On the road to Cairo, Jacksonville, Macon and Atlanta. Where in the world are you?

What’s in a (city) name?

Horntoad of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Traveling where?

“My wife and I recently traveled to Fort Leonard Wood in southeast Missouri for the graduation of our grandson Jack from Army Basic Training. The ceremony was powerful and moving, and we are very proud of Jack’s accomplishments.

“On our drive there, we were impressed with the beauty of southern Iowa and Missouri (as we had been on a trip years earlier), with their rolling hills and woods. Also  impressive were the names of some of the towns and cities we passed through or near.
In northern Iowa, there were Manly, Swaledale, Popejoy and Story City. Odd. Who named these towns? In northeast Missouri, we saw a road sign for Kidder, which I thought was a funny name. Near Kansas City, Liberty and Independence; very patriotic — I like that. Unusual Missouri towns near our route were Lone Jack (a one-person town?) and Roach (bug or illegal drug?).

“As we approached Fort Leonard Wood, we passed by Pittsburg and Montreal. After enjoying two days with Jack, we headed north for home through eastern Missouri. The national and international flavor continued as we drove through Vienna; then, an hour later, Columbia. Next we saw a sign for Mexico, which was off to the east. Soon we passed through, in quick succession, Cairo, Jacksonville, Macon and Atlanta; it seemed we had taken a quick shot to Egypt before ending up in the southeast U.S.

“In Iowa, I was disappointed that we saw no more kooky names, but we did get to see the cities of Montezuma and Toledo. And just after entering Minnesota, we passed the exit sign for Geneva.

“I’ve been to Mexico and many of the aforementioned American ‘big’ cities, but it was fun driving through the like-named ‘little’ cities, and I can also tell people, with a wink and a nod, that I’ve been to those ‘world’ cities, too.

“We’re hitting the road again soon, on the lookout for towns with big-city and kooky names.”

Fellow travelers

The Astronomer of Nininger: “I have seen the movie ‘Churchill’ and found it to be a complex reflection on the man and the honest fulfillment of one’s duties in life. But the Good Wife and I visited the American National Churchill Museum on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri — and there we stopped and found ourselves riveted to the ground. There we learned not only of his singular achievements, but what it takes to be a leader of the free world through two world wars.

“We had visited the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, where we sampled more bourbons in a short week than we might normally taste all year. We also visited horse farms, another industry for which the Bluegrass State is known. We stopped to spend some time with family in Columbia, Missouri, and decided to drive the short ways to the Churchill Museum.

“Even if I could do so, I dare not identify any special traits that made him great. Rather, it is the collective blending of them that made him who he was. He had the courage to steadfastly pursue what was right for the people. He did not stick to the ideology of one party. He drank and was well known for that. Note that glass of whiskey on his desk.


“He knew who he was and could, without flinching, apply retorts, sometimes humorous, sometimes almost cruel, to anyone. We admired his wit, and we admired the man.

“His speeches were unmatched. He was perhaps the greatest political orator, ever. It was there, in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946, that he gave his ‘Iron Curtain’ speech : ‘From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an Iron Curtain has descended across the Continent.’”


Keeping your eyes open


Mark Connolly: “This is a photo of an old barn in Nolensville, Tennessee. I was there taking care of our two grandkids (Ella, 9, and Will, 6), allowing our son and his wife to take a European vacation for her 40th birthday.

“In taking the kids to school, I saw this barn along the side of the busy road to the school and thought it would make a good photo. Unfortunately there was no place to pull over, as there was a drainage ditch right next to the road. Then one day, there was a semi full of big hay rolls parked in front of it, so my chance for a nice photo was gone. Two days later, the truck was gone and there was no traffic, so I stopped in the middle of the road and took this photo. The lighting was perfect with the morning sun low in the sky.”

In the bucket

From Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Some people have a bucket list with things like skydiving on them. My bucket list is of the people I would love to be near, to understand them. I currently would like to meet President Jimmy Carter. He seems to have a wonderful spirit. A recent newspaper article described how people can travel to Plains, Georgia, to see the president, but I am unlikely to do that.

“Around 2014, I heard Myrlie Evers-Williams speak in Minneapolis. Her first husband was Medgar Evers, a civil-rights activist who was assassinated outside the family home in 1963. Myrlie said Medgar had trained his children that, if there was gunfire, they were to get their little brother out of his crib and hide with him in the cast-iron bathtub. Which they did.

“The image of those kids hiding in the bathtub has stayed with me, as has my impression of this woman who survived such hard times.

“Some souls just have to be felt in person.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Do you have a “bucket list,” people? If you do: What’s on it?

Till death us do part

Writes JayGee of Cameron, Wisconsin: “Subject: Reminiscences.

“These are some thoughts as I sit by my computer. You may edit as you wish . . . or not use them at all.

“She was in the third grade at the Cameron Grade School, and already assuming the duties of responsibility in helping raise young siblings as Mom was recovering from hospital stays.

“Him? He had just graduated from a Minnesota high school about 200 miles west of Cameron, Wisconsin. He began his adventure into adult life in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean conflict.

“In the meantime, she finished high school in Cameron and decided to become a Home Economics teacher, enrolling at Stout State College in Menomonie, Wisconsin, in 1958. He returned from his military duties, had several jobs and settled on becoming a  cabinetmaker, studying at La Crosse Vocational School in Wisconsin. While there, his teachers encouraged him to become an Industrial Arts teacher. He accepted their encouragement and registered with Stout State College . . . and so their story began.

“They both joined the college Newman Club, a Catholic students’ organization, and worked together for several years. Eventually, she graduated and began teaching in Ashland, Wisconsin, while he studied for his M.S. degree, during which he taught half-time at the college. Long commutes from Menomonie to Ashland followed until he graduated from Stout. His first secondary-school job was teaching drafting at Muskego High School, virtually a state away from Ashland. She didn’t even have the honor or privilege (?) of a decent, formal proposal from this socially inept suitor! He blurted out that Muskego was way too far for a long-term friendship to survive. ‘We should either break up or get married,’ he said. Fortunately for him, she agreed to this awkward
proposal and responded: ‘Then we ought to get married.’

“They began life together in that rented lake cottage in Muskego, and she acquired a teaching job in Greenfield, Wisconsin. After a couple years, he accepted a drafting job at a small vocational school in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, and they moved to northwest Wisconsin. Soon they bought a house in Cameron, only two blocks from where she grew up, and lived in that house for over 45 years. She delivered six children and worked diligently to raise them to be fine, responsible folks. It has been a wonderful life together, with many good memories.

“One must wonder how two very different folks, from such a distance apart, with such a big age difference, ever got together. I believe that Someone has been looking over him these many years, and this has been another proof that He hasn’t ever let him down.

“Judy spent her entire life in service of others. She never once muttered ‘What’s in it for me?’ She dedicated her life to her family, her community, her church. Where she saw, in her mind, a way to be involved for the betterment of the community, she was there.

“Thank you, Judy, for selecting me to share your life. It has been my pleasure and good fortune to share my life with you. I love you so much.

“Judy passed October 4. Her memory lives on with so many.”

The generation gap

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: We’re all stupid about different things.

“I had only one small item, so I decided to give the self-checkout station at The Home Depot another try. I warned the nice young attendant that I was a rookie and would probably need some help. (As if she couldn’t figure that out just by looking at me.)

“She stood by patiently as I waved my hand about the screen, looking for a start symbol to touch. After a couple of seconds, she gently pointed out the hand-held scanner hanging on the side of the console. I successfully scanned the item and then waved it around, trying to remember where and how I picked it up.

“She gently pointed out the correct way to rehang the scanner on its hook.

“‘Oh, OK,’ I offered, ‘just like a wall phone.’

“Now she was the one who needed help understanding.”

Gee, our old La Salle ran great!

Deuce of Eagan writes: “Where there’s smoke, there’s . . . a clown?

“I would imagine many of you recall an early kids’ TV show, ‘Circus Side Show,’ featuring T.N. Tatters. He was a ‘hobo clown’ of the Emmett Kelly variety. It was locally produced and ran live five or six days a week. I would describe the T.N. show as zany and perhaps even weird. Cast regulars were a flying talking snake, a whispering doll and a prop TV set that could talk. He began in 1955 and ran until September of 1962.

“Under the costume and makeup was Daryl Laub, who also played ‘Captain Daryl on Cartoon Island.’ Because the shows aired back-to-back, and were both live, there must have been some tumultuous costume changes each day!

“I will admit to having little recall pertaining to details of either show, except for one T.N. Tatters episode that any kid would never forget (although parents of the kids watching hoped they would). T.N. came on following a commercial wearing an ankle-length nightshirt and holding a single candelabrum with a long handle, and a candle burning. About 15 feet behind him was a narrow bed with long curtains along three sides. T.N. then said to his youthful viewers something like the following: ‘Kids, it’s a cold night, so T.N. is going to put the candle under his bed and “crawl” under the blanket for a good night’s sleep.’ He did as he said, and the viewers could see that his weight on the wire springs lowered the mattress to within an inch or two of the flame. First smoke, then fire! T.N. jumped out of bed, and stagehands and camera operators rushed past the shaking camera into view. They feverishly stomped on the burning blanket, and a couple of extinguishers put out the small fire. Then our TV screens went black.

“Within a minute or so, T.N. was back on and attempted to explain to the kids that ‘adults should handle candles and never them’ — something T.N. must have forgotten. He was an adult . . . unless clowns are an anomaly.”

The vision thing

Tim Torkildson reports: “Subject: Hardly a sunrise, more of a hope. From my patio this morning.”


Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede: “White album.

“For a short time Saturday morning, a lot of leaves had a nice, white coating on them. My back-yard hosta plants with their broader leaves could be seen more easily through the fir-tree branches.


“And they really stood out under the oak trees.


“My rhubarb leaves were well covered.


“As were the raspberry leaves.


“There is one hydrangea blossom left on my side of the fence, so it was white on white there.


“All of these were taken from inside the house, so I couldn’t get any closer.

“We left shortly after this to go to a workshop and then a funeral — and when we got back, all the white was long gone, which was fine with me. There are some outdoor things I am trying to do yet that a permanent snow cover would foil — like get the raspberries ripened before a hard freeze ends the harvest. It’s more fun to just have a little taste before it gets serious. Lots of leaf changes ahead yet to enjoy.”

Today’s helpfulness hint

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Subject: Kids and bike-owning happiness.

“Ever heard of Free Bikes 4 Kidz? It’s such a good program to get children, who perhaps come from disadvantaged families, a bike to ride — just like their pals!

“This past Saturday was the big day. Once a year, there is a drive to pick up used and even unusable bikes, gather them in one place, get them repaired if needed, and then give them to kids who never would have had a bike. My son-in-law here in Bloomington drives for U-Haul, and that company uses its trucks to get those still pretty good bikes into a storage spot: Southtown’s old Montgomery Ward’s area. This year the trucks picked up over 7,000 bikes for repair! It’s like a bucket brigade to get this many bikes off their trucks, passing them from one to another — but not buckets . . . bikes. Rather heavy work after a while. Most of those truckers volunteer their time, and it makes them feel good to be a part of the day.

“For those who qualify to receive a free bike, there will be some paperwork; no one wants to have just anyone walk in and get a bike if they don’t qualify. Fairness counts.

“It’s interesting to know that Minnesota is one of eight states who have this yearly giveaway. To know who would qualify, I’d think going online to ask a few questions might be wise.

“I remember longing for a bike as a kid, mainly because my older brother had received one for his 10th birthday and I, being a girl . . . well, no one thought of giving me a bike, I guess. Sooo, since there was no program like Free Bikes 4 Kidz back in the ’40s, I decided to earn my own bike. No motorized mowers, either; I used a push mower and got maybe a dollar for doing a whole lawn. When I had enough for a used bike, I started looking in the hometown-paper ads for someone selling a pretty good bike for not too much cash. I had earned $15, and my dad furnished a few more dollars, so we drove out of town a ways and pretty soon . . . voila! Yippee! I had a bike of my own: blue, ladies bike, and it looked wonderful to me.”

This ‘n’ that (‘n’ the other ‘n’ the other ‘n’. . . )

From Al B of Hartland: (1) “We had a snow-tire swing when I was a boy. I don’t remember the brand of the tire, but it wore well.

“Wealthier folks had two tire swings. One was the spare.”

(2) “This is the time of the year when the roar of the combine can be heard throughout the land.

“I dreamed that all warning labels had been outlawed and the world’s population dropped by 51 percent within two years.

“I started the day with a bowl of hot oatmeal. I poured milk onto the oatmeal and added walnuts, almonds, blueberries and honey. It was as much a hotdish as it was hot cereal.

“I suffer from something called cereal-aisle paralysis that hits me when I’m overwhelmed with choice. I can’t help but search the shelves of cold breakfast cereals for Mushies, an imaginary sponsor on the ancient Bob & Ray Show: ‘Mushies. The great new cereal that gets soggy even without milk or cream.’ So far, no luck finding any.

“My hiking shoes had become moving billboards for duct tape. I decided to see if new shoes were still being made. I thought a shoe store might be a good place to start my investigation. I saw countless shoes huddled in pairs. I discovered that buying shoes was harder than buying cereal. I demolished my old record for the number of shoes tried on. My personal best had been two, one shoe for each foot. I hope the new pair will be as faithful as their duct-taped predecessors.”

See world 

KH of White Bear Lake: “Subject: We Never Walk Alone.

“I try to go for a walk every day. Oftentimes I walk alone in the woods. Then again, are we ever REALLY alone?”



Our times

Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “When I was a kid, Catholic baptisms were performed separately from the Mass. Now they are part of a Mass. I used to be frustrated with the lengthened time in church, but lately I enjoy them. Life in our world is so loud and scary right now, and they represent joy.

“On Sunday we had three baptisms during my Mass, of babies perhaps 6 months old. When each baby is set in the baptismal font, we hold our breath. We never know if they will cry, etc.

“This Sunday we saw babies display three different reactions. The first boy cried briefly. The little girl sat in the font and examined all of us. And I think the third one, a boy, patted the baptismal water to explore it.

“It will be interesting to see how all of them turn out, as they grow up.”

The darnedest things

WARNING! Cute kid story ahead, from Grammy M.: “Grandson Brick had a sore throat last week, so his mom took him to the doctor. The diagnosis was a virus.

“As they left the clinic, Brick asked his mom what could be done for it. She told him that unfortunately it was a virus and he just had to let it run its course.

He said: ‘Well, computers get viruses and can be fixed. Why can’t we?’

“Good question, Brick!”

Band Name of the Day: The Mushies

Website of the Day: T.N. Tatters (and friends)


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