What does St. Paul look like, from the suburbs of Minneapolis? Not that! Surely he must’ve been joking!

Our times

Rusty of “absolutely marvelous St. Paul” reports: “My wife and I live in St. Paul. She was on the phone this morning with her sister, who lives in a suburb of Minneapolis. My wife was inviting her sister and her husband to join us for dinner at a St. Paul restaurant tonight.


“Her sister’s husband, in the background, yelled out to his wife: ‘Tell them I am NOT going to that s***hole St. Paul!'”

Kathy S. of St. Paul reports: “During announcements after church Sunday, one speaker started out his announcement by saying that ‘Not everyone can come from Norway.’

“Laughter can be the best medicine.”

Muse, amuse

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin, writes: “Subject: Always leave us laughing.

“I just thought of something to take the guilt out of a belated-birthday card: ‘Sorry I missed your birthday, old friend. . . . I was amazed to hear that you are still having them.'”

Now & Then
Popular Music Division

Dolly Dimples: “Subject: Oldies But Goodies.

“When our family gathers to celebrate a holiday, there is much interaction and sharing of news, opinions, stories and fun. Our recent Christmas get-together was typical. We had conversations that led to strange topics and places.

“I don’t know how we got into discussing favorite songs of long ago, but I, being the family matriarch, dredged up from my memory a few which I used to sing and play on the piano, but which my juniors had never heard of. As I don’t like to call attention to myself, it was uncharacteristic of me — maybe because I felt secure sharing with my family members . . . or maybe it was the half glass of red wine I had enjoyed earlier — but whatever the reason, I started singing, in my not-so-young scratchy voice, the ‘Silver Threads Among the Gold’ song. The first verse goes: ‘Darling, I am growing old. / Silver threads among the gold / Shine upon my brow today. / Life is fading fast away.’ Before I could continue singing the next verse, my captive audience interrupted and questioned my sanity for singing such a depressing song.

‘OK, I thought. I’ll try another that was popular back in the day: ‘The Prisoner’s Song.’ Now, I have a history with that song. My mother’s niece lived in Bayport, close by the Stillwater State Prison. Her son worked as a guard there. I thought it totally appropriate that Clara would have the sheet music of ‘The Prisoner’s Song’ on her piano, and whenever we visited them, I made a beeline for the piano and played that song over and over. The last verse is: ‘Now if I had the wings of an angel, / Over these prison walls I would fly. / I’d fly to the arms of my darling, / And there I’d be willing to die.’ Well, my critics pronounced the song a downer, also.

“As a last effort to please, I tried a more popular song: ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.’ That song has a connection with my past, too. In junior high I had a ‘crush’ on a classmate, and when he diverted his considerable charms to another young lady, I was the one who was ‘crushed.’ I moped for a couple weeks and vented my heartbreak by mournfully singing ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.’ The song speaks of a love that has gone away and ‘when a lovely flame dies, smoke gets in your eyes.’ That selection didn’t find favor with my audience, either. Too melancholy.

“When you offer the best you have of the oldies but goodies and it’s not accepted, it’s time to move on. They are the losers. Or not.”

Now & Then


Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff writes: “I don’t know much about this toy truck, but when I saw it on eBay, I knew I had to bring it back home to St. Paul from St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s made of genuine wood, and the wheels go ’round and ’round.

“But wait! There’s more! It is also a bank. It’s hollow and has a slot on top and a plug on the bottom.

“I assume it was some sort of promotional item sold by the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch, but it isn’t as old as it looks. Stamped on the bottom is: ‘(c) Toystalgia, Inc. 1984, Golden Valley, MN 55427.’

“Maybe the all-knowing Bulletin Board or one of its dedicated readers has more information about this truck/bank.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: At least in this case (emoticons and emojis omitted), we are not all-knowing.

This PP&D promotional item (likely a Circulation premium; possibly an Advertising come-on) predates our arrival at the paper by five years.

A Google search for “Toystalgia” reveals that the company apparently sold a lot of these things, to many and varied corporations — but not, apparently, enough to help the company survive till 2018.

Then & Now
Or: The Permanent Family Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: The flu of ’18.

“My mother and my oldest sister were both victims of the influenza of 1918. Wonderful Grandmother took care of both of them and pulled them through. My Aunt Ethel told me the story over and over again: My sister Ruth was a precocious 20-month-old, and after three terrible weeks of attempting to give the child nourishment, Ruth opened her eyes and my Grandma heard her words coming right back out of Ruth’s mouth as she weakly pleaded: ‘Does Grandma’s precious little darling want a drink of water? Of course, she does, bless her little heart.’

“I’ve thought about that story a lot during these past wretched two weeks of fighting off this flu bug. It hit us five days after Christmas, the day before 20 members of our family were due to spend a belated Christmas celebration with us. We canceled everything, and their gifts are waiting until we are no longer contagious. It’s a vicious bug: Just when you think you are getting over it, it zaps you right back down.

“My husband and I finally believe that we are going to survive this influenza of 2018. I’m just thankful that we had each other.

“Stay healthy, everybody, and Happy New Year.”

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede writes: “The low sun and a clear day make for long shadows across the yard. They change a bit as the sun makes its way across the sky, adding and deleting things as it moves.


“The back yard looked pretty similar to the front yard in places.


“The deck railing made for a regular pattern for the vine branches to intersect in a variety of ways.


“The coneflower seed heads made for a bunch of black spots in the snow.


“And the chain-link fence made for a nice pattern.


“A sunny day adds so much to the possibilities of seeing things in a new way, in addition to lifting our spirits.”

See world

Dan Hanneman of Maplewood reports: “Subject: Our Possums, Ourselves.

“Folks may not have noticed, but over the last several years, possums have been quietly moving into our suburban neighborhoods. As they are nocturnal, you are unlikely to see them, but nevertheless they are there, silently wandering about, navigating their way along what Edgar Allan Poe called ‘night’s plutonian shore.’ They eat almost anything, don’t have permanent nests or burrows, but will simply seek shelter wherever it’s convenient, perhaps under your deck or behind your bushes. They are excellent climbers, having no problem going up trees, telephone poles and over chain-link fences (sometimes under).

“Don’t worry, don’t panic! They mean you no harm and will often faint when confronted with danger. They are a simple, though less than handsome creature — actually marsupials, not mammals, meaning they carry their young in a pouch. The only other place marsupials are found is in Australia. Although usually thought of more as a Southern animal, they follow streams, rivers and culverts to new territories and can be found in most of Minnesota except in the more northern areas.

“There are numerous species of possums. The one we find in Minnesota is the Virginia Opossum — Didelphis virgiana, to give it its official name. Often considered ‘America’s Favorite Roadkill,’ they have probably been here for millions of years, but they don’t mind as they simply and silently scrounge in the night for their humble meal.

“Perhaps the most famous possum wasn’t really a possum, but the poet T.S. Eliot, who was nicknamed ‘Old Possum’ and, of course, was the author of ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,’ a truly wonderful book that was turned into the musical ‘Cats.’

“I  caught this one on my porch, tempted by a bowl of food that I sometimes put out for stray cats. My guess is that he or she is sheltering under the neighbors’ deck.



“If you leave out cat food, you will always know when possums show up, as they make a very loud crunching sound.

“Whether you welcome possums or not, just keep in mind they are always there in the night, living out solitary lives that may be no longer than a couple of years. They mean you absolutely no harm.”

Bulletin Board stands corrected

MINUTES after filing this Bulletin Board, we had a note from The Pro from Dover: “Just wanted to let Dan Hanneman know that marsupials ARE mammals, just not placental mammals.

“They’re so ugly, they’re cute.”

Joy of Juxtaposition

Stinky Bananalips of Empire, Minnesota: “So this morning, I stopped at the gas station before work for some snacks to get me through my workday. Saw a guy in his Superman T-shirt, and thought to myself: ‘Clark Kent, you should zip your jacket up all the way, so as not to blow your cover.’ I also lamented the fact that I still haven’t upgraded my phone, and here was a missed opportunity to take surreptitious photos of yet another Superman. (The last one was at Costco, bagging my groceries.)

“Later while on break, checking the comics, this one popped up, from http://www.gocomics.com:


Our birds, ourselves


Lola reports: “My birds are going to be so happy! It’s a Christmas gift from my kids.”

Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “Pileated woodpecker at one of my suet feeders, St. Croix County, Wisconsin. A huge beautiful bird.”



Our squirrels, ourselves

Al B of Hartland: “The tiny red squirrels drive my wife to distraction. She enjoys the company of gray and fox squirrels, but considers red squirrels the cause of most of the world’s problems. She pounds on windows and yells at them when they’re on the feeders. I suspect that was the reason we didn’t get a single Christmas card from a red squirrel this year.”

Our times
Or: Could be verse! (Clowning Around Division)

Tim Torkildson writes: “Subject: the old clowns.

“From the Wall Street Journal: ‘One problem for internet companies is finding enough people to assess government requests to remove information, people familiar with the situation say. YouTube recently blocked a clip from the Charlie Chaplin film ‘The Great Dictator,’ which featured a strongly pro-democracy, antimilitary tone, at the request of Thailand’s military government. It later reversed course after determining the video didn’t violate any local laws.’

“Those old clowns were potent in mischief and brawl;

“They knew how to make even potentates bawl.

“In black-and-white movies their actions revealed

“Desire to have all injustice repealed.

“Marginalize ev’ry clown, if you dare —

“The world will still laugh at your silly hot air.”

Who knew?

Semi-Legend reports “A Strand of memory:

“A friend sent me a link to a New York Daily News story: Fred Bass, owner of the legendary Strand used-book store, had died at 89.

“I love that store.

“Once, my wife and I dropped in on a Sunday, during a trip to New York. It was shuttered. A sign said ‘Closed for Easter.’

“Said another disappointed book lover: ‘Who knew it was Easter?'”

Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?

Friendly Bob of Fridley: “I have a sister who is undergoing an extensive medical-treatment regimen (she does not drive, so I take her to appointments), including some appointments five days a week. This has been going on since mid-September, and there are a lot of nasty side effects, so she is understandably a bit weary of the whole process. With luck, next week should bring this to a close.

“Today she told one of the medical technicians: ‘Sometimes I just get so discouraged that I want to throw in the rug.’

“Of course, she realized what she had said and corrected that to ‘towel.’ Too late! Gotcha, Sis!”

One for the books
Or: Live and learn!

From Bright As Day: “Subject: Fresh start.

“Turning the calendar from December to January brings back fond memories of the anticipation I felt at the beginning of each new school year, back in the day.

“The fall before fifth grade was a bit different. As I approached the classrooms nestled at the end of the intermediate hall, a foreboding came over me. My heart sank as I located my name on ‘mean old Mrs. Lee’s’ list outside her classroom.

“I learned several very important lessons that year.

“First: Don’t judge a book by its cover or believe everything you hear. Behind those dark-rimmed, hollow eyes was a heart of gold and a passion to help each student be the very best he or she could be. The rumors about her being the nastiest teacher proved to be far from the truth.

“Second: An apothecary jar filled with cotton balls sat on top of Mrs. Lee’s desk. ‘Warm Fuzzies’ were dispensed to each student caught in the act of doing something nice. There was such pride in owning one or two of those cotton balls for a day. Overall, the classroom hummed along in a spirit of respect and cooperation.

“Lesson number three: Do something to make the world a better place.

“The final lesson was to be prepared (we were expected to have a pair of No. 2 pencils sharpened at all times), work hard, and take care of your own needs.

“Thank you, Mrs. Lee, for preparing me to live a responsible and compassionate life.”

Life as we know it

Cat’s Mom of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: “Hi.

“I have been absent from Bulletin Board for the past year. I have been reading, but not having anything to say; the last year has been stressful.

“DH (the engineer) fell ill in December of 2016, and 2017 turned into the year from hell. Many, many doctor visits. Many trips to the emergency room, and finally a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Add two surgeries, and you have a year from hell. Add in his father passing away in March, for a round of depression.

“Things are better with him now, and he can drive himself to wherever he needs to go. (Being a chauffeur gets old fast.)

“My sewing room was severely neglected — but friends took me on a road trip to fabric stores, and now I have plenty of fabric to fondle and sew with.

“Our son, Army Boy, was a big help throughout the last year. He is no longer Army Boy, as he left his reserve unit, graduated from tech school and is now gainfully employed. And he presented us with GOOD news: We are going to be grandparents!

“Looks like 2018 will be a good year.

“P.S. The cat is waiting for me to finish this so she can sit in my chair.”

Our pets, ourselves
Farm Workers Division

DebK of Rosemount: “Midway through the recent cold spell, Taxman and I signed on a new trainee for the St. Isidore Farm Rodent Control Unit. This latest recruit is a tiny kitten found crying outside a grain elevator in Mazeppa, where Joe the (former) Renter now lives. Joe has a soft heart, but he’s no dope. Prizing his personal solvency and recognizing that the half-frozen kitty would need a hefty dose of veterinary attention, Joe passed the pint-sized feline to us — free, in exchange for naming rights.

“Taxman and I aren’t (complete) dopes, either. We know from vast experience that the free animals that come our way are often budget-busters. Little Jo-Jo is a case in point. The farm vet was called out immediately, diagnosed a sad, familiar litany of stray-cat ailments, and left us to dispense an array of antibiotics and wormers and eye salves — none of them cheap. And — initially, at least — none of them apparently effective. Over the next day or two, the kitten’s condition deteriorated, though she did summon the strength to bite the hand that feeds her, putting me in the running for a course of antibiotics of my own.

“Truth to tell, despite our considerable investment of resources and effort, we had little cause for optimism — until early this morning, that is, when I arose to insistent meows from the mudroom bath, where Jo-Jo has been spending the nights. When I opened the door, I set astir a couple of inches of shredded toilet paper intermingled with fragments of decorative fiber balls that once provided what suffices for décor in that bathroom. While I was cleaning up that mess, Jo-Jo high-tailed it to the den to pray (play) the rosary with Taxman. He must’ve been meditating very deeply, for he failed to note that at some point the kitty stopped praying and undertook to annihilate the dried hydrangea arrangement in that room.

“I believe victory is at hand!”

Band Name of the Day: The Rodent Control Unit

Website of the Day, recommended by Helena Handbasket: “Yup. Me laughing at Michael Perry again. Not sure who Hal Thompson is. The juxtaposition of these two guys against the lime-green curvilinear chaise is just right. If only M. Perry had been wearing barn boots.”



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