The home front
Teech writes: “This is the story of how my family got our first electric refrigerator.
“It was during World War II. The year was probably 1944.
“I was almost 2 years old, and I was having stomach problems; I couldn’t digest milk. My mother took me to the doctor. His diagnosis was that because we had an icebox, the milk wasn’t being kept at a constant temperature and the bacteria flourished, which made me sick. The doctor took out his pad and wrote out a prescription for a refrigerator.
“All metal during WWII was designated for the war effort. As a result, appliances were placed in locked storage and were not on display on showroom floors. My father went to the local department store and gave the owner the prescription and $50 and then went home, never seeing what he had purchased.
“It was a very exciting event, as a few days later we, along with all our neighbors, watched as our brand-new refrigerator (probably a 1941 model) was delivered. The neighbors lined up from the street to the door at the back of the house that led to our second-floor apartment. My family was at the top of the stairs so we could watch the men bring it up the narrow stairway and set it up in our kitchen. My mother was holding me, my father was directing the delivery men, and my sister and brother were jumping up and down with excitement.
“That refrigerator was still being used in the 1970s.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We would happily receive further stories of when appliances (ancient or modern) showed up in your lives, and of appliances that outlived their expected usefulness.
Our birds, ourselves
Pileated Woodpecker Division — and: Where we live
Bloomington Bird Lady: “Thank you so much for clarifying the pileated woodpecker pronunciation! [BB, 12/09/2016] Most people don’t use ‘pie’; wonder why.
“There have been changes in the birds we see in Minnesota. I remember my first pileated sighting, way up by Frazee, Minnesota, back in the ’50s. I thought it must be somone’s escaped parrot! The same with cardinals: I never saw one in Milaca; here in Bloomington, we have them feeding at dusk, and have counted more than 20 at a time, all by themselves, calling to their friends and staying until it’s nearly dark.
“I was part of Cornell’s ‘Project Feederwatch’ for years, dutifully counting the numbers of each variety that I’d see at one time. It’s a good hobby for someone who loves watching birds. You fill out a sheet for each counting period, or it can be done online as well. At the end of the season, when the data must be sent to Cornell, there is an overview of your area to be filled out as well: number of trees, what kind, water sources, topography, elevations, neighbors who may have feeders, even animals in your neighborhood who might cause the numbers to drop. The amount and type of birdseed and suet are important to the list. One has to keep a record of what delights you offer in your feeder area . . . and if you have a heated birdbath.
“People addicted to their cellphones probably would get frustrated. Can’t look down so much. Have to look up and pay attention.
“We still keep up all our feeders, but have not been counting for Cornell lately. Squirrels are everywhere: nine gray ones and two white ones every day. We can see them coming across electric wires from a couple of blocks away. Birdman still pounds on the windows (mostly scaring me), yelling ‘Golldarn squirrels anyway!’ ”
Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota, reports: “Last spring we were fortunate to have this eagle land in a tree close to our house; from our upstairs windows, we had a great view of it. He stayed for about 45 minutes, just sitting there and even preening itself.
“My cat strolled by the base of the tree, not knowing the eagle was there. I did get worried, but the eagle just kept sitting there and the cat went on her merry way.”
Now & Then
Replying to Willard B. Shapira of Roseville’s request for B-25 memories, Elvis writes: “Elvis was down in Florida about five years ago when several of the restored WWII planes flew in for an air show at the local small airport.
“On Saturday he paid $15 to walk onto the tarmac and view the planes. He couldn’t afford the $250 or more to go ride in the bombers, or even more for a brief flight in the P-51 Mustang (but it was pretty cool to see that plane rev up and take off; made the little Cessnas which usually used the airport look like slowpokes).
“It was a hot day for winter in Florida; the sun was strong, and it was about noon. Elvis got into the queue of people waiting for the chance to climb the short metal ladder up into the belly of the B-25, then up to the cockpit, through the fuselage, and then back out a short ladder in the rear to exit.
“It was an interesting line to wait in, as several people were vets and were sharing stories about the war and their service. However, we realized that the line had stopped moving. The same person was waiting with one foot on the ladder to climb up into the plane, and had been for about five minutes. People started to complain and get grumpy and wonder why whoever was in the plane was not moving along to let us have our turn. There were no staff or anyone monitoring the line, just the people over by the gate taking the money. It was hot, and we were losing patience.
“Finally someone went and got one of these folks, and we heard some commotion inside the plane. The person waiting to climb in stepped back, and soon we saw a bare leg with blood dripping down it dangle out the opening. The staffer took charge, and after a few more minutes, a very elderly man in shorts was lifted down and out.
“He was helped into a lawn chair that someone set up in the shade under the wing. His knee was bleeding, and he looked like he was about to pass out. He was refusing to have anyone call the paramedics, and only accepted a bottle of water.
“His story got passed along through the line eventually. We learned that he had been on the flight crew of one of these bombers in the war. He and his son had come over to see the plane. He, too, had had to stand in the line in the sun for some time, and then climb into the plane.
“Apparently he had not had the strength, once inside the plane, to make the climb up to the cockpit, and had got in the position of not being able to go up or go down, and was getting very weak. He cut himself trying to maneuver back down. The space was so tight that his son, behind him, couldn’t reach him to help. The people who had been ahead of them had moved on and exited the plane, unaware that this situation was happening behind them. Finally someone did come in from the other end, and they slowly were able to help him back down, and out.
“Eventually they got him a golf cart to go back to his car. And the grumpy people in line somberly moved ahead for their turn in the plane. Elvis knew, as he climbed in, that there was no way he would appreciate and understand what he would see inside this warbird in the way that this veteran would have.”
Kathy S. of St Paul: “As a Boomer, I had not been born when Pearl Harbor was bombed, but I heard about it so much that I feel connected to it.
“On that day, Dad was flying solo, to get his pilot’s license. He was grounded in Red Wing because all planes were ordered to land, and he never completed getting his license —which is one reason he survived the war. Many pilots did not — especially those who flew for a number of years.
“Mom was in a lab in Mendel Hall at St. Kate’s, making up a Chemistry lab. Sister Antonius came to tell her about Pearl Harbor, and Mom didn’t understand why Sister was crying. Mom understood later, when her many cousins went off to war. She started a scrapbook with pictures of her cousins in their uniforms, but didn’t think to ask her cousin Margaret, who was also in the service. So Margaret sent Mom her own picture, saying that she was sure that Mom had forgotten to ask for one. Mom was so embarrassed!
“Of all Mom’s cousins who were in the war, only one died, near Iwo Jima, when his ship was strafed by fighter planes. Over 300 men were never found, after they abandoned his ship; I looked it up in a Navy archive. I still feel sad for his loss.
“Mom’s wonderful Aunt Norah didn’t have her own kids, but fussed over her many nieces and nephews. I once wrote about Christmas presents she gave. What I didn’t know until I took over Mom’s family archive is that Norah wrote to all her nephews (and niece?) in the service, and saved their letters. One nephew, a pilot, wrote of being shot down and spending at least seven hours in a lifeboat with his crewmates until they were picked up. He mentioned being shaky and being promised on alternate days that he was going home, or that he was staying. He didn’t relax until he was on a ship headed home.
“One nephew wrote about exploring Rome when he was there on leave, and hoping that he’d get back there. But in every letter, they thanked Norah for information on their cousins in the service, and for ordering Fanny Farmer candy to be sent to them overseas.
“Perhaps 30 years ago, a grade-school-aged hockey team came from Japan to play in a tournament here; I attended a game in which a nephew played them. It seemed so peaceful, and far from Pearl Harbor.”
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: A no-brainer.
“I imagine the two Twin Cities dailies were not the only publications with the same title for their front-page stories in the Friday editions. To wit:
“Pioneer Press: ‘GODSPEED, JOHN GLENN.’
“Minneapolis paper: ‘Godspeed, John Glenn.’ ”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Imagine no longer, Pedagogue. Check for yourself at today’s Website of the Day.
What’s in a name?
Or: Senior moment — leading to: Great comebacks
Email: “Subject: Time to don my thinking cap.
“After watching Kiefer Sutherland in ‘Designated Survivor’ Wednesday night, I got to thinking about his father, who is also a well-known movie actor. For the life of me, although I could picture him and hear his voice, I couldn’t come up with his first name. I knew I knew it, but I just couldn’t remember it. I refused to use any source to find it, because I was so close to recalling it. It seems to me that it was what one might call an iconic name, with majesty and even a mystical quality attached to it. When it surfaces, I’ll get back to you.
What’s in a (partnership) name?
Frosty of Linwood: “Your Law Firm of the Day ‘Donner, Donder & Dunder’ [BB, 12/6/2016] reminded me of an actual advertising agency I heard of years ago. It was called Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn. Some wag commented that it sounded like a trunk falling down a flight of stairs.
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Maybe that’s why it’s called BBDO Worldwide, nowadays. The great old firm names are all endangered, if not already defunct.
Our favorite example: the Minneapolis-headquartered law firm Dorsey & Whitney — formerly known as Dorsey, Marquardt, Windhorst, West & Halladay. Now that was a law firm name!
Band Name of the Day: The No-Brainers
Website of the Day: Every day’s front pages, all over the nation, all around the world.