The Perm’nent P’tern’l Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “My dad took pride in being a carpenter, and when he built his dream home, he went all out, adding every feature he had ever desired. It was a seven-year work-in-progress, and the living room and the kitchen were the first rooms finished. He paneled the living room in butternut and the kitchen in knotty cedar. He bought a scalloping tool and created some attractive scallop designs for the crown molding in each room. He was pleased with the result — and Dad was right: It was ‘bee-YOO-ti-ful.’
“He boasted to his pals about the ‘dandy scalps’ he had hanging in his newly paneled rooms. (Our dad talked fast, shedding syllables along the way.) He invited them to ‘Come on over and I’ll give you a tour,’ and come they did almost every Saturday morning.
“My sister and I liked to sleep in on Saturday mornings, but nearly every weekend, we would wake up to the sound of Dad’s voice as he led his pals down the long hall of the bedroom wing to view the studs and insulation framing the future rooms. (We called it the ‘Gunner Be Tour.’) It went something like this: ‘This here is gunner be the telephone booth, this door leads up to the attic, this one leads to the basement, this is gunner be the cedar closet, this is gunner be the utility closet,’ and then he would bring his guests right into our bedroom, saying ‘And this is gunner be my daughters’ bedroom.’
‘Poor disappointed fellows; they came to see the scalps hanging from the ceiling, and the only scalps they saw were the tops of our heads as we tried to hide under the bedcovers.”
The vision thing
Or: Metaphorically speaking
KH of White Bear Lake: “In the lily patch, as in the rest of life, some manage to just hang on while others gloat from the penthouse.”
The verbing of America
Donald: “On a Twins telecast, Dick Bremer made this comment regarding a pitcher’s ability to keep a runner close to first base: ‘Good job of holding him and flat-footing him at first base.’”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: A pitcher is without honor in his own city.
“The July 30th Sports sections in both Twin Cities dailies featured a photo of the latest Baseball Hall of Fame inductees (Pioneer Press, Page 3B; Minneapolis paper, Page C8).
“Although taken by two different photographers, the pictures appear to be identical.
“The caption beneath the picture in the Minneapolis paper read: ‘From left, Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Jack Morris, Alan Trammell and Jim Thome held their plaques . . . .’
“Pioneer Press: ‘The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame class, left to right: Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones, Alan Trammell and Jim Thome.’
“Let’s see — the St. Paul native was left out of the St. Paul paper’s listing. Can you say ‘irony’?”
Life as we know it
DebK of Rosemount: “The farmhouse-reclamation effort has begun now that the Chicago grandkids have returned home. It was a low-key week, the highlights of which were a road trip to The Spam Museum by way of Mystery Cave and the discovery of baby chicks in the cat room of the small barn, where Astrid, our wild Araucana hen, had (unwisely) set up housekeeping, unbeknownst to us pretend farmers.
“Tucked in amidst all that excitement was a good deal of card-playing (Hearts, mostly) and projects initiated by a visiting 7-year-old St. Paulite with a passion for all things messy, including construction of jewelry from plastic beads which have long been stowed in an ancient cigar box. Just now, as I was returning escaped beads to the box before they could be ingested by Hamish the Hungry (puppy), I noted that below the ornate red and gold printing (‘BANCES Imported Tobaccos — 50 FINE CIGARS — FINEST IMPORTED TOBACCOS SINCE 1886’) that emblazons the lid of the box, I had added a bit of script myself — probably early in my teaching career, all of which (happily) occurred before the dawning of this Age of Moral Purity. Right there, for all the world to see, is my thick black permanent marker designation of that cigar box as the approved receptacle for ‘HALL PASSES.’
“For all its political incorrectness, the cigar-box system was a good one. My former students will likely remember it: the fancy cigar box itself, of course, but also the Hall Pass Policy that governed its use. It worked like this:
“On the first day of class, each student was given a number (10, if I remember rightly) of official hall passes, which could be used at any time (except during an exam or a student presentation) and for any reason — no questions asked. The only restriction was that the use of the pass could not interfere at all in my teaching. The student was simply to deposit his/her pass in the cigar box, which occupied a place of prominence on my desk. Unused passes could be redeemed at the end of term for extra-credit points, perhaps providing a much-desired bolstering of a student’s final grade. The genius of this system is that a student hardly ever left my classroom, which was my goal, of course.
“Human nature being what it is, there were the inevitable efforts to scam the system. An early attempt at counterfeiting ‘Mrs. K’s Hall Passes’ failed so spectacularly that it became the stuff of school legend. A more persistent difficulty involved the black market that evolved each term. For a few years, I puzzled over how to halt the unauthorized trade in hall passes — specifically, the purchase of hall passes by non-diligent students, from the curve-setters.
“At some point, I worked myself into quite a tizzy over this matter — so much so that I took it up with Father (and Professor) James Stromberg, who served our parish for many years as weekend assistant. Father thumbed his chin for a second or so before advising me to ‘Embrace [my] inclinations and allow the market to flourish.’ As far as I’m aware, the implementation of Free Market principles did no harm.”
Gifts that keep on giving
The Astronomer (“as named by DebK of Rosemount”): “Subject: The Celebrated Returning Anniversary Card.
“It is always nice to remember someone’s anniversary — and even nicer to be remembered on yours.
“My spouse, the Good Wife, started a tradition more than 25 years ago. Now we have celebrated our marriage for more than 50 years, as have her sister and husband. But some 25 years ago, for whatever reason, which none of us can remember (nor does it matter much at all), my wife saved and sent back to her sister and husband the very card they had sent to us some eight months earlier. Her sister, not to be outdone, saved the card and sent it back. Each return of the card has been signed and documented with a new wish for continued happiness.
“As we grow older and stronger in our years together, the Good Wife and I look forward to that card coming back from her sister, and we really look forward to returning it. It is getting hard to find space on the card, but thanks to 3M Post-it Notes, we’ll never run out of room. The USPS sends it back and forth, twice a year. Through the years we have likely saved a few dollars, considering the price of a new card every year. And think of all the time we saved, not having to shop for a new card.
“What is important, however, is that our wishes endure through the years. We celebrate its return and know the wishes contained therein truly are sincere.”
Our pets, ourselves
And: In memoriam
Dennis from Eagan: “Thanks for printing this (St Pat’s Day-themed) photo of Stormy and (dark) Shadow in either 2012 or 2013.
“FYI: Shadow died Wednesday, August 1, due to liver disease. He enjoyed his one day of fame.”
To sleep; perchance, to dream
Or: Today’s helpful hint
Papa on Elm Street: “Subject: How to get to sleep.
“Do you have a hard time getting to sleep at night? I bet the majority of people do.
In the past, I did — and it was so frustrating. I would lie there thinking about so many things.
“Recently I tried something that has helped me get to sleep within five minutes most nights. I close my eyes and relax. Then I start counting slowly, just in my mind. This takes my mind off of everything else. I find that about half the time, I fall asleep before reaching 100, and the rest of the time before reaching 200.
“It may take some practice, but could be well worth it.
“Maybe you could let Bulletin Board know if it works for you.”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
K.T. Moller writes: “Do You Remember ‘Freddie Foodtown?’
“I thoroughly enjoyed the recent Bulletin Board entries about the Red Owl supermarkets and the Pioneer Press article following the passing of Charles Hooley, sharing the advent of Cub Foods as an outgrowth of Hooley’s Grocery store in Stillwater. They re-ignited my memories of another bygone chain of Twin Cities food stores in the 1950s to ’70s: FOODTOWN! The name itself suggested something big and grand and a destination for food. Its advertising icon was ‘Freddie Foodtown,’ and he espoused service, courtesy, friendliness, and low prices. Why wouldn’t everyone want to shop there? Well, a lot of folks did. And importantly for me, the success of the Foodtown stores provided a very rewarding and positive work experience from 1957 to approximately 1966.
“Without any claim to absolute accuracy here: The first store opened in a small building on the south side of Como Avenue just east of Snelling Avenue in about the early to mid-’50s. The local owners were St. Paul residents Louis Lipshultz and Joseph Dudovitz. The success of that store led to the establishment of a larger space on the corner of Maryland Avenue and Payne Avenue on St. Paul’s East Side. This was the store where I got my first real paycheck and worked most frequently during my stint in the grocery business.
“Ultimately, the Foodtown chain expanded to include stores on Dale Street and Minnehaha Avenue, County Road E and White Bear Avenue, North Hamline shopping center in Roseville, and two stores in Minneapolis (Hiawatha Avenue and Nicollet Avenue). Food markets at that time were plentiful on the East Side, with keen price advertising and venue competition for shoppers. There were the Red Owl, Klein, National Tea, Piggly Wiggly, Applebaum, Brink’s, King Pin, Knowlan’s, Country Club, and Kroger. In addition, there were numerous small ‘corner’ family-owned grocery stores struggling to survive.
“I am grateful for the learning, experience, and opportunities I enjoyed in my years with Foodtown. I learned about people — co-workers and shoppers; their behavior and various personalities. I learned about the local community of consumers — appreciating their varying economic situations. I experienced the value of hard work and service. I experienced positive owner, manager, and worker-bee cooperation and respect. I made life-long friends. And importantly, I made sufficient monies to cover four years of education at the University of Minnesota.
“Clearly, I valued my time at Foodtown. I still have my ink stamper, grease pencil, name tag, and a host of good memories of the stores and people I worked with.”
Or: Know thyself! (responsorial)
Dragonslayer of Oakdale reported, in the July 31st Bulletin Board: “Subject: Am I cracking up?
“The other day, while transporting my wife to a thrift-store adventure, I turned my turn signal on — and in my mind, in cadence with the beat of the turn signal, I heard Face Book, Face Book, Face Book. I thought: How strange. Two days later, while power-washing my deck, the pulsing of the power washer said Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
“This doesn’t happen in my life. I think age may be scrambling my life experiences.”
We presently heard from Fudge Brownie: “Subject: Hearing Things.
“No, Dragonslayer of Oakdale, I don’t think you are cracking up. If you are, then we both are. I also hear words when power things are working. When my washing machine is running, I hear banana, banana, banana, banana. It is actually kind of soothing.”
Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “We were happy to get a few pics of this hummingbird moth.
“We see him only briefly, maybe a couple times a year.”
Or: Know thyself!
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: I need a sign for that!
“Every time I see a ‘BUMP’ sign alongside the road, I have to chuckle. I wish I could get away with signs like that. You know, to help put off those annoying projects around the house. I could have used lots of them in my lifetime. A ‘TOILET RUNNING’ sign would have been helpful in the bathroom (I hate plumbing). Maybe a ‘STICKING DOOR’ sign would buy me some time? My favorite would have been ‘LONG GRASS.’
“Well, there I go, channeling Andy Rooney again.”
His world (and welcome to it!)
Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Brother Billy Cleans the House.
“I once started an email to a friend with ‘Well, I decided to clean house today — so I flushed the toilet.’
“And that’s not such a great exaggeration, either. Dust and cobwebs hold no terror for me, and dirty dishes feel at home in my kitchen sink and often overstay their welcome. Vacuuming is a concept I am only vaguely committed to.
“As I look back on the major influences of my childhood, this slovenly trait is certainly an anomaly — for my mother was a dedicated foe of dirt, grime, dust and tarnish of any kind. She drilled it into me that cleanliness was not only next to godliness, but one of the Ten Commandments if you read between the lines, as she did.
“She kept an arsenal of chemical cleaners underneath the kitchen sink to help her eradicate the merest suggestion of a smudge. There was always a large canister of Bon Ami powder, with its absurd logo of a baby chick emerging from the shell; I thought maybe you were supposed to sprinkle the powder on eggs to make them hatch. I tried it once, to no effect.
“Mom went through a bottle of Mr. Clean every other week. And as a television addict with a vast retentive memory of every commercial I ever saw, I would break out into the refrain ‘Mr. Clean . . . Mr. Clean . . . Mr. Clean . . . ‘ whenever I smelled that pungent aroma.
“There was Clorox bleach; Pledge furniture polish; Weiman silver polish; Brillo pads; Palmolive dishwashing liquid; Arm & Hammer baking soda; Windex; Johnson floor wax; Lysol spray; Glade air-freshener spray; a packet of chamois strips for delicate jobs; and of course a pair of sturdy yellow rubber gloves.
“Strange to say, my older brother Billy, 10 years my senior, who was on the high-school football team and kept a set of weights in the basement to stay buff, was also a clean freak. He seconded my mother’s continuous commando actions against dirt.
“Thus it came to pass one summer day when I was 6 that my mother had to leave unexpectedly on some urgent errand, with the housework incomplete, so she prevailed upon brother Billy not only to look after my sisters and me, but also to finish up cleaning the house. Billy was only too glad to do so. He parked us kids in front of the television set just in time for the Mel Jass Matinee Movie on Channel 11, then began tidying things up.
“But the Mel Jass movie that day was a dud — ‘Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour’ or some such dreck — so I swiftly grew bored and wandered away from the boob tube, looking for a little action.
“I found it in the dining room, where Billy had unwisely left the Electrolux vacuum in a vulnerable and wide-open position while he took the vacuum bag out to the trash. In a flash I saw the possibilities of stuffing the innards of the Electrolux with a dozen or so small plastic cowboys and Indians I kept handy in a bag under the living-room couch. That done, I wandered into the kitchen to open the refrigerator door for 10 minutes, staring blankly at the milk, eggs, and the remains of last night’s fish sticks. Meanwhile Billy began swearing softly to himself as he attempted to inject a new bag into the vacuum. Repeatedly foiled, he finally gave up, pushed the vacuum to the side, and began industriously polishing the dining-room table. Closing the fridge door, I walked up behind him to demand a Popsicle. The magical word ‘Popsicle’ brought my sisters running, screaming that they wanted one, too.
“‘You kids go back to the TV and leave me alone — Mom said you can’t have any cuz you didn’t finish your lunch!’ he said. But Billy was not Mom, and could be hectored unmercifully until he caved in. So we yelled and blubbered and wheedled until he caved, as we knew he would, and got us each an orange Popsicle from the freezer and told us to go eat them outside.
“We promptly took them back to the TV in the living room instead, where they melted all over our clothes and dribbled onto the carpet. When Billy discovered this, he got the Mr. Clean to rub out the evidence of his dereliction of duty from the carpet and had us strip down to our skivvies so he could put our dirty, sticky clothes in the laundry hamper and hunt us up something clean to wear. Then the doorbell rang.
“‘Don’t answer that!’ Billy hollered from our bedroom upstairs.
“I answered it. It was a tall, lugubrious gentleman selling life insurance door-to-door. They used to do that back in the 195’s.
“He was somewhat startled to find himself confronting a little boy in only his underwear.
“‘Is your mother home, son?’ he asked.
“‘Nope. But Billy’s upstairs. You wanna talk to him?’
“Door-to-door salesmen would talk to anyone they thought might buy their wares, so he stepped in and said sure, go get him.
“I ran upstairs to tell Billy there was a tall man with a briefcase wanted him to come down. Billy was big for his age, so the life-insurance salesman actually went into his spiel the minute he saw Billy — but Billy would have none of it and politely steered the man back out the front door.
“Then he gave us clean clothes to put on. Then, with a disturbing gleam in his eye and a tremor in his voice, he asked if we’d like to play a game.
“‘What kind of game?’ I asked suspiciously. Billy was not known for his love of childish frolic. He mostly went out with girls or pumped iron in the basement.
“‘Come on over to the fireplace and I’ll show you,’ he said sweetly.
“Now, our house had a very fine brick fireplace in the living room, but the builders had never built a chimney to go with it. It was strictly ornamental. Mom had all the accessories for a real fireplace around it: andirons, bellows, black cast-iron tools, and even a heavy chain fire screen. Billy told us to go into the fireplace, and he would hide us with the fire screen until Mom came home. Then we could jump out to frighten her. Did we like the idea? We liked; so he stowed us away behind the fire screen in the fireplace, telling us not to make a peep until we heard the front door open.
“Then he went back to cleaning the house. We could hear him whistling happily as he dusted and swept. My sisters and I gradually fell into a semi-stupor behind the fire screen. When mom returned, we hadn’t the energy to pop out and cry ‘Boo!’ She exclaimed over the fine job that Billy had done. Then, noticing the quiet, she asked where Timmy and the others were.
“‘I put them in the fireplace,’ said Billy matter-of-factly.
“Mom moved the fire screen to reveal the three of us squatting contentedly. It didn’t seem odd to any of us that we three had spent the better part of an afternoon cooped up in the hearth.
“‘Hi, Mom,’ I said. ‘Can I have a Popsicle?'”
Elvis: “Elvis was at the airport waiting to board his flight on one of the two major airlines named for U.S. states.
“Apparently they had a bunch of empty First Class seats on this flight and not enough frequent flyers to fill them. Back in the day — when Elvis was one of the privileged elites, rather than one of the unwashed masses — there were often planes coming out of Atlanta that had two-thirds of the passengers eligible for a First Class upgrade for the scarce few unreserved seats. Nothing makes you feel more special than seeing your name listed on the monitor as 54 out of 68 waiting for an upgrade.
“Anyways, this morning Michelle the bubbly gate agent (who informed us she had been working since 3 a.m. and was now three hours into her 16-hour shift) was going to make us all play a game at 6 a.m. No one stirred. The prize would be a First Class seat for the person who had the oldest coin in their pocket. People started digging.
“She kept it going for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, she asked if anyone had a birthday, wedding (or divorce) anniversary, or bar mitzvah today. No takers. A woman shouted ‘What about newlyweds?’ and got her and her new husband upgraded for the start of their honeymoon. Michelle then started to try to locate the couple who had been married the longest. She got a couple with 35 years of marriage, and it turned out he was a pastor at the church where the newlyweds had just been married last weekend.
“Back to the hunt for the oldest coin. Elvis had quickly been bested with his 1984 quarter. We were looking for something older than 1960 at this point.
“Then a young mom with a daughter sitting next to Elvis leaned over and said to her kid: ‘No, honey, Mommy doesn’t have any real money, sorry!’
“Michelle called the 1960 coin the winner, and we loaded up with a full First Class and headed west.”
Band Name of the Day: The Pretend Farmers
Website of the Day, from The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “Subject: iPhone photography awards .