The Permanent Grandfatherly Record
Happy Medium: “My father came to the United States from Tønsberg, Norway, in 1914, at the age of 17. He lived in rural Cushing, Wisconsin, with his sister and her husband, helping them on their dairy farm. His parents and his three younger siblings landed in New York City a year later and settled in the same area.
“Grandpa bought a 300-acre dairy farm and managed it with Dad.
“Dad enjoyed telling the story of the day he and Grandpa were in the barn when they encountered a skunk. Grandpa had never seen a skunk before and didn’t know of its aromatic defense mechanism. Dad tried to persuade Grandpa to leave the creature alone, to no avail. When Grandpa began shooing the skunk out of the barn, it turned, swished its tail in the air . . . and the confrontation was over.
“Grandpa lost. His clothes were buried, and he was scrubbed to a fare-thee-well. His comment in Norwegian was: ‘Har de evig set slik en gris?’ ‘Have you ever seen such a pig?’
“It is most important to always know your enemy before making a challenging move.”
Our birds, ourselves
Al B of Hartland: “A small flock of barn swallows greeted me as I entered the clinic. They cheered me. Barn swallows sound as if they are having a wonderful time. I appreciate their company.”
Where we live
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Cheer up!
“The headline on Page 2A in Tuesday’s Pioneer Press (‘LOCAL’) read: ‘Rating: Minnesota is “happiest”state.’
“These were the first two paragraphs of the article:
“‘Minnesota is the happiest state in the U.S., according to a study by personal finance website WalletHub.
“‘The criteria used to make the joyous announcement were lowest share of adult depression, highest adequate sleep rate, highest sports participation rate, lowest suicide rate, fewest work hours, lowest long-term jobless rate, highest income growth, highest volunteer rate, lowest divorce rate and safest place to be.’
“I’m feeling better already.”
Keeping your eyes open
Including: Our theater of seasons — and: Today’s helpful hint
Mounds View Swede writes: “While bringing some plant clippings to the compost site, I looked at the flowers growing there and saw the morning glories in their glory. The manager explained the blossoms last only one day.
“I thought that was a lot of effort for such a short bloom time. But I guess day lilies do the same thing.
“The Painted Lady butterflies were really attracted to this plant’s blossoms. It’s been fun to see so many of them, and it made me think that perhaps we are starting to get things ‘right’ in our practices.
“I shared the concern of one of our previous contributors about some maple trees that are early leaf color changers. The earliest tree in our neighborhood has lost all its leaves already. I keep thinking: ‘Wait, wait! It’s still summer!’
“I read an article that such trees are stressed, most likely by their own roots girdling the tree and strangling some of the other roots in the process. At least there’s an explanation for this now. We have one maple tree, and I found some girdling roots a couple of years ago and cut them off. It often happens when plants are grown in containers and the roots are already circling around when you put them in the ground. It’s important to straighten them out when planting the tree.
“Like most people, I am not mentally prepared for it to be fall so soon. It’s supposed to wait until October at least!”
Our flora, ourselves
Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota, reports: “We have such a pretty flower growing on the
There & Here
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Be aware if ya come from away.
“As most of you regular readers of BB already know, the Runabout and I just spent two weeks in Newfoundland, Canada.
“I specify ‘Canada’ because it is surprising how many people are confused as to where Newfoundland is. I inquired of the Runabout’s origin on our first date and gained early qualifying points by knowing her homeland was the most eastern province of Canada. (She gained early points with me by being quite the enchanting blonde beauty.)
“Anyhoo, as a rule, Canadians know much, much more about Yankees than we know about them. As a student in St. John’s, my wife and her classmates were taught a lot of American history and even had to be able to draw a map of the U.S. from memory. (This may be the reason that more than a few of them seem to have fixated on Arizona and Florida.) I doubt that many Americans could draw an accurate map of Canada — or even name all of the providences in correct order from west to east. OK, I’ll admit that about 48 of you over the age of 55 probably could, but it amazes me how one-sided this interest is, and I was reminded of it many times during our visit.
“We have a similar (although much smaller) relationship here in Prescott, Wisconsin, with our Minnesota neighbors just a drawbridge away. All the local TV news comes from Channels 4, 5, 9 and 11. I often get upset about stuff the Minnesota Legislature does and then suddenly realize it’s none of my business.
“A visitor will soon find the same is not true for Canadians.”
The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules writes: “Subject: The Men Who Came to Dinner.
“Whenever Daddy finished up on a construction job, he worried himself sick wondering when the next one would come along. We always knew when he had a good job lined up, because he would come home with two enormous wooden crates filled with groceries — one for his sister and brother-in-law, and one for us. He would pull out a good-sized chicken and tell Mom to get the baking-powder biscuits ready, because he had invited so-and-so for dinner on Sunday.
“I remember the names of some of those Men Who Came to Dinner at our house. There was crotchety Old Man McCormick, who argued politics with Daddy. (He held a place in my heart forever after he sat beside me until I regained consciousness after falling down the basement stairs.) There were Daddy’s fellow carpenters Al Sjowblum (who gave me a pretty red-haired doll one New Year’s Day — only to discover, to my dismay, that her wig came off along with her bonnet) and poor deaf Eastman (who had suffered the effects of mustard gas during World War I and shouted all through dinner. They all came and went with regularity when we lived in Minneapolis.
“Joe the Tailor was the only one of our chicken-dinner guests who followed us out to Bloomington. (He was the only one who owned a car.) We never knew Joe’s last name, but Daddy had befriended him and issued an open invitation to come out anytime. Joe would just appear any day of the week and wander around the yard until Mom sent one of us kids out to invite him into the house. We didn’t think that Joe could speak English, because he never said a word, but all during the war, he would bring out his extra ration coupons and silently hand them to Mom. He brought a friend along once. We never found out his name, either, although we referred to him as ‘Mumbles.’ None of us could understand a word he said, but he always nodded happily over Mom’s chicken dinners.
“Several months went by, and we wondered what had happened to ‘Old Joe,’ and then he drove up our driveway one summer day. He had brought along a taciturn but happy fellow whom we all referred to as ‘Smiley.’ Boy, could that fellow smile! That was the last summer we saw Joe The Tailor, but certainly not the last time we thought about him.”
The Permanent Maternal Record
Suz@Como: “The recent post about the high-end canvas bag made by a Minnesota company brought back a flood of memories of my mother.
“I am the proud owner of a set of custom golf clubs made for the ‘lady golf pro’ at the Rochester Golf & Country Club. They were probably made in the mid-1950s. I have irons and woods made in sizes such as 2½ and 5¾. My mom had bought them at an estate sale in about 1970. They came in a tan canvas bag trimmed with a rich brown leather.
“My mom was of the ilk that new was better, and she soon replaced the canvas bag with a vinyl bag, which she proclaimed to be much nicer that the old canvas thing. The new bag was light-blue vinyl with medium-blue trim. I still have the bag, and it is still ugly, in my opinion. I occasionally think of replacing the blue bag with a ‘classy’ canvas bag similar to the gun case The Doryman describes. I play only one or two rounds a year, so it is never a high priority.
“It was my job as a teenager to be opposed to anything my mother championed. I remember vividly telling her the new bag ‘looked like hell,’ which shocked her to no end. My mom put up with a lot, at times. Sometime in the 1990s, Mom did concede that new was not always better, and I conceded that sometimes new and improved was an improvement.
“Compromise is good.”
Our butterflies, ourselves
Reports Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “Painted Lady in my wife’s garden, St. Croix County, Wisconsin.”
Then & Now
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: In the beginning . . .
“This is the entry for September 17 on my Sports Page-a-day calendar:
“‘9.17.1961. Competing in their first regular season game in franchise history, the Minnesota Vikings stun the Chicago Bears 37-13 at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota. Rookie quarterback Fran Tarkenton throws four touchdown passes and runs for another. The Vikings will lose their next seven contests, however, and finish their inaugural season 3-11.’
“The Vikings could have used Tarkenton (why not; he’s only 77) on 9.17.1917.”
BULLETIN BOARD TEASES: 1917? Tarkenton (not to mention the National Football League) hadn’t even been born yet!
Hard to imagine there ever was such a time.
Life as we know it
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Tonight I met a woman recovering from a bad (though mercifully brief) marriage. When I tried to encourage her, logic wasn’t working. Then I remembered something an outplacement counselor taught me and others in a class, when we were job hunting.
“She had us stand and cross our arms across our chests. Then she asked us to reverse our arms, so the other arm was on top. Which felt uncomfortable.
“Her point was that things would be uncomfortable for a while, but that we would figure it out. And she was right.
“I think my new friend ‘got’ this.”
Leading to: Out of the mouths of babes
Booklady (“still laughing”) reports: “Our lovely niece Lauren runs a nonprofit organization, The Green Schoolhouse, in Portland, Oregon. Her purpose is to introduce city children to the reality of where their food comes from and to engage them in the process. She has established a relationship with the school districts in the area, so class field trips to the farm have become part of her day.
“She is a natural teacher who captivates the kids, but like all of us who have worked with children, she experiences some really funny exchanges. A few days ago, she was dealing with a kindergarten class. She shared the following dialogue:
“Lauren: ‘These are ears of corn!’
“Student 1: ‘What?!?? Why are they called ears? Can they hear us?’
“Lauren: ‘I don’t know. Why don’t you whisper to them and see if they respond?’
“(Students start whispering.) One says: ‘Hello, corn. I love you. I’m sorry I’m going to eat you.'”
The darnedest things
WARNING! Cute kid stories ahead!
Dolly Dimples: “This conversation took place recently between my granddaughter and my great-granddaughter:
“Mom, picking up her daughter from kindergarten: ‘Hi, sweetie. How was school today?’
“Daughter, looking glum: ‘My teacher was mean to me today.’
“Mom: ‘Oh. What happened? What did she do?’
“Daughter: ‘She wouldn’t let me be first in line.’
“Mom: ‘Remember. You were first in line yesterday.’
“Daughter, raising her voice: ‘I want to be first in line every day.’
“Mom: ‘You can’t be first every day. Other boys and girls want a turn at being first. You have to share. It’s a rule.’
“Daughter, emphatically: ‘I don’t like that rule!'”
King Grandpa: “My grandson, Henry, just started kindergarten and enrolled in a Lutheran after-school program. This is his first interaction with an institution with a spiritual connection. He reported back this week that the class says Grace before every meal. He said they thank Our Father for the meal.
“He explained: It is not his father, but someone else’s.”
Band Name of the Day: Crotchety Old Men
Website of the Day, from Tim Torkildson (everyone’s a [film] critic!): “The movies never got crazier than 1941’s ‘Hellzapoppin’.’ This is the original film fruitcake, as in ‘nuttier than.’ In a matter of 80 minutes, this movie crams in more gags than any other picture made by the likes of Mel Brooks or David and Jerry Zucker. It is a compendium of gags — stealing with unblushing delight from Vaudeville, Music Hall, Circus, Keystone Kops, Max Fleischer, and Commedia dell’arte.
“Nobody remembers the stars of this film, Olsen and Johnson — and, indeed, they are lackluster and eminently forgettable. Their true genius lies in the incredible variety of spoofs, jokes, one-liners and sight gags they disinter for our delectation. Martha Raye and Hugh Herbert are on hand to pump the silliness level up to a few thousand millibars.
“Never mind the plot; there isn’t any. Just watch it to keep track of the number of gags. Last time I watched it, I recorded 212 true-blue gags. In this movie, comedy is not king; it’s Godzilla, flattening all in its remorseless path of belly laughs. You may need a straitjacket yourself if you view it more than once a year.
“The film is in the public domain, and a good copy exists on YouTube”: