Where can you find those 7-foot-long, kid-eating catfish? Under the dock . . . or in your nightmares!

The Permanent Grandfatherly Record

Swedish Princess (“daughter of Grandma J. of Grant”): “Subject: There were Big Whoppers in Crosby.

“Catfish season opened this month. It reminds me of the summers I spent with my grandparents, who ran a small fishing resort in Crosby, Minnesota. I loved nothing better than standing out on the dock with my cane pole, sunup to sundown. But Grandpa warned me not to be out on the lake after sundown, because that was when the giant catfish came out — the kind that were 7 feet long and ate children. They lurked in the weeds underneath the dock, he said, and if one grabbed my line, it would surely pull me under.

“For years I was torn between my desire to see one of these monsters and my fear of being fish bait.

“Now that I think of it, maybe Grandma and Grandpa just wanted an easy way to get me home in time for bed.”

Throw the cow over the fence some hay!

Papa on Elm Street: “The website ‘Lifewire Tech Today’ had an interesting headline: ‘How to Find Out if Someone Has Died Online.’”

Could be verse!

Tim Torkildson writes: “From the New York Times: ‘Last year, human hair imports to the United States were valued at $685.3 million, according to the Census Bureau, up from $51.6 million back in 1992.’

“When I think of the hair I’ve grown and thrown away for naught,

“When selling it could make me rich — my blood begins to clot.

“Light brown, and curly as pig’s tail, my locks upon the floor

“Of barbershops were trampled on, and then tossed out the door.

“My tresses to my shoulder hung when hippies were the rage —

“Today my hair is dull and gray and looks like prairie sage.

“But if haute couture used dandruff for this season’s biggest splash,

“I still could make a bundle and be rolling in green cash!”

Our community of (mostly) strangers

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Thanks so much personally to Tim Torkildson for sending along that very engrossing video of himself applying clown makeup!

“Tim, you look way too young to be giving up your delightful career as a clown.

“How could you be quitting so soon? Years are just numbers, and if there’s still a place for your act and makeup, keep going! Right now we need all the joy that clowns bring: never political, no risque jokes that embarrass even if they are really funny, etc. I hope you can find a spot to continue — maybe not a circus, as they seem to be from another era, but wherever people gather and need a lift in spirits!”

This ‘n’ that (responsorial)

The Hoot Owl of St . Paul: “(1) Thanks for adding that link to ‘our resident clown putting on his clown face’ video! We love reading his posts. His video reveals much about him and his career.

“(2) Recently there have been many news reports on the entry of the U.S.A. into WWI, and on WWI in general. We remember how we learned the significance of the street names in our Willard Park neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia, back in the day. Riding our Sears Schwinn ripoff balloon-tires bike (no hands, no helmet, etc.) through these streets growing up embedded their names in our minds. When we got to the part covering historic WWI battlegrounds and some people, we harkened back to our biking days.

“See this screen grab from a Googling of the neighborhood.”


See world
Photography Division

Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “Bald Eagles, St. Croix County, Wisconsin. I hope your readers enjoy the photos!”



Fellow travelers
Or: Life as we know it

Al B of Hartland: “Work took me to Austin, Texas. On the way there, I thought about ‘Austin City Limits,’ a music show on PBS with Gary P. Nunn’s ‘London Homesick Blues’ as its theme song: ‘I wanna go home with the armadillo. Good country music from Amarillo and Abilene. The friendliest people and the prettiest women you’ve ever seen.’

“Inspired by Ferris Bueller, who said ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,’ I went to the Congress Avenue Bridge that spans Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. That bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. It provides an opportunity to see hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats take flight. It’s a nightly experience of world-class nature viewing. As someone who can get lost in a revolving door, I admired the hurried but orderly departure of the bats from under the bridge. It was both compelling and nearly never-ending. If it hasn’t been done, someone needs to write a song about the bats of Austin.”

The Permanent Family Record

Eos: “My mother, whose BB handle was Loosewheel, wrote about our family’s most memorable Easter dinner. I was there, and I remember that day.

“‘The dining room in our home has been the scene of many interesting meals over the years. The most memorable one was on Easter Sunday in 1954. We moved into the house before it was finished, and the floor was made of rough boards with knots in them. On this day we had placed a card table at the end of the long table so we could all sit together. My sister, Evelyn, and her family, and my mother were at our home. Delicious odors filled the house, and the table was laden with good food. There were 10 children under the age of 12, so the conversation was light and happy. We had just begun to pass the food around again, so folks could take a second helping, when the doorbell rang. My husband, Don, went to the door just as Evelyn handed me the platter with the ham. I shifted my body slightly as I took the dish. At that moment the back tubular leg of my chair pushed through a knot in the floor. I went down, still holding on to the plate, but the ham went sliding across the floor. At the same time, my mother’s neighbors from northern Minnesota walked in the door. It took about five seconds of wide-eyed wonderment, on everyone’s part, to figure out what had happened. I’ll never forget the look on my sister’s face as she looked down at me sitting on the floor. I started to laugh, and everyone else joined in when they saw that I wasn’t hurt.'”

Joy of Juxtaposition

Dr. Chrysanthemum writes: “An interesting coincidence:

“Sunday’s Pioneer Press noted that ‘Toni Erdmann’ (nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar last year) is now available on DVD.

“Toni Erdmann is also the familiar form (with an extra n) of the maiden name of the titular character of a current movie that I heartily recommend.

“‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ is based on a non-fiction book of the same name. The book, in turn, is based on the wife’s WWII diary. I have the book and will read it soon, and my wife and I saw the movie last week.

“It is a very good movie about a story that has been largely unknown until recently. At points, the film may be a little too sentimental, and it does not reveal the full horror of the Holocaust (could any movie?), but portions may still be difficult for some children (and adults) to watch.

“Full disclosure: The zookeeper (a zoologist and agricultural engineer) is my 17th cousin, Dr. Jan Żabiński. I feel that we are more closely related than that, however, because we have at least three separate connections through the Zaremba family and at least three more through the Łodzia family, plus various other blood connections.

“While still a young man, Jan was appointed director of the Warsaw Zoo in 1928, after its founder died within a few months of the founding. Jan established the zoo as an internationally recognized institution. He was also an educator, an author (60-plus books), and a producer of educational radio programs. He married a second time after his first wife and first two children died.

“In the movie, Jan and his second wife, Antonina (born Erdman), are partners in the operation of the zoo. Antonina has a marvelous rapport with the animals. She treats lion cubs and baby monkeys as if they were her children. A camel follows her around. She hand-feeds a hippopotamus. She risks her own life to save the life of a newborn elephant while the frantic mother presses against her.

“Their seemingly idyllic life changes abruptly in September 1939.

“When the Nazis bomb and invade Warsaw, many zoo animals die. Some are injured; some roam the city. Many need to be killed. The best remaining specimens are taken by the Germans. They close the zoo and convert it to a pig farm. Jan was in charge of the Warsaw city parks (not mentioned in the movie), which gave him a degree of freedom to move about the city, including the Jewish ghetto. In the movie, he enters the ghetto to collect garbage to feed to the pigs.

“Antonina persuades Jan to shelter a Jewish friend. Jan does so reluctantly, but realizes that saving only one life is too little when so many are in danger. He persuades Antonina that they need to do more.

“Jan and Antonina smuggle people out of the ghetto and hide them in the zoo and in their home. Some stayed in the home for years. Their young son Rysz (Ryszard) aids them, although he also inadvertently endangers them. Their daughter Theresa is born during the war. The attentions of Lutz (Ludwig) Heck, Hitler’s chief zoologist, are a problem, not only for Antonina and Jan, but also the people hiding just a few feet away.

“In real life, the family helped hundreds of Jews and Polish freedom fighters escape near-certain death. According to the movie, only two of the 300 people they rescued were caught by the Germans.

“Jan was wounded during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and captured by the Germans, but both Jan and Antonina survived the war and lived into the 1970s. They rebuilt the zoo. Their son and daughter are still living.

“The State of Israel recognizes Jan and Antonina as members of The Righteous Among Nations, people who risked their own lives to save others from the Holocaust. Although they were certainly not the only ones who acted heroically during this time, there were too few heroes to prevent the Holocaust. As a result, millions of Jews, Poles, and others perished. Perhaps this movie can help prevent similar horrors.”

Why I Write

In reply to DebK of Rosemount’s piece in Monday’s Bulletin Board:

Gma Tom: “Subject: Why I write.

“I write to share (experiences, thoughts, stories) with others.”

IGHGrampa: “Subject: Passing Wind.

DebK’s thoughts about writing set me to thinking about why I write.

“I guess I write just because I want to tell a story. Story writers are fabulists, liars and inventors. But, as I’ve come to realize, a well-written piece should pass through the mind like wind through a tree. I don’t want people to remember the wind, but to remember the tree in the wind, the sound of it, and how the tree moved, and how it returned to rest after the wind had passed. The reader should experience the event, but not remember it as something he read. Does that make sense? I hope so.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about what I am. I don’t know. I still don’t know after the many years of my life. Until I figure it out, I’ll just write stories. Maybe it will all come to me as I’m working on some bit of wind passing through a tree.”

Band Name of the Day: Passing Wind

Website of the Day:

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