The great comebacks
Monday email from The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: A firm grasp of the obvious.
“My first news of the day includes news of Putin’s election win, Trump’s tweets, and Hillary’s excuses.
“The next thing I expect to learn is that Kohl’s is having a sale.”
The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules writes: “My mother’s rich cousin Nellie was generous. She knew her cousin Bessie loved to sew and that she had a lot of daughters, so every season Nellie would mail us her cast-offs. Those boxes were such fun to open. They were stuffed with an assortment of coats, hats, purses, gloves, costume jewelry and fancy dresses, and they arrived like clockwork every spring, summer, fall and winter.
“Nellie was a large woman, so Mother had ample material to work with. She would take each item apart, carefully retrieving the matching thread, and sew all of us girls a wardrobe. One time, a neighbor who knew about the boxes overheard some neighbors whispering about our mother ‘spending all of poor Jake’s hard earnings just to dress those girls of hers so fancy.’
“I’m glad my dad took a lot of snapshots. They not only bring the moment back to life; sometimes they bring the touch and the sound along with it.
“In this photo, I was 3 and looking like a Christmas tree in March, I am wearing a scratchy red hat and proudly modeling the bright green coat Mother had fashioned for me. I have no memory of the color of my sisters’ wardrobe, but I can still feel the leather of Ruth’s gloved hand and hear Raye whining about the fact that there was only one pair of gloves in Nellie’s box and ‘Why does Ruth always get first dibs?’”
John in Highland: “I was lucky enough to have one of my aunts send this photo of my grandparents’ wedding, in Minneota, in 1908.
“Both came from large families. Louise Wermerskirchen was from Iona, Minnesota, and John Salmon was from Taunton. They met at Wermerskirchen Hardware in Taunton, run by Louise’s brother Jake. Along with the photo came a note: ‘Mom never wanted anyone to see her wedding picture, claiming it was “so old-fashioned.” I always loved it and thought that you would like a copy of it. Her wedding dress was lovely and she had made it herself. Quite an accomplishment for a 19-year-old! Only a few shreds remain after over a hundred years.'”
Or: Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
OTD from NSP: “An outing today made it obvious I might need to get out more and broaden my horizon so I am not amazed at current culture and practices.
“My grandson is on spring break. He knows that ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ was one of my favorite books when I was much younger. He showed me a trailer for it, and we established a time for me to take him to see it. (It has been long established that Grandma pays and doesn’t really regulate the snacks.)
“I seldom go to see a movie in a first-run theater, but I had a gift card, and on Tuesday admission is $5. First time I have had to pick where I wanted to sit when buying a ticket, but why became obvious soon. I understood why admission is reasonable after we stopped at the concession stand. Since I was at a movie, I thought I would get popcorn and a drink for myself. My grandson got French fries and a drink (found out theaters now have full menus and wait staff service/delivery to your seat). After seeing popcorn was about $9 and a drink about $7, I decided I really didn’t need a snack. The popcorn wasn’t fresh (watched as a person emptied several large bags of popcorn into the well that bags/buckets were filled from). An empty glass was handed to the customer to fill themselves. Not a lot of labor involved by the concession staff.
“The theater was packed, the parking lot full, concession line long. I must have been one of the few who didn’t think popcorn and a drink was worth over $15.
“Another item to add to the list of things that, I, as an official old person, am total out of synch with in today’s world.”
Pop Corn: “Subject: Who Cut the Mustard? Or: Where has all the mustard gone?
“What happened to mustard? For my first half-century on this earth, whenever I saw ketchup in a restaurant, I saw mustard. Just as there were matching salt and pepper shakers on the table, there would often be red and yellow bottles containing the standard hamburger condiments. If the ketchup and mustard weren’t already on the table, then the server could be counted on to bring them when you ordered a burger. Both of them. Always. And often in matching squeeze bottles.
“But in recent years, mustard seems to have lost its automatic status. The server brings just a ketchup bottle. Or maybe there’s just a little dish of ketchup on the plate. No mustard. I have to ask for it. Which means if I really want mustard, I then have to wait while my burger gets cold, because bringing me mustard isn’t a priority.
“Do people not use mustard anymore? Or maybe it’s just the opposite — a cost-cutting measure. Does mustard cost too much, and people use too much of it, so the restaurants are making us ask for it?”
Lola: “Subject: Never the only one?
“The gas station that I usually patronize for gas and car washes recently remodeled their car wash.
“I stopped by today, and the machine where you enter the code for the car wash has grown way too tall. I can’t reach it while sitting in my car and had to get out in order to enter the code. I have the same problem at some ATMs. I am not very tall and drive a compact car. Am I the only one who has this problem? [Bulletin Board says: No. You are not.]
“My granddaughter keeps telling me that my car is too short, and I guess it might be.”
Not exactly what she’s had in mind
Great Grandma Paula: “Subject: Misremembering.
“I was shopping at Barnes & Noble, trying to use up a gift card that some nice kids of mine gave me. I found the book that I wanted, but a few more dollars remained on the card. I wandered around the store until I spotted a DVD of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.’ I loved that movie! Redford and Newman — what’s not to love! So I bought it.
“Every time I have thought of that movie, over the last 49 years (yes, 49 years! It was released on September 23, 1969), I could see in my mind’s eye the scene when Butch and Sundance jumped off a cliff into the rapids of a river. I will never forget that. All these years, I have remembered that as the end of the movie.
“I watched it on a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. The movie kept going for about another hour after the jumping scene. What the heck? I was so sure the movie ended with the scene that I so vividly remembered. The actual ending was [Bulletin Board says: SPOILER ALERT!]: Butch and Sundance, after being surrounded by Bolivian government troops, came out with their guns blazing. Cut to freeze frame!
“Stunned, I thought: ‘Oh well, another instance of me remembering something wrong!’ Now I’m starting to wonder if I remember anything about my 72 years correctly. Dang!”
Our community of strangers
The PaPeach: “Subject: One for Mr. Torkildson.
“I follow Atlas Obscura on Facebook, and this popped up in my feed: ‘Clowns’ Gallery and Museum.’ I immediately thought of our resident buffoon.”
Our community of strangers (responsorial)
Many replies (thank you!) to our Monday post:
Bloomington Bird Lady: “Subject: Where have all the Bulletin Boarders gone?
“I am as puzzled as you are, Bulletin Board. The long list of pen names was fun to read, with so many familiar ones we’ll never forget. Could the writers have run out of their story stash? With politics being a difficult subject, maybe the topics they would really like to talk about are the ones we hesitate to mention these days, even to our close friends.
“For me, writing has been rather soothing, and the days when I sent in my memories, or comments on someone’s story, it made me feel connected to something other than, for instance, Facebook. With this opportunity we’ve been given, there is satisfaction in
knowing somebody will read what we wrote, perhaps offer a similar story, comment at length or not. So many Facebook postings are ‘Wow!’ or ‘Great picture!’ and I feel cheated a bit.
“Getting friends to join our Bulletin Board has not worked for me. I have told several people that they can have fun writing, too, and the directions in the blog are not hard to follow. In these days of texting and using abbreviated versions of everything, are people forgetting how to write well? When personal letters started being rare, we lost the art of writing, it seems. I have a fourth-grade student pen pal each year from our local elementary school. The teachers hope to revive personal letters, so kids can write thank-you notes to grandparents, or just use their newly learned cursive writing.
“Let’s hope our love of putting our thoughts into readable and interesting form never ends.”
Momma Mouse of Woodbury: “I must admit . . . I was never a frequent submitter, but I have been absent — along with many others. Life has been very unexciting of late; nothing very interesting. I have driven south a few times and thought of Al B as I drive past the Hartland sign.
“Spring is upon us, and I am looking forward to the loss of the dirty piles of snow and the ‘springing’ forth of the green grass and leaves. I guess I feel that way every year. Can’t please some folks, perhaps. I get slightly excited at the first snowflake and the prospect of a good old-fashioned blizzard, now that I don’t have to drive anywhere. We don’t have blizzards now; we have ice storms. I could do nicely without those.
“Spring is good. Come on, Spring!
“I hope your ‘poke’ wakes up more of us. Life gets busy — or in my case a little boring. Winter means staying in more, so I look forward to the warmer, sunnier days ahead.”
Geez Louise of the West Side: “Subject: Bulletin Boarders of yesteryear.
“I read and considered with pleasure the long list of Bulletin Boarders who were mentioned in the post that was published today (Monday, March 19). I’ve enjoyed and admired the writings of all.
“One contributor that I remember, but haven’t heard from in many years, was a kindred soul named Junie Moon. I remember her writing one time about her old dog, Frieda, who was nearing the end of her days. Junie Moon was hoping that Frieda would make it through a final winter to the warmth and joy of spring, to be able to feel the sun and smell the scents of a fresh new season before she passed out of this world.
“I don’t think I ever read anything more from Junie Moon after that. I’ve occasionally wondered what happened to her. I suppose Frieda has been gone for a decade or more by now, but I hope she was granted that one final glorious spring. I think about that now as the world wakes up from winter once again.”
Shell Lake Granny: “Just saying Hi again.
“I was scrolling the list of contributors to the old daily-newspaper Bulletin Board and was surprised to see Shell Lake Granny in the list. Well, I am Shell Lake Granny, and at 92 years going on 150 (family joke), my life isn’t too exciting anymore. Mostly just messing with my flower gardens in the summer and feeding the birds all year round and living a pleasant life with my two black cats and my little black dog.
“Now, after boring you with all that [Bulletin Board says: Tain’t so, Granny!], I want to say that one of the highlights of the day is reading Bulletin Board on my computer.
“You might get a little chuckle out of our new family tradition. Most of my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are within driving distance for a day’s celebration have always come to my house for our annual Christmas gift exchange, but as they all had to drive anywhere from 25 to 120 miles to get here, it was getting difficult to pick a date when they could all make it, especially with winter weather being so unpredictable. So a couple of Christmases ago, I mentioned that every month had some kind of holiday in it except August, and since my birthday is in August, why didn’t we do our annual family gift exchange in August? Everyone thought that was a good idea. No snow storms or icy roads to contend with, and we could do it outside with a potluck picnic instead a stuffy dinner. One of my granddaughters-in-law said : ‘And we can call it Ethelmas’ — since my real name is Ethel. We did it last summer, and it was really lots of — so that is our new family tradition, and everyone can still have their regular Christmas at home.
“Thanks for including me in your list.”
Farmer Jeff: “Holy Zucchini, Batman!
“Well, I’ll just be zucchini’d! I read with considerable interest your list of printed-page BB contributors and for the first time realized that I was on that list. I therefore promise to post crucial updates from the battle front itself for the Zucchini Wars of Summer, once the season cooperates.
“And may we all just once and for all admit that zucchinis, having virtually NO taste themselves, taste only like that with which you mix them, be that cinnamon, spices, marinara sauce, butter, lemon pepper, banana bread without the bananas, and you name it and etc. etc.?”
Dave the Tape Guy of Shoreview: “I have been one of those BB Readers who have not submitted anything in a while. Here’s an attempt to rectify that.
“I recently retired from 3M (hence the ‘Tape Guy‘ handle) and have been enjoying the freedom to find other ways to spend my time. One example: I just spent a weekend in the North Woods learning how to safely fell trees with a chainsaw, under the guidance of instructors from North House Folk School in Grand Marais. The place seems to be full of retirees (and a few younger students, as well), but they teach a wide range of traditional skills and crafts, as well as some nods to more modern technology (like a chainsaw).
“I have a piece of property on which I hope to put these skills to work — sustainably harvesting firewood, while thinning our stand of maples to allow the others to increase in size so we can tap more trees for syrup. We started last year tapping maples for the first time, and ended up producing two gallons of syrup, which started as 80 gallons of sap!
“Learning how to make things just for the fun of it is one of the great joys of retirement. I highly recommend it.”
Lucky Buck: “I am still around — Forest Lake the past two years. Other than darn near dying, not a lot to share with the BB family. Not anything funny, at least. Eight weeks in three hospitals and four trauma care units gives a person a somewhat different outlook on aging. I fell, broke my wrist and gave myself a concussion. On top of blood clots, it was a tricky time. But, our Lord has different plans for me; just don’t know what they might be.”
Triple-the-Fun in Lakeville: “Regarding Monday’s post: ‘Where have all the B. Boarders Gone?’ We’re still here! At least I am, and from past history, I’m sure I’m not the only one. I haven’t made any submissions for about 15 years. Back then, I mostly sent in cute kid stories. My kids have long ago outgrown that stage (they are currently in college), and I don’t yet have any grandkids, so I don’t have much material to contribute. But I am an active follower of BB and love the submissions from others. Thank you for reminding those of us who are silent followers that perhaps we have stories that would be of interest to others. And a big thank you to those who faithfully contribute, because their stores certainly are interesting.”
Toothy Grin #6: “I’m still here!
“Hi, BB, O. Writing to let you know I’m still here and read every ‘column.’ Just don’t have a lot to say to the BB friends (which is unusual, since I’m not usually known for silence or brevity).
“But. Just finished reading a 30-plus-page document sent by a second cousin via my sister that gives an extensive family tree of my Irish branch. Absolutely delightful, since we’ve known so little about that branch. That’s because my father was the youngest of four boys whose mother died of peritonitis when he was 10 weeks old. She was the only girl in a family of eight children, and I believe it’s often the mother who passes on the stories and ‘folklore’ about the ancestors; we didn’t hear very many stories because she died so young. (Similar thing happened in my mother’s family: her grandmother died at about age 40 when my grandma was about 10 years old. In this case, the grandfather had insisted on ‘being American’ now, and so those stories of Bohemia and their immigration to the U.S. were not passed on.)
“I was excited to finally find out her approximate birth date, her birthplace, and approximate death date (b. January 1876, in Doneraile, County Cork; d. April 1915). Also excited to find out the month and year of emigration (left from Liverpool; arrived in New York City on March 1, 1881). I’ve found that it’s next to impossible to search for ancestor information using what two-finger typists call the Columbus Method (seek and land); that is, guessing a year and point of entry and then searching through ship manifests one by one. Pretty slow going.
“This document also clarifies and corrects another piece of info that we’d received from my father, who’d probably heard it from his mother’s brothers. Pop said William and Hanna brought their family over, and then William, a horse trainer, went back to Ireland (it is not known why) and died there. Turns out that William had come first, scouted out a place to settle, and went back for his family, who came over without him (can you imagine herding eight children ages 1 to 8 on a ship crossing the ocean?!), and he died soon after in Ireland.
“I just love finding the thread that connects me to my ancestors, back to their respective ‘old countries.’ It’s a precious and treasured link to the past.”
LindaGrandmaSue of St. Cloud: “Where have all the B. Boarders gone?
“Come on, troops.
“It’s time to rally.
“Please no dilly.
“Please no dally.
Reading through that list brought me many smiles. Thank you, BBers, for all the memories. Now surely you have not run out of stories. Please send them. We need you.”
The Missus of Mendota Heights: “Be careful what you wish for!
“This is my cat, Trouble, relaxing.
“It seems that we’ve both been doing that over the winter.
“Maybe it’s time to perk up and contribute to the BB!”
Elvis: “Subject: I’m not dead yet!
Our community of strangers
In Memoriam Division
Kathy S. of St. Paul reports: “Subject: The Archivist just died.
“The start and end of an announcement on Facebook:
“‘Dear graduates of St. Catherine University,
“‘It is with a heavy heart that I inform you of the passing of Margery Smith ‘49, CSJ.
“‘Sister Margery received her bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Catherine in 1949. She was a dedicated professor in the English department from 1968–93 and served as the St. Catherine University Archives Director from 1993 – 2011. Her exemplary work earned her the 2010-11 Alumnae Award.
“‘. . .
“‘Services in memory of Sr. Margery Smith will be on Friday, March 23, in Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel, 1880 Randolph Ave, St. Paul, MN. Visitation is at 10 a.m. with Funeral Mass at 11 a.m., followed by lunch. Burial services will follow at Resurrection Cemetery. All are welcome.'”
The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill; “Subject: ‘The most awful kind of grief. The most beautiful memories. So long, son.’
“Don’t miss Chris Erskine’s column on the death of his son. It contains these heartbreaking lines: ‘Of course, people keep asking me if there’s anything else they can do, and I think: “How about a lobotomy? Or maybe a heart transplant? Could you maybe do that?”
“‘Because the human body was not built for such debilitating grief. The lungs are too weak and the heart is too tender. We are not engineered for this.'”
MNbirdee of Rochester: “Enjoying my annual March in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Lots of sunshine, visiting friends, driving winding mountain roads through beautiful canyons, and great food.
“I also toured the awesome Musical Instruments Museum, with over 10,000 Instruments displayed by regions of the world, and an artists’ gallery. You get free headphones to use, as each display has a computer screen that automatically plays related music when you stand in front of it.
“Arizona has so much to offer, and I love the beauty of the desert.”
Where we live
Steve Jwanouskos (“formerly from San Jose”): “Subject: Why Pam and I moved back to St. Paul:
“Why became quickly evident when I walked my black Lab (the ‘real’ Bella; another story) last Thursday. As I tried to navigate the slick ice at the southwest corner of Lincoln at Prior, I slipped and crash-landed in the gigantic puddle. I haven’t landed that hard since football. Or, as Don Riley would have quipped, since my drinking days. [Bulletin Board quips: He knew about those!]
“In any case, the jolt was so hard that the lanyard around my neck, which held ALL of my keys, snapped open and apparently fell into the puddle. Someone observant found them and, as shown, hung them from the artful Stop sign.
“Once I discovered my keys missing, at the end of a long walk, I nearly panicked, but didn’t. I calmly retraced my steps to the corner where I took my pratfall. Nothing. Except when I circled the corner and saw these hanging from the Stop sign. I exclaimed: ‘I LOVE YOU, ST. PAUL!’
“And THAT is why we moved back to St. Paul!”
Band Name of the Day: Bring Out Your Dead
Website of the Day, from Double Bogey Mike: