special TV segment on the 90th anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade brought back memories of the parade in the ’60s, when my two cousins were in the marching band of their high school from the state of Virginia. We were excitedly glued to the TV when their band was announced. Unfortunately, at that moment the programming broke for a Lipton Tea commercial.

“My grandpa was very unhappy with Lipton Tea for many days afterward.”

Life as we know it
Thanksgiving Division

The Journalist’s Daughter reports: “Subject: Thanksgiving Memories.

“My first Thanksgiving memories are of the smells of the pies, rolls, and the turkey.

“When I was old enough to be trusted to take food to the reclusive widow next door, I was sent over to deliver something good to eat.

“We had the same family friends join us for years. We also had International Students and graduate students join us at our table. I remember the man from the Netherlands who enjoyed the cranberries and kept asking for more. Several people had their first Thanksgiving meal at my family’s dining-room table.

“I remember my first Thanksgiving as a working girl, after graduating from college. My first paycheck had a voucher in it to get a free turkey from Byerly’s. On that Thanksgiving, my dad brought breakfast out to the living room so we could watch the Macy’s parade. He told me to enjoy being paid to watch the parade and read the newspaper!”

All in a day’s shirk

Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Corporate sneak-out day.

“Just before Thanksgiving, I stopped by the company store of a corporation where I used to work. It reminded me of going out to lunch with the guys on the last work day before Christmas. The tradition was that we would spend a long time at lunch — which included alcohol — but we couldn’t leave work for the day until the big boss came through the office to wish us a Merry Christmas. We would then wait politely until he was out of the parking lot before sneaking out en masse.

“Dad had worked for the same company. I remember him muttering, one last work day before Christmas, that the boss was really hard-core that year. He didn’t leave until about 2:30.

“Circa 1982, my group went to Stillwater for our Christmas lunch. Folks living in Wisconsin drove home from there, but a number of us went back for ‘bed check.’ We stood around chatting, so the office wouldn’t seem empty. When the VP came through, I waited to shake hands with him, as the men did. Instead, he casually kissed me on the lips.

“Not my favorite memory!”

Our theater of seasons

Papa on Elm Street reports: “I have a favorite apple in a tree in our front yard.

“A favorite apple? That’s strange! I agree, but I can’t help it.

“During the summer, I noticed squirrels and crows eating on the apples. Eventually the apples would fall to the ground. By early fall, only my favorite apple remained. It was an ugly one, but tough. I continued to see it being attacked and decided to keep a photo record of it.

“October 25: still there.


“November 10: still there.


“November 23: still there.


“What a tough bugger. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still photographing it in the spring.

“Who would have an apple tree in their front yard? Let me explain. Many years ago, we went to a fall closeout sale to purchase a flowering crab tree for our front yard. It was a great price. Several years later, when the first apples appeared, it was obvious that it was not what we had thought.

“This tree has been a challenge for us. It is a large tree that produces hundreds, maybe thousands, of apples every odd-numbered year. On even-numbered years, less than a hundred. This year was the worst; I counted 24 apples.

“I wonder if that is common.”


Gregory of the North: “I was in Mrs. Johnson’s art class at Monroe High School when the announcement was made that the President had been shot. Some kids joked that he must have had his polio shot, but then a very solemn Mrs. Johnson told us that not only had the President been shot; word now was that he had succumbed. (Someone mumbled ‘What does that mean?’ — and someone else scolded: ‘It means he died, you idiot.’) Mrs. Johnson then told us that we were dismissed and were to go home. (No buses then; we all walked, unless one had one’s own car.)

“On my way out the door, one young man was shouting gleefully that he hoped we’d have more presidents shot if it meant getting out of school early. One of the school ‘tough guys’ happened to be in the same hallway at that moment, and he slammed the kid against the wall. ‘You are sadly misinformed’ was his unexpected statement. I was startled by the whole exchange, not the least from the big man’s words, when I then noticed that this teen, school-renowned for his toughness and aggressiveness, was weeping. We made momentary eye contact; then he put his head down and moved quickly out the door.

“I recall feeling that the world somehow had become a different place; I wasn’t sure how, but something had shifted. And even though my household had been staunchly in Hubert Humphrey’s corner before the nomination had been made, and I even knew some people who had supported Nixon, there was no political partisanship in those days that followed. Republicans and Democrats wept together as Americans, and all prayed for wisdom and divine guidance for the new President Johnson. Those were very different times.”

Gma Tom: “Since you asked, and since one cannot ever forget where/what on that fateful day, 53 years ago:

“My very mundane story is that I was a young stay-at-home mother of five, including a less-than-3-month-old babe.

“The two older kids were in school while the three younger ones were taking (my) much-needed nap. I was using the quiet time to scrub the dining-room floor and steps when I heard the dreadful news on the radio that President Kennedy had indeed died.

“The tears fell into my scrub bucket unmercifully.”

Plus: You are what you eat

Annie Lou: “As we age, I have wondered if November 22 will still be important to younger generations. I was a senior at Alexander Ramsey High School in Roseville. We had extra-curricular activities in the middle of the school day. I was in LitDraMusArts activity when our principal spoke the announcement over the intercom. Many tears were shed. I remember shopping that evening with my father and passing a display of record albums which included a comedian, Vaughn Meader, who made jokes about the Kennedys; I wondered if those records would continue to be funny.

“I wanted to comment also on strange meat.

“My Bohemian/German family ate Soltz — a boiled mixture of spices and veal and pork shanks, strained, mixed with vinegar and chilled in a glass loaf pan. It was not my favorite, but my parents loved it.

“The dish I loved and still love is jaternice (YEE-der-nit-zee). This Bohemian sausage was served for breakfast with eggs. But relatives still living in Bohemia (Czech Republic) say that they eat it for supper with potatoes.

“My Norwegian husband loves jaternice, also. When Richard’s Market in Maplewood no longer made the sausage, we had to journey to the New Prague area for more.

“One year for our wedding anniversary, my husband purchased jaternice from Polashek’s Locker Service in Protivin, Iowa. The sausage was good, but the lime-green T-shirts he bought were wonderful! The message on the front was: ‘GOT JATERNICE?’ They are a real conversation starter!”

You are what you eat
Blood Sausage Division

Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “Subject: Blood sausage.

“Yum! Blood sausage from Mom’s hometown was a rare treat, usually after Grandma had gone to visit her parents and, later, her sister. She cooked it in an aluminum pan, until the casing was crispy. The grocery/meat market was operated by one of her high-school classmates, who has since died. A new meat market has come to town and has wonderful blood sausage. I don’t like the blood sausage from the next town as much.

“Since Mom died, I haven’t been up to her hometown — and need to make a visit, if for no other reason than to buy another ring of blood sausage.”

So … worse than, like, y’know, sort of tons of iconic … whatever (II)

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: The needle has escaped from the haystack!

“As I previously mentioned in Bulletin Board [BB, 11/13/2016], I find the expression ‘Moving the needle,’ and its different versions, extremely annoying.

“I hoped that the end of the presidential campaign would lead to its demise, but it reared its ugly head on Page 2A of Wednesday’s Pioneer Press, in an article about diversity in the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI). These are the last two paragraphs of the piece: ‘Of DSI’s 18 new hires this year,nine are people of color, elevating the department’s racial and ethnic diversity from 11 percent a year ago to 17 percent today.

” ‘ “It shows that we are moving the needle,” said DSI spokesman Robert Humphrey. “It’s a start.” ‘

“And a continuation of ‘needling’ me.”

There & Here
Or: What this country is still needing?

Mounds View Swede: “I had the opportunity to drive in Sweden this summer, and also to ride as a passenger with my cousin, who owns a new Volvo. I noticed the red circle on his speedometer with a number in it and asked him what that was.


“He told me that was the speed limit for where we were driving. I watched it as we passed a new speed-limit sign and the number instantly changed to match that. That told me the car has a GPS system in it and that all the information regarding speed limits is up there in the air somewhere to coordinate with the car’s GPS. I wonder how long it will take for Minnesota and the U.S. to ‘catch up.’

“Our rental car was a Volkswagen Golf, regular gasoline engine. We rented it in Malmö in western Sweden and immediately set off cross-country to visit my cousin on the island of Gotland off the east coast. After driving for an hour, the speedometer made a ‘bong’ noise and a message appeared on it in Swedish telling me I was tired and to take a rest. I wondered how it knew that and if it was based on the length of nonstop driving, or if it was responding to driver input or lack thereof.

“I am used to long-distance driving, felt no need to stop and continued on.

“Later it bonged again and this time told me, in Swedish, that I was tired and to have coffee.

“I looked briefly at the manual at the end of the day, but it was all in Swedish and would have taken me a long time to find the section dealing with these warnings and then to translate it. Perhaps this improvement is coming our way, too.

“It would be nice if the car would bong and tell drivers they are distracted and to stop using their cellphone. That would start saving lives rather quickly. I am not sure of all the parameters the car would need to be sensing to do that and if we would want our cars to know so much about us.”

How far back?

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Some of our memories are pretty basic: for instance, potty training — not for our own children, but for ourselves. That would qualify as early!

“Back in the ’30s, moms didn’t have the disposable diapers, so early training would save a lot of soaking and hanging out diapers on the clothesline. I can only imagine what I must have put my mom through. One good thing about cloth diapers is: The landfills didn’t get burdened with so much plastic and whatever the disposables are made from.

“Probably from the struggle to get kiddies trained, those same kiddies, now grandparents, are astonished at how late potty training begins these days. Don’t want to damage the new little psyches!

“When I was 3, and could be counted on to follow directions, I was the flower girl at my Uncle Paul’s wedding! I clearly remember being kind of ‘started’ down the aisle at the local Baptist church. The aisle seemed very long at the time, but was actually quite short. My grandma had made my long dress, and I carried a little bouquet, but cannot remember that I ‘strewed’ petals for the bride to walk on.

“In a few years, cousins would be born, and I became the ‘big cousin’ who could read to them, or tell them stories, and even babysit if needed. The long dress stayed in my closet, and I got to wear it years later. It was now a short dress, but still fit on the top, so I wore it to sing for my aunt’s wedding in the early ’40s.

“We don’t throw away things easily, do we? That would include our memories.”

Band Name of the Day: Big Boss & His Lip Kisses — or: Strange Meat

Websites of the Day: “Vaughn Meader ‘The First Family’ 1962 FULL ALBUM”  and “Vaughn Meader ‘The First Family Volume Two’ 1963 FULL ALBUM”




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