Now & Then
Thursday email from The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “The United States entered World War I 100 years ago today.
“My mom’s twin brothers both served in the Army.
“This is a photo of their troop train leaving Hospers, Iowa, sometime in 1917.
“When they returned, my boisterous uncle went back to his old job in the bank. The twin who has more hair in these photos was the shy one (and my favorite uncle). He worked as an airplane mechanic during the war, and when it was over, he resumed his career working as an auto mechanic and as a race-car driver. His mother didn’t know it until she saw newspaper clippings, but he also took on the added thrill of being a wing walker in county fairs.”
And now GopherLink of Dresser, Wisconsin: “Subject: Remembrance.
“Remembering my Grandpa Ed on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I (also often called ‘the Great War’).
“Grandpa fought in the Battle of the Argonne Forest. While he was a great storyteller, he — like most veterans — talked very little about his wartime experiences, and maybe that was understandable. You see, my grandpa was a trick-shot artist who traveled the Midwest, conducting exhibitions at county fairs. He was sponsored by Remington Arms, who honored him with a gold rifle tie bar, which he gave me. Grandpa was also a well-known professional trapper — something he loved and continued doing well into his 80s.
“Recognizing these skills, the Army tasked him as a sniper, where his marksmanship and experience living in the woods served him well.
“He returned from the war. Many did not.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede: “With yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) sunny weather, I went out to see what was happening with spring growths and found some crocus blooms looking nice. For early April, it felt like a treat.
“And I looked at my single maple tree to see what it was up to. It’s getting ready to flower — something I never paid attention to until lately: what the trees do in their opening days.
“My oak trees are too tall to see what is going on there.’
Keeping your eyes open
Thursday email from Raindancer of North Oaks: “A sunny Thursday, as any day, is a good time for us to pause and appreciate the colors on nature’s palette.”
Semi-Legend: “Had an elephant B-M the other day.
“I remarked on my wife’s earrings: A small metal elephant dangled from each ear. She said she had taken them out to wear after a long absence. ‘I’m ignoring the political implications,’ she said. ‘I’m celebrating a matriarchal society. Elephants are matriarchal.’
“Did not know that.
“Later in the day I was reading, in a 2011 issue of AGNI, Blair Braverman’s ‘Rangefinder Girl,’ an account of her time in Namibia with six other American students doing research on desert-adapted black rhinoceroses.
“Their guide is Arnd: ‘Once, he told me, he awoke from his cot in a sandy clearing to find that a herd of elephants had surrounded him while he slept. … A young bull came toward Arnd and gripped the foot of his sleeping bag with his trunk tugging at it lightly, then harder, so that the bag strained under Arnd’s body.
“’As Arnd lay there, certain he was about to die, the matriarch of the herd appeared at his head, so close that her skin brushed his hair. She lifted her face and let a rumble through her chest, and instantly, the bull released the sleeping bag and drew away; she had reprimanded him.’
“Later, ‘we came across a herd of elephants just outside of camp. … Arnd told us that this was one of the biggest herds in the Kunene region, led by a matriarch named Mama Africa…’
“To judge by Arnd’s experience, I’d say matriarchal societies know when to let things peacefully be.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Hockey ain’t what it used to be.
“The ‘BRIEFLY’ section on Page 2C of the Sports section in Wednesday’s STrib listed these headings under ‘HOCKEY’:
“‘Men’s college basketball’
“‘Women’s college basketball’
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Lola: “Spotted this license plate on a Lincoln Mark LT: ‘DPRIVED.’
“Of what, I wondered.”
Band Name of the Day: The DPRIVED
Website of the Day, from Tim Torkildson: “Subject: The Final Bow.
“Awhile ago, I fell down while walking to the Provo Library, which is just a few blocks from my apartment. I had to drag myself over to the nearest tree so I could slowly pull myself up. No damage, except to my ego. But it was the wake-up call I’d been dreading: The time had finally come to put away the rubber nose and baggy pants for good, because there is nothing worse than an old clown who takes a fall and can’t get up again. But before I put the greasepaint away for once and for all, I created a video memento of my clown craft — putting on the warpaint one last time.
“Please cue Chopin’s Etude No. 3 in E Major to play as you watch my Last Hurrah.”