Our neighbors, ourselves
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Once, I lived in a second-floor apartment in a three-floor building. The folks upstairs were usually good, except for one whose boyfriend like to punch designs in leather, and he wanted to do it in our building rather than in his house. He placed a towel on my upstairs neighbor’s wooden table, and added a wooden cutting board on which to pound out designs. Basically, he turned my apartment into a drum, echoing and amplifying each blow. Luckily, he stopped after I arrived at the apartment door in tears a few times.
“The real problem was the downstairs apartment, which attracted the wrong crowd. One night, I was asleep and woke to find myself rising a foot off my bed while still horizontal. The neighbor had brought a guy home from a bar when it closed, and had turned the stereo volume on the song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ from Zero to Max. On a work night. That time, she turned the sound down after I pounded on the door for a while. Later, she ignored my distress — until I called the police, who rousted the (not great) caretaker and said (rightly) that it was too loud for any hour of the day or night. She was evicted, and I learned to call the cops much faster regarding problems.
“Some Middle Eastern students then moved in, with a pool table. They had lots of parties, and they were obviously fans of Queen. Every time someone sank a great shot, they blasted the song ‘Another One Bites the Dust.’ When I finally registered a complaint, the landlord evicted them because the person who rented the apartment wasn’t living there. A series of guys lived there, and the original one was long gone.
“Luckily, I still like that song.”
Everyone’s a (Band Name of the Day) critic! (responsorial, sort of)
Or: You are what you eat
Writes joegolfer: “I don’t remember what category the story was in, but a recent mention of kielbasa caught my eye. A contributor commented that ‘everyone knows’ kielbasa only goes with pork ribs. That’s the BB version of waving a red cape at a bull. [Bulletin Board interjects: Actually, this is what John of Hopkins wrote: “When the Widow of Hopkins (my very-much-alive spouse) saw the Band Name of the Day Tuesday morning, ‘Sauerkraut and Lutefisk,’ she became indignant and a bit testy. ‘It is sacrilege,’ she said, ‘to pair sauerkraut and lutefisk. Everyone knows that sauerkraut is paired only with pork hocks.’ ” But go ahead, anyway, joegolfer!]
“When my husband was in college, he spent at least one year living communally with about six other guys in a decrepit near-campus house. After a brief visit, his father asked his mother: ‘Are we giving him enough money?’ That’s how decrepit it was.
“The guys took turns making the evening meal, each assigned a specific night of the week. Now, none of them was a particularly good cook, I’m sure, but they were all good eaters, so they weren’t picky.
“The menu didn’t vary; if you knew what day of the week it was, you knew what you’d be having for supper. One guy always cooked spaghetti. His method of determining the pasta’s doneness was to throw it against the wall … where it remained until they moved out. The young chef who always made fish called it ‘Norske and ‘tatoes.’ My husband’s specialty was kielbasa and sauerkraut, no pork ribs — student budget, after all.”
And: Every picture tells a story (responsorial)
MsMae of the Park: “I found IGHGrampa‘s Best Bluegrass Clog Dancing video very entertaining [BB, 12/2/2016] — not only for the dancing, but for a couple of items I noticed as the camera panned around the room.
“It was a little blurry, but I think I saw a gun rack with a couple of rifles in it mounted on the wall near the door. Very handy, indeed.
“But what really caught my eye was the gold clock and horse statue sitting on top of the TV set. My parents also had this clock and horse, and it sat on our TV from the late ’50s through early ’60s. Because I loved horses, I would not let them throw it out, so it ended up in the basement for several years until my mother conducted the ‘great uncluttering’ during the ’70s. Alas, another precious childhood treasure lost.
“Found this pix on the Google.”
Or: Our living (and/or dying) language
Doctors’ Mom in Mendota Heights: “I’m all for diversity, but I’ve noticed how ‘diverse’ and ‘diversity’ are often used in odd (and incorrect) ways.
“For instance, in today’s other paper, there is an article stating that the Mall of America ‘started a national search last spring for a diverse St. Nicholas. . . .’ Literally, this makes no sense, unless they are looking for a Santa who is somehow himself a hodgepodge (of what, I don’t know).
“Basically, ‘diverse’ has come to mean people who are not of the majority in terms of race or ethnicity.
“As someone who works in the nonprofit sector, I see this quite a bit. No harm, but I wish people would say what they mean.”
Then & Now
Golden Age of Department Stores Division
Edgrr’s Mom: “I remember Dayton’s from my childhood in the ’50s. At Christmas time, we were allowed to buy one ornament from the thousands that were on tables (I think in the basement of the store). And I could buy the new ‘Black Stallion’ book on the fourth floor. We were always dressed to the nines, in gloves, heels and hats — until the mid-’60s, when suddenly it was OK to go downtown in Levi’s and whatnot.
“I wonder what happened to the statue that was in front of Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale. I remember eating there as a small child — and, when older, meeting my father there for lunch when he was in town.”
The Permanent Family Record
John in Highland: “I’ve written previously about my relatives the Wermerskirchens. I am fairly certain that I am related to all of the Wermerskirchens in the Upper Midwest, because we are all descended from the three brothers who came to Minnesota, bringing their families from Germany in the mid-1800s. They homesteaded land between Jordan and New Prague.
“The Wermerskirchens were known to be upright, hard-working citizens. A relative remembered the words of one of the family elders: ‘Young fellow, there is nothing against that name in Germany, and you make awful sure that you put nothing against it in America!’
“They loved to talk with others and to tell stories. One of the stories passed down via a history of the families involved trains. Then and now, trains have been an integral part of transportation in Germany.
“It seems that one of our relatives in Minnesota, Walter Wermerskirchen, had always wanted to go back to the fatherland. He and his wife planned to visit Cologne and the original homestead in the little town of Klein Vernich, about 20 miles south of Cologne. He remembered the advice given to him by his grandfather, who had lived in Germany and emigrated with his family to the United States: ‘Whenever you are lost or need help in Germany, always go to the Bahnhof Meister (station master). The station master — he can help you because he knows everything!’
“The planned trip took place, and they found themselves in a hotel in Cologne across from the train station. The next morning, in need of a rental car for the trip to Klein Vernich, Walter walked over to the station. The people there asked him what he wanted, and he said that he wanted to see the Bahnhof Meister. It took awhile, and a man came back and asked him who he was. He said: ‘I am Herr Wermerskirchen from the U.S.A.’ ‘One moment,’ the man said. Pretty soon he came back, and ‘he took me upstairs on a long winding staircase, and ushered me into a beautiful glassed-in office where sat an important-looking man. I thought: “Oh brother, what have I gotten myself into?” ‘
“Walter introduced himself as ‘Herr Wermerskirchen from the U.S.A.’ The station master introduced himself in turn, and said; ‘Can I help you?’ The discussion included an explanation that his grandfather, who had left Germany many years ago, had told him that if he ever got back to Germany, and he needed help, that he should go to see the Bahnhof Meister. ‘That is correct; that is quite correct. What can I help you with?’ he said. Not knowing the German word for rental car (mietwagen), Walter struggled to explain. When he finally said ‘Avis,’ there was an understanding of what he needed.
“When Walter tried to apologize for having bothered him, the station master would hear none of it. He said that he was honored that a grandson of a gentleman who had departed 100 years prior would come all these years later to see the station master. ‘You were correct in doing this,’ he said, ‘and I want to tell you something more. The next time you come to Germany, we will have rent-a-car outlets at all of the train stations, because we are the main form of transportation. You see, the government runs the railroads!’
“Without further ado, the station master called for a car to transport Walter and his wife. What appeared was a chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousine. When they were delivered to the Avis dealer, all of the workers ‘snapped to’ when they saw the limo. ‘Wer ist der mensch?’ they said. (Who is this person of honor?) ‘I don’t know,’ said the manager, ‘but he’s a good friend of the Bahnhof Meister!’ “
Our birds, ourselves
Mary Lou’s Daughter of Inver Grove Heights: “We were wondering why all was calm lately out by the bird feeder.
“Do you know what sort of hawk this is?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Looks like a red-tailed hawk, to our amateur eyes. But, we trust, our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland, will correct us (in his usual kindly way) if we’re wrong.
Our theater of seasons
Al B of Hartland: “Sunset gets in a hurry this time of year — which follows the usual unusual weather pattern: fair today, unfair tomorrow.
“The trees have become quiet, having lost most of their music makers: rustling leaves and singing birds.
“I had a brown thrasher and two opossums for Thanksgiving. We didn’t eat them … I don’t think: the Thanksgiving feeding frenzy was a blur. I do know that a brown thrasher and two opossums visited our feeding stations on Thanksgiving. I was most thankful.”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson: “When the plows have done their duty
“And the snow has lost its beauty,
“As it turns to slush and looks a dirty gray,
“There’s a scramble oh so brutal,
“Which for many is quite futile,
“Looking for a spot to stow their car away.
“If the parking in the summer
“Seems to be a lousy bummer,
“In the winter it is surely ten times worse,
“As the elements conspire
“To destroy chassis and tire,
“And you pay for parking with a shrinking purse.
“Now the streets are lined with snow dunes,
“And we are not humming show tunes,
“As we try to find a spot that’s close to home
“That we do not have to pay for —
“Even cynics now will pray for
“Anything that doesn’t leave them far to roam.
“Once a spot has been bespoken
“Should another make it broken
“By inserting their own vehicle instead,
“There will be a feud so brutal
“That when Gabriel blows his tootle
“Those involved will tell each other to ‘drop dead.’
“There’s no parking in the city
“That is not . . . well, it’s a pity
“That I cannot use the language that I’d like;
“But the moral here is certain
“That more people should be flirtin’
“With the bus or train or even motorbike!”
Band Name of the Day: The Wrong Crowd
Website of the Day (in time for Christmas): The Worst Things For Sale (“The Internet’s most horrible items. A daily blog.”)