Reports Chris, “formerly of Falcon Heights, now from beautiful White Bear Lake”: “Got my nerves tested when I took my four grandsons to the driving range.
“Their goal was to swing as hard as they could. Didn’t matter if they whiffed or the ball just dribbled off the tee or a huge chunk of turf went farther than the ball. Just give it everything you’ve got.
“My goal was to smile, encourage, quickly run out to get the balls that barely went anywhere before I got beaned with a club, and hope no one strained anything.
“Happy to report, our goals were met.
“Keep up the good work. BB. I’ve enjoyed you from the beginning.”
Out of the mouths of babes
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “Subject: The world as we know it.
“My daughter’s friend gave birth to a baby boy, and this was one of his first pictures. He hadn’t even ‘pinked-up’ yet, as we used to say when I worked in O.B.
“Life in this big ol’ world can just be so dang tough.”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Laughter.
“The gods gave unto all mankind
“so many plagues to suffer
“that one among them had to give,
“in charity — a buffer.
“A buffer that would mitigate
“our sorrowful existence
“and help us to dig up some hope
“and build up some resistance.
“And so we laugh, we roar, we snort,
“at ev’ry sort of folly;
“this godly gift helps us survive
“and not go off our trolley.
“The next time you are faced with hate
“or ignorance must swallow,
“just face it down with a guffaw,
“and in robust mirth, wallow!”
Or: Man, know thyself?
Dragonslayer of Oakdale: “Subject: Masculine stages of facial hair.
“1. I wish I were old enough to shave.
“2. Is that a hair on my chin?
“3. Mom, Dad, I need a razor.
“4. I think I’ll grow a beard.
“5. Maybe just a goatee.
“6. I dislike shaving every day.
“7. How about a soul patch?
“8. A longer beard — more woodsy.
“9. Time to play Santa Claus.
“10. Wow, I look younger with my mustache and beard gone.”
Mounds View Swede: “I found far more wildflowers along the North Shore than I expected, never having paid much attention to them until now. It’s been fun to discover these small beauties I have been overlooking for so many years. They had a wide range of shapes and colors.
“This photo is the final part of the Cascade River, one of my favorite North Shore rivers to hike and photograph. I enjoyed seeing the families and children having fun with the water — hopping from rock to rock and having permission to get their feet wet.
“And I noticed how the gliding gulls were so nicely back-lit with a rim of light around them. I had to try to get a photo, and this one worked.
“I continue to be amazed at the beauty I find in nature and enjoy being able to share it with the Bulletin Board readers.
“One of the assignments for Swedish class this last year was to share what our favorite place in Minnesota was. I chose the North Shore of Lake Superior and brought several photos to show why. I grew up in easy driving distance to Lake Michigan, but it never moved me like Lake Superior does with its rocky shores, waterfalls and forests. Once I found Lake Superior, it was hard to stay away, further cementing my love for Minnesota.”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Al B of Hartland: “Painted lady butterflies were numerous and fluttering low across the highway. Many were hit by vehicles.
“I made a stop, pulling into a parking lot filled with automobiles. Before I got out of my car, I watched as house sparrows flew in and picked among the dead painted ladies littering the pavement surrounding the cars. The birds used their bills to grab butterflies and then beat the insects against the hard surface, knocking off wings and legs.
“Lunch was served.”
Keeping your eyes open
KH of White Bear Lake writes: “Subject: Location, location, location.
“In India, cows roam the streets with impunity. In White Bear Lake, polar bears get their own restrooms.”
Keeping your mind (and heart) open
The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill reports: “Subject: Wonders.
“One of my favorite authors, Kate DiCamillo, just posted this on
Facebook. It is too good not to share.
“‘I’ve been reading The Eye of the Story, a collection of essays and
reviews by Eudora Welty, and I was delighted to come upon a review of
E.B. White’s Charlottes Web.
“‘In the words of Ms. Welty, “the book is about friendship on earth,
love and affection, adventure and miracle, life and death, trust and
treachery, night and day and the seasons . . . What the book
‘proves’—in the words the minister in the story hands down to his
congregation on the Sunday after Charlotte writes ‘Some Pig’ in her
web—is ‘that human beings must always be on the watch for the coming
“‘Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White, Eudora Welty.'”
Classic Cinema Division
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “For those needing a break from Real Life, two quotes from the 1950 movie ‘Harvey’ (with James Stewart):
“1. ‘Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” — she always called me Elwood — “in this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.’
“2. ‘Well, I’ve wrestled with reality for 35 years, doctor, and I’m happy to state I finally won out over it.'”
Including: CAUTION! Words at Play!
Donald: “Subject: Who leaked this report?
“From ‘SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE’ in the latest Sports Illustrated: ‘After signing a ceremonial one-day contract to retire with the Rams, former running back Steve Jackson was summoned by the league for a drug test.’”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Deuce of Eagan writes: “Where’s the Butter Brickle?
“Many of us grew up enjoying Butter Brickle ice cream. It used to be in all supermarkets, neighborhood grocery stores and ice-cream parlors such as Bridgeman’s.
“We have far more choices of flavors today, but what about that delicious flavor that would take us down memory lane. I don’t care for the likes of Bubble Gum Nut or Dill Pickle Supreme and such.
“I believe that Butter Brickle was at one time a registered trademark of a toffee-centered chocolate-covered candy bar. [Bulletin Board says: Yes, it was the Heath bar’s competitor.] Although a favorite flavor since the 1920s, the trademark was sold to another candy company in the mid-1990s. They discontinued the flavor — but as I understand it, someone else has it available on the Internet, and it is fast becoming a cult classic.
“Personally, I would never order ice cream using the ‘net and taking the chance of receiving a soggy container of melted muck (sounds like a new flavor).
“Anyone for joining me in front of a local creamery with ‘Bring Back the Butter Brickle!’ signs. How about T-shirts?”
Gee, our old Wisconsin Special ran great
Including; Everyone’s a copy editor!
Horntoad of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Fast State Fair Race Cars.
“I was fascinated by the Pioneer Press article (8-7-2019) by Nick Ferraro, about the history of race cars at the Minnesota State Fair. It brought back great memories of the many days spent going to the Fair races in my youth: loud cars ripping past along the fence; crashes; flying mud. Fast cars were thrilling, once-a-year excitement for a young kid.
“I did notice that one race car from before my time was particularly fast for its era. Sig Haugdahl’s 1922 Wisconsin Special was noted as a three-mile-a-minute speed machine. If my calculations are correct, that would be 180 miles per hour! Too fast. The speed was probably three minutes per mile, or about 20 miles per hour.
“Thank you, Mr. Ferraro, for reviving my childhood memories of the fun of State Fair auto racing!”
Joy of Juxtaposition
DebK of Rosemount: “Having wearied of foisting vine crops on the zucchini- and cucumber-deprived of the world, Taxman and I dedicated a recent fine morning to butchering chickens, a task that lends itself to thinking and discussing. Our reflections centered on this August 8 Pioneer Press (online edition) headline: ‘A Minnesota bachelor farmer dies, and his 250 cars get put up for auction.’ Taxman and I are currently ‘full up’ on vehicles, but we were captivated by the headline, which excited real Joy of Juxtaposition! For only the day before, we had taken delivery of a parcel sent by my college friend KK, who had unearthed evidence that my siblings and I are part of a similar chapter in automotive history.
“The details are laid out in a circa-1971 UPI story from Rossie, Iowa, about ‘a treasure of rare automobiles including one of the rarest vehicles known . . . discovered on a farm . . . owned by the late Leopold Brown,’ the eccentric Iowa bachelor from whom Dad rented farmland in the 1960s. Taxman and I aren’t the only ones who got excited about the news item. Shortly following its publication, Jean Shepherd (of leg lamp fame) wrote a short story (’43 Miles on the Gauge’) based on the discovery, which makes the Dunn kids part of literary history, too.
“Anyway, Taxman and I became parties to all this excitement because, back in June, KK and I took a road trip to Red Cloud, Nebraska, by way of our childhood homes. KK’s history major got to plaguing her when she laid eyes on what remains of Rossie, Iowa, the down-on-its-luck hamlet that we Dunn kids claim as our hometown, largely because it was home to the Frediens’ gas station and Myrtle’s Store, where Mom and Dad had us buy their cigarettes, and to Anderson Elevator, where Dad typically sold our corn and soybean crops and occasionally weighed himself, our farmhouse lacking a bathroom which might have been accessorized with a scale.
“In the 1960s, when Dad sharecropped land in the area, Rossie never got within shouting distance of a three-digit population, though it did still claim its own post office — a lean-to affixed to the east side of the postmistress’s trailer home. The rotund postmistress and her rotund son took turns waddling from their tiny living room to the post-office window where they would sell us 4-cent stamps — usually one at a time. Fifty yards or so down the graveled main street stood a modest school building, which served as the junior high for our consolidated rural district, and a tiny white clapboard church which we Dunns avoided. For a few years, there was even a hardware store. Our purchases there were usually confined to bargain-bin paints. The bargain bin contained cataclysmic mixing errors, rejected by others but often just the thing we had in mind — largely because the price was right.
“There were three other buildings in town: sagging, paintless structures of the kind we saw in TV Westerns. For all their decrepitude, they spoke of Rossie’s glory days. They spoke with particular eloquence to us Dunn kids, who had a closer-than-most association with the buildings and their owner, Mr. Leopold Brown, our idiosyncratic landlord. Leopold was a legendary collector who lived alone in a cluster of defeated structures on the south edge of town. Because Dad’s sharecropping arrangement with Leopold included bare-bones caretaking of all of Leopold’s properties, we knew for a fact that his once-fine old house — a mansion, really — was so filled with stuff, probably treasures, that Leopold had vacated the house entirely and set up housekeeping in a heavily dented Airstream trailer separated by a spirea hedge from an ill-roofed barn, which like the other outbuildings was rumored to be filled with antique cars.
“As will happen when children are left without supervision, we kids took advantage of every opportunity to find out if the rumors were true. We weren’t gifted sleuths, and we lacked breaking-and-entering skills. But when Dad dropped us kids off in Rossie to do battle with the thickets of cocklebur and bull thistle that sprang up around Leopold’s buildings, we unfailingly indulged in arduous efforts to glimpse the contents of those buildings. We peered through cracks in the barn siding. We thought we could make out a chrome fender — shrouded in spider webs and road dust. When the light was right, we pressed our noses against filthy store windows, attempting to align our eyes with cracks in the stained brown paper that covered the interior of each. I’m almost sure that I spotted high-top button-shoes and gas lanterns, sitting on the store shelves ready for purchase by long-dead patrons.
“Stout locks kept us — and apparently curious others — from learning much about Leopold’s treasures, so we contented ourselves with the mystery of it all. And with the oddities of the fellow himself. He was a heavily freckled redhead — a soft-in-the-middle fellow, which marked him as something other than a farmer, a curiosity in itself. Add to that his attire: a straw fedora with a pheasant feather stuck in the band, a long-sleeved dress shirt (in all weather) buttoned right to the top (in all weather) and tucked into belted, cuffed trousers. We knew Leopold had to be Really Rich, but he drove a car worse than ours: a Ford or Chevy sedan remarkable only for its rustiness and its degree of interior clutter. That car was, as Mom noted, ‘a disgrace.’ But when he came to our house to check on ‘his’ property and ‘his’ crops, he never sat down on one of our chairs without wiping the seat with his once-white hanky.
“That prissy behavior rankled. Clearly, Leopold thought our belongings were filthy; he thought we were filthy. And gullible. He perhaps recognized Dad’s talents, but he didn’t respect our father. That was never clearer than when Leopold talked Dad into running for Clay County Sheriff as a ‘Progressive Republican.’ Thoral All, the popular incumbent, was a rock-ribbed Republican, like ‘most everybody else in the county. There was no hope for a candidate running as a Democrat, which Dad would’ve been if he’d ever bothered to vote. Leopold not only fabricated a party affiliation for Dad, but he made up credentials, claiming that Dad was a World War II veteran — when he’d actually served in the Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict. Dad lost badly, of course. Nobody who knew him — not even his nearest and dearest — thought he was a fellow who could be depended on to enforce law and order. I always figured Leopold was trying to get rid of Thoral All so that he could conduct nefarious business of some kind. My go-to theory was that Leopold was an architect of the Third Reich who’d escaped Germany and discovered anonymity in the cornfields of Clay County. Or maybe a drug kingpin.
“KK’s research demonstrates that the reality was less twisted than my imaginings. Leopold was a real oddball, but he wasn’t a dyed-in-the-wool villain. Turns out, I was wrong about everything I thought I knew about Leopold Brown. Well, except about those cars.”
Why a duck?
Or: How far can you stretch a metaphor?
Bloomington Bird Lady writes: “Subject: Getting and Keeping Your ‘Ducks in a Row.’
“No, not the ducks in the shooting gallery at the county fair! I mean all those pesky little day-to-day problems that often crop up to plague us when we don’t expect them. I know you have a few, too. Being human, we all do. Just when everything is going smoothly, one of those darn little quackers will get out of line, and ‘traffic stops until the little guy makes it up over the curb to the other side of the street.
“We had an electrical storm here not many weeks ago, and afterwards our microwave decided to ‘hum’ even though it was turned off. To be safe, we unplugged it, and the next day called Warner’s Stellian for some advice. The nice gal gave us an estimate of what a service call would be. After comparing a new one’s price with the service call and repair, it would be cheaper to buy another one. Of course it would! So now we have a new microwave; the ‘quacker that got out of line’ is over the curb! Loved that teen-aged microwave, and it seemed so sad when they hauled it away; a funeral would have been good.
“Through the years, we’ve learned how to care for ‘quackers’ who stumble like this. If your bathtub drain suddenly refuses to work well, boil some water and pour it down to where the problem is . . . find the plunger and put it to work . . . the drain is fine again!
“I know, you have learned these tricks, too; we can’t be calling service people for every little thing. Last winter the power went off suddenly on a very cold night. With this ‘duck out of line,’ you need to be a lot more ready for total darkness than we were. I could not find the flashlight fast enough, or candles, or matches to light them. We had been eating our dinner, and then ‘Whoops’ — blackness! This went on way too long, and we had no idea why the power was off. Birdman and I sat under a blanket, put on stocking caps, and just waited and waited. No TV, no reading, no nothing. Our neighbor’s kids came and took her home with them in case the power was off too long. So the fact that I’m here writing this tells you that the power did come on after quite a while, and that was ‘one very naughty duck’ who finally made it over the curb.
“Waiting for the next ‘duck’ episode does make life interesting. You never know when, or where, or why!”
Band Name of the Day: The Naughty Ducks
Website of the Day: 17 bygone candy bars you will never eat again