The Permanent Family Record
The Gram With a Thousand Rules writes: “The ice is out on Lake Minnetonka. That means the barge is out distributing the buoys to mark the channels that connect the 41 bays of Lake Minnetonka. I wonder if this draws as much attention from the lake dwellers today as it did to us when we lived in our little cottage during the mid-’50s.
“There wasn’t much lake traffic on our bay, so watching that enormous barge slowly moving across the lake was always an exciting event. The word would go out from cottage to cottage — ‘The barges are coming’ — and all the stay-at-home moms and their kids would rush outside to watch. When a barge reached the channel between Maxwell Bay and North Arm, it would pause and drop off several of the yellow buoys.
“My oldest son was the first one to spot the barge that last spring that we lived at the lake. Before I could launch into my spiel about the buoys, I heard him explain to his little sister that the barge was going to drop off all the boys and girls by the channel.”
The Permanent Paternal Record
A Holy Week email from Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “I still remember my dad’s best places ever for hiding Easter jelly beans (and it took us awhile to find them): black jelly beans in the holes of our black rotary phone (think 1950s); and black and white jelly beans hidden in between the piano keys.
“He really liked making the candy hunt a challenge. Little stashes of two or three jelly beans were hidden around the house in tiny hiding places like a windowsill or maybe on top of a drawer, etc.
“I clearly recall thinking my friends’ Easter hunts sounded like no fun at all. Finding icky boiled eggs outside? Finding your whole basket, already filled, wrapped in cellophane?
“Each family did, and still does, create their own traditions. I’m trying to ‘let go’ of my daughter and her husband’s planning of an outdoor egg hunt for our little grandson this year (because that’s the way HIS family did it). What? You’re changing our tradition?
“A group of grandmothers were talking about this the other day at a group gathering. Many of our kids don’t want the grandkids to have all that candy, because they eat more healthfully than we do. Do we acquiesce or fight the system? Is all this candy-hiding just for US?! Are we being controlling and stubborn? These are good rhetorical questions!
“So this is what I’m doing today on this Maundy Thursday: After seeking permission to be involved at all, I’m filling sparkly plastic non-organic eggs with healthful snacks for my 4-year-old grandson to find — outside. I’m not sure when the hiding will take place.
“What I’ve purchased from the healthful-foods section of the store to put in these plastic eggs: yogurt-covered pretzels, dried pineapple chunks, dried organic berries, and some 100-percent-fruit apple berry squeeze thingies.
“All of them came packaged in plastic, but hey, we recycle.”
A pair of close encounters of the natural kind, reported by Helena Handbasket: “Subject: Deja Boo.
“When I was a Brownie scout, we went on a hike. I remember two things: It was hot, and Peggy Jenks.
“Somewhere, perhaps about a third of the way to our destination, Peggy Jenks spotted a reptile. I was, and still am, terrified of snakes. If it is medically possible for a child to have a heart attack and a stroke at the same time, it nearly happened to me. The last two-thirds of the hike were extremely long. And hot. And terror-filled, picturing snakes slithering out and chasing me — with or without Peggy Jenks’s assistance.
“This episode popped into my head today while I was on my morning bike ride. I rounded a little bend, and there it was: a skinny black snake.
“Is it possible for a snake and/or an old lady to have a stroke and a heart attack at the same time?”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede writes: “Subject: Eight watching the Spring photos.
“There is a large planter near the entrance to the exercise place I go to, and a momma mallard decided to nest there. From what I’ve read, the eggs will all hatch within a short time of each other, and after about 13 hours, the ducklings will be ready to walk to the water. It’s not nearby, so I hope Mom knows what she’s doing. Food and water have been placed near her so she doesn’t need to leave the eggs to eat.
“I was happy to be greeted by a robin in our maple tree one morning.
“This opening leaf arrangement reminded me of a ballerina with her arms raised and skirt flared out.
“A variation to the opening leaves was this pair catching the light perfectly, during two days in a row of blue skies all day long. In the summer, we’d be hoping for clouds, but now it is really a treat, along with temperatures warm enough to be outside without a jacket, needing only sunblock for the Swede‘s fair skin.
“Those maple buds seem to be doing something . . .
“. . . a lot of something!
“The rhubarb leaves are growing quickly. One could probably see them change by the hour.
“And the pachysandra plants stay green all through the winter and cold, never losing their leaves.
“It seems amazing to me that they do this.”
And now Little Sister: “There is nothing quite so green as the new growth on the trees or first shoots of grass that take their sweet time appearing every spring. It stands in sharp contrast to the drab grays and browns that stubbornly hang on for dear life throughout most of April.
“I’ve been counting the days to green since we carried the Christmas tree out of the house. With the rain falling all day today and the last of the sodden snow disappearing into the muck, all we need are a few days of warm sunshine to convince the green it’s safe to come out.
“May and early June make the best days for my favorite green, which is a close match to Crayola’s Electric Lime (found in their 96-count box). It’s almost startling to the eyes at first, which have grown starved of color for what seems like a season without end. I guess there’s something to be said for having our long winters. They somehow make the coming-to-life days of spring all the sweeter.
“Here are a couple of pictures, from my own collection, that I took last year.”
Not exactly what (if anything) they had in mind
LeoJEOSP writes: “Two of my buddies and I were (with permission) staying overnight in a neighbor’s screened patio. We watched horror movies until 3 a.m., then went to sleep.
“The following morning, my 15-year-old buddy was going to make pancakes on a griddle placed in the barbecue grill. He poured some lighter fluid on the coals and lit them. Then he decided the fire was too small, so he dumped more lighter on the flame. The fire lit the lighter can on fire, so he tossed the lighter-fluid can in the air . . . and this lit the bamboo shades in the patio. The next move was Mr. Firebug’s brother running to get the water hose and extinguishing the fires in the patio.
“The owner of the patio came out of his house and, after seeing his still-smoking patio, let out a long stream of curse words.
“This was in the late 1960s, so children weren’t sheltered by their parents when they screwed up. Back in those days, you were yelled at and punished. Worst of all, we did not get our pancakes! My punishment was: I had to go to my grandmother’s and dig dandelions — enough dandelions to fill a bushel basket.”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Deuce of Eagan writes: “Subject: St. Paul’s Own ‘American Graffiti.’
“LOOP CRUISING: Just as in the George Lucas movie, St. Paul had a city of teens who enjoyed cruising, a bit of drag racing, and the rock & roll culture. The 1950s through the mid-1960s are still considered the ‘Happy Days’ by those who lived them. The loop was the place to be seen and noticed. ‘Fill ‘er up with Regular, but don’t go over two bucks. Better check the oil, too!’ Sometimes the fumes were just enough to get us into a filling station, and we could coast to the pumps if we had enough momentum. Gas being around 20.9 cents per gallon, a dollar’s worth would fortify the tank for an evening of cruising. Tune that radio to WDGY or KDWB rock & roll; then gentlemen, start your engines! Those Glass-packs, Porters, or Cherry Bombs created a sound like that of a ‘street symphony.’ Now head to downtown St. Paul for your pilgrimage on wheels and enter the established route (see the route marked in arrows) for a few laps. Rods, customs and family sedans all contained teens sporting the latest fads in togs and hairdos.
“The other popular St. Paul cruising route took you up and down University Avenue, which of course included a stop at Porky’s drive-in for their famous onion rings. Often it was a stop for burgers at Sandy’s or the Midway White Castle. We did not have cellphones back then, so most of the motoring communications were shouting from car to car. George Lucas portrayed an evening of cruising very accurately.
“LOOP SHOPPING: Whatever the latest craze, it was available in one of our many downtown stores. After all, we teenagers needed to appear like the teens on the popular afternoon TV show ‘American Bandstand.’ The guys would usually head to Nate’s on Wabasha for the latest. Remember the Ivy League shirts with button-down collar and a third button in back? In 1955/1956, there was a pink-and-black trend both in clothing and in cars. A pink shirt, black cords, a thin belt and bolero tie put you right in style. For shoes it was Tom McAn’s; you had to have a pair of blue suede shoes with clips instead of shoestrings; they were the rage for a while. Even Ford (and Plymouth, I believe) capitalized on that craze with the color scheme on their new car offerings. Sport coats, you say? Walk up those stairs to Foreman & Clark for a large selection. Not all sport coats were white, as the Marty Robbins song indicated.
“The girls headed straight for the Three Sisters, Lerner’s or the Del Ray store for dresses (with crinolines). As I recall, the girls that I dated wore pedal pushers along with penny loafers and bobby socks. Most 45-RPM records were bought at Musicland, located on the locally famous intersection of Seventh and Wabasha. We would spend at least an hour at each visit, flipping through the titles and taking up to three records (their rules) into one of their sound booths to preview them. The place was always crowded. Then head across the street to Walgreens to peruse the magazines. Of interest to us were TEEN and also MAD Magazine. ‘What, me worry?’ Shopping the many ‘dime stores’ (5 cents to $1) for inexpensive items of all sorts was a must with teens as well.
“LOOP EATS: There were many choices. White Castle, of course, for the 11-cent burgers; however, we found it necessary to order a minimum of six. The Original Coney Island loaded with raw onions tasted mighty good — and at two for a buck, they were popular. Of course Bridgeman’s was a must-visit when downtown. Their Lalapalooza was way too large for most, but a two-scoop sundae in a tulip glass, along with a cherry Coke, was plenty. A dip into Candyland was mandatory; the smell was enough to persuade one to buy; the fudge was fantastic, as well as their caramel corn. If in the mood for a meal, the choices were many: Mickey’s Diner; the Greyhound bus depot; (Ma) Merrill’s; Lee’s; McLellan’s; Matt Weber’s; W.T. Grant’s; Woolworth’s; Ryan Hotel; St. Paul Hotel; Schuneman’s; Emporium; Golden Rule; and, for fine chocolates, a couple of Fanny Farmer locations, Maude Borup’s or Jane Garrott’s. A personal favorite was F. W. Woolworth’s lunch counter. The menu included: Grilled Cheese Sandwich, 30 cents; Malted Milk, 25 cents; Slice of Apple Pie, 15 cents; Coke, 10 cents (including refills). That was one of my favorite meals downtown, and with a 10 percent tip (NO tax then), I still got change back for a dollar.
“LOOP ENTERTAINMENT: Harkins on Eighth Street was a good venue to enjoy a couple of games of billiards. The sheer number of movie theaters within a three-block area provided a lot of choices. Some of them could have been called ‘movie palaces’ — namely the Paramount, RKO Orpheum, and the World. They featured ‘first run’ films. The others were starting to show some wear, yet were just fine for a movie and a box of popcorn. I believe they just didn’t turn the lights up very high. Do you recall seeing ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai,’ with Alec Guinness, for the first time? How about the thriller ‘The Creature From the Black Lagoon’ in 3-D? Theaters all had ushers with flashlights who reminded us to take our feet down from the seats in front of us, and to refrain from throwing popcorn at the girls. Also included in the entertainment and spelled out perfectly in the lyrics of a 1956 Four Lads song: ‘Standing on the corner watching all the girls go by . . . brother, you don’t know a better occupation . . . matter of fact, neither do I. . . .'”
Vanity, thy name is …
Friendly Bob of Fridley: “Saw this plate the other day and was maybe a bit disgruntled that this driver had beaten me to it: ‘YBNORML.'”
IGHGrampa: “Subject: Mall Walking, April 16, 2019.
“I did something that I should not have done. When I passed too close to this candy store, some invisible tentacles reached out and caught me. I got dragged in before I knew it.
“You wouldn’t believe what I got from one counter: a bunch of gummy O’s (like little gumdrop doughnuts) of various flavors, a sour ribbon, gummy Coke bottles, something shaped like a candy corn but gummy and fatter, several other little gummy things. When you reach into the bin, a number of them leap into the tongs. You can’t get just one. They put a spell on you.
“At the next counter, there were boxes to fill up. There I got some bigger gummy candies: gummy candies with yellow bodies and green heads, some actual gummy bears, some gummy cupcakes, some large gummy Coke bottles (bigger than one bite), some dark purple gummy bears. I even got a gummy rattlesnake about a foot long. I think I’ll eat the head off first.
“The cost of all this was beyond belief and won’t be mentioned. I have enough to spoil my appetite for the next week or longer. That’s good, actually. I should lose some weight.”
Band Name of the Day: The Squeeze Thingies
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