Seventy-five years ago, a German POW in Nebraska carved a memory for the heart of his American captor . . .

The Permanent Family Record

MsMae of the Park: “Subject: Little treasures of the heart.


“My dad served in the Army during World War II. While on maneuvers somewhere in France, he was injured and received two Purple Hearts. After he recovered and returned stateside, he was stationed as a guard at one of the German POW camps in Nebraska.

“It was not unusual for friendships to develop between guards and prisoners, and my father became acquainted with a POW who was very good at carving. Attached is a picture of a heart-shaped picture frame he carved and painted for my dad.


“My parents were married in 1942, and that’s their picture in the middle. At the bottom of the heart, it has their names: ‘Lou + Cath.’ There is no signature or date on it, so I’m not sure when it was made, but probably around 1943.

“For more about the German POW camps and friendships that were established, check out this article in Smithsonian magazine.”

The Permanent Parental Record
And: Then & Now

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My father was a cusser.

“My mother was not. She was a pleasant, patient soul, and it took a lot to rile her up. For instance, if my two older tap-dancing sisters were hanging over her shoulder urging her to finish their costumes and the bobbin thread would tangle up, then she might mutter ‘Blast it all’ in frustration. Sometimes — rarely — she might add ‘Damnable machine,’ but she said that didn’t count as swearing because she was only describing her Singer.

“My dad, on the other hand, rarely uttered a sentence without a few blankety-blanks thrown in for good measure.

“My Crabby Grandma would constantly interrupt his stories by patting him on the arm urging him to ‘Watch your language, my son.’ My mother always thought Grandma was overreacting, because she said our dad never used any ‘smutty or vulgar’ language; he was only using ‘ordinary, everyday swear words.’

‘When I hear the obnoxiously repetitive use of THAT word which starts with the sixth letter of the alphabet, I know my cussing dad would be just as disgusted as I am. In my head, I can hear him paraphrasing his mother as he would tell those illiterate ignoramuses: ‘Watch your blankety-blank language, you blankety-blank kids.'”

Till death us do part
Or: Not exactly what she had in mind

Reports Jonee of Rice Lake, Wisconsin: “I had finally found just the right white oval table that I had searched forever for. It has four elegant matching chairs. I had meant to leave the muted worn gold trim on the upper backs of the chairs just as it was, for more of an antique effect.

” One day, I went in the kitchen and said: ‘What happened to my elegant chairs?’

“My husband was looking at me and admitted that he had worked so hard just for me [Bulletin Board says: We doubt if he was “admitting” that!], and he had scraped and scraped on each chair — trying to remove the old-looking trim, to make them look better just for me. He wondered why I was looking so unhappy and wasn’t praising him for what he had done.

“His mother, Louise, would have said: ‘Oh, God love him!’

“That is not what I said!!!!!!!!”

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

Granny of White Bear Lake reports: “I’m a little late in writing my memory of the ‘outhouse.’ [Bulletin Board says: It’s never too late to tell a good story. As we’ve tried to make clear, all these years, Bulletin Board categories never die; they only fade away . . . and can be resuscitated at a moment’s notice.]

“I was about 6 years old, and we did not have modern facilities in our farmhouse. I hate to admit it, but I was fascinated by fire and matches — and one Sunday afternoon, after finding a book of matches, I made my way to the ‘outhouse’ and started lighting the matches one by one and throwing them into the deep, smelly hole.

“What I did not anticipate was the toilet paper — or, in other words, the catalog pages/newspaper — catching fire and blazing upward.

“I immediately ran from the small building into the house, where my dad was taking a Sunday-afternoon nap, and shouted: ‘Dad, Dad, somebody. . .’ — yes, I said ‘somebody’ — ‘. . . set a fire in the outhouse.’ He jumped out of bed and ran through the house, grabbed our bucket of drinking water from the porch, and made a beeline for the outhouse and put out the fire.

“I got a stern warning (lucky for me I didn’t get a spanking) to never play with matches again.

“A few years later, after we had modernized the farmhouse, my dad was burning the dead grass in the spring, and the grass fire got out of control and burned down the outhouse.

“On another note: I do remember that all family members liked it when the fresh fruit arrived in the stores, and my mother would buy crates of peaches and pears. Each piece of fruit was wrapped in tissue paper, which was then brought out to the outhouse — and was preferred, as it was much softer than the catalog pages or newspapers.”

Matinee Idle (Vol. 1, No. 41) (responsorial)
Plus: Out of the mouths of babes (Middle School Division)

Friday email from The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “Today’s Matinee Idle was incredible — but it was a little hard for me to focus, because of the music. You see, after four ‘Beethoven’s Wig’ CDs, there are very few classics that I can listen to without singing the words. Yes, the ‘Moonlight Sonata’ has words. So does ‘Spring’ by Vivaldi, Purcell’s ‘Trumpet Tune,’ and the one that started it all: the opening movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. I know I’ve written in before about these inspired pieces by Richard Perlmutter — I guess I would describe him as the Al Yankovic of classical music. These are everlasting earworms, on certain days.

“Here are the lyrics to ‘Moonlight Sonata,’ and what I’ll be singing all day.

“P.S. It was ‘Dress Your Best’ day at the middle school today for Spirit Week. I questioned 12-year-old T-Bone about his choice of apparel, and he said (with that look that parents of ’tweens know all too well): ‘My Cubs sweatshirt is my best clothing.’

“Can’t argue with that logic.”

Pain by numbers . . .

Raindancer of North Oaks reports: “Subject: Why, when I was your age . . . !

“I never had a chance to put on greasepaint for circus performances like Tim Torkildson did, but the characters I’ve encountered on my journey are entertaining enough.

“In one chapter that I began 20 years ago, I co-founded a genealogy-based association that morphed into a 501(c)(3) with biennial conventions. Because it has an historical basis, the association naturally draws many members who enjoy researching and writing and who have great stories of their own.

“One of them is a retired architect in Kentucky with whom I’ve collaborated on two books and am co-authoring a third. Even though he’s old enough to have been a Navy officer in WWII, he’s still sharp as a tack. An email from him today demonstrated his analytical side: ‘My dentist gave me a root canal job. He put a temporary tooth on top of a new fence post he put back in the hole. For that I paid him what was 18 weeks salary when I had my first job as an architect. Or to put it another way, the amount I spent yesterday would have purchased 704 cases of Budweiser when I graduated from college. That’s 16,896 bottles!’

“For that price comparison to come up, it’s hard to know if he was channeling his college or Navy days, both being well known for keeping brewers, um, hopping.”

CAUTION! Letters at Play!

Bill of Lake St Croix Beach: “Subject: A fishy tale.

“Sam’s Club in Woodbury sometimes promotes a variety of food offerings/snacks using several small stations in the back of the store. These treats can be quite good, motivating us customers to purchase the items, which can be an excellent and effective marketing plan.

“One of today’s selling example was a 40-ounce box of delicious codfish. Jokingly I stated that the Food and Drug Administration required that all of these fish packages be shipped to Sam’s C.O.D.

“Makes sense to me.”

Our phones, ourselves
Or: The highfalutin creepiness

Mama Meg of St. Paul: “Last night I was goofing around on Facebook or Twitter on my phone before bed, when I came across an item about Carrie Fisher’s seemingly out-of-place British accent in one scene in ‘Star Wars.’ I watched a brief video of the scene on my phone, then discovered the 1993 movie ‘Groundhog Day’ was on loop on TV, so I put my phone away and watched Bill Murray till I fell asleep.

“Fast-forward to 6 a.m. [Bulletin Board muses: Just like Bill Murray — or was he fast-backwarding?] today, when I got up and stumbled out to my car to head to work. My phone automatically hooks up to the car’s Bluetooth speakers with what I was last listening to — so as soon as I turned on the car, I heard a woman’s voice, with a distinct British accent, saying: ‘I thought I recognized your foul stench when I was brought aboard’ — over and over. And over. In the darkness of my alley, it was unbelievably creepy.”

The little treasures


Liz Fine of Roseville writes: “My parents, Jerry and Janet, were set up on a blind date by mutual friends. They eloped to Decorah, Iowa, to get married. The first trip to Iowa, my dad fainted from the blood test — and by the time he came to, the courthouse was closed. The second trip to Decorah, Iowa, they got a flat tire. My dad changed the tire, and my mom said maybe it was a sign they were not supposed to get married! But they got married on Feb. 4, 1956, and we celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on Feb. 4, 2017! My mom was in the hospital on their anniversary, so the celebration was nothing fancy but very special, as the whole family was present. My sister Leslie, brother Dave, and sister-in-law Jennine were there. The only ones missing were my nephews Justyn and Nathyn. We joked with the nurses that we were going to bring in a bottle of wine, and they said it was OK as long as we shared it with them! Of course we did not bring in a bottle of wine. Happy 61st Anniversary, Mom and Dad, and many more happy and healthy years!”

Vanity, thy name is . . .

Friendly Bob of Fridley: “License plate seen on a shiny new black Cadillac Escalade: ‘BNKRUPT.'”

Badvertising (cont.)

Walt of Wayzata: “I marvel at the fact that people still consider TPT2 as commercial-free. Both it and MPR are rife with commercials, both for their own programming and for products such as cars and the like. Some are the same as one sees on regular TV.”

Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Birdie in St. Paul: “I found this tonight on Imgur, in a list of ‘Interesting facts.'”


BULLETIN BOARD NOTES A FEW MORE INTERESTING FACTS: The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon originated with Bulletin Board loyalist Gigetto on Lincoln, who explained it in the St. Paul Pioneer Press of October 16, 1994.

It is NOT “the syndrome in which a concept or thing you just found about suddenly seems to appear everywhere.”

Once again, we call up Gigetto on Lincoln‘s very words, to explain it: “Many years ago, I identified a phenomenon so startling and so broad in its application that it encompasses the current wonder surrounding the number 23 [Bulletin Board notes: We were discussing, at the time, the unusual number of 23s B. Boarders had  been noticing], as well as many other forms of eerie coincidence.

“I have dubbed it The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon — named after the notorious West German gang of terrorists. The phenomenon goes like this: The first time you learn a new word, phrase or idea, you will see that word, phrase or idea again in print within 24 hours. (This does not apply to topical things — just obscure words, etc.)

“As you might guess, the phenomenon is named after an incident in which I was talking to a friend about the Baader-Meinhof gang (and this was many years after they were in the news). The next day, my friend phoned me and referred me to an article in that day’s newspaper in which the Baader-Meinhof gang was mentioned. Quel surpris! 

“Within my circle of friends, the expression ‘Baader-Meinhof’ is now well known — as in: ‘I had the greatest Baader-Meinhof yesterday.’ It instantly communicates this complex and puzzling experience of seeing something in print so soon after learning about it.

“There are many corollaries to the B-M Phenomenon, only one of which I will alert you to now. I call it The Comics Page Corollary: No matter what newspaper you read (provided it has a comics page), four or five times a year, two comics will appear on the same day with the same punch line. Again, to qualify, it cannot be topical; raking leaves, back-to-school antics, Halloween — these references are to be expected. But every once in a while, completely out of the blue, two comics share the same joke. For example: On the same day, “Mother Goose & Grimm” and “Garfield” dealt with dogs drinking out of toilets.

“You are welcome to start using Baader-Meinhof to explain the inexplicable. I do.”

Band Name of the Day: Blankety-Blank and the Cussers

Website of the Day, recommended by Bob Woolley: “I Work From Home”





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