The Hat People drive again! Or: “Good advice for bad drivers: ‘Get a hat!'” (Encore!)

The Hat People

It’s time for newcomers to Bulletin Board to learn about The Hat People — immortalized in Bulletin Board by Merlyn of St. Paul on the 14th of September in 1993, under the headline “Good advice for bad drivers: ‘Get a hat!’”:

“You know, it’s one of those nearly immutable laws of human nature that if you’re behind a person on the freeway who stops at the end of the freeway ramp and then proceeds down the freeway at 20 miles an hour in the fast lane, they will be wearing a hat.

“I don’t know if the hat band slows the circulation to the brain, or if the kind of person who wears a hat like that is in a time warp where the rules of the road were different — you know, Hat Land, maybe?

“Anyway . . . I’ve given up on the usual rude gestures and light-blinking to signal these people. It just confuses them. So, when someone exhibits this behavior sans hat, I yell: ‘Get a hat!’ And if they’re hatted, I yell: ‘Thanks for the warning!’

“It’s not bird-flipping, and they’re probably deaf from hat pressure, and I’m sure they don’t know what I’m talking about — but at least it’s an outlet for my aggression. And, at best, it’s a source of embarrassment for my 13-year-old son.

“It’s great! Try it sometime.”

Trust us, now: It is great.

We have lately heard from The Tooth Fairy of Woodbury: “It’s been awhile in Bulletin Board since ‘challenged’ hat-wearing drivers, or those who need to ‘Get a hat,’ have been referenced.

“When we are out and about, we still tend to note these drivers — commenting that the hat-wearers are giving us fair warning of their inept driving skills, or that the hatless need to put on a hat.

“Recently I came upon a couple of examples. The first was the gentleman who had a fedora in his back window AND was wearing a knit hat. The second was wearing a fedora, and his front-seat passenger (wife?) had the female equivalent-type fedora.

“Not sure if BB should come up with a new or sub-category for double-hat warning systems.

“Would a triple-hat warning be a ‘Hat Trick’?”

What a cool job!
And: Life as we know it

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “When we were kids, we all saw certain jobs that we would aspire to when we grew up.”

“Mine was to be the guy who mowed the parks, cemetery and courthouse lawns in Windom, Minnesota. He stood upon a sulky and was towed along by a gang of three self-propelled reel mowers. He gripped the handlebars like the reins of a chariot team and circled trees and curved along walks with the skill of Judah-Ben-Hur. Grass flew like dust as he urged those mighty beasts along.

“I saw something similar many years later, when the guy redoing my driveway climbed into his Bobcat and effortlessly smoothed the Class 3 asphalt like he was frosting a cake. You can trust a person who performs like that — someone who puts beauty in their simple works. It reeks of integrity.”

Our birds, our husbands, ourselves

Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “This female cardinal kept flying into our window, She would crash into it with her feet first.

“We didn’t want her getting hurt, so my husband used suction cups and a small strip of wood for a perch, and now she just flies to that and looks in.



“One downside to that is she will probably decorate our window.”

Life as we know it
Outhouses and Port-a-Potties Division

The Old Hand of Oakdale writes (having changed the names in this story, to protect both the innocent and the guilty) : “Miss Fisk had a small 3.2 bar just outside the town limits — clean, quiet, befitting the gray-haired, innocent looking old lady. She lived in the far end of the building: a small kitchen/office, and her bedroom.

“She treated the barroom itself as her living room. Wipe your feet on the mat before entering. A small oak bar, 10 stools, three booths, and six tables. There was the front door, and a door leading to her living quarters, and a door with a restroom sign above it.

“But once you went through that door with the restroom sign, you were outside in the parking lot and about a hundred feet from a gray, wooden, two-holed outhouse. There weren’t too many bars left that didn’t have inside facilities, but Miss Fisk did not like the idea of cleaning an inside restroom.

“Her clientele was carefully picked. She allowed no rowdies, no drunks, no one she suspected of spending money on liquor when his family was going hungry, no unescorted females; there was no swearing, no Bible thumping, and no children. And once she banned you, you were banned for life.

“Since there was never many customers in her place, you had to wonder how she made ends meet — but she had her ways. For instance, there were the poker games, big stakes, that started every Saturday afternoon. The house took a draw out of each pot. And when the chaff got separated from the wheat, this sweet old lady sat in and showed the boys how to play poker.

“Then there was the Minnesota liquor law. Only liquor stores could sell whiskey by the bottle, and liquor stores closed at 8 p.m. six nights and never opened on Sunday. That left a lot of hours for thirsty people who wanted to buy more whiskey.

“Now, a 3.2 bar couldn’t sell even a glass of strong beer, let alone a shot of whiskey, and heaven forbid a bottle of whiskey — but Miss Fisk saw a need and filled it. She pushed more illegally sold bottles out the back door during the off-hours than the Judge’s liquor store in town ever hoped to sell legally. And for a bigger profit, tax-free.

“Gros Jean, the township marshal, knew of all this, but he would never do anything about her sidelines, because he figured, like everyone, that she was filling some valuable needs for the community. Plus, he had been unopposed in his running for office for almost two decades, and he liked his job. It supplied him with a good living and a new car every few years.

“It was the last new car that got Bantam Denis the idea that maybe there was more to the job than just the salary, so Banty decided to run against Gros Jean. A week or so before the election, he stopped into Miss Fisk’s bar, and even though he had been banned several years before, he ordered a beer. He was refused. So he went and dumped everybody’s glass of beer on the floor as he ranted as to how, when he was elected, he would stop the Saturday poker games and stop her back-door peddling of whiskey, maybe even take away her 3.2 license. Unless! He went and whispered something in her ear.

“In spite of the fact that the kickback he wanted from her was less than what she was paying Gros Jean, she held the door open while several customers threw Banty out.

“Banty held off a few nights before getting his revenge. He waited in the dark until Miss Fisk and Jen, girlfriend of Earl the bartender, went to the outhouse. Once they were inside, he took the board into which he had started four nails, and, placing it crosswise, he hammered it to the door frame, making it impossible to push the door open.

“The two women screamed and tried to get out. He jumped into his pickup and started bumping the outhouse — not enough to tip it over, just enough to scare the . . . etc. Then he drove out quickly. Nobody inside the bar heard the commotion, and it wasn’t until almost a hour later, when someone walked out to use the outhouse, that their predicament was discovered.

“Naturally, everyone knew who had pulled the trick — but as Gros Jean pointed out, there was no evidence . . . and maybe not even a law against nailing an outhouse door closed.

“But come the election results, Miss Fisk had her faith in mankind restored. Twice the usual number of people had voted, and Banty ended up with just two votes. No, it wasn’t his mother who cast the other vote for him. She had made it clear before the election that she wouldn’t vote for her son even if he were the only one running. The second vote was cast by an angry wife of one of the habitual losers in the Saturday poker games.

“And the very next day after getting locked in the outhouse, Miss Fisk used some of her ill-gotten gains to have an addition built on her building: a unisex restroom with all the modern conveniences. Of course, though, the old gray outhouse out back was left standing, because there were some habits her regular customers just couldn’t break.

“The only change in the outhouse was that somebody had found the board Banty had used and painted the words ‘BANTY’S JAILHOUSE’ on it and nailed it over the door.

“The bar and outhouse stood for several more years, until the Highway Department bought it for a highway expansion and knocked it down.

“Miss Fisk started another bar high on a hill which overlooked where the old bar had been, but it just wasn’t the same. For one thing, the building code decreed it had to have both a Men’s Room and a Ladies’ Room inside the building, requiring a lot of cleaning never needed when all she had was the old outhouse.”

Ripping the canvas ceiling

Cee Cee of Mahtomedi: “It’s finally happened: a woman elected to the highest office in the land . . . ringmaster (or is it ‘ringmistress’) of the ‘Greatest Show on Earth.’ Eat your heart out, Tim Torkildson. 😉 ”

Clowning around (responsorial)

Dave “The Tape Guy” of Shoreview: “Thanks to Tim Torkildson for expanding our vocabularies with his wonderfully descriptive stories of his days as a circus clown. I really appreciate the links to the dictionary entries to help with some of the more obscure words and expressions.”

The Suggestibles (responsorial)

Toothy Grin #6 of Minneapolis: “Subject: Another Tasty Use for Jell-O.

“A long, long time ago, I found a recipe in one of the women’s magazines for Jell-O spritz cookies. As I remember, they were a little overly sweet (if I were making them now, I would need to cut the amount of plain sugar the recipe calls for, since flavored Jell-O is loaded with sugar), but quite tasty and pretty.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Maybe these — found at


The Gram With a Thousand Rules reports: “Family reunions can be exhausting. Our newest great-grandsons nap by the sea on the coast of Australia.”


Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division (responsorial)

In the December 30, 2016 Bulletin Board, we ran this note from Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “I have a question for Al B and hope he has an answer.

“I have not seen a junco since the first part of October, and it was just one at that time. We keep our four feeders filled and our heated bird bath clean and full of water and have seen a lot of different birds so far this winter, but no juncos.

“Happy New Year to a new Bulletin Board. Love the format and pictures. I do miss holding the newspaper, but my hands are now cleaner.”

BULLETIN BOARD REPORTS: Our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland, must have been unusually busy at the turn of the year (perhaps counting birds somewhere) — but he has been heard from now:

“Dear Birdwatcher in La Crescent,

“Juncos seem to be everywhere — from Alaska to California to Florida. Everywhere but in your yard.

“I am sorry that you are lacking these lovely birds, and I’ve made an earnest wish that they will return to your good company. There is a good chance that will happen, as Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch shows them to be one of the most frequently reported back-yard birds.

“Determining why there is an absence or an abundance of a bird species in a small area is difficult. It’s like depending upon a Magic 8-Ball for investment advice.

“I wish you a jollification of juncos.”

Then & Now (responsorial)

Edgrr’s mom writes, of these pictures in Friday’s Bulletin Board:



“Could Little Sister share with us the variety of seed that produced her melons last year?”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: She certainly could. Will she? All signs point to Yes.

Better safe than sorry

OTD from NSP: “Wednesday is my usual garbage day, so the container is taken to the street on Tuesday evening.

“I live by myself. I have the smallest container the garbage company offers. I usually have one ‘tall kitchen’-size bag a week.

“Took the filled garbage bag out, put it in container, started to pull the container to the street. Looked at the ice sheen on the driveway and decided next week for pickup would be fine. It’s cold; the garbage is not going to smell. I won’t have to pull the container back to the garage tomorrow over the ice.

“After looking at the ice, I thought I should try to spread some de-icer, so that walking would be less of a hazard. I have two bins, one with sand and one with salt/deicer. Both were fine last winter. This year, both are frozen clumps, and I had to use the end of a snow brush to break them apart. Made mental note to myself to check next fall so this doesn’t happen again. (I know I will forget the mental note until the next time I need sand/salt.)

“But I do plan on taking advantage of the bitter cold to defrost my freezer (the non-self-defrosting one). Plan on putting my laundry baskets in the car with what is currently in the freezer. I do this every winter, so during November and December I try to buy only what is needed — so the contents of the freezer is low. One reason (and possibly the only one) that bitter cold is good.

“Be careful. Falls are painful. I know from experience that being in a wheelchair is no fun.”

Band Name of the Day: My Usual Garbage

Websites of the Day: It’s About TV! — including This Week in TV Guide

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