Our cars, ourselves
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: The Falcoon — or: I can’t be out of gas; it’s Wednesday.
“The Ford Motor Company manufactured and marketed a lot of automobiles with names that started with an F. One of them that was actually pretty successful was the Ford Falcon. I saw one at a recent auto show and was reminded about the one we owned in the late ’60s, when I was an Air Force pilot stationed in L.A. — Lower Alabama.
“For whatever reason, the name Falcon morphed into Falcoon, and we called it ‘the Coon’ for short.
“The car was not fancy; nor was it intended to be so. It was a low-priced, functional auto intended to be fuel-efficient and simply to be used for The Good Wife to drive to work and back.
“We purchased this car up in Chicago, our hometown. Because it was a Yankee car, it had been exposed to the salt and other hazards of winter and was not in any way immune to the cancerous rust that literally devoured parts of those autos. It had been in the Chicago area for the first five or six years of its life, and it continued to rust in the heat of the South. It was good enough to get me to the flight line and back every day; The Good Wife took our primary auto to work. Soon enough, the floor under the driver’s feet developed a humongous hole such that you could literally look through it at the ground. A piece of plywood reinforced it — and under a floor mat, it appeared quite normal.
“Back in the ’60s, cars did not last as long as they do today. While there were many malfunctions that needed attention, one other thing that quit working was the fuel gauge. Well, I usually drove it to the flight line, only about three miles or so, and we didn’t use the car much other than for that. I got in the habit of filling the gas tank on Tuesday, and if we drove less than 100 miles during the week, everything would be A-OK!
“This worked for about a year until, for some reason, The Good Wife used it on Wednesday and the Coon died along the roadside. She found a mechanic who looked at the car and said everything appeared to be proper. Could she be out of gas? ‘Oh, no,’ she said. ‘This is Wednesday. It can’t be out of gas.’ The mechanic said: ‘Lady, can I try to add some gas and see what happens?’ The Coon started right up. Guess who forgot to fill the tank on Tuesday?
“We didn’t have a garage to park it in. So it was parked, day after day, under a pecan tree. Now, pecans are exceptionally good eating nuts, but the sap from that tree stained the roof. It was quite sticky, and it attracted road dust and the like. People would ask what that was. I had to tell them I was growing a vinyl roof.
“A number of other things went wrong with the Coon, but it lasted our entire tour down in the Deep South. We eventually traded it in on an International Travelall, which served our purposes at the time much better. That vehicle got named the Goose. But that is another story.”
Our pets, ourselves
The Hastings Crazy Quilter: “Subject: CAT-A-WHAT? CATAHOULA!
“Last March, after almost 14 years of companionship and adventures, we lost our yellow Lab Herc. He was a happy dog, always ready to go for a car ride or a bird walk, always ready to meet new people and walk new paths. Hip dysplasia caught up with him. It was a sad spring and summer for the Naster Maturalist and me.
“After five or six months, we started looking at the Humane Society websites. The good folks at the Coon Rapids Humane Society seemed to have quite a variety and plenty of puppies to choose from. We took a drive up there ‘just to look.’
“One pen had five puppies from the same litter, but each one looked very different from the others; it looked like a ‘leftovers’ collection of puppies. We were assured they were from the same litter, and this was common for the breed. They were Catahoula Leopard Dogs, the official dog of Louisiana, named after Catahoula Parish. They are called Leopard dogs because they are spotted. They can be just about any color of short hair, but always spotted. These puppies were also half Labrador, so their ears were a little larger.
“This bunch of puppies was wrestling around in the pen, a big ball of puppies, with an occasional paw or tail sticking up. After watching them wrestle for a few minutes, my husband pointed at one of the pups and said: ‘Her. She’s the dominant one.’
“I was surprised, because the one he was pointing at was the runt of the litter. As I watched her, though, she walked right up to the biggest puppy, put both her front paws on his back and grabbed his ear!
“We had an introductory ‘meet’ in a small room and decided to take her home with us. Even when she is an adult, she will be considerably smaller than we are used to. And she’s mostly white with chocolate-chip spots of dark brown, three large brown spots on her rump and brown ears.
“She’s been with us for two weeks now, and she is getting more confident and making herself quite at home. She’s figured out how to get up on the sofa and has claimed my favorite spot as hers now.
“But she’s tiny, which we are not used to, and we are eagerly awaiting her growing larger. She is registered for Puppy Kindergarten already and has many adventures in her future.
“The Catahoula was made the official dog of Louisiana in 1979. Minnesota doesn’t have a state dog. If we were to choose a state dog, I’m thinking it would have to be a cold-weather dog — one that would go out with us in the winter and swim in the lakes in the summer.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: If any of you would like to make a case for a Official State Dog of Minnesota, now would be the time!
Our pets, our sisters, ourselves
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: (1) “Subject: Our dog Nancy.
“Oh, those bossy big sisters! Nora manhandles me while Edith makes sure that Nancy is smiling nicely for Dad’s camera.”
(2) “Our dog Nancy lived to be nearly 13 years old, and she stayed a chaste spinster her entire life. She viciously chased away any romantic males who dared to venture onto our property. We moved a lot, and each time we moved to another house, Mother would take Nancy for a walk around the perimeter of our property line. Once is all it took — and after that: Trespassers, beware.
“When we lived in Minneapolis, the only time she left our yard is when my Aunt Ethel would telephone and tell Mom that she was going to walk the mile and a half to Sears and to tell Nancy to be ready and she could go along. Nancy would stand by the sidewalk and start wagging her tail as soon as she spotted Aunt Ethel, but she wouldn’t set a paw on the sidewalk until Aunt Ethel greeted her. She always looked so darned important as she trotted along at her side. Aunt Ethel said Nancy would just stand outside the store until Aunt Ethel came out again.
“When we moved to the country, she had six acres to roam. But I think she missed that ritual with Aunt Ethel.”
Farm living is the life for him!
DebK of Rosemount: “Taxman and I have dedicated the past couple of days to the care and feeding of two home-schooled youngsters whose parents are enjoying their first vacation (without kids) in a quarter-century. Given that the boys live in the shadows of the tall buildings and bright lights of St. Paul, we had some initial concerns about whether the quiet routine of long-in-the-tooth pretend farmers would appeal.
“It appears that we needn’t have worried.
“As I was mixing up overnight waffle batter just now, the 8-year-old visitor slipped out of bed, coming downstairs ostensibly to ascertain the best treatment for cat scratches (inflicted by barn kittens Winston and Clemmie) and to report the dramatic enlargement of a hole in the knee of his pajamas (inflicted by Hamish, the Hungry [puppy]). I dealt efficiently with both matters and then issued a no-nonsense directive to get back to bed, to which the lad responded: ‘It’s just impossible to fall asleep when everything is so EXCITING.'”
Our pets, our pests, ourselves
LeoJEOSP writes: “Recently, we have had seasonal cool temps that make mice seek warmer places. Our garage, which is attached to the house, is a popular place with the local mice. We have two cats, and they love to go into the garage to hunt mice. After a successful hunt, the cats will leave their recently deceased trophies on the steps leading to the house. My theory is the cats are proud of their kill and want to show it off.
“When the cats are in the garage, we leave the door cracked so they can let themselves in. Occasionally, one of the cats will get a live mouse and will come into the house with it.
“After one such incident, the better half was attempting to get the mouse out of the house. The mouse had different ideas and ran up her leg inside her trousers, which consequently caused her to scream in a manner I have never heard before. After five minutes, she successfully threw the mouse into the back yard.”
Trick or Treat!
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Halloween was a big deal in Dayton’s Bluff in the 1960s. As a matter of fact, it still is today. I’ve been scanning more of my dad’s slides and would like to share some photos of Halloweens past.
“In 1960, my brother and I dressed as hobos — or at least what we thought they might look like. Two of my dad’s old white shirts were sacrificed for these costumes. I remember we cut out and sewed the cats and witches ourselves.
“1962 was the peak of our costume creativity. I made a pumpkin head out of chicken wire and orange crepe paper, while my brother went with a cardboard suit of armor. They seemed like a good idea but had terrible sight issues at night. I believe I ended up carrying the head most of the time.
“This was our Trick-or-Treating gang in 1963. From left to right: a much better version of a hobo, my brother as Sherlock Holmes, a Viking fan, and me as a spaceman. One of our neighbors worked at a plastic-manufacturing company and gave us the Viking helmets, which we painted ourselves.
“Halloween wasn’t just for kids. In 1963, my uncle and aunt brought my young cousin for a visit. The reader may decide which one is my uncle and which one is my aunt. Names have been withheld to protect the innocent.
“In 1964, one of our neighbors dressed as a rabbit. She came to our door and just stood there until we figured out who she was. This is Gloria the Overgrown Rabbit, with my mom.
“My dad liked to decorate our front porch with more than just a Jack o’ Lantern. This is his 1964 design. There was usually a speaker hidden somewhere on the porch, connected to a microphone and amplifier inside the house, so my dad could talk to the kids. Also of note in the background is the box for my Marx Moonbase set — but that is a story for another time.”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
John in Highland remembers: “Growing up on Ashland Avenue in the 1950s was always fun. At one point, we counted over 100 kids just on our block, so it was easy to find friends.
“That’s me wearing the suspenders — or ‘spenders,’ as I called them. My friend Jackie is the one in the cowboy outfit, complete with a ‘six-shooter’ in a holster. I love the hat. It looks like the one that singer David Crosby of the Byrds used to wear. I don’t remember the name of the little guy on the right.
“Note that we were wearing tennis shoes. We had to wear ‘dress’ shoes in school, but at all other times we sported ‘tennies.’ There was big-time competition in those days between P.F. Flyers and U.S. Keds for the kids market.
“The best part of growing up in those days was that our parents could ‘shoo’ us out the door of our house, tell us not to come back until dinnertime, and never worry about our safety.”
Then & Now
Thomas Sarff reports: “Subject: Prices have gone up just a bit . . .
“These were listed as Twins 1977 concession prices.”
Al B of Hartland: “Climate is what we expect; weather is what we get.
“Mark Twain gets credit for saying that.
“It’s quite safe crediting Twain, Abe Lincoln, Maya Angelou, Yogi Berra or that guy who delivers softener salt to the house of the neighbor to the east of your barber’s brother-in-law, the one married to his youngest sister, for saying something.
“Robert Heinlein might have been the one to write it exactly that way.”
Ask Bulletin Board (responsorial)
In the Bulletin Board of October 1st, we ran Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake’s picture of the paddlewheeler America; Mr. Nelson hoped someone could provide more information about it. We presently heard from The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “The paddlewheel boat America was added to the American Cruise Lines fleet in 2014. There are several cruises of various rivers, with various destinations and various lengths of time — as you can imagine. What you probably can’t imagine is the average price ($400 to $500 per person per night). They never do seem particularly overcrowded. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been sitting on our balcony with friends when one goes by, and they say: ‘We should do that sometime.’ It’s like a hotel floating through your back yard. They are a real treat to see and have a ghostly aura about them (especially at night).
“Viking Cruise lines had been exploring the idea of having their modern European river boats start touring the Mississippi, but abandoned the plan recently due to costly docking facilities and permit complications. American appears to be considering more modern Euro-style cruisers that would solve that problem with retractable gangplanks.
“Life on the river: Something’s always going by.”
Email from the Sunshine State: “Subject: Of Mice and Men? Nope. Of Men and Turkeys!
“Forced off route home, way out of the way because of construction . . . through a quiet, wooded area, not much around.
“Then I saw it. Or is it I saw THEM? Three, four, five, six, seven, eight? Birds crossing the road. I got a good look at them. All female . . . ALL TURKEYS.
“Wild turkeys? Farmed? Couldn’t say. But DEFINITELY FEMALE, just strutting across the road in single file! I was amazed! They didn’t try to fly, so I’m guessing domestic turkey.
“They varied in size. Smallest crossed last, following the biggest bird. They were near a couple of homes in that area, but they crossed from a wooded area, free from structures of any sort.
“I didn’t have a camera with me. And I didn’t get out to ask why they crossed the road. The answer was obvious: They had somewhere else to go, where the biggest one wanted to be.
“Life’s full of detours. Sometimes, they take you down a bumpy road. Other times, they lead you into a flock of turkeys.
“Transplanted — in Florida, hiding from pelicans and looking for turkey farms.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Ms Mae of the Park: “On Sunday, I was reading a front-page story In the Business & Jobs section of the Pioneer Press and was directed to turn to ‘Job Growth 4D.’ Alas, I didn’t find an article titled ‘Job Growth,’ but ‘Jog Growth.’ I seem to find more typos and misspellings in the SPPP each day.
“I noticed ‘Fred Basset’ was not in the comics on Monday. I know he wasn’t one of the more popular comics, but his adventures in sneaking sausages and playing soccer with the Tucker Twins were more interesting than Garfield’s lay-about lifestyle. Maybe with the money saved by dropping ‘Fred Basset’ from the paper, they can hire a damn proofreader now.”
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “My Major League Baseball Page-a-Day calendar provided this ‘FACT’ for October 23: ‘Bob Torley of the Yankees became the first American League pitcher to win a Cy Young Award in 1958.’
“I was a Yankees fan before the arrival of the Twins in 1961, and I knew the correct spelling was ‘Turley.’ I checked baseball-reference.com to confirm that I was right.
“‘E’ on the calendar maker.”
Donald: “Subject: TMI!
“From ‘SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE’ in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated: ‘Charles Barkley has not worn underwear in 10 years.’”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “How bad are the political attack ads this year?
“Muting an ad is no longer enough. You have to change the station to get away from them.
“I have never been so appreciative of ads for laxatives, etc.”
Could be verse!
Headline News Division
A “Timerick” from Tim Torkildson: “Headline in the Washington Post: ‘Dorcas Reilly, inventor of the green bean casserole, has died at 92.’
“When it comes to processed soul,
“there’s nothing like a casserole.
“Made with love and Elmer’s glue,
” ’tis easier than stirring roux.
“Any clumsy nincompoop
“can mix green beans with mushroom soup!”
The Permanent Sistersly Record
MA of Kasson reports: “It was time for the sisters’ annual reunion to the Williams cabin in the Superior National Forest. It is between Grand Maris and Grand Portage.
“When we are at home, we enjoy watching Ree Drummond, the Oklahoma Pioneer Woman on the Food Network. She tells of her adventures in gardening, cooking and life in general. Since there is no cable TV in the forest, we role-played. We became the Pioneer Women of Nordeast Minnesota.
“Most of our adventures in the forest happened on our way to, and from, the ‘neighbors’ ‘ for happy hour.
“We prepared many wonderful meals. Wonder if Ree Drummond ever fixed Vomacka, a Czech soup, or a Pasty. Rhymes with nasty.”
Lost . . . and found!
Bloomington Bird Lady: “Subject: Don’t be distracted!
“It’s an upsetting, bewildering experience when you lose something important and never realized it was gone.
“I have a lovely friend whom I visit every two weeks as a volunteer from our church. I
bring her communion; we sing, we laugh and just enjoy our hour together. I got in the habit of not carrying my purse along, as she lives less than a mile away; I’d been taking my driver’s license out of my wallet and carrying it in the back pocket of my jeans. I’d come home, put it back in my wallet again . . . no problem.
“Since my friend is home-bound, she is always at her kitchen table with her small TV, disposable dishes, her newspaper, and anything she might need during the day, all within her reach. She has someone who comes during the early evening to help with shopping, showering, getting ready for bed, etc. Since she can’t get up from her wheelchair quickly to answer a doorbell, I always call five minutes before I leave home, and she uses a remote to open her garage door for me.
“I was getting ready to call her, and about to take my driver’s license from my wallet to put in my pocket. Unzipped the wallet . . . and no license! My heart flipped a couple of times. What in the heck had happened to it? And with two years before it expired! No time for searching then, so I drove without it, and we had our usual visit. I was a tad distracted during that hour, to say the least.
“The search began. Felt in every pocket in every pair of slacks or jeans that I have. Nothing! I even looked in the washer and dryer. Nothing! I dreamed that night about searching, and then continued the next day, racking my brain for where that license had gone. Birdman said: ‘We’ll go and get you another one this week.’ Sure . . . but I’d like to have the lost one, for heaven’s sake.
“Right then ‘something’ told me to look under the couch cushions. Nothing. Then I put my hand down into the crevice between the cushions and the back of the couch — you know, that place with all the crumbs and grit? I felt as far down as possible, and there it was, ugly picture of me and all.
“I felt so thankful for whatever guided my hand. Called my friend, told her ‘I found it!’ and put the darn thing back in my wallet.
“Sometimes we need to learn the hard way.”
What is right with people?
KMarie: “Subject: The goodness of small towns.
“At a recent bridal shower, I was talking to Kayla, a friend of the bride-to-be, asking about her career and where she was from.
“‘Dunkerton,’ she said. ‘You probably never heard of it.’
“I replied: ‘We love Dunkerton. We stopped at the Kwik Shop there for years when we’d do overnight drives from Davenport to Northern Minnesota. One year in the early ’90s, our boat trailer had serious problem. This was late on a Friday during a horrible thunderstorm. We asked at Kwik Shop if we could park the boat, then come back in the morning when a repair shop would be open. Instead, the Kwik Shop attendant called a guy who said to bring the boat over; he’d fix it that night.’
“Kayla interrupted me to say this story was giving her goosebumps.
“I continued: ‘So we went to a house, where a man came out in the pouring rain and repaired our wheel, while his young son peered over his shoulder the whole time. The man would not take money, and simply sent us on our way to enjoy our vacation, which we did!’
“That man was Kayla’s father, and the curious little boy was her brother.
“So here’s a belated thank you, through Kayla, to the man who saved our vacation that stormy night all those years ago!”
Or: Out of the mouths of defensive linemen
Helena Handbasket: “Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, regarding returning to New York to face his former team last Sunday: ‘Whatever personal vendetta I have is between me.'”
Out of the mouths of babes
Mary M reports: “This morning, my stepdaughter dropped off her little boy — our grandson, who is 4 years old — for us to watch while she went to work.
“My stepdaughter proceeded to tell me about a dream this 4-year-old had last evening:
“He told his mom and dad: ‘I am so glad you picked me, because in heaven I was waving my hand saying “Pick me! Pick me!” And nobody wanted me, and you picked me!’ Mom and Dad said: That is because we love you so much. A tearful moment for everyone.
“While the story was being told to me this morning, the 4-year-old was acting shy — but was smiling.
“Everyone dreams, but this was quite a dream for a 4-year-old.”
Band Name of the Day: The Overgrown Rabbits
Website of the Day: A recipe for Vomacka