Where we live
Gregory of Dayton’s Bluff: “Subject: The forgotten Ice Palace.
“There have been many Winter Carnival Ice Palaces built since the first one was constructed in 1886. We see pictures of them every year at Winter Carnival time — but one is usually forgotten, probably because it didn’t look like any other Ice Palace before or since. It was the Ice Court of 1938, built in Dayton’s Bluff.
”The 1938 Ice Court consisted of an Art Deco design with an ice throne in front of two huge disks, the taller being 60 feet in height. An ice-skating rink in front of the grand ice staircase measured 100 feet by 300 feet.
“The Ice Court’s location is often misstated as being either in Indian Mounds Park or in the Bluff Playground. It was actually located in a large empty lot at Plum Street and Mounds Boulevard. The construction of I-94 destroyed most of this area, but the actual spot where the Ice Court was built survived and has since been annexed to Mounds Park.
“Here are three postcards of the 1938 Ice Court — showing it in daylight, at night, and in a tinted version of the night photo, although according to a newspaper article from the time, the artist took considerable liberties with the colors.”
Our theater of seasons
A pair of photo-essays from Mounds View Swede:
(1) “After snow-blowing the driveway, I started on the short walk to the front door and heard a ‘thunk,’ then saw torn papers being blown out of the blower. Apparently a phone book had been delivered and just plopped on the walk, where it became buried in the snow. The snow was even and smooth, so there was no sign something else was buried there. I had never thought or wondered what a snowblower would do with a phone book, but it did a good job of totally destroying it.
“I wheeled out the recycling container and parked it near this shrub and began picking up scraps of paper. The breeze periodically picked up and sent the scraps skittering across the yard. I decided I wasn’t going to chase them. Spring will be soon enough to catch the wayward pieces.
“I liked how the sunlight put a line of light across the top of the snow on these oak branches.
“And I liked how the snow decorated the back-yard fir tree. This is when it looks the best to me.”
(2) “With our fresh snow came fresh tracks to see. I assume these are from a squirrel heading to a large oak tree. I was also noticing the snow sparkles here and there, and it made me wonder how they come to be. What is different about the speck of snow to get it to sparkle?
“Except they seem to go right past the tree.
“The shadow patterns were interesting to me as well.
“The back yard had its own tracks, and they looked very different from the ones in the front yard. Any animal-track experts out there with some idea what animal would cause this?
“Brr is coming! Stay warm, BBers!”
Our theater of seasons (CAUTION! Words at Play Division!)
Plus: Then & Now
Gregory of the North: “Being that zero equals nothing, I couldn’t help but think that there’s recently been much ado about nothing. (Sorry! I just couldn’t resist.) [Bulletin Board interjects: Much ado about way less than nothing! Didn’t try to resist.]
“My beautiful wife and I were talking this morning about how the current electronic media outlets catastrophize winter weather these days. When I was growing up, we walked to grade school and high school (there were no buses), and we went regardless of the temperature or snow. I distinctly recall walking to school when the temperature was -20, because my dad made such a notable deal about it. He worked outside at the Great Northern Railway in those days, so bundling up was necessary for him. And so I’d be bundled up to walk to school. There were no down jackets or heated boots in those days. We just put sweaters on over our shirts, and wool coats over that. We also made ample use of scarves and headgear. I remember the mittens having been woven by my aunt, made of woolen yarn. Galoshes that were put over your shoes kept your feet dry and warm. And in spite of this, we maintained the school dress code of cotton shirts and slacks (not jeans) with oxford shoes for the boys, and skirts or dresses for the girls, although they were allowed to wear tights or woolen leggings, the latter of which had to be removed during class hours. We all survived just fine in the cold, and the snow always seemed much deeper in those days. (Remember putting chains on the back wheels of cars to improve traction?) And no one shouted how awful it was; it was just a normal Minnesota winter.
Our theater of seasons
Little Sister: “Like most sane people, my thoughts are turning to spring. Despite the ominous forecast for the coming week, I hold on to whatever shreds of hope I can muster that winter will pass. Among these are knowing that every trace of Christmas has been thoroughly swept from my house, glimmers of daylight remain past 5:30 in the afternoon, and Valentine decor now brightens every Big Box store. When chocolate bunnies replace chocolate hearts on the shelves, I know we’ve really turned a corner.
“To make these cabin-fever days more productive, I’ve been sorting through and digitalizing my dad’s old slides. At last count, there were over 650 I’d uploaded. This does not count the many scenery shots discarded that were lacking any sign of humanity. One picture of Mount Rushmore is adequate, not half a dozen from varying angles. It’s evident Dad thought that more was better.
“Most of the slides were taken during the 1950s through the ’70s and chronicle the passing chapters in our family members’ lives. The photo I’m sharing is one that not only feeds my nostalgic nature, but intensifies my yearning for spring. (It also reminds me of how much I hate wearing hats of any kind. The fuzzy one I have on in the picture was itchy where it tied under my chin, and the static made my hair stand on end when I took it off.)
“There was a low spot between some trees on our farm that was a glorious collection of melting snow, usually making an appearance in late March or early April. Most springs, we could count on at least a couple feet of icy water at its deepest point — which provided endless entertainment opportunities for us kids. We would take turns poling our way around in a makeshift raft on warm days, or daring each other to take off our rubber boots and socks and see who could endure wading around in the muck the longest. Sometimes we would put on our skates and race across when freezing temperatures left behind a rink sturdy enough to hold us. I was insulted that my older brothers were instructed to keep an eye on me, because I knew my mother kept watch on the whole scene from her vantage point at the kitchen window.
“I’ve always had a love and fascination with water, and that first spring pond stirred up the anticipation of long summer afternoons spent swimming in the lake that was within walking distance. I remember thinking that if it warmed up enough, we could surely swim in our snow pond!
“Today, I’ll have to settle for watching the hardy winter robins out my kitchen window, while they roost in the crabapple trees and make a meal out of the remaining dried fruit. I can only pretend that they just returned from balmy points south and that spring is just around the corner.”
Department of Duh
Rusty of St. Paul: “I feel like such a dope! As does my wife.
“We have owned cars, simultaneously, that have had the gas caps on opposite sides. So we would try to remember that the Swedish car is on the right and the Japanese car is on the left and the German car is on the right. But sometimes we couldn’t remember, and would ask each other as we pulled into the filling station. Sometimes we were wrong and had to reposition — embarrassing if other cars were waiting to fill up.
“This issue came up in conversation the other day, and a relative told us all you have to do is look at the gas-pump icon on your dash and see which side the arrow is pointing to. Say what?! Look at which side the arrow is pointing to.
“I am a reasonably smart person, and I read a lot, and I don’t know how I missed this fact over the years. This makes me wonder what other simpleton facts I don’t know about.
“I decided to ask two other relatives at a party that night how they know which side the filler tube is on. One said to check the arrow. The next relative I tried, I did not feel would know the answer. She said: ‘You look at the pump symbol on your dash and see what side the arrow is pointing to.’ (!)
“What I haven’t done yet is to see if the 2003 Japanese car and the 2004 Swedish car are ancient enough not to have the arrow. I am hoping they do not!”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Or: The verbing of America?
The Special Agent reports: “From Friday’s PP story about the Equal Rights Amendment: ‘Caucutt noted that her drive Thursday morning from Rochester to St. Paul to speak in favor of the ERA was northing; in 1978, she drove to Washington, D.C., for a national ERA March.'”
Only a _______ would notice!@@
JS the Willard writes: “The Astronomer of Nininger stated that Key West was the most southerly point in the United States. It may be the most southerly point in the ‘continental U.S.,’ but Ka Lae (South Point) on the Big Island of Hawaii claims to be the point closest to the equator in these United States.”
Our pets, ourselves
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Cat Tales (or Tails):
“On reading about the trials and tribulations of rodent problems that DebK and Taxman experienced in their barn because of the ‘unskilled’ feline guards, I am reminded of a series of events that the Good Wife and I endured as well.
“When we moved to our heavenly horse ranchette, the barn was already occupied by somewhere up to 10 rather untrained felines. Because they had not interacted very much with the previous owners, I suspect they could well be classified as feral cats. They ate cat food, not mice. And since we felt it our duty to make sure the cats were not neglected, we continued feeding them.
“Meanwhile, the father of a dear friend gave me some advice. He operated a shovel on the Iron Range and migrated here from Croatia. In his broken English, he said: ‘Be sure they are neutralized!’
“Since our daughter was a vet, that would be no problem. She temporarily converted the tack room into a surgical suite, and we live-trapped the unsuspecting felines. After a few hours, they were neatly dispatched, and we did not have concerns about increasing populations. I know the problems too many can cause, as my mother had too many and I had to correct the situation there. After a while, through ‘natural selection,’ the population dropped to just a few, and they actually did well with the mice. I recall watching one cat who was intensely interested in a pile of hay next to one of the stalls. She leaped, or perhaps you’d say that she pounced, clear across the runway and tussled about in that loose hay. Dust flew — but moments later, out she came with something in her mouth, but clearly a rodent tail was hanging down.
“Every day when I’d feed the horses, the cats came out to greet me. They were barn cats and adapted quite well. They liked the horses, too. In fact, one kitty in particular would walk along with the horses. She really liked LJ the horse, and I am quite sure the affection was mutual.
“Occasionally a tomcat would come by and stay a day or two, looking for ‘companionship.’ Sometimes that resulted in disagreements, and we knew only one way to stop the fighting: We took them in to the vet clinic, where they were ‘neutralized.’ Upon release, they never came back. I wonder why, and I wonder, if they were domestic cats, if their owners ever knew what happened.”
Our pets, our service/companion/comfort animals, ourselves
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Pet Rules.
“We have gone to the dogs — or cats — or ostriches. A.k.a. Comfort Animals.
“First, I want to say that some folks need service or comfort animals, which might or might not be vetted and trained. I recently met a youngish guy who has epilepsy. His dog warns him of seizures so he can protect himself. I am glad that he has this help, no matter how his dog was trained.
“But the whole topic of pets has gone pretty crazy lately. I remember when people rarely took their pets to a vet, no matter how sick. Folks struggling to feed their kids saw veterinarians as too expensive. That has changed. Now some folks don’t leave home without their security blanket (a.k.a. dog, etc.). And pet stuff is big business.
“A few years back, I flew to Montana. I asked about pets in the plane cabin for my flights, because I’m very allergic to cats. I learned the number of pets that would be flying with us, but not their type or seat numbers. Since the pets were booked first, their locations trumped my health problems. I hope a more realistic approach may be devised so that humans’ rights receive priority where necessary.
“Pets on airplanes aren’t the biggest challenge, though. The doted-upon pets in workplaces and apartment buildings, etc., concern me much more — because I can’t count on all owners to control them in halls and lobbies. Pet holders love their darlings so much that they (drum roll!) assume that I also treasure every single thing they do — even when one escapes its home and dashes between my feet before I know it is loose. Since I use a walking stick for stability, it is sheer luck that I didn’t trip over said treasured dog.
“There are also times when strangers can’t or don’t want to touch pets, due to allergies, etc. It is like hugs. Polite people don’t touch without permission. In grocery stores, I warn people when I might bump into them.
“And, re: allergies: I became allergic to cats by touching a cat and then my face. The ‘white part’ of my left eye bulges out when I am too close to a cat — especially a Siamese. So no, I shouldn’t just ‘take a pill’ when I am around cats. I need distance — and don’t get me going on folks who demand that I adore their lovies regardless. It is really scary having your eye bulge out.
“May I propose some rules for these loves of our neighbors’ lives?
“First: Pets must be controlled by the owners in common spaces. As in: held with a short leash at all times. And prevented from lunging, etc.
“Second: I do not need to love your pet — though I may. I rejoice in your wonderful relationship. But I have a friend who once put the needs of her cat above my welfare. Tears were streaming down my face from a reaction, but she would not keep the cat away from me. Because it had rights. I had to leave.
“I’m sure BBers can add to this list. But I have one last point to make. People like the Japanese follow intricate rules of civility. They are so packed together in their spaces that the alternative could be war.
“Just saying . . .”
Including: In memoriam
Al B of Hartland: “I walked, enjoying what nature had filled my yard with.
“I paid attention to the things in my yard. Mary Oliver, a favorite poet of mine, had just died. She had written: ‘Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.’ She also wrote this: ‘To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.’
“It made for a good day.”
His world (and welcome to it!) (responsorial)
Joe of North St. Paul: “Subject: Why it’s called ‘lunch meat.’
“I enjoyed Tim Torkildson’s Bulletin Board article that featured his Stoic Mom’s unadorned bologna sandwiches. I felt his pain, since I was subjected to the same lunch diet in sixth grade.
“It brought to mind what happened to an unfortunate co-worker who was jailed for 30 days by Ramsey County for Driving Under the Influence. He was on a work release. He was given a shift with another co-worker who got him to work and back to jail. Each day, he arrived with a county-provided bag lunch: two slices of white bread, mayo and bologna.”
Then & Now
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT!
“There are quite a few memories of things that were customary in olden times that probably will die forever with my peers.
“As you know, I always strive to reminisce and sometimes question the insignificant curiosities of the last century:
“People ALWAYS left the new-car window sticker on their second-most-expensive purchase for at least a month. (Like everyone in Windom didn’t already know who bought what and when and for how much.)
“The left sleeve of a new suit jacket or overcoat had a large satin patch sewed onto it describing its maker, along with its material contents and care.
“I always wondered why SLR cameras would wear a little shiny, gold, football-shaped sticker that stated ‘Passed’ until they no longer loudly clicked. I assume the rationale was: If it didn’t have that sticker, folks would think it takes stupid pictures.
“No one would think of buying a color TV until they perfected it. (Is that about the time everything stopped being black-and-white?)
“That’s all that comes to mind for now. I’ll see you in the funny papers (for a while yet, anyway).”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Or: Then & Now (responsorial)
KMarie: “Happy Medium remembered party lines in the January 23 BB and explained how each home had its own ring code, such as three short and one long. Anyone on the party line could pick up the phone.
“Sometimes it was to listen in on gossip, but sometimes picking up the phone was serious. One day in December 1941, my parents’ phone kept ringing ringing ringing for the neighbors on the party line. Knowing the neighbors were not expected home anytime soon, one of my parents finally answered the phone to tell the caller the neighbors were not home. The caller was a reporter for a large newspaper in the state, who was calling about a report they had that the neighbors’ son had just been killed in action in the Philippines by Japanese fighter bombers. What a shock! The tragic news of the neighbors’ son — but also the alarming news that a U.S. base had been attacked by the Japanese! The news of the attack on the Philippines and Pearl Harbor had not hit the airwaves yet.
“I wasn’t around at that time, so do not know firsthand what happened next, but I recall my parents said they and other neighbors made sure someone was at the neighbors’ house when they arrived home, to provide support to the family.
“I find it hard to imagine what all went through my parents’ minds when they received such earth-shattering news — news that affected their neighbors and the whole country — when they simply answered a party line in a rural farmhouse in 1941.”
Gma Tom: “Subject: I can relate.
“I can relate to today’s story from Happy Medium about he party-line hand-cranked wall telephones. As a teenager, sometimes I would engage in an extended chat with my girlfriend only to have my mother admonish me for tying up the telephone too long. What if someone on the line had an emergency and needed to use the phone while we were tying it up with nonsense? Of course, if this were actually the case, the neighbor would cut in and ask us to hang up. The telephone was to be used when needed, but not abused.
“Also want to wish DeAnne of Woodbury: Happy 80 years. Congratulations and thank you for your chronicle since high school. I’ll have to seek the ‘Ageless Women’ book; sounds like a good read.
“P.S re: hand-cranked wall telephones: I’m sure no young person would ever be able to relate to actually hearing a live person’s voice at the other end of the line who would ask ‘Number, please,’ and you would then be connected to the person you wished to talk to. What a pleasure that would be today. Think of the frustration that was avoided, especially after just spending 15 minutes pushing numbers and being put on hold (responding to a mailing from my utility company to call them to change my plan), only to be told I would have to do that on their website! Grrrrrr!”
The Pro from Dover: “Happy Medium failed to mention that the phone numbers back then were only four digits (at least ours was in rural South Dakota). I use that long gone but still remembered phone number (one long, one short ring) as the unlock code on my smartphone.”
The mysteries of English
DEUCE of Eagan: “What a strange language we speak:
“Often Midwest winters seem to contribute to feelings of being down in the dumps, and somehow things are not going according to Hoyle.Well, feel free to jump on the bandwagon with the rest of us.
“It could be due to a hodgepodge of reasons, making it difficult to hit the nail on the head as to its cause.
“It’s often having trouble making ends meet, or recently you missed the boat on an opportunity, someone has you over a barrel, or possibly your vehicle is on the Fritz.
“Often arriving pell-mell and out of left field are things that seem to hurl us way out of kilter. Many of these are merely a flash in the pan and best considered just par for the course. Don’t hit the panic button; you probably have bigger fish to fry. Some good advice: Take it cool and try to find some time away from the madding crowd.
“Now, I have to see a man about a horse!”
Our community of strangers
Honey Bee of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: “Subject: AWOE (Away Without Excuse).
“It’s been a few months . . . um, maybe years . . . since I’ve contacted good ol’ BB. Sorry, BB, but I guess life got in the way. [Bulletin Board muses: Maybe that’s what has happened to the, oh, 90 percent or so of the old newsprint readers we never hear from anymore. To be honest — our policy, by the way, since Day 1: We miss them!]
“I’m happy to report that things are again on even keel here in Chipmunk Falls, mainly due to the wonderful fact that THE HONEST MAN HAS RETIRED! Yes, as of 1-1-19 he is no longer: counselor to the common folk (and some rich and famous folk as well), hand-holder to many older ‘girlfriends’ who have lost their husbands, wedding officiant for family/friends/freebie seekers/quickly deploying service personnel/Packer jersey-clad brides & grooms/the rest of the list could fill a book. He is still the kind hometown guy who returned to try to help the same people he wanted to flee from as a teenager.
“He’s been a hard-working father (and now grandfather), a faithful partner to those he’s linked to in his line of work, and an even better partner than I could have ever imagined when his father pronounced us man and wife some 49 years ago.
“Here’s to you, Honest Man! Let’s take my new knee and test it out on some golden years adventures!”
Band Name of the Day: Cabin Fever
Website of the Day: A great piece of journalism about the trends in, and ethics of, demential care