The Case of the Distracted Driver — or: A funny thing happened on the way from the pump!

Oh, and was his face red (Rusty red?)!

Rusty of St. Paul: “Last week, I filled up at a gas station in a small Wisconsin town. After starting the pump, I proceeded to wash my windows. I noted a tow truck with a sign on the door for a body shop. As the driver walked by, I decided to hit him up for some free advice. Our windshield had just been dinged by a rock, not badly, and I asked if it was worth getting filled in. He and I looked it over. Very nice man.

“I finished washing the windows. Got in, drove away, and felt and heard the fuel hose getting ripped out of the pump. My wife verbalized what happened. ‘Rusty!’ (At least she didn’t also say my middle name, the way my parents did when we were small.) I was also clued in by the gal standing by the door of the shop, who ‘Candid Camera’-responsed me first with her hands over her mouth, and then I could read her lips telling the guy working on the bricks by the entry what had just happened.

“I got out, carried the hose the 15 feet back to the pump, inspected the ripped-out end — and it looked intact. I went inside to report the incident to the 12-year-old cashier and offered to pay for it. ‘You’re off the hook,’ she said. ‘They are designed to pop off when someone drives away with it.’ I then noted the ‘Free Friday Coffee’ sign next to her on the counter, but felt too sheepish to ask for a cup.

“Later, reporting to my buddies via email, I heard back from two of them. One wrote back: ‘Once I had the nozzle in my hand, turned on the pump and some joker had left the handle locked on. Spewed gas into my open window. Thanks, A–hole!’ The other wrote:  ‘Been there. Done that. Only I tried to put the hose back into the pump and got sprayed with gas! It was just before my PhD dissertation defense! What is your excuse?’

“In case you’re wondering, the body-shop guy said the dings were pretty small, but probably smart to get them filled in so they don’t progress.”

Now & Then

The Gram With a Thousand Rules writes: “I have been watching more television than usual these past two months as I recover from my hip surgery. The one that has intrigued me the most is the PBS series on ‘Great American Railroad Journeys.’

“The first one I saw was the one featuring the Hiawatha. Ahh, the memories that episode brought back — of Uncle Bob, the Hiawatha observation deck, Mickey Mouse and finger bowls.

“I was 7 when my Uncle Bob decided it was time for my first train trip. It was a gloomy, cold, mud-splashing day in March when we set off for the train depot. I remember being embarrassed because Mother made me wear my ‘long ugly brown stockings’ that day —not white ones like my cousin Patsy wore. The first thing Uncle Bob said to me was: ‘My, you look like a grown-up young lady with those brown stockings. They look like silk stockings.’ Our trip was off to a roaring start . . . but first a little background about my Uncle Bob.

“Mom’s youngest brother was a movie projectionist by trade, and a railroad enthusiast. He belonged to the local railroad club and had an elaborate set-up all around his basement. He also had a printing press and printed timetables for his trains. He loved traveling by train and shared his joy with his family. He regularly paid for train tickets each summer so my brother could go to Iowa to work on the farm. He paid for tickets so my mom and her twin sister could get together on their birthdays each year, and he took several of his nieces on train trips. My first one was to La Crosse on the Hiawatha.

“We had first-class swivel seats in the parlor car, but spent little time in them after he took me back to the observation deck. What a thrill to look back and watch those tracks receding behind us. He handed me the timetable, and at each town where we stopped, he would show me his watch to see if it matched the timetable. It did . . . every time. [Bulletin Board muses: Those were the days!]

“I remember only two things about arriving in La Crosse. The first thing we did that March 17th in 1940 was go into the telegraph office so he could send a Happy Birthday telegram to my sister Raye. The next stop was to a jeweler’s, where he bought me a Mickey Mouse watch so I could check the timetables on the return trip.

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“So, there you have my memories of my first train trip with Uncle Bob, the Hiawatha and Mickey Mouse — but what about the finger bowls? We had a fancy dinner on the train. What I ate, I have no idea, but the finger bowls fascinated me. I tried to talk Mother into using them at home, but to no avail. Eight individual bowls around our crowded dining-room table was not her idea of elegance.”

In memoriam

Email: “Subject: Maynard G.

“In the spring of 2006, Maynard’s dad, u/k/a (usually known as) Norton’s dad, and I found ourselves short one cat from the usual two-cat, one-dog group that dictated how everything was done in our home.

“We made our way to our local humane association, where we discovered two rooms filled with cats of all ages, colors, sizes and levels of activity. It was difficult to pick just one, but we finally settled on a youngish black-and-white cat who was lounging in a little cat hammock and appeared to be a nice, quiet cat.

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“He had been given a name by someone at the association, but when I looked at him and saw the little black goatee-like spot of hair on his chin, I immediately thought of ‘Maynard G. Krebs . . . the G stands for Walter,’ a beatnik character on the old TV series ‘The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,’ and Maynard G. had his new name.

“He settled into his new home, and we discovered that he wasn’t quite as quiet as we thought he’d be. He tore around the house, playing with our dog at that time, Beagle Cody, and trying to play with his sister Weasel, a beautiful white cat who wasn’t sure about this new guy and hissed and spit at him for a few days. She soon ‘sort of’ tolerated him, and they did become friends — eventually good friends.

“Maynard had a great personality. He was sweet, getting sweeter as he aged, and a bit ‘salty,’ getting braver about the salty part as he aged.

“Maynard and Beagle Norton played and wrestled with each other when Norton was a puppy and close in size to Maynard. I have a video of Maynard winning ’round one,’ toppling Norton over onto his back. And in 2012, when we brought our present cat, Gracie, into our house, Maynard accepted her right away. It was almost like he said to her: ‘Welcome to my home. I’m happy to share my family with you.’ He never hissed, spit . . . nothing. Just immediate acceptance.

“He had a loud, wonderful purr and used it well. And he looked at Maynard’s dad and me with the most beautiful expression of love in his eyes.

“Our Maynard loved flowers — mostly to eat. No floral arrangements, or even a bunch of flowers from the garden in a Mason jar, could survive on our table. I soon just gave up and made do with gazing at and sniffing the flowers in the garden. And he loved Christmas lights. I remember the expression of amazement on his little face at his first sighting of the Christmas tree all lit up that first year he was with us.

“There was one thing that Maynard refused to do: kill mice. We live in the country, and every so often a mouse gets into the house. Maynard would catch them, but wouldn’t kill them. He’d swing them by the tail, let go and then chase them again.

“Maynard was smart. He was trained to get on the kitchen table to receive his twice-daily insulin shots for the several years he needed them, before going into remission about a year ago. He developed chronic pancreatitis and knew the sound of the timer that signaled that his food, mixed with crushed pork pancreatic enzyme tablets and left to bond with the enzyme for 15 minutes, was ready for him to eat. He was also fast, escaping to the attached garage many, many times in attempts to get outside — perhaps to eat flowers?

“Maynard G. was diagnosed with kidney failure in early August, and we brought him home to ‘kitty hospice’ for what we thought would be a few days. I called the vet over a week later and said: ‘I’m confused. Our Maynard is thriving.’ And we were so glad he was doing better. We gave him potassium supplements, kept up the food with the pancreatic enzyme in it, but also let him eat what he would — anything to inspire him to keep eating. He even started begging alongside Norton for a piece of whatever we were eating. We didn’t share much with him, but he could tolerate small pieces of chicken breast.

“And then the week before Halloween, he lost his appetite and couldn’t be coaxed to eat anything, even the ‘cream of chicken soup with pieces of tuna’ that I’d discovered when browsing the cat-food section for something he might enjoy. He’d loved that, but just had no appetite, and on Friday, October 25, he took his last breaths, at home, purring somewhat loudly every time he heard my or Maynard’s dad’s voice.

“We buried him in the woods behind our house, near where we’d buried Beagle Cody back in 2009, and I made a little marker using a Stepping Stone kit.

“Our cat, Gracie, and Beagle Norton are doing fine, accepting the extra attention we are giving them. And we miss Maynard, but are glad that we were able to give him a good home and afford the vet bills to keep him as healthy as we could. He was a good, good cat, and we miss him.

“Rest in peace, Maynard.

Maynard’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin (u/k/a Norton’s mom)”

The Permanent Maternal Record

Stinky Bananalips of Empire: “Subject: My mom’s bunny, Two Tony.

“Today is my mom’s birthday, so we went to take her out to lunch and some shopping.

“There was a cute stuffed bunny in her living room, so of course I had to ask. It’s not like she’s turning 7, and there are no small grandchildren, so why does she have new toys?

“She said: ‘Last week I went shopping with my friend, and found him at a thrift shop. She looked at me like I was nuts when I put him in my cart, but I had to have him. He looks just like a bunny I had when I was little.

“‘D and a couple of neighbor boys each had about 100 rabbits. That happens when you start out with one pregnant one. D gave me one that looked just like that. His name was Two Tony, and I used to walk him around the back yard with a little rope around his neck, except once I almost strangled him when he got caught up in my tricycle wheel.’

“Didn’t see that plot twist coming! I did know about the 100 rabbits, the back yard full of hutches and the freezer full of rabbit meat. When she was older, my Uncle D would pay my mom a nickel (I think) to feed, water and clean the cages. Eventually D and the neighbors let all their rabbits free; they all moved across the street to the grain elevator and feasted.

“I should ask about looking through her old photos in case there’s one of the rabbits, but for now I’ve included one of the new Two Tony for you.”

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In the bucket
Hole in the Bucket Division

Lola: “Something that I have done that I will never, ever, ever do again is ice fishing.

“My husband and I had been married for less than a year when he decided it was time for me to experience the joy of ice fishing. He invited his best friend, and one dark, cold January morning, we got into our Corvair and drove to Mille Lacs. We got a map to our rented fish house and started driving across the lake. There was a water-filled rut that our car slid into, leaning precariously. Best friend jumped out of the car and managed to push the car out of danger. He was a big strong guy, and the car wasn’t very big. [Bulletin Board says: Yes, but it was “Unsafe at Any Speed” — on land or on lake, frozen or otherwise!]

“We spent the day in the fish house and didn’t catch anything.

“We started driving back to town when, in the middle of nowhere, one of the tires blew out. We didn’t have a spare, saw a farmhouse with lights on across a field, and started walking toward it. The people were so very nice and welcoming, and the farmer knew the service-station owner in town. Called him and he came out, brought a new tire and changed it. We got back home about 12 hours after we left, and I will never, ever, ever go ice fishing again.”

Shirts happen

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “The flurry of holiday catalogs brings a flurry of shirts. Here are a few:

“‘I WANTED TO BE A Monk
“‘BUT I NEVER GOT THE CHANTS.’

“Below a picture of the Ten Commandment tablets:
“‘Moses was the first person
“‘with a tablet
“‘downloading data
“‘from a cloud’

“‘IF YOU SEE ME TALKING TO MYSELF,
“‘I’M JUST GETTING EXPERT ADVICE.’

“‘WELL, TO BE FRANK,
“‘I’D HAVE TO
“‘CHANGE MY NAME.’

“‘I prefer
“‘my puns
“‘intended.’”

Say what?

Grandma Pat, formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin: “Subject: Blood Sisters.

“Every day there are friendly interactions in our senior apartment complex. Those who have lived here for several years are trying to place the newer residents. We have many gracious retired nuns here.

“A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with someone on the elevator. She asked me how long I had lived here. I answered, and added that I was sharing an apartment with my sister. She responded: ‘Oh, you’re the blood sisters!’ It caught me by surprise; ‘the blood sisters’ sounded somewhat gang-like. Then I quickly realized that she was just differentiating between two types of sisters.

“Thank goodness.”

Great comebacks

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Stay calm and nobody gets hurt.

“Being a passenger in the Runabout’s vehicle is an exciting ride. It’s akin to vicariously robbing a bank. I’ve been known to tell her: ‘You can take it easy now, I think we lost ’em.'”

Fun facts to know and tell

Little Sister: “Other than a busy highway running past it, little has changed about the southern Vermont property in the past 100 years. Even parts of the original apple orchard remain.

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“The house itself had a history long before a renowned poet planted those trees. Timeless is the word that comes to mind — something that I think we all crave in some respects, especially in what seems to be a world moving and changing way too fast, leaving us spent from trying to hang on and stay grounded. On a recent trip, I paid a visit to the stone house that Robert Frost called home and where he wrote one of his most memorable poems, ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.’ The original manuscript is framed and hanging on a wall in the dining room where his thoughts were immortalized.

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“People are surprised to learn that Frost penned the poem on a blistering-hot day in the summer of 1922 — a setting which was a far cry from the frozen woods of his imagination. He maintained that a poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a loneliness. Of ‘Stopping by Woods,’ he stated it had come to him in an instant, like a hallucination. He is also remembered as saying that readers overthought the poem — something which must have escaped my seventh-grade English teacher, who made us write at length about the underlying meanings hidden in and between the lines. Regardless, it has been a favorite poem of mine, so much so that I read it every year at Christmastime to my own children when they were growing up, from my dog-eared copy of a picture book of the same title.

“Today, I watch from my kitchen window as the first early snowflakes fall furiously to quickly cover the trees in a thin blanket of white. It can’t help but trigger an automatic recitation in my head of what Frost referred to as ‘my best bid for remembrance.’ I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

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“’Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.’ — Robert Frost”

Know thyself!

LeoJEOSP writes: “Over the years, I have collected many movies. I still have a VHS videotape player, as well as many DVDs. Knowing which movies I own does not mean I won’t watch an owned one when it is playing on TV. I own ‘Patton’ on DVD, but I still will watch it whenever it is on TV.

“Anyone else?”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Almost 30 years into this Bulletin Board experiment, we have learned innumerable times that one is hardly ever the only one.

Not exactly what he had in mind

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake: “Subject: A little Thanksgiving humor.

“Last Thanksgiving, I told my wife that I wanted to have turkey for dinner. On Thanksgiving morning, I looked out the back window and saw them all in our back yard. She had invited about 20 of them over for dinner!

“I had to explain to her that I didn’t want them all over for dinner, only wanted to eat one.

“Guess what? This morning I looked out the window again .  . .  and  yup, they’re all back. She did it again!”

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Our birds, ourselves

Barbara of Afton: “This morning I was watching my bird feeder and saw a most (to me, at least) amazing sight. A red-bellied woodpecker chased a blue jay from the feeder. I had been operating under the assumption that nothing could get the better of a blue jay.”

Joy of Juxtaposition (responsorial)

D. Ziner: “Subject: Motorcycle Memories.

The poem and video about Vincent motorcycles brought back memories of my early teens in L.A. (I wish for memories of red-haired girls, but nothing comes to mind.)

“Down our block lived the Trimble brothers. The younger one was just a few years older than I and actually sold me my first full-sized motorcycle after he beat it up real good on the Baldwin Hills scramble trails. I continued to beat up that ’52 AJS Scrambler myself 191111bbcut-motorcycle-—on those trails and on ski hills and clay ravines in northern Wisconsin after moving east. It was a little too much machine for a small guy like me, but I loved how it looked, how it sounded, how it smelled and especially how the saddle fit my bottom.

“The older Trimble brother did not seem the motorcycle type. He was heavy-set, scholarly in appearance and aloof in his mannerisms. We assumed he was really smart because we saw a lot of things in their garage that we couldn’t figure out. But most intriguing was that he was said to be the owner of the Vincent stored in that garage. Those of us with more ordinary bikes had heard stories about Vincents, but they were so rare, we did not have firsthand knowledge.

“When that shrine-like garage was open, my buddies and I would try to sneak a peek into the dark corner where the Vincent was kept.

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“We always whispered when we got that close. There were rumors that it had won some races, but to add to the mystery, I don’t remember ever seeing it in operation. It was as if it were a retired Thoroughbred and had earned the right to just sit there and be admired. Then again, maybe it needed a special place to run, and the ordinary streets in our neighborhood just weren’t good enough.

“Until now, I never knew about the poem nor the music, but I can understand why they were written.”

The simple displeasures

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Subject: Nothing stays the same?

“I had such high hopes for the new fall TV season. The show with Patricia Heaton playing a doctor role sounded very interesting; we always loved watching her on ‘Raymond.’

“Well, what did those producers do? They added a laugh track to a moderately funny and probably endearing new show and ruined it for me. Who needs to be told ‘It’s time to laugh now’ after almost every sentence, funny or not so funny? When I hear that annoying sound that always sounds the same over and over, I immediately turn to another channel. One evening I spent an hour trying to find out how to contact those directors, producers or whatever just to tell them they’d ruined a perfectly good concept for a new show. I’ll bet there are more people than they’d suspect who do that same thing. Scripts shouldn’t always try to be funny; life is not always funny. Someone might say that we ‘need a few laughs these days.’ I think so, too, but not every single sentence, please.

“A disappointing Halloween this year? Yes, it was cold, but we always turn on our front lights and have a pumpkin in the window and plenty of candy right by the front door. The pumpkin is fiberoptic and blinks, looking cute even though it’s pretty old now. Well, not one child with or without an accompanying parent came to our door. Now . . . what to do with the leftover goodies? Maybe the days of Trick or Treat are over? I used to complain a bit when older boys with stubble would be making the rounds, but I would even have liked seeing one who’s too old to be out there.

“Thanks, Bulletin Boarders. I needed to vent a bit. I’ll bet some of you get annoyed at the same things, and maybe we could see things improve a bit if we do vent from time to time. Bad language with the ‘F-Bomb’ several times on a page in those familiar detective novels that never had those words before? If a few people complained, maybe the vocabulary would improve. Who knows?”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We try to be an optimist, but are confident that the gratuitous F-Bombs will be with us always. Annoying laugh tracks, too.

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Donald: “Subject: And the second safety is . . . ?

“This is from the ‘VIKINGS’ section in Saturday’s St. Paul paper:

“‘SWAP OF SAFETIES

“‘Zimmer didn’t have a lot to say Friday about why the Vikings on Wednesday claimed safety Andrew Sendejo off waivers from Philadelphia. Sendejo had played with Minnesota from 2011-18.

“‘”We thought he could help us,” Zimmer said of Sendejo, who was ruled out for Sunday with a groin injury.’

“That was the entire piece.”

Keeping your eyes open

Mounds View Swede: “Dear Bulletin Board,

“I noticed that the neighbor with the cemetery in the front yard improved things for Halloween night, so I updated the photos to show this. Everything is now put away, of course.

“It took some work and planning to get all the parts together to make a scary scene.

“The ghost coming out of the ground earlier was now all the way up.

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“And this dog skeleton looks kind of vicious with the furrowed brow and snarly face.

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“And the upside-down bat skeleton almost looks gleeful — like ‘Look, Mom! Whee!’

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“Now that all our outside blossoms are done with the latest cold, my son sent photos of what’s blooming in his yard in Oregon.

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“After living here in Minnesota for many years, it would seem really unusual — and welcome, perhaps — to have a new blooming season beginning in November.”

This ‘n’ that ‘n’ the other

From Kathy S. of St. Paul: (1) “Election Day looked like Halloween this year. Almost everyone was wearing black, gray or beige clothes.

“My election story this year is about the children who came to help adults vote. Other judges and I fussed over them, to encourage them to vote when they’re eligible. No kid who was already born left without an ‘I Voted’ sticker this year. And I have (other years) given at least one sticker to a pregnant woman for her baby.

“But it is a little girl of pre-K age who stole the show. An election judge asked her for the name of the adult she arrived with (so the mother could sign in and get her ballot).

“Her answer? ‘Mommy!’

“It was good to laugh.”

(2) “The last BB mentioned First Communion ceremonies. Back then, everyone — including the kids making their First Communions — had to abstain from food and drink from midnight until they received Communion. There were stories of parents covering bathroom faucets, to try to prevent the kids from drinking water after midnight, and of kids who got a drink after midnight and had to wait for their First Communions. Luckily for me, the rules were less strict when I started going to Communion.

“People attended Mass before breakfast back then, and I don’t think there were Saturday-evening Masses.”

(3) “Subject: A Rousing Celebration.

“Don’t tell the Archbishop, but one church sang the Minnesota Rouser after Mass this weekend.

“Go, Gophers!”

Yellowed journalism
Including: Oopp’s! (Or: Everyone’s a copy editor!)

John in Highland writes: “Subject: What is a ‘Giant Sequence Camera?’

“Remember the days when Gopher football-game reports in the Pioneer Press included photos that must have been taken from the press box with a large telephoto lens? [Bulletin Board says: Sadly, yes, we do.] Here is a pair of photos from the 1954 season that show passes from Gino Cappelletti to the McNamara brothers.

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“The Gophers defeated Michigan State 19-13.”

Then & Now (responsorial) (responsorial)

Carp Lips of Wyoming: “Grandma Paula‘s childhood Catholic memories triggered a few flashbacks for me as well — especially in regards to my first Confession.

“My biggest fear was of the unknown. I had no idea what was behind that door. I knew what I was supposed to say. I just wasn’t exactly sure about the whole situation.

“I entered and approached the kneeler. The little window in front of it had a small curtain, and I didn’t know what it was for.

“I tried to separate the curtain and peek inside, but I couldn’t see anything, as the sliding slat was closed. As I was moving the curtain around, it fell.

“I shot out of the confessional and took my place among my classmates in the pews. I was sure my transgression was going to get me sent straight to you know where — either that or the principal’s office. I was reprimanded by my teacher, but she also clarified what I should have done.

“Confession always was a scary undertaking for me. As Grandma Paula stated, what does a 7-year-old have to confess? Or 8 or 9 or 10? It was certainly more than my little brain could comprehend for some time.

“My Catholic-school years also clouded my view of the real world, though. Middle school was definitely an eye-opener. I felt like I was the one who emerged from the cave when they rolled away the stone.

“More stories later.”

Band Name of the Day: The Blood Sisters

Website of the Day: Radio Garden