“What’s this $2.08 extra on my bill?” “Well, sir, that’s money we need more than you do. You just pay it, sir.”

Our times

Reports GopherLink of Dresser, Wis.: “When my internet bill went up $2.08 without explanation, I just had to know what it was all about, so I called and was told that there was an increase in the ‘Broadband Cost Recovery Fee’ by this amount.


“My curiosity got the best of me, so I asked: ‘What does that mean?’ — and was told: ‘This is a fee that goes up when we need more revenue to offset our costs.’

“Isn’t that the greatest explanation you’ve ever heard?”


Lady Vol: “On November 22, 1963, I was attending MacPherson Junior High in Orange, California. It was 4th period. We were sitting in Mr. Newman’s 9th Grade Mixed Chorus class, waiting for the lunch bell to ring. Mr. Newman was absent that day, and our substitute was a very old gentleman (60s, I suppose) who had been Mr. N.’s voice teacher. He droned on and on about how any singer would sound good if he or she would pour heart and soul into the lyrics of whatever he or she was singing. In order to prove his point, he had us sing a hymn we were all familiar with, ‘How Great Thou Art.’ (Can you imagine such a scenario in 2016? I thought not.) However, this was the Friday before Thanksgiving! A football game was scheduled that evening; we were hungry and in no mood to pour our souls into any lyric.

“Then we heard the ding-dong of the intercom, followed by the voice of Mr. Yungheit, our Principal. ‘May I have your attention, please?’ … and then silence. Our teacher mimed an impatient gesture toward the intercom, and we all tittered politely. Then Mr. Y. delivered the news that the President had been shot in Texas and taken to the hospital, and that we would be kept informed.

“Our substitute, obviously shaken, turned to us and asked us to sing ‘How Great Thou Art’ again, and to pray for our President as we sang. Thirty-five stunned boys and girls, now fully awake, sang that familiar hymn together, not yet realizing that the world we knew had just been changed forever.

“The bell rang, and while we were on the way to lunch, we heard the intercom again, but couldn’t hear the announcement. We had to pass by the office, where we saw that the flag had been brought to half staff. We all knew what that meant.

“The day before, November 21, was my 14th birthday. I cannot tell you anything about that day! But how vividly I remember the four days that followed.”

TeaLeaves from Winona: “My plant manager and I, at our facility in Dallas, Texas, were free-handedly cutting plate glass, for a department-store front window, when the phone rang and our sales manager, calling from the parade, informed us that the President had been shot.

“We turned on the radio to continue getting updates.

“The two of us managed to destroy a few hundred dollars of plate glass before we decided to close the plant and send everyone home. I had tickets for the luncheon (which I wish I had kept, but I threw them in the trash and went home).

“On Sunday, I drove down to Dealey Plaza to take some pictures of the area and the tribute flowers people had brought to the Plaza. When I got back to my apartment and turned on the TV, I found out Jack Ruby had shot Lee Harvey Oswald while I was taking pictures.

“Later that winter, I was transferred to the Washington, D.C., area and was able to go to the cemetery and see the Kennedy grave site.

“Those memories will never be forgotten.

“I’ve attached some photos, which you are free to use if you are so inclined. No. 1 shows the brick building that housed the Dallas police station in the background.


“No. 2: On the far left is the School Book Depository, and the police station on the far right.


“No. 3: I think this shot was taken from or near the grassy knoll.


“No. 4: the School Book Depository.


“No. 5: This shot was taken in the middle of the plaza and facing the grassy knoll.


“No. 6: This shot shows the grassy knoll on the right and the overpass on the left.”


Bloomington Bird Lady: “Images from the continual TV coverage of JFK’s assassination are firmly etched in our memories. Back then, our daughter was in grade school, and this event made a huge impression on children, too.

“Our family had a more recent review of the whole horrible day, especially the shooting itself. In the summer of 2012, our daughter, who does reproductions of celebrities’ and even movie monsters’ clothing, had a job doing the costumes for a 50th-anniversary re-enactment of that day in Dallas. Most of the costumes were rented, and all the people in the convertible used them. Extras may have used their own clothing, as the crew got to meet people who’d been there as spectators, too. The only thing left was Jackie’s pink hat, and our daughter had to make that by hand. Right now, as I say this, don’t we all get the image of her outfit that day?

“So on a hot day in Dallas, cameras in place, the car ready to roll into the scene, she called us from ‘the grassy knoll’ — a call I will always remember: ‘Mom, I’m sitting on the grassy knoll, and the Kennedys are going by.’ I admit to another tear falling for our beloved president, all those years later.”

Lola: “I was a legal secretary in a two-brother firm. We shared an office with an accounting firm, and one of their secretaries and I were at lunch in a restaurant at Ninth and Hennepin in downtown Minneapolis when we heard the news. Our office closed until the day after the funeral. I spent the weekend and the day of the funeral glued to the TV.”

Redhead of Kellogg Square: “My father’s birthday was November 22. He/we never celebrated it after the President’s assassination. My Daddy passed away in 1982.”

This ‘n’ that ‘n’ the other

The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill: “Bloomington Bird Lady‘s memories of diapers [BB, 11/25/2016] reminded me of a great obit in The Economist a few weeks ago. Valerie Hunter-Gordon, the woman credited with inventing the disposable diaper, died: ‘The maths was shocking. Seven nappies a day, seven days in the week, 52 weeks in the year; sum total, 2,548 nappies a year for every child. She had had two babies, with a third on the way; eventually, she would have six incontinent little treasures. Why had no one, even in America, devised a disposable nappy? Undoubtedly because inventors and corporations, being mostly men, didn’t do the laundry.’

“It led me to her obituary in the Guardian, which had this great line: ‘She said later if she had known the amount of work involved in seeing her invention through, she “would have gone on washing the damned things.” ’

“P.S. Loved Papa on Elm Street‘s apple photos [BB, 11/25/2016]! This new format is perfect for that.

“P.P.S. Tell Mounds View Swede [BB, 11/25/2016] that the Waze app — which I use for GPS — has the speed limit posted in a small circle on the right bottom side of the screen. It also lists your speed and turns color if you are speeding. It has come in very handy when I am driving in unfamiliar areas.”

So … obviously, I mean, worse than, like, y’know, sort of tons of iconic … whatever!

Fudge Brownie: “Starting out with ‘I mean’ when answering a question is becoming more common and annoying to me. Don’t we use that phrase to clarify something we’ve already said? How can you say ‘I mean’ when you haven’t answered the question yet? Beats the heck out of me.”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Donald: “Understanding the standings.

“Some confusion was created by an article on the front page of the Sports section in Friday’s Pioneer Press. The headline read: ‘Vikings’ late mistakes hand Lions season sweep, control of NFC North.’ So far, so good, but this was the fourth paragraph: ‘The win gives the Lions a stranglehold on the NFC North. They are 7-5 to Minnesota’s 6-4 and hold the tiebreaker based upon a two-game sweep.’

“Let’s see; the Vikings and Lions were both 6-4 before Thursday’s game, so they can’t be 6-4. and 7-5 now. The ‘NFL-National Conference-North’ on Page 4B solved the mystery: ‘Detroit 7-4, Vikings 6-5.’ ”

Our theater of seasons

A series of pictures taken in July by Doris G. of Randolph: “Showing the young ones where to find the grape jelly.”




A day in the life

Willard B. Shapira of Roseville reports: “My Thanksgiving Day began at 5 a.m. Popped out of bed, made some coffee.

“Job One: Check Bulletin Board. Very gratifying to read responses to my piece in Nov. 22 Bulletin Board about what I did the day JFK was assassinated.

“Next, check the two metro daily newspapers, to which I have subscribed forever, to see if any of my letters to the editor were used this day. Pioneer Press? Nope. Must try harder. Star Tribune? OMG, they used one. It’s about charitable giving. And on the front page was the story of a farm family near Jordan, Minnesota, which lost a loving husband/father and son in a tragic farm accident. Grabbed my checkbook; wrote them a check to help cover expenses; enclosed it inside a sympathy card, ready for mailing.

“Donned my winter walking clothes, out the door, headed for Roseville Central Park. I walk around it every other day, about three miles. Today was my counterclockwise day; Nov. 25 would be my clockwise day.

“I always pick up trash and deposit in receptacles on my walks.

“Many people out walking their dogs; we greet one another with ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ A Roseville police officer patrolling the park pulls up next to me. It’s Officer Tom. We had met there several months earlier. I thank him for his service, wish him ‘Happy Holidays.’

“On the athletic field, some young men are playing touch football. It reminds me to watch the Vikings game later that day. It also reminds me that Thanksgiving was about the time of year when my former U.S. Winter Olympics associate, Minneapolis native Badger Bob Johnson, died of a heart attack. Google him to read about his accomplishments in hockey. Great guy, missed to this day.

“I move on. I encounter a cheery family, one of whom is wearing a warmup jacket emblematic of a school attended by two of my five grandchildren. No, they didn’t know the names I gave, but they promised to look up these two grandkids and relate their encounter with Papa Willard.

“I’m now about three-quarters around my route; walk up the steep hill leading to Roseville City Hall, good for my heart. Many dedicated public servants work there; some are now friends; will see them maybe the final week of the year. Already? Where did this year go? Where is the next one going?

“One more intersection to cross. Standing on dry pavement, waiting for the light to change. One moment I am fine; the next moment, I am toppling to the sidewalk. Damn balance problem strikes again — a form of vertigo no doctor can seem to fix, although one at the U says he has some new therapies; can’t wait to see him.

“I have fallen on my right side. Right hand to shoulder aches a little bit, but not too bad. Elbow took the brunt, but is OK. A car pulls up, asks if I’m all right. Shakily, I say: ‘I’m OK.’ ‘Do you want a ride home?’ ‘No, thanks, just a block to go.’ ‘You’re sure?’ ‘Yes, Happy Thanksgiving.’ I think of Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ where Blanche declares: ‘I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.’ The Good Samaritans leave.

“I negotiate the final block of my walk all right and sit down at the computer to write this piece. Hope you enjoyed it.”

The Permanent Granddaughterly Record

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: The depths of knowledge.

“While Grandma was dealing the cards for SKIP-BO (what an interminable game!), granddaughter Eve, who will celebrate her 9th birthday on the 1st of January, informed her grandparents that there was a song ‘that sticks in my head.’ Pouncing upon the teachable moment, Grandpa remarked: ‘When a song sticks in your head, that’s called something that sounds kind of funny: It’s an “earworm.” ‘

“Much to Grandpa’s surprise, Eve responded: ‘I know that.’

“Thinking that ‘earworm’ was a rather advanced concept to be taught to third-graders, Grandpa followed up with: ‘You do? Where did you learn that?’

“Eve supplied an answer that defied all of Grandpa’s education and experience: ‘From SpongeBob.’ ”

Band Name of the Day: The Damned Nappies

Website of the Day: The Origins of Our Favorite Nostalgic Thanksgiving Brands



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