Ask a silly question . . .
Tim Torkildson does: “Subject: Just sayin’.
“In Heaven, do they say ‘Have a nice day’?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: No. That’s what they say in Hell.
Not exactly what he had in mind
Doris Day: “Subject: Funny, or just me? [Bulletin Board says: Not just you. Funny!]
“Boris ordered ‘extra cheese, and extra sauce on the side.’
“They must not have heard the comma.”
Friendly Bob of Fridley writes: “Restaurants are great places to eavesdrop . . . er . . . I mean, overhear things said at other tables/booths.
“On Veterans Day, I was taking advantage of one of the many generous offers for vets to get a free meal in appreciation of their service. As I was seated, I took note of those around me to see if I could find other vets to thank. In front of me was a young father and two boys. Behind me a middle-aged couple. No distinguishing clothing or adornments identified any of them as vets, so I figured I’d find some on the way out (I did).
“Midway through my pancakes, I heard this from the woman behind me: ‘I haven’t stripped for two days.’
“Then today I was at the restaurant that offers a free slice of pie on Wednesdays. I had pumpkin. Shortly before I left, a jovial-looking fellow was seated at the table behind me, and the host/server asked him what he might like to drink.
“J-LF: ‘Coffee and a BIG glass of water.’
“H/S: ‘Would you like cream?’
“J-LF: ‘Not in my water.’
“I thought *I* was the designated wiseacre for the day.”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: I’ll never forget that!
“It seems I am a unique individual, after all. Unlike many misbehaving or evasive actors, politicians and criminals, I have this cursed ability to remember, in great detail, every stupid thing I’ve ever done.”
Our birds, ourselves
Twitty of Como: “The cardinal just wouldn’t shut up.
“I was on the deck, trying to squeeze in one last grilling before the freezing rain came, and he was adamant — his warning ‘chips’ going on and on and on for the better part of the half-hour or more I was out there. I couldn’t spot him in the big elm, nor in the big spruces, but that’s where he was chipping from. The little downy on the suet feeder left it to attach herself closely to a safer, larger limb in the elm, nervously scanning her surroundings, and some chickadees chittered nervously from unseen perches.
“Suddenly, in a flurry of feathers, a dove broke from the cover of the spruce. Using evasive tactics the Blue Angels might appreciate, it zigged, dived, climbed, and zagged its way through the spruce, into the elm, then higher through another spruce, a Cooper’s hawk close on its tail. They both disappeared into the spruce.
“I do not know the outcome.
“The downy went back to the suet, the cardinal shut up, and my steaks came out perfect; I know that much.
“Just another day.”
Now & Then
Our Living (and/or Dying) Language Division
Inspired by Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake’s ruminations on obsolete but not yet forgotten expressions:
Mr. Tulkinghorn (our Official Attorney, once again off the clock): “Our favorite babysitter when my parents went on long trips (when they needed her to toilet-train one of us, I think) was a jolly and unruffle-able woman named Peggy Smock.
“Peggy used to make us hamburgers and French fries, and popcorn on Saturday nights, when her husband, Kenny, would come over, and we’d all watch Bruno Sammartino in his wrestling tights, throwing the other big lugs out of the ring. We never experienced anything remotely like that when my parents were around, as they would mostly occupy our time with things like the latest neighborhood-playhouse version of ‘Brigadoon’ (yech) or ‘Carousel’ (double yech).
“Anyway, Peggy used to tuck us into bed and say goodnight, always turning off the light and saying gleefully: ‘See ya in the funny papers! If you get there first, make a white line; if I get there first, I’ll rub it out!’
“That saying stuck with me for years, and I’d lie in bed in the darkness puzzling over it for what seemed like hours every night before I dropped off to sleep. I knew that there was some catch to it, Peggy being a big jokester, but I just could NOT figure it out. That must’ve gone on for years; at least it seemed so.
“Then one night, Peggy said it and BANG! — I must’ve been at just the right stage of mental development, one gray cell synapse firing a parsec longer than the night before — and I got it! Ho ho! What a thrill! I jumped out of bed in my little cotton PJs and caught up with Peggy in the hallway, pulling on the hem of her skirt and crying: ‘I got it!’
“That might just be the intellectual highlight of my life so far. It was only about 60 years ago. . . .”
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “I grew up using aluminum foil and refrigerators, but still say ‘tin foil’ and ‘ice box’ simply because those are words my folks used.”
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Some of my mom’s special phrases have never left me. When she was in a hurry to ‘pick up the place,’ she would give it ‘a lick and a promise.’ I do that sometimes.
“My dad was always over-the-top effusive with his flattery to his five daughters. In her effort to balance that out, Mom would tell us ‘You’ll pass in the dark’ on the occasions when we would preen in front of her.
“If any one of us ever made a comment that showed the slightest bigotry, Mom’s brown eyes would snap, and she would firmly state: ‘My, weren’t YOU the clever one to pick the parents you did.’
“When my sister Nora and I had a date on a work night, Mother would warn us to come home in time to get a good night’s sleep, saying: ‘You don’t want to short-change your employer tomorrow.’ If we yawned a bit too much at breakfast, she would tell us again: ‘Make sure you give your employer his money’s worth today.’ We knew the first thing she would ask when we arrived home for dinner was: ‘Well, did you girls earn your salt today?’ Some of these days lately, I just know I don’t earn my salt.
“My mother really preferred reading, crocheting, sewing, reading, gardening, jigsaw puzzles, reading, crossword puzzles — actually, anything that wasn’t housework. So, if a big cleaning job was ‘hanging over her head,’ she would state: ‘I’ll sure be glad when I get THAT job behind me.’
“It worked for her, and after 92-1/2 healthy years, when she died so suddenly during an operation for a ruptured aorta, we were devastated — but we all knew that the voice we could hear in our heads saying ‘Whew! I’m sure glad I’ve got that job behind me!’ was our precious mother telling us to get on with our lives.”
And: Life as we know it
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “A quick story, from 1972:
“For my final project, as a senior in Library Science at St. Kate’s, I analyzed the Women’s Collection within the St. Kate’s Library. I pointed out that the contents of the collection could use a little more planning, and I gather that my paper demonstrated this. But my advisor kicked it back, because I didn’t have much/any bibliography to go with it.
“Not knowing what else to do, I started reading and listing Women’s Lib books and articles — which were pretty shrill, back then. And my paper was accepted (with an A?).
“Unfortunately, I lost my sense of humor while reading/scanning those materials. For two to three months, Sexism Was Everywhere. Then I decided that I couldn’t live without fun and joy in my life; that I would always live in an imperfect world; and that I could not right all wrongs. Basically, I decided to pick my battles and live.
“Humor and an awareness that everyone has Days from Dumb have been essential in my life — though I still go after total @#$^!!!ing idiots. Because I hope my generation will leave the world a better place. And I’m rooting for all the younguns out there to come up with better and fairer ways of handling this thing called life.”
And: Our community of strangers
Friday-morning email: “Subject: Sleepless from St. Paul (in Minneapolis).
“We, his three siblings, are heartbroken to convey the news of his sudden, unexpected death at age 60.
“A longtime loyal follower of — and contributor to — Bulletin Board, Bob delighted in submitting to many of the varied categories.
“In his daily life, his interests were no less eclectic. Music interests included The Beatles, Sinatra, Mahler and Willie Nelson, to name a few. To walk with him anywhere was to be treated to local history. Whether in London, Chicago, Paris, downtown St. Paul or his beloved East Side, where he grew up, he was a repository of facts both big and trivial but always fascinating. He was our family historian extraordinaire, researching for countless hours in libraries and corresponding with far-flung relatives. He was a voracious reader, encompassing a multitude of genres. He undertook to read a classic each year. Walking — the lakes, the University, the various neighborhoods of the city — was an almost-daily occurrence. Travel, astronomy, painting, the Minnesota Twins, ‘Star Trek,’ Kubrick films, ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Poldark’ were a few of his other avid interests.
“It was as a son, brother, uncle, and cousin, however, that he truly shone. He spent years devotedly caring for our parents as they were aging. As an uncle, he delighted in his nieces, proud of their accomplishments and forever cooking up amusing games and entertainment. To us, he was our best friend.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We are so terribly sad to hear this news. Your brother was a one-of-a-kind Bulletin Board contributor, and he will be dearly missed. We always loved to read (and usually to publish) his findings. We particularly admired how CAREFUL he was to get things just right.
You have our deep condolences.
Tia2d: “Subject: Confusion.
“This is in our local grocery store.
“Which basket would you choose?”
Asked and answered
Or: Then & Now (responsorial)
Always a Swifty: “Awhile back, Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff talked about not being able to find the Tom Swift, Jr. books in the St. Paul Library. When he asked, the librarian didn’t give him an answer.
“Likewise, I was unable to find any Hardy Boys books at our local branch library, although from a recent check of the library catalog, it does appear the library now stocks some of these books, although mostly the later series.
“But it may not be fair to blame the library, as I think it’s very likely that Grosset & Dunlap, publishers of the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Jr., Nancy Drew and numerous other juvenile series, refused to sell these books to public libraries on the basis that doing so would harm their business model of building up repeat sales. We obtained our supply of Hardy Boys at Field-Schlick, where they sold for, I think, $1.25 each, and they were hardbound with dust jackets. We had about 25 to 30 of these books, but then came that sad day when our mother insisted on carting them off to the church rummage sale.
“The Hardy Boys books, Tom Swift, Jr., Nancy Drew and endless numbers of other series (like ‘Ralph of the Railroad,’ ‘Boys of Pluck,’ ‘Tommy Tiptop,’ ‘Dave Dashaway,’ ‘The Motion Picture Chums,’ ‘Dave Fearless,’ ‘Motor Girls,’ ‘Nat Ridley Rapid Fire Detective Stories,’ ‘Lanky Lawson,’ and so on and so on) were created by Edward Stratemeyer on an assembly-line basis. He came up with the plots, wrote chapter outlines (all had to have cliffhanger endings) and then assigned them to a stable of anonymous writers who were often paid $75 to $100 per book. There was no Franklin W. Dixon, Victor Appleton II or Carolyn Keene, but there was Canadian writer Leslie MacFarlane, who wrote most of the early Hardy Boys books and some of the early Nancy Drew while living in a cabin in the woods of Ontario. A new book in each series would be released every six months, allowing Stratemeyer to quickly determine which were profitable and discontinue those that were not (so long, ‘Boys of Business,’ ‘Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue,’ ‘Girls of Central High,’ and so on and so on). The idea was to get young readers hooked, and as quickly as possible. If teens knew they could find the next book in a series at the public library, that pretty much undermined Stratemeyer’s business strategy.
“The formula for these books was essentially the same. Two teenagers (Frank and Joe Hardy, Nancy Drew and her cousin Bess, Tom Swift, Jr. and his friend Bud Barclay, and so on and so on) solved mysteries, foiled bad guys and received big checks. Typically, in the background there would be an amiable and all-wise father, sometimes a complacent mother and, invariably a funny sidekick.
“In the 1960s, the Hardy Boys were rewritten to remove the racial and ethnic stereotypes that many readers had begun to complain about. The stories were modernized and essentially dumbed down. Unless you have a lot of money to burn, you can’t buy classic Hardy Boy Boys books anymore, which may go for between $50 and $250 on auction sites.
“What those librarians of yesteryear might have failed to understand is that these books likely created generations of adult readers and they provided us with heroes to admire and emulate, heroes who demonstrated intelligence and problem-solving abilities. We may never know how many future scientists got their start by opening the humble pages of ‘Tom Swift and His Rocket Ship’ or ‘Tom Swift and His Outpost in Space.’ Indeed, as Tom Swift, Jr,’s sidekick, Texas-talkin’ Charles ‘Chow’ Winkler, might have exclaimed: ‘Why, brand my biscuits!'”
BULLETIN BOARD ADVISES: Do NOT miss today’s Websites of the Day — particularly the second.
The Permanent Great-Grandsonly Record
Vertically Challenged: “Little Phillip REALLY enjoyed his birthday cake!”
Band Name of the Day: The Wiseacres
Websites of the Day: Leslie MacFarlane and Hardy Boys author Leslie McFarlane in conversation