The Permanent Family Record
Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis: “I paced the floor at St. Mary’s Hospital in Minneapolis, awaiting the birth of my first child. Finally a nurse brought out a baby girl swaddled in blankets. We named her Kate.
“The nurse was amused, because 13 babies had been born previously that day at St. Mary’s, all of them boys. Kate was the 14th and the first girl, who outweighed them all at 9 pounds, 10 ounces.
“I was provided a card, which I would show at the nursery window.The duty nurse would push a crib to the window so I could gaze at my baby girl.
“Once, though, the crib contained a lightweight with dark hair, probably one of the boys. I tapped on the window and shook my head: ‘That’s not my baby.’ The nurse insisted it was.
“I pointed to my wrist, and she checked the wristband on the baby and the name on the crib and threw up her hands in dismay. There was a flurry of activity, and two other nurses came in, and all of the babies were vetted and placed in their proper cribs
“The first nurse wheeled a crib to the window, and I looked down on my chubby, hairless beauty. I nodded my head: ‘That’s my baby.’
“The middle daughter uses this incident to bolster her contention that she was baby-switched at birth in the hospital. ‘I am the only child,’ she says, ‘of wealthy parents who kept show horses, on which I learned to ride and compete from the age of 4.’ She continues, imagining the wonderful life she would have led with her real family.
“At last I agree with her, saying she’s probably right. ‘But,’ I add, ‘I assure you that my wife and I have always treated you just as though you were one of our own.’
“The middle daughter moans.”
Another episode of creative hearing, reported by W.i. Fly of Austin: “On TV, a llama was loose and running on the streets of a city. The TV announcer said: ‘Llama’s on the loose.’ I thought he said ‘Obama’s on the loose.'”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Well, at least he didn’t say “Osama’s on the loose.”
Oh, and by the way: Obama is on the loose — and happily so, we hope.
Sleepless from St. Paul (in Minneapolis) reports: “An ongoing project of mine has been sorting through all of the boxes and bags that have been following me around ever since I moved out of my parents’ house after high school. Most of this stuff has great nostalgic value and brings back a lot of great memories, such as notes, letters, photos, souvenirs, projects, etc. But a few of these items have left me a bit bewildered as to why they were ever saved.
“A sampler of my baffling items:
“School Lunch Ticket: While I have no doubt that our school cafeteria’s soy-burgers had no equal, our typical lunchroom-fare made White Castle seem like fine dining.
“Norstar Theatre Ticket Stub: I am fairly certain this stub was acquired while seeing ‘The French Connection.’ Although the movie was rated ‘R’ and we were just in junior high, that did not seem to be much of a problem. The downtown theaters were on their last legs, and they did not seem to be too discerning about who they sold a ticket to. I saw ‘The Godfather’ on opening day at the Orpheum years before I began shaving.
“Downtown Book Bag: Downtown Book, which occupied the basement under the Orpheum Theater, was not your dad’s Book and Stationery. One of the reasons we started taking the bus downtown was to purchase Ray Bradbury and John Carter on Mars books (yes, we were nerds) at Downtown Book. The bookstore also had a back room for displaying the black-light posters that were so popular with the hippies. They also carried ‘Zippy’ comics long before ‘Zippy’ became a syndicated newspaper comic strip.
“Magic Kit: I had received this magic kit by mail when I was in first grade. By third grade my ‘Presto Coin Vanish’ had permanently vanished. Yet after all of these years, I still have the envelope and instructions.
“I suspect I didn’t save any of these items for sentimental reasons. They are just the result of an underutilized trash can.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Now you can keep them for sentimental reasons.
And: Today’s helpful hints
Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “Subject: Household Discoveries.
“While waiting for spring to arrive and the golf courses to open, I have been forced to do some purging and cleaning in the basement. One of my discoveries was a box of my mother’s cookbooks, which at the time of her death I felt I had to keep. I have never looked at them in the 47 years since then, up until the other day.
“One of the books that I found quite interesting is titled ‘Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cook Book.’ There are three copyrights, the first being 1908; the second is 1909, and the third is 1913, which is the one I have.
“Some of the chapters listed are ‘The Day’s Routine,’ ‘Wash Day,’ ‘Ironing Day,’ ‘Sweeping Day’ — whoa, did I just see Sweeping Day? That, I had to read about. It covers utensils for sweeping and how to sweep, among other mundane instructions.
I must inform BB readers ‘How to Sweep.’ In part: ‘The old-fashioned brooms, however, are still commonly used, and are needed for some purposes in every household. To sweep well with a broom is an art that calls for quite a little skill and intelligence. There are wrong ways in sweeping as well as the right way, and the former are perhaps more often practiced than the latter. It is wrong to lean on the broom or dig into the carpet with great force, as if trying to dig down and get the dirt out of it.’
“Another paragraph: ‘It is wrong to push the broom forward so as to drive a cloud of dust into the air. It is wrong to sweep the whole length of the room toward the door in order to sweep the dirt into the next room. It is wrong to sweep always on one side of the broom so that it will get lopsided and have to be thrown away.
“‘The right way to use a broom is to keep the handle always inclining forward and never allow it to come to the perpendicular; much less incline backward. The stroke should be rather long, the sweeper standing on the soiled portion of the carpet, reaching back and drawing the dust and dirt forward as if pulling or dragging it over the surface. The skillful sweeper will lift the broom before it becomes perpendicular so as not to raise the slightest dust, and will tap it gently to shake the dirt out of it before reaching back for another stroke.
“‘Before sweeping dip the broom in hot soapsuds, and have at hand a pailful of soapsuds in which to rinse the broom when it becomes dusty. Squeeze out the water so that the broom is damp but not wet. This practice toughens the straw, makes the broom last much longer and softens it so that it does not cut the carpet. A damp broom also takes up the dirt better than a dry one and prevents the dust from rising in the air.’
“Well, I guess I have been sweeping all wrong for years and no one has corrected me. In reading other chapters in this book, I would not have been a happy housekeeper — and from what I read in the ‘Wash Day ‘ chapter, we would have worn a lot of dirty clothes.
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Happily. We do so daily. Fore!
This ‘n’ that
Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “Thank you, Tim Torkildson, for your memories of the big top. Is there a publication date for your memoir ‘Clowning Around: My Life Under the Big Top’?What with the demise of the Ringling Circus, we need the whole collection of stories for future generations to read while watching movies about the circus and eating orange-flavored marshmallows in the shape of peanuts. Thank you, especially, for sharing your memories of your lost little clowny boy. How sweet that he’d dress as a clown for his beloved dad.
“I’m undergoing the sad and difficult work of figuring out what to do with things that are useless to me but were beloved to another. I have found good homes for some things that were in need and wish there were a book or website that had advice for getting rid of other people’s things thoughtfully. The Textile Center has a garage sale at the end of April, so will be the recipient of a box of yarn, including partly knit things and a box of partly finished clothing. I’m very slow and called last year, so I know they do take unfinished objects. I have a box of stamps (not a proper collection, as it’s a cigar box with stamps in it) that I need to do something with. Better for it to be in the hands of someone interested in stamps than to remain with me. I haven’t looked at it, but presume it’s ordinary stamps from the ’40s and ’50s — although, due to a favorite great-uncle’s work in Europe, it could include some European stamps.
“Our favorite great-uncle and his wife raised the two youngest children in her family, as their parents had both died. The youngest sister married and lived in the area, while the youngest brother was raised in that small town, then sent to Bismarck when he graduated from high school, to live with my grandparents and attend the junior college. Based on his two-year degree, he was able to get into pilot training when he entered the Air Force, which led to flying Air Force One for the Johnson Administration and, later, flying for a travel club. His last job was investigating plane crashes for the NTSB.
“When I say he was sent to Bismarck, he was actually asked if he wanted to stay with my grandparents and go to the junior college; this, after his sisters decided that would be best. The offer was to buy him new clothes, provide room and board, and tuition for his first semester of college. In those days, you could pay for college on income earned during the summer and part-time during the school year, as there was no such thing as a student loan, guaranteed or otherwise. He credits his career to them, as he wouldn’t otherwise have considered going to college.
“When he flew for the travel club, the great-aunt and -uncle who raised him, together with Grandma and the youngest sister, traveled with him and his wife. They went to Europe, China and other places in the Far East, Morocco and South America. They didn’t make it to Norway or to Australia. He has repressed his memories of a trip to Rome, taken with his wife, oldest daughter and three sisters. I know not whether our favorite great-uncle went with. In addition to small souvenir dolls of many lands, I now have the pair of small marble-topped tables Grandma somehow brought back from Rome and assume that they and the crystal chandeliers his other sisters bought are among the reasons he doesn’t want to remember that trip.
“I now have a collection of photos, slides and 8-mm movies from my parents; while I have two slide projectors, I don’t have a movie projector, so have no means of watching the old movies, so need to either find a projector or find a business that converts movies to DVD. I believe I also have many slides depicting the Tree of Guernica from every possible angle, courtesy of my sister’s trip to Spain when she was in high school.”
Live and learn
Or: The Permanent Paternal Record
Al B of Hartland: “I was helping my father repair the windmill on the farm. We were working at the top of the tower. It didn’t reach to the moon, but it was up there. My father cautioned me to be careful.
“‘Remember,’ he said, ‘if you fall off, it’s a long climb back up.'”
Band Name of the Day: Chubby, Hairless Beauties — or: The Skillful Sweepers