The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “When my sister Nora and I were the last two at home, we decided maybe it was time to get Mom some matching dishes. She had started collecting Betty Crocker silverware in the Queen Bess pattern, and she seemed quite smitten with it. That matching silverware really needed something better to accompany it than those few surviving Movie Dish Night dishes from the ’30s that she blended in with the dish premiums from Red Owl and the A&P — plus the dishes she had started collecting from inside her oatmeal boxes.
“So, one October on their anniversary, Nora and I and her boyfriend (eventual husband) each pitched in $10, and we bought them a complete set of MATCHING dishes. The following Christmas, I bought Mother a set of stemmed goblets to replace the hodgepodge assortment of jelly glasses we were using for glassware.
“Nora and I felt like we were dining in luxury that last year before we each were married. Dinnertime was beautiful and peaceful. Dad was content and enjoying life; he was back acting in summer stock in the local theaters, so our table talk no longer centered on carpenter stories. He was happy gazing up at his precious ‘scalps’ that he had scalloped for the crown molding in the beautifully paneled kitchen and didn’t give a hoot what dishes he was eating off of.
“Mother was just happy that Dad had finally dug a cistern, so she now had running water coming out of those faucets in her brand-new kitchen sink to wash the dirty dishes, whatever they looked like, and each night as long as we girls lived at home, she dutifully set the table with her new dinnerware. But I guess maybe Mother wasn’t quite as thrilled as we were, because a few years after each of us were married and had houses with dining rooms and china cabinets, Mom decided to clean out her cupboards and presented Nora with the dishes and returned all the glassware to me.
“Now we were all happy. I had the goblets I loved, Nora had the dishes she and her future husband had admired. And Mother? She was happy as a clam using her old dishes and jelly glasses and looking forward to each new dish premium that came in her box of oatmeal.”
Life as we know it
Mavis of Roseville (“formerly Mavis of Little Canada”): “It’s been a long time since I last wrote to Bulletin Board. My source of Cute Kid Stories has dried up, to my sorrow. Now it’s Off to College, which may or may not be a source of interest. We shall see.
“But life has changed for my husband and me.
“We had become aware of how owning our home had changed from a life of comfort and satisfaction to one of work and dissatisfaction. Cutting the grass brings a bit of resentment: ‘I’d rather be reading a good book.’ A doctor’s admonition — ‘Don’t climb any more ladders’ — means no more pruning, spraying or picking the apple trees. A sore back puts an end to the care of the raspberries, as well as shoveling snow. Running up and down the basement stairs to do the laundry now meant pulling myself up by the railing and suffering a sore hip for a day or so after. Even changing a light bulb in the ceiling meant calling one of our children.
“Awhile back, we had visited a few senior housing buildings and even put our names on a couple of waiting lists. But waiting times seemed long, and so such ideas were put on the back burner. We occasionally hired outside help for a project or two, but, being such do-it-yourself people, that didn’t sit well with us.
“Then, out of the blue, came a phone call: ‘We have an apartment available for you, if you want it.’
“Oh — oh — oh my! What a shock! How can I convince my man that we should take it? How can we downsize 50 years of living in our home?
“Our daughter said: ‘Mom, we’ll make it happen!’ And, with our two sons, they did make it happen —in one month!
“One Saturday, our two sons completely emptied the workshop and garage. Some items went to the Dumpster, some to organizations like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. Power tools, other tools, silver, china and some furniture went to family members.
“We did hire a company to pack everything we were taking with us. They also unpacked at the apartment. So when moving day was over, we walked into an apartment with the furniture placed where we wanted it to go; the bed was made, towels were hung up and the TV and computer were hooked up!
“My man looked around and said quietly: ‘Oh, this is nice.’ This from the man who had said: ‘No way am I moving out of our house.’
“It’s all been uphill from there. We’ve met new people, attended programs, exercise classes, book club, pool table, bridge, boat rides, etc. We’ve never felt even a bit of homesickness or longing for our former lifestyle. Other people we’ve met say the same.
“The moral of this story is: Don’t be afraid of making the change. It’s all good.”
Gee, our old La Salle . . . still runs great!
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Old oaks and acorns.
“I’m sitting last-in-line at Dick’s barber shop. If you’ve read previous contributions, you know that Dick’s is an Olde Time establishment. It’s across the river from the Wisconsin Riviera. The hair he sweeps up every night is mostly gray. There is no need to instruct this barber as to how you want the job done; all that’s necessary is a reminder from The Runabout: Don’t forget the eyebrows.
“Dick’s place is nostalgia without the extinction. Not like a blacksmith shop in Simi Valley, but more like a bar that still has a pay phone.
“A little guy is here today (with his dad), a seedling in this old-growth forest. I remember being in his place not long ago. I bet he’ll reminisce about today in a few quick decades.
“There is waiting space for six at Dick’s, and soon I am number five instead of last. Then the ‘I’ll be back’ guys started pivoting at the door. We are a congenial bunch of brothers in waiting, and will miss each other when it’s our time to go. ”
Booklady: “Some much-delayed observations:
“Recently the Lighthouse Nut and I had the opportunity to attend a family wedding in Portland, Oregon. We decided to make it a road trip. In the course of our adventures, we logged over 4,000 miles, visited two national parks (Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt) plus the Black Hills, attended a gorgeous wedding on the slopes of Mt. Hood, where our grandkids and assorted relatives had a snowball fight, and sat through a two-hour traffic stop near Spokane, Washington, watching planes try to douse the wildfire encroaching on the road we traveled.
“An unexpected pleasure was discovering that my brother and sister-in-law were camping near Rapid City. They offered us their super-duper guided tour through Custer State Park, where we were surrounded by bison — when we weren’t being pounded by heavy rain and nickel-sized hail. They insisted on taking us on the Iron Mountain Road; I demurred. Fifty-seven years ago, our dad treated us to the most horrifying drive on that same road. My sister may still have scars from my nails in her arm. My brother’s rebuttal to my refusal: ‘I want you to experience it with someone sane driving.’ (It was an entirely different experience.)
“It was so beastly hot that we surrendered and came home four days early. Since we came back, we have enjoyed watching migrating (Tennessee?) warblers sampling the berries on our Mountain Ash tree, and puzzled over the fawn who is hanging out with two young bucks. Even though Spike and Nubbin frequently threaten the young’un, it just keeps coming back for more. Anyone have an idea what’s going on? Did the mom die, perhaps?
“Bottom line: Wherever we go, we find many things to enjoy, and that includes what we discover in our own back yard!”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede writes again: “I have been thankful for the nice rains we have had here lately, especially when compared to the destructive rains just south of us. The most recent showers, followed by sun the next morning, let me get these ‘bejeweled’ flower photos in my yard.
“The first one is a seed dahlia.
“And I don’t remember what this little lilac-color petaled plant is. [Bulletin Board says: Looks like phlox!]
“A different seed dahlia had these little rows of droplets along one edge of many of the petals — an interesting result, making me wonder how and why they formed this way.
“One of my late-blooming hostas was in the sun so I could capture this blossom. I like the purple tinge in the petals.
“It is always fun to find things that seem kind of unusual in their beauty.”
Could be verse!
5/7/5 Division (Illustrated Subdivision
A trio by Tim Torkildson:
The thrill of victory!
Your Bulletin Browser of West St. Paul: “Now with the end of summer and the school year started, let us not forget the summertime thrills.
“This is a picture of pure joy, as it’s been said, for our grandson Edward Moore, coming home to his teammates after hitting a home run at their Cooperstown Little League games at the end of July. These are the moments that last a lifetime and will be sure to bring about many stories.”
The best State Fair in our state!
This year’s edition of the Great Minnesota Get-Together has pulled up stakes — but as every Minnesotan knows, our State Fair is never really over! The stories are still coming in, including this one from Dolly Dimples: “The Great Minnesota-Get-Together has always figured prominently in my life. Besides attending the Fair daily in my childhood, I had a Wow! experience there in my 20s.
“I was a student at St. Paul School of Art, and our instructor, Cameron Booth, had given us an assignment to sketch scenes in St. Paul and then create a painting from what we had drawn. The Minnesota State Fair was gearing up to open in a few weeks. They were accepting entries in the art gallery, so one day Mr. Booth suggested that some of us should submit the paintings we had done. There was no guarantee they would be — but nothing ventured, nothing gained. So we got busy framing our pictures, attaching wires on the backside for hanging, wrapping them and delivering them to the Fairgrounds on a certain day and time. I could hardly wait for the Fair to open. Maybe, just maybe, I’d find that my painting was selected to be displayed.
“Opening day: I didn’t waste any time getting to the art gallery. There, among many others, hung my landscape — and with a lavender ribbon on it saying ‘Honorable Mention.’ Glory! Hallelujah! Was I elated! My name was in the little catalog they printed, too.
“I have shown some of my work since that memorable year, but nothing thrilled me like that first showing of my creation.”
And this one from Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “I have been writing to the Bulletin Board for so long (early 1990s!) that I can’t recall if I have already written in about a certain memory or not. But maybe even if I have, there are new readers for my old memories!
“It’s been fun to see those color slides of the Fair back in the 1960s, and they’ve jogged my brain.
“I recall my mother taking me to the Fair alone, without my older brother and sister along. They had gotten to the age where they went to the Fair with their friends and no longer wanted to be with Mom. A group of kids could head off to the Fair without parents at a lot younger of an age back then, and be safe, or so we thought.
“Anyway, I think my mother knew that that day or year would soon arrive for me as well, and she must have decided to train me in. I distinctly remember her coaching me to count my money after buying tickets for rides or at a game booth, and telling me this was necessary because the ‘carnies’ were known for short-changing people. The memory is so clear, in fact, that I can even picture the little coin purse I had along.
“It was the first time I recall being told that people were out to rip me off, and it seemed a disappointing fact to learn about the ways of the world.
“A similar warning from Mom came when we passed the game booths with vendors calling out to us, trying to get us to try a hand at their particular game. She told me that many of the games were rigged and I should be wary of wasting my money at those.
“The following summer at the Crow Wing County Fair, I spotted a booth with a sign that said: ‘Win a bear EVERY TIME!!!’ Here was my big chance! No one could rip me off if it said you’d win a bear EVERY TIME! I believe it was a shooting gallery with little ducks swimming across. And I shot one! I had won! I could hardly wait to choose my stuffed bear from the colorful collection hanging above. Of course, the guy reached under the counter and gave me a stupid tiny plastic bear. As Charlie Brown used to wail: ‘Arrrghh!’ 😫
“Still, I held out hope that someday I’d have a boyfriend who could win me a big stuffed animal, like those lucky teenage girls I’d seen around the Fair. (That never did happen for me!)”
The best State Fair in our state! (responsorial)
DebK of Rosemount: “The State Fair recollections of Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff got me to meditating on Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand,’ that economic force by which ‘voluntary trade in a free market produces unintentional and widespread benefits.’ Let me explain.
“Clay County, Iowa, had (has) its own famous fair, so we Dunn kids never felt the need to travel to a state fair — Iowa’s or Minnesota’s — to get our fill of Tom Thumb Donuts or to encounter shady characters of the kind who operated Midway rides and concessions in those days. Come to think of it, though we lived only one county away, Mom and Dad took us across the border into Minnesota only a couple of times — once for a family reunion in Luverne, which ended very badly, and once to visit our Aukus cousins in Steen. That didn’t go well, either, for Aunt Alice Aukus was a churchy sort of woman who rubbed our free-thinking dad the wrong way. But back to the subject at hand.
“Gregory J. included in his array of Minnesota State Fair photos a display by the Toni Company, for which his dad worked. As I read the caption provided for that photo, I was struck by the mysterious truth that the late-August back-to-school rituals that my sisters and I endured in Northwest Iowa made possible young Gregory J.’s enjoyment of the Minnesota State Fair.
“Generally speaking, Mom was a laissez-faire parent. But she was fanatical about afflicting her daughters with Toni Home Permanents — likely using kits produced by Gregory J.’s father all the way in St. Paul. Every year, just before the launching of a new school year, Mom loaded us — and the requisite number of Toni perm kits — into the back seat of our sedan du jour and set off for O’Brien County, specifically to Aunt Florene’s or Grandma Bobzien’s. They were our only close relatives with running water, a modern convenience that facilitated the home-perming operation. Several hours later, we girls were returned to Clay County, reeking of permanent wave solutions and much in need of Tame Crème Rinse and Dippity-Do Hair Setting Gel, beauty products which were stocked at Dave’s Store, again thanks in part to the labors of Gregory J.’s dad. We needed Adorn Hair Spray, too, but Mom was an Aqua Net woman — Extra Super Hold. Which means that the Invisible Hand made possible cotton candy purchases and Tilt-a-Whirl rides for some other kid at some other state fair. Oh, the wonder of it all!”
The best State Fair in our state!
The Feline Fanatic: “Hello!
“It’s been a very long time since I’ve submitted anything. I do love lurking, though.
“I’d meant to send this in a couple weeks ago, but kept getting waylaid. I’m still working on the archeological dig that was my late parents’ house. Just when I think I’m getting sorted, more ‘treasures’ are found. And while the house wasn’t a hoarder’s nightmare, there were very few things that Mom could part with, it seems.
“Imagine my surprise finding a Fair Special insert from August 1997 featuring a Serial Novel, ‘Murder-on-a-Stick,’ written by 10 of the best and brightest writers of the Pioneer Press, with illustrations by Kirk Lyttle.
“Writers included were: Rick Shefchik, Larry Millett, Jim McCartney, David Hawley, Alex Leary, Karen Chatman, Deborah Locke, Theresa Monsour, Lynda McDonnell and Jim Ragsdale. [Bulletin Board says: May he rest in peace. He was a beauty!] I recognized almost all the authors’ names and recall reading their pieces in the daily news. Of course, that was then, this is now and — to the best of my knowledge — none of them are at the paper anymore. [Bulletin Board says: You are, sadly, correct.]
“The premise centers around corporate greed, stealing trade secrets, questionable food choices, along with murder and attempted murder, all culminating in the take-down at the Fair.
“Not sure if this literary masterpiece is available anywhere else. I, for one, will hang on to it for a little while longer.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “I rarely send in errors that appear in our local newspaper (we all know the one), because finding them is like shooting fish in a barrel nowadays.
“However, after much consideration I decided the following one is worth noting, due to its uniqueness. A sub-headline in the August 28 Sports section reads: ‘G’ ophers’ bowl hopes depend on scoring boost.’ To the paper’s credit, the second apostrophe is used correctly, but I don’t know what to make of the first one. It would almost make sense if G’ophers was a proper noun in a fake alien foreign language such as Klingon or Vulcan, but the added space would still be wrong.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: No, no, no. Klingon is FULL of added spaces — and not just in Klingon newspaper headlines.
The Permanent Sisterly Record (responsorial)
Garden Goddess of Apple Valley: “Follow-up on DebK of Rosemount’s canning 57 jars of wild grape jam.
“Hmmm . . . 57 jars of wild grape jam?
“I remember when we first moved out here from Richfield. That first fall, I gleaned the woods of everything remotely edible. Pin cherries, gooseberries . . . I was thrilled with the strong cherry taste of the native black cherry, and the trees were EVERYWHERE loaded with the tiny fruits. I picked a big bowlful, set them on the stove with the measured amount of water, ready with my food mill, SureJell and prepared half-pint jars. As the dark red mass came to a boil and began to simmer, I was dismayed and horrified to see hundreds . . . well, maybe not hundreds, but A LOT of tiny white worms cooking in the kettle along with the little cherries.
“No easy way to hide that unwelcome addition to a gift jar of wild cherry jelly.”
The “joy” of juxtaposition
KH of White Bear Lake: “Subject: The misery of juxtaposition.
“After an ER visit requiring 20 staples to put my head back together, I turn on the TV and see an ad for STAPLES (office supply stores).”
Long ago and far away
Jimbo of Inver Grove Heights writes: “I just finished watching ‘$100,000 Pyramid,’ and one of the celebrity stars was Rita Moreno. It reminded me of when I was in the Army and stationed at Beale Air Force Base in California.
“They had really bad flood in the cities of Marysville and Yuba City, and they called us out to fight it, and they said we saved the two towns, so they threw a big party for us, and one of the entertainers was Rita Moreno, and she was great.
“This was in 1955 or 1956. Brings back some great memories.”
BULLETIN BOARD ADVISES: Don’t miss today’s Website of the Day!
What is right with people?
The Astronomer of Nininger reports: “Subject: Minnesota Nice. [Bulletin Board interjects: We saw a T-shirt at the State Fair that made us smile. Maybe even laugh; we can’t remember for sure. It said “Minnesorta Nice.”]
“One does not subscribe to the daily newspaper for any sublime philosophical content, yet reading in depth some articles and skimming others is eagerly anticipated by the Good Wife and yours truly — understanding that delivering the daily paper is not the most rewarding form of employment, neither in total compensation, nor in the early hours that must be kept in order to deliver it by the time most people expect it, nor putting up with some of the customers who can never be adequately served, which must cause vexation that cannot be readily soothed.
“But somehow we came to be blessed with a carrier who truly is worth her weight in gold. She has never just dropped the paper alongside her dark-blue Hyundai, on the run, while passing through the circular driveway on two wheels. Instead, she actually stops at the front sidewalk, unbuckles, walks up to the front door and places it carefully, almost ceremoniously, where I can reach it without stepping outside. Now, the Good Wife and I do try to tip reasonably, but there is no reason for her to treat us so well — unless, of course, she is a shining example of Minnesota Nice.
“Now, our driveway is about the length of the Vikings’ field, and often we find, too, that our postal carrier is Minnesota Nice. He actually calls me by name, and instead of dumping packages curbside, he brings them to our door.
“The Good Wife and I know not what we did to deserve such friendly treatment by our postal and newspaper carriers; we think it is not that we merit such almost-royal
treatment, but that we simply recognize that there are many people out there who are
Minnesota Nice. Maybe we all just need to recognize them and be thankful.”
The darnedest things (responsorial)
The most recent Bulletin Board included a short story from Grandma J. of Grant:
“Warning: cute grandchild story.
“Our Minnesota granddaughter, ‘the 8-year-old philosopher,’ told Grandpa the other night: ‘I just couldn’t get to sleep last night. I laid my head on my pillow and told myself, “Now I’m going to go to sleep” . . . and then I started thinking, “What is the meaning of life?”‘
We presently heard from Joe@#2: “I wonder if all 8-year-olds wonder about the meaning of life.
“Sadly, whenever I hear that question, ‘What is the meaning of life?,’ I’m reminded of my 8-year-old nephew. Sitting with his family at the dinner table one night a few months after his younger brother suddenly died, this sweet boy asked out of the blue: ‘What is the meaning of life, if we’re just going to die anyway?’ It broke my heart then and now.
“Sometimes when a family suffers a tragedy, we can forget that the other children are grieving, too. This boy had a birthday in the midst of the memorial service and gatherings, and looking back at those birthday photos, I can see this faraway look in his pale face.
“Fortunately, nobody forgot about him, and he grew into a wonderful, sensitive, talented young man who knows well how much he is loved. I’m sure he’s been discovering the meaning of life all along his journey.
“Hug your kids (and grandkids)!”
The Permanent Granddaughterly Record
Or: The simple pleasures
Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “Last week, I celebrated my 88th birthday. Among the many blessings I have received is a lovely mobile installed in my living room by the youngest of my 12 grandchildren: Miss Lily. It consists of five colorful airplanes made of construction paper and attached to the blades of my ceiling fan by 12-inch lengths of twine. When the fan is on and the planes take off, the cat and I enjoy this simple pleasure.”
The Permanent Grandchildrenly Record
Allie’s Baby: “Subject: Shadow kids.
“Two years ago, Bulletin Board published a similar picture of these three grandkids having fun at the Guthrie Theater. Back then, the youngest was able to do the same pose with his leg lifted straight up, but now it’s done effortlessly and often. There’s a year of college under the belt for granddaughter in the middle, and recent foot surgery for our basketball player, which added a new dimension to the photo with her crutch.
“Wonder if their older brother will ever consent to making my collection of pictures from the Guthrie a quartet? With a Bulletin Board-happy Grandma, not likely!”
The darnedest things
WARNING! Cute kid stories ahead, from Peg of the North: “My son and daughter-in-law had a baby girl in June. Their 3-year-old son, Leo, was not sure how this would change his life. On the way to the hospital to meet his new sister, he said: ‘I don’t even want to see her!’ Within minutes of meeting Emma, he was smiling broadly at the camera, baby sister in his arms.
“The next week, my daughter-in-law took Emma to pick up Leo at his day care. When Leo saw Emma, he gushed: ‘Hi, little sister! You are so cute! Did you miss me?’ Then he looked up and said: ‘Mom, what’s her name again?’
“One night at dinner, Leo kept referring to Emma as ‘Enna.’ After several corrections by his parents and siblings — ‘Her name is EMMA’ — Leo said: ‘Why can’t we all just agree to call her Enna?’”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Not a bad idea. When Leo grows up and has children of his own, they can call her Aunt Enna.
Say, that reminds us: Bulletin Board used to have a contributor who went by the name of Aunt Enna — unheard from in ages now. Do you suppose she (or, of course, he) is still out there somewhere?
Band Name of the Day: Fake Alien Foreigners
Website of the Day: Yuba City Floods (1955)