Now & Then
Eos writes: “Is it ever too late to have a second childhood?
“I bought myself a baseball glove and a softball the other day. I can hardly wait to try it.
“When I was a kid, I loved the Brooklyn Dodgers. They were MY team. My brothers and I would play pitcher-catcher in our back yard. When I pitched, I was usually Sandy Koufax. (Sometimes I was Warren Spahn — another great left-handed pitcher.) When I caught, I was Roy Campanella. (Some of the other great names on the 1956 Dodgers: Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, and Pee Wee Reese.)
“Our games went something like this. The pitcher would toss their best pitch to the catcher. The catcher would call balls and strikes, and sometimes would throw a ground ball or a pop up while calling the game: ‘Mickey Mantle is at the plate. Strike one! Ball one! Strike two! Smack!’ (The catcher tosses a high, long ball back out toward the pitcher.) ‘And it’s a long fly ball into deep center field . . . and Snider catches the ball! One out.’ After three outs, we’d trade places. It was really fun!
“Our fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Behn, let us listen to the World Series games in ’56: my Dodgers against the Yankees.”
BULLETIN BOARD NOTES: A Series featuring the only postseason perfect game in major-league history. See today’s Websites of the Day.
Mounds View Swede writes again: “The 4/2/09 early-morning venture into D.C. was misty, and it had rained earlier. That altered the mood and greatly reduced the numbers of people there to take photos.
“The rain had knocked some of the petals into the water. Some of the petals ended up looking like they were still on the branches.
“Look, Ma — no crowds!
“This was interesting to me, with the stark lines of the branches reflected in the puddle as though they were growing out of the petals along the side.”
Leading to: The great comebacks
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: I get no respect.
“When I arrived to bowl in my league last night, I read through the week’s summary of the standings, last week’s results, and the averages (by team) of all the bowlers in the league. When I found the statistics for our team, I announced my accomplishment of having the lowest average in the league.
“As I selected my ball from the rack in preparation to bowl, my teammates began laughing. I paused — ball in hand — and inquired: ‘What’s so funny?’
“The response: ‘Rick said: “Everybody has to have a goal.”‘
“I love those guys.”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Life is a limited-time offer.
“I just saw another TV commercial for that well-known patio awning product. I remember being in need of such a system 25 years ago. I’m glad to see they are still offering the ‘$200.00 LIMITED TIME OFFER’ that they had back then. It’s not false advertising, as the ‘limited time’ can be any period they decide . . . and what awning company would not like to be known for being a little shady?”
Our theater of seasons
Dolly Dimples: “Friday a.m.:
“Based on the balmy temps in the mid-50s these past few days, I assumed spring had arrived and it was safe to unplug the electric cord which regulates the heater for the water in the bird bath.
“This morning I discovered the water in the bird bath had become a solid block of ice.”
Booklady: “Life in the woods this time of year is full of action.
“Just as our goldfinches were returning to the feeders, Mr. Bear took down the back-yard feeder, pole and all. We will miss gatherings of colorful birds, since we don’t feed them until the bears are no longer a threat.
“Something new has been added, however. We now seem to have a ‘guard grouse’ under our front steps. We had been gone for a weekend, and when we returned we found that a ruffed grouse had staked out her territory in that unlikely area. She (because I suspect she is preparing to nest) seems unafraid of us. When she is at home, she seems content to remain under the stairs even when we traverse them.
“Yesterday brought a new behavior. When the Lighthouse Nut left for an early breakfast with some church friends, Ms. Grouse met him at the foot of the stairs near the garage and ran alongside his car the length of the driveway and, turning the corner, paced him to the edge of our lot. She then returned to her ‘lair.’ I left later for my breakfast with friends. When I returned, she met me at the edge of our property and escorted me to the garage. When I sped up, she did, too, and she slowed down when I did as well. As soon as I opened the garage door, she made a sharp turn and marched up through the garden to the steps.
“We hope that the fox that passed through the yard this afternoon doesn’t eat her, so that if we’re lucky, we may discover the Partridge Family when we return from a two-week vacation.”
The simple pleasures
Doctors’ Mom in Mendota Heights reports: “It was a good start to the day.
“This morning I had such nice experiences at places you wouldn’t expect: McDonald’s and my neighborhood BP gas station.
“I brought in the car for an oil change and walked over to the McDonald’s to wait. There were the usual seniors, and some others who appeared to have some kind of handicap, sitting together socializing and passing the time. I’m guessing they could have stayed there for hours, and no one would have asked them to leave.
“I ordered a plain English muffin instead of one of the many McMuffin variations. They were happy to accommodate my simple taste. (I remember many, many years ago, that when I ordered a hamburger without mustard, it was a major production, and you had to wait forever for such an ‘irregular’ order.) The people at the counter were friendly and efficient. They give you a cup for water even if you don’t ask for water.
“I know there are other issues with McDonald’s such as how much employees are paid, and I do take those seriously. Even with what might be inequities, in my limited experience (at least this morning), they still treat their customers right. Things might be different when the many lunch-crowd customers arrive. . . .
“At the gas station, I didn’t have to pay anything because I had a coupon for being a loyal customer. The man in charge (who has become almost a friend due to my ‘loyalty’) and I had a nice chat about weekend plans and various restaurants we had tried (or had not tried yet). Those who have been there a long time know me by name. I almost felt like part of the BP family!”
Birdie vit da yellow bill . . . (responsorial)
Thursday’s Bulletin Board included a note from The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Axel lives.
“The ‘Bizarro’ comic in Monday’s Pioneer Press was captioned ‘THE IMPORTANCE OF PUNCTUATION,’ but it could have come directly from the ‘Birdie with a yellow bill’ segment on ‘Axel’s Treehouse.’
“In the cartoon, a car has just passed a road sign with the warning ‘STOP, A HEAD,’ and around an upcoming curve is a large head lying across the road.
“Clellan Card could be smiling . . . or contacting a lawyer.”
BULLETIN BOARD MUSED: There’s no need for lawyers, where Mr. Card is.
We presently heard from Walt of Wayzata: “When I saw the ‘STOP, A HEAD’ cartoon, I immediately thought of Clellan Card on the radio before Axel’s Treehouse was on. He had a ‘CCO radio show which ended with one of his dreadfully wonderful puns. I forwarded it to a friend who still tries to pull them off.
“The sign that I would like to see a cartoon for is the one that says ‘Bridge Work Ahead’ and a Gahan Wilson-like cartoon of a set of teeth just around the bend.”
Now & Then
“The Great War” Division
Gregory of the North: “I knew only two World War I veterans. Both of them lived across the alley from where I grew up on the West End in St. Paul. I never knew Al very well, but Erv was like one of the family. He was often at family events, and was very close to my parents. He was born in 1897, which, to me, was something shadowy and impossibly distant from the 1950s, when our family contacts were at their peak.
“As a child I was fascinated with his experience in the Great War (as he called it), of which he spoke only rarely. When he did agree to answer some of my questions, his experiences seemed unreal to my young mind.
“He told me that when they arrived in Europe, the forces of the ‘Triple Entente’ (our side) were stuck in trenches, from which they occasionally fought bloody battles over mere yards of earth. He spoke of gas floating across No Man’s Land, and how he had endured three such attacks. He spoke of German airplanes (he had never before seen an airplane) strafing the trenches, and how they were easy to shoot down if you aimed ahead of them like ducks on the wing. (I don’t know whether he personally shot any down; he just described the process.)
“He said the constancy of the firing blunted one’s reaction, and how when one should be taking cover, one simply stood and watched. He said the most terrifying thing he saw was when tanks arrived on the scene, which could drive across No Man’s Land and open trenches. He didn’t call them ‘tanks,’ though; he called them ‘land ships’ or ‘land cruisers’ or something like that. (I no longer remember the right word.)
“It wasn’t until General of the Armies Pershing (whom he just called “Black Jack’) took the high command to task, he said, that they started to make progress. He said he never answered to a French or British officer, only to Americans, who he said were much more aggressive and willing to take risks than their European counterparts, whom he viewed as reluctant to do anything. The move in Champagne toward Belgium was both exhilarating and terrifying, he said. He said he saw more death and corpses than he ever could have imagined seeing; more than enough nightmare-like memories to last a lifetime, he said.
“When the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 came, and the guns fell silent, he said he sat down and wept even as many around him cheered. He was only 21 at the time. He said he observed Armistice Day by going out to the Veterans Cemetery and ‘decorating’ the graves. He said he stopped doing that when a new world war began, because as he said, there would be too many new dead to mourn.
“So that’s it. I hope I am reporting accurately. I was only 10 or 11, and he told me only what he thought was appropriate for my young ears.
“By the way, a pretty good novel about WWI from a British perspective is ‘Birdsong’ by Sebastian Faulks.”
Band Name of the Day: Dreadfully Wonderful
Websites of the Day: