. . . the best State Fair in our state!
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Even though there are new things to see, do and eat every year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, there are also those things that never change.
“Here are some State Fair photos from 1958 and 1959 that I scanned from slides my dad took. My brother and I are in most of the photos (I’m the taller one), and my mother is in one of them. Sixty years may have passed, but it’s not difficult to recognize the best State Fair in our state.
“The Pioneer Woman made her debut in 1958 as part of the Minnesota Centennial. Here she is standing where the Space Tower is now located. She was moved to her permanent location in front of the Ramberg Senior Center the next year and is still there, only a little worse for wear.
“Airplanes change, but there is usually some sort of newfangled flying machine at the State Fair every year.
“The Conservation Building is now called the DNR Building, and the gardens have been replaced by ponds, but the location is unmistakable.
“Alas, Machinery Hill is no more. Here is a Minneapolis Moline tractor from days gone by.
“There is no mistaking the Agriculture-Horticulture building and one of the many flower gardens at the State Fair.
“In 1959 the Pioneer Woman was replaced by King Neptune at the future location of the Space Tower. Parking was allowed on the Fairgrounds in 1959. A number of classic cars — or simply cars, as they were known back then — can be seen in one photo. Neptune was moved up to Duluth after the State Fair, but unfortunately survived for only a few more years after that.
“’Our State Fair’ (featuring Pat Boone, the singer) from the 1962 film ‘State Fair’:
“’Our State Fair” (featuring Blue Boy, the hog) from the 1945 film ‘State Fair.’”
Now & Then
State Fair Division
From Swedish Princess (“daughter of Grandma J. of Grant”): “Right now at the Fairgrounds, 4-H members are rehearsing a stage show: ‘Candy Shop, Eyes Wide Open.’ I just saw the sneak-preview on Channel 5, and it looks fantastic. I, on the other hand, have the dubious honor of having performed in the worst 4-H Share The Fun skit ever in the history of the organization.
“The year was 1983, and ‘The Muppet Movie’ was still fresh in our hearts. Our club leader was no Neil Simon, but she wrote us a script titled ‘The Muppets’ Picnic,’ hoping to capture that playful spirit of our favorite felt friends. We all made giant papier-mâché heads for costumes. (I was a Twiddle Bug.)
“We were supposed to enter stage-right, singing ‘Movin’ Right Along,’ recite some lines, sing ‘The Rainbow Connection,’ recite more lines, then exit stage-left while singing ‘Movin’ Right Along.’
“Maybe we should’ve had a dress rehearsal. Once we put on our heads, we couldn’t see a thing. So we stumbled out onto the stage, bumping into one another, trying to find where we were supposed to be. And once we started singing, no one could hear us because we were wearing giant papier-mâché heads. We couldn’t hear our cues or each other, either. To the audience, we must have looked like googley-eyed beach balls shambling around in Brownian motion to a boombox playing songs from ‘The Muppet Movie.’ At least no one fell off the stage and got hurt.
“Anyway, get to the 4-H Building this year and see their show. It looks well-rehearsed and is sure to delight.”
Till death us do part
An item in the Permanent Spousal Record maintained by Little Sister: “My husband loves to cook. This has come with distinct advantages and disadvantages over the years. On one hand, it’s always a plus to share the responsibility of getting the family fed and Thanksgiving dinner on the table. On the other, his culinary skills do not dovetail neatly into the clean-up duties that go along with it; nor has he learned the fine art of leaving well enough alone. God love him, he tries his darnedest to improve on recipes, and our house has become home to its own Betty Crocker Test Kitchen.
“His latest obsession has been to find the very best biscuit recipe. He’s scoured websites, cookbooks and watched countless YouTube videos. He says that he puts the most faith in the cooks who are of the church-basement variety he remembers from his childhood: stout and sturdy gray-haired females, with forearms made ample from lifting heavy pots, and aprons spattered with grease.
“Over a recent weekend, our kitchen counters were adorned with a perpetual fine coat of sifted flour and a clutter of baking paraphernalia The oven seemed to run non-stop. I tried to just stay out of the way. After quite a number of discouraging attempts, he happened to notice something on the back of the empty flour bag: a biscuit recipe! Simple, few ingredients, no gimmicks, no videos. With renewed hopes and a new bag of flour, he went to work and turned out the best biscuits we’d ever tasted. I guess I can thank the folks over at General Mills.”
Till death us do part
And: Then & Now & Later
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Yesterday was our 65th wedding anniversary, and we started out the day with a bowl of Wheaties and an orange juice toast. Here’s to another year!
“A grandson was married last Saturday, and a granddaughter will be married in three weeks — and we thought: Wouldn’t it be lovely to know that they would feel as content on their 65th anniversaries, in the year 2083, as their grandparents do today?”
Life at the lake
Chris, “formerly from Falcon Heights, now from beautiful White Bear Lake”: “When you have a cabin, everyone wants to visit. How lucky for us to have seven cousins (our grandkids), two second cousins (my sister’s grandkids), and a random girl from South Dakota spend the day with us.
”The best part of this ‘lineup’ is that when they go back to school in September, they will be (from right to left) in grades, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. How crazy is that?
“Keep up the good work, BB. You’re the best part of the paper.”
Our pets, ourselves
Mom in Boyland: “My dog, Jasper, has few joys in life. One of them is riding in the car with his head out the window, fur blowing in all directions. It was his bliss, until a few days ago. I was driving to my weekly walk around a lake with a friend. The pup (he’s 9, actually, but still such a puppy) was enjoying the ride, window passenger side. I briefly saw him jump to the back of the car and thought nothing of it. When I parked my car, I found he was gone. I realized he had gotten excited when seeing the lake and had jumped out of the window!
“My friend and I drove around hopelessly searching for him. I was tearing up, wondering how I’d tell the kids I had lost the dog, when I got a phone call. A woman had found him walking around the lake by himself. She said he was bleeding around his mouth and eye, and seemed as though he was looking for someone. Such relief! A vet appointment later showed no broken bones to fix or stitches needed. He was just really scraped up.
“The vet wondered if Jasper had fallen or jumped out the window. The opinion in my house is unanimous. He jumped. Ever since a long-ago circus visit, the kids have trained him to jump through hula hoops held high above their heads. As a puppy, he could jump to the top of the Christmas tree to pick off an edible ornament.
“He’s now in a ‘party cone’ for an undetermined time, and, sadly, will no longer enjoy open windows on the open road.”
Plus: Our times
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: (1) “Subject: Try, try again.
“The latest cartoon in my head:
“The drawing is of a finance office, with an applicant being addressed by the loan officer, holding a credit report, who says: ‘Could you possibly steal an identity with a better credit score?’
(2) “Subject: I’m constantly bugged by MCDS.
“I bought a new fly swatter yesterday. Instantly my ‘Made in China Derangement Syndrome’ kicked in. The wire handle, although it was twisted in the traditional way, had the same strength and girth as a paper clip, and with the flimsy plastic web it looked more like a ‘slap-on-the-wrister’ than an ‘insect squisher.’ The price was right, though: two for $1.69. Maybe if you left them fastened together (as they were packaged), there would be enough mass to dispatch a fruit fly. With the decline of paper newspapers to roll up, I fear we will soon be defenseless against insects and naughty pets.”
Now & Then
Gopher Football Division
John in Highland writes: “Subject: Hope Springs Eternal, Rose Bowl Division.
“The current Gophers football coach is playing down expectations for the coming season, citing how young and inexperienced the team will be. To his credit, I have not yet heard him say that he is looking forward to being ‘the next coach to bring the Gophers to the Rose Bowl.’ But maybe he will someday.
“I still have a bad memory of pictures of coach Joe Salem on the sides of Twin Cities buses. He was grinning with a rose in his teeth. At least he could honestly say that as a player he had actually been to the Rose Bowl.
“And who could forget Lou Holtz and his backroom deal with Paul Giel. Lou had an agreement whereby he could make his exit to Notre Dame if he got the Gophers to a bowl, ANY bowl. It seems that Lou had been brainwashed in school by the nuns who had him sing the Irish rouser.
“Ah, but let us not give up hope. I am among those Gophers fans who remember Sandy Stephens running the option, Roger Hagberg and Bill Munsey running for touchdowns, and Julian Hook running down opponents. I’m sure that one day the Gophers will make it back to the Rose Bowl. I just hope that I’m around to see it.”
The Permanent Comradely Record
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Good Old Dave.
“Those of us who were in the service, especially during times of military conflict, know how intense situations bring people closer together. Fellow servicemen, and women, literally became brothers and sisters. [Bulletin Board says: Well, not literally — but we do know what you mean!] Even after their terms of service ended, those bonds were never severed. One buddy I flew with in the Air Force, known back then as the Wild Man, recently passed away. But some of the things we did together will never pass from my memory.
“Dave was born and grew up in the deep South: Birmingham, Alabama. I, on the other hand, came from Chicago. In spite of differences, we had a lot in common. Dave spoke with that readily recognizable Southern drawl. We were stationed together as instructor pilots, training officers to fly in supersonic jet aircraft. Dave not only spoke like a true Southerner, but he was laid back regarding some things. One of these was the required recording of certain flight currency requirements.
“At one point, this lack of evidence that he fulfilled the necessary conditions would ‘ground’ him. So someone would have to fly with him and make sure he was up to date. In any case, I went with him and we were flying over Lake Michigan when Chicago Center requested a position report. The Wild Man, acting as a student, responded with the necessary IPTA: Identity, Position, Time and Altitude. The flight controller at Chicago Center couldn’t understand the report and asked Dave to repeat it. Dave obliged and repeated the report. Again Chicago Center asked him to ‘Say again. . . .’ Dave pressed the mike and reported yet another time. Chicago Center replied again that they could not understand. Finally, after several repetitions of this cycle, the Wild Man said: ‘Just a second there, Chicago Center. I’ve got a Yankee on board!’ I gave the report, and we continued our flight.”
Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?
Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: Plain speaking.
“My wife was explaining something to me and said: ‘It’s as plain as the day on your face.’
“I might have had egg on my face then — sunny-side up.”
Stop the presses! (Look Out Below Division)
Plus: In memoriam
From Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “Subject: Interesting headline.
(2) “Subject: Aretha’s Soul.
“Though I never saw Aretha Franklin in person, she and her music are woven into my life.
“In obituaries we see people’s lives, with their challenges and joys. Her childhood included motherhood at 12 and at 14. I grieve for the sorrows she faced, but rejoice in what she accomplished despite them.
“It seems as if great Voices in our lives deal with massive pain and sorrow. Prodigious souls are able to pull much insight and good from hard times. Despite not being saints.
“Some people rage against their lives, but don’t try to fix what can be improved. I don’t see any good in that. And whiners tend to run out of listeners.
“Aretha’s heart flies free in the songs she left behind. As I hope her spirit does.”
Helena Handbasket: “From a friend’s recent trip out west.
The Permanent Great-Niecely/Great-Nephewly Record
GramB of Nisswa: “Our 3-year-old great-nephew Crosby was recently heard to say to his 5-year-old sister Elsie, ‘Stop with your attitude!’ Excuse me? Love these little ones!”
His world (and welcome to it!)
Tim Torkildson (a.k.a. Tim Troklindson) writes: “Subject: The Old Cracked Sidewalk.
“When I was 6 years old, I ran along the old cracked sidewalk in front of my home, playing tag, tripped, and banged my head on the crumbling cement with enough force to open a ragged wound on my forehead. The blood flow was massive, but harmless, and I gloried in the immediate and intense uproar it caused my friends and parents. A towel was wrapped around my crimson forehead as I was rushed to the family pediatrician’s office over by Loring Park. My mother considered it unseemly to go to a hospital emergency room, full of shot-up gangsters and drug fiends going cold turkey — and back in those relaxed days of the late 1950s, it was still possible to waltz right into a doctor’s office and get stitched up; the doctor gave me two stitches and put me in a narcotic haze that lasted well into the next day.
“And then, six weeks later, during another frenzied game of tag, I tripped again — reopening the scab on my forehead. Another two stitches were required, and after that I began telling all my friends that if I ever banged my forehead again, I would instantly die. I told that fib so often that I came to believe it myself. But that didn’t stop me or my pals from playing on those old cracked sidewalks on 19th Avenue Southeast.
“You really couldn’t roller-skate on those old sidewalks, although we tried with a stubborn persistence that led to dozens of scraped and bloody knees. The elm roots got under the cement to push entire blocks of sidewalk up like a plateau, or crack them in half. Some blocks settled an inch or more into the earth, acting like a catchment area whenever it rained. Even my little sister Linda’s steadfast tricycle upset on those unreliable cement paths — hurling her into elm trunks and prickly shrubbery.
“At some point in the early ’50s, city workers had ineffectively poured asphalt into the largest cracks and chasms. The temperature extremes of the Upper Midwest caused the black stuff to work its way out, adding another barrier to our already bumpy progress —although the hardened asphalt didn’t taste half bad when chewed long enough. Sort of like bubble gum mixed with turpentine.
“Then there was The Hole. On a plate of cement right in front of old Mrs. Henderson’s house, next door to my house, a small hole developed. And no boy has yet been born who can leave a hole alone. I dug at it with twigs at first, then swiped a soup spoon from my mother’s kitchen drawer to widen it out and see how deep I could make it. The earth was loose and sandy. Hydraulic operations were called for. With the help of Wayne Matsuura and Butchy Hogley, I unwound our garden hose to flush out The Hole’s intriguing depths. We got about five feet down, with a geyser of sand and gravel spurting back up at us, before my mother got wind of our illicit mining technique and yelled out the window to Stop That Foolishness Right This Instant. That evening, Mr. Matsuura lugged a bag of Quikrete over to The Hole and emptied the entire contents down into it. But The Hole proved insatiable, so he got a bag of sand out of his garage and poured that down The Hole too. Then he issued strict orders to us bystanders to Leave The Damn Thing Alone. We did, but I can’t help thinking that beneath The Hole there lurked, there may STILL lurk, some kind of cavern crawling with nameless H.P. Lovecraft horrors.
“In the year of Our Lord 1961, the City of Minneapolis finally decided to replace that crummy old sidewalk with a brand-new pour. We kids thought that was great. Our parents, however, felt quite differently. Each household on the block would be dunned 200 smackers for the work. Dire predictions of our imminent departure for the Poor Farm increased exponentially.
“But we kids had a glorious time watching the men with jackhammers come destroy the old cement, tamp down the sandy earth underneath with heavy stone mallets, build little wooden sidewalls the entire length of our block, and then start pouring the gray slurry from the big cement truck. Then a man pushed a machine along the drying cement to slice it up into sections, like a pizza.
“Having seen the ‘I Love Lucy’ episode where she steals John Wayne’s footprints in cement from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre a dozen times, I was determined that my footprints and name would be immortalized in the drying cement in front of my house. But the workers, wise to the ways of little boys, kept waving me away with mighty blue-collar oaths and brandished trowels. I had to wait until after dark one evening to slip out of the house, wearing my Sunday shoes, to do the deed. The cement clinging to my shoes ruined them entirely. And the next morning I discovered that in my haste and nervousness, I had signed myself as ‘Tim Troklindson.’
“My allowance was stopped for a month to help pay for a new pair of Sunday shoes, and my misspelled name remained in front of the house on 19th Avenue Southeast even after I had left the neighborhood to join the circus. A collector of big-top memorabilia, were he or she so inclined, could probably still find my misspelled name there and crowbar the whole shebang out for display at Circus World Museum in Baraboo. Just a suggestion . . .”
Walking the Mall
IGHGrampa reports: “Here are a couple of mall-walking days. I apologize for being lazy and not getting them to you more efficiently. In fact, I have feel a nap coming on right now.
“End of July:
“Today I was sitting on a lounging seat outside one of the department stores and was suddenly distracted by a bunch of people talking near me. It was a gabble of teenagers who must have been in the department store. There must have been 20 or 30. Like teenagers everywhere, they were all talking at the same time — and talking loudly, to be sure they were being heard. It was really somewhat amusing. For several minutes they gabbled right near me; then the group started to break up as groups of them left to see various sights in the mall. Finally there was just a group of adults with a few teens. It must have all been a tour group come to see the big mall.
“August 7, 2018:
“Today I found the Christmas store again. Last time I looked for it, but couldn’t find it. It’s on level one, west street. They have some more of those little bird ornaments. I missed them last time. They have so much stuff, it’s easy to miss something. These were exquisite little birds, decorated with colors and tiny sequins and other pretty little decorations. I was going to get one until I looked at the price: $16.95 for one little bird ornament. I went into sticker shock and carefully put it back on the rack. I may still buy one if the sticker shock ever eases. They sure were pretty little things.
“I walked longer today, maybe trying to toughen myself for going to the Dakota County Fair, in Farmington. Thursday is seniors day: free admission and parking for oldsters like me. I don’t usually stay long; just one walk-through. The amusement park doesn’t interest me. I like to see the farm animals: the horses, cows, pigs, sheep, and the birds. All of the exhibits are good, too. After a walk-through, I like to have a lunch. Food is iffy at the fair. The beer garden is for young gardeners. When I was younger, I could pack in a lot of junk foods without much ill effect. Not anymore. Now I like the standard, non-greasy, non-spicy old-guy foods. I may have to have lunch somewhere else.”
Life as we know it
Al B of Hartland: “The morning was as quiet as a sack of whispers.
“Each and every day, no matter where I am, I’m overwhelmed with joy at the opportunity to see and hear. An hour unmoored, which allows for a walk, brings natural surprises. Delights in discovery. I was taught to search for these things by a family that repeatedly said ‘You never know.’
“We’re all on a short runway. Take time to be amazed. The new will become familiar. Look longer, and the familiar becomes new.”
Band Name of the Day: John Wayne’s Footprints
Website of the Day: Ten Fun Facts About Grauman’s Chinese Theatre