Fun facts to know and tell
Or: Justice Is Served
Deuce of Eagan writes: “Subject: You Be the Judge.
“Today they call ’em ‘sliders,’ but as teens we referred to them as ‘gut bombs.’ Whatever you call them, the urge to whiff that sweet-onion aroma and savor their distinctive taste can be overwhelming at times. Over the years, there have been varying arguments for and against those distinctive little White Castle burgers. The argument, it seems, was decided by Chief Justice Douglas K. Amdahl of the Minnesota Supreme Court in the 1980s. Don’t bother to search the law books or consult Westlaw electronically; his ‘ruling’ took a somewhat different route.
“The route I am referring to is 1-1/2 blocks along University Avenue from the State Capitol complex to the White Castle on Rice Street. During his tenure as Chief Justice, 1981-1989, he walked that route nearly every weekday, whatever the weather, to have lunch. (Incidentally, that W.C. has since been replaced.) He normally sat on one of their attached stools along a large east window with a clear view of his workplace. He was a down-to-earth-type person who enjoyed small talk with anyone he happened to be seated near, never letting on as to the prestigious position he held.
“His fondness for this fine dining was well known by his colleagues, and whenever the Pioneer Press contained White Castle coupons, they would cut them out and send them to his chambers. I decided to create what I had hoped would be an appropriate container to unite them until they were to be used. The result was a gold-anodized metal, actual-sized White Castle box, lined in burgundy velvet, mounted on a walnut base, with an inscribed brass plate attached. I received a pleasant letter of thanks in which the Chief Justice described how he displayed his ‘fine golden gift’ centered on the mantel in his chambers and used it often.
“This story could end here, but following his death at the age of 91, I learned a little of his life and would like to share it with you. This honorable gentleman dedicated his life to justice for everyone. He was the son of a Norwegian immigrant, taught at the William Mitchell College of Law (where he graduated summa cum laude, as class valedictorian), served in WWII as an Air Force cryptologist who coordinated efforts to decrypt the German Enigma communications, and served for a time as a tank commander at the Battle of the Bulge. He was also a leader in creating the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
“His only faux pas was taking the chance of another jurist noting a telltale sweet-onion scent near the judicial bench.”
Life imitates Hollywood
Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Subject: Courtroom Classic.
“I recently watched ‘The Return of Frank James,’ a 1940 Western starring Henry Fonda as the infamous outlaw who is bent on revenge following the death of his brother Jesse at the hands of Bob Ford. An enjoyable but highly inaccurate movie, it has a courtroom scene that is an absolute classic.
“James is on trial for murder and robbery at a train station. Although he admits that he was there, Frank contends that the station agent was killed by a shot that came from outside.
“‘Exactly where was this agent standing?’ the arrogant prosecuting attorney asks.
“‘Now let me think,’ Frank replies, stroking his chin.
“‘Don’t think!’ the prosecutor snaps. ‘Just tell me!’
“‘Well,’ Frank deadpans, ‘I can’t talk without thinking, not being a lawyer.’
“The entire courtroom bursts into laughter, and me along with them. Just thinking about this scene makes me laugh.
“While typing this little piece, I could hear the impeachment hearings (CBS had the audacity to usurp ‘The Price Is Right’) droning on and on in the background. Suddenly, I had an idea for some additional dialogue to that courtroom scene.
“After making his priceless comment about lawyers, Frank James leans over the witness chair, spits some tobacco juice into a cuspidor, and smirks: ‘. . . or a politician!'”
Life as we know it
Outdoor Sports Division
The Astronomer of Nininger: “By now most of us have put away our fishing gear and resurrected our deer rifles to partake in the annual Minnesota tradition of Deer Camp.
“Every time I clean and oil a reel, setting it aside until next spring, I think of the places I’ve fished this past year. I simply cannot do this task without visions of those places where I had a chance to wet a line and memories of fish caught and released.
“The Good Wife is not particularly fond of all the fishing rods and other tackle that accompany our luggage almost everywhere we travel.
“Her brother owns a home on Grand Bahama Island. We try to go there at least once a year. I usually bring three sets of fishing equipment: an ultra-light spinning rod, a six- or seven-weight fly rod, and a casting rod with more substantial backbone. I use it for huge northern pike and muskie back in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Whatever the green glowing waters of the Bahamas hold, I fish for them.
“This past spring, I managed to go out with Bonefish Foley’s son, Tom. After an evening of eating freshly harvested conch, we loaded our gear into his skiff at sunrise. Tom brought along an Orvis eight-weight fly rod. To me it seemed like a dream to cast. We fished on the flats adjacent to that island of low elevation. He was far more accustomed to seeing the bonefish scatter along the turtle grass and mangroves than I was. The water was shallow. Tom poled us stealthily. I was instructed where to cast when he saw the schools of bonefish scouring the bottoms. Ten o’clock, 50 feet. Three o’clock, 40 feet. Cast! If you allow the bait to hit the water too hard, you’ll scare the fish.
“As we fished the labyrinth of bonefish habitat, I eventually learned how to be more delicate in the presentation. I finally hooked one, and it was a really nice one. I’ve heard so many stories about the way they strip line off your reel in a blaze, but until it snakes out the guides of your rod, drag humming bzzz, bzzz, bzzz, you don’t know what it is like. Here is where you’d better have good equipment with a drag that works properly. At the rate the fish was heading away and accelerating as it went, it seemed like it wouldn’t be long before we would run out of line. You have to be gentle enough to allow him to run off, but at the same time apply just enough pressure to turn him around without breaking the line. Eventually I wore him down enough to bring the fish in.
“As I cradled him before gently placing him back in the water, I thought about how lucky I was to catch this fish, to be here in the Bahamas, to be here with the Good Wife even though she wasn’t in the boat, and to be here with Tom. I have always told my son that no matter what, the fishing can be great. And if you catch a fish, that is a bonus.”
The Permanent Fatherly/Daughterly Record
And: Then & Now
Grandma Paula writes: “Subject: Music and Memories.
“Back in July of this year, the Website of the Day was ‘This Is Your Life (Roy Rogers).’
“I clicked on it and was immediately brought back to the 1950s and memories of my dad. I spent a lot of time with him in his ‘sick room.’ He was in the hospital on and off when I was 9, and he died when I was 10. My mother had a bed set up for him in the front parlor of my grandmother’s house, where we lived. When he was not in the hospital, he was there, in the parlor, in his bed, listening to his records and the radio. He loved country music: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and Hank Williams. I did, too. I got to know all their songs and knew the words by heart. It was the music of my youth.
“Fast-forward to now, when I am a somewhat older person, and I found a CD by Roy Rogers in an antique shop.
“I bought it and immediately rushed out to my car to play it. I have it in the house now and play it almost every day.
“Also: Every evening for one week in September, I was glued to the TV set watching Ken Burns’s documentary on ‘Country Music.’ I loved every night of the program. It is hard to describe the emotions the music evoked in me. During much of the program, I had tears running down my face. I am sure the music that I love — the banjo, fiddle, and twangy voices — probably grates on my grandchildren’s senses as much as hip-hop and heavy metal grate on mine. It does not matter. The music that you love? It’s all about the memory that a particular song brings back.”
Horntoad of White Bear Lake reports: “Subject: On the road again. Where in the world are you? Trip two.
“In early October, my wife and I went off on another quick journey by car, this time to Fort Worth, Texas. This would be the second of three five-day trips we took from late summer through mid-fall. Though we were headed to the funeral of a longtime friend, we managed to enjoy being on the road again in some unfamiliar areas.
“As always, we were taken by the names of cities and towns along the way. Since it’s easy to get bored on freeways, we mix in stretches of old federal highways and state highways to get a more local flavor. Adding an hour or more of travel per day seems well worth the time.
“Just before venturing off I-35 in eastern Kansas, we passed the almost non-existent town of LeLoup, or ‘The Wolf,’ named by a French settler apparently thrown for a loop after spotting a coyote that he mistook for a wolf. He should have named it LeCoyote.
“A few hours later, just north of the Oklahoma border, we passed by a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ site: the location where the Ingallses lived for two years in the late 1860s — one of at least a half-dozen LHotP historical sites in the Midwest, including one in Minnesota. A mile down the road sits the tiny town of Wayside, Oklahoma. We weren’t tired, so we didn’t stop there.
“In Tulsa, a surprisingly large city, historic Highway 66 enters from the northeast and runs southwest to Oklahoma City, intersected several times along the way by the straighter I-44. One of the old towns there along Route 66 is Depew, which seems like a rotten name for a town.
“An hour south of OKC, a roadside sign identified an upcoming exit as ‘Wayne Payne.’ Many cities are named after a person, but usually just their first or last name, not both. At our next ‘necessary’ pullover, a quick look at the map revealed that this was not one town but two: Wayne on one side of the highway, Payne on the other side. It’s a highway mind game.
“Soon we passed the town of Joy. Were the residents happy when they named their town, or was it named after a woman named Joy? Or both?
“Up next for an unusual town sign was Gene Autry, which was not two guys but one — some long-ago ‘Western’ singer and actor. [Bulletin Board says: You must be kidding, Horntoad. Right? Please tell us you’re kidding!] He bought the 1,200-acre Flying A Ranch near Berwyn, Oklahoma, in 1939, and in 1941 the town was renamed Gene Autry.
“Texas offered up only one place to my quest: the possibly mediocre village of Krum.
“Heading back home, we encountered more odd names. In Oklahoma: Wolf (English for LeLoup), Bowlegs, Hominy, Herd and Bowring. In Kansas, we passed through the beautiful Flint Hills region on Highway 99 — so straight in some places that the road could be seen 15 to 20 miles ahead when on top of one of the rolling hills. Individual cattle ranches stretched for miles in all directions. One of the infrequent small towns on this road is Climax, which ‘may’ have been thus named by a group of pioneers at the end of their journey. Also noteworthy was Admire, Kansas. It seems the town would have gotten its handle because the settlers were so impressed by their new surroundings (which could be true). But actually, one of the town founders was Jacob Admire.
“As with all of our multi-state drives, we encountered many ‘big-name’ places that we can say we’ve been. We managed, in only five days, to go to (or really darn close to) Ottawa, Buffalo, Havana, Delaware, Lima, Prague, Cleveland, (back to) Peru, and Madison. It seems crazy to travel to those places in that order, but that’s what we did. And it was fun!”
This ‘n’ that
49th State Division
From Al B of Hartland: (1) “It’s a small world unless you have to paint it.
“I was at a banquet in Sitka, Alaska, visiting with a woman from Barrow. She asked me if I’d ever heard of a small town in Minnesota. I had. It was where I went to high school.”
(2) “It’s easy to find a bear in Alaska. I just look for a group of tourists with cameras and cellphones all pointing the same direction.
“The bear I’d been watching had waddled away to sleep off the salmon it had snarfed down. I looked for another. ‘There’s one flying,’ said a photographer from Dubai, with heaps of enthusiasm.
“I looked up excitedly. But it wasn’t a flying bear. It was an eagle.”
Greatest Generation Division
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: A wartime memory.
“My second train trip was quite a contrast from the first luxurious experience on the Hiawatha with my Uncle Bob. It was March of 1944, and once again Uncle Bob paid for train tickets so his twin sisters could get together for their birthdays. This time, instead of Aunt Bonnie coming to see us, Mom was going to travel to Iowa to see Bonnie — and to my surprise, he bought an extra ticket for me so that I could go along. It was wartime, the train was crowded and we ate box lunches at our seats; no classy dining car with finger bowls this time around.
“The birthday celebration was going to be in a little town near Des Moines, at Aunt Bonnie’s oldest daughter’s house. My cousin Beth was born when Aunt Bonnie was in her 20s, while I was Bessie’s tag-along, born when my mother was in her mid-40s; hence, Beth’s oldest daughters were around my age. We hadn’t met since we were toddlers, so we were all excited to see each other. Beth always referred to us as her ‘Minneapolis’ relatives, and my cousins assumed that their unmodern farmhouse would be a revelation for a city kid. I think they were slightly disappointed to find out that we lived ‘out in the sticks’ in a 20-by-20-foot rental house and that I knew all about kerosene lamps and outdoor privies. We girls formed a bond that week that continued the rest of our lives.
“The most vivid memory I have of the trip back home was when Mother woke me up in the middle of the night to see the troop trains. I remember she said: ‘Wake up, dear. This is something I want you to remember your entire life.’ Our train had pulled off to a side track to let the troop trains through. It was quite a sight — so many cars we lost count. Each of them was all lit up, so we could see the soldiers waving at the passengers on our train. Mom told me to wave back at the soldiers, telling me that probably some of them had little sisters they had left behind and that a smile from a little girl might give them a moment’s happiness before they headed off to war.
“Our train certainly didn’t keep to the schedule on the timetable, as it had during peacetime. It took us all night to get from Des Moines to Minneapolis, because we were sidelined for so many troop trains. Later Mother realized that all those servicemen we had waved at were heading for troop ships to take them to the impending invasion of Europe that took place in June of 1944.”
Then & Now
John in Highland: “Subject: Gophers Versus Badgers, 1961.
“As Yogi Berra used to say: It’s like deja vu all over again with the Gophers’ football schedule. The Wisconsin Badgers stand in the way of Minnesota’s chances of winning a conference championship. As in 1961, the Gophers are in the lead, but need a win over the Badgers to cinch the Big Ten West conference.
“I was at the game in ’61. My dad, Ed, had gotten us tickets for the sold-out game, but they were in the top row of the six-row wooden bleachers that had been added around the running track. To make matters worse, the seats were right in front of the Wisconsin section. The Badger fans were fairly obnoxious, chanting ‘Go Big Red’ for most of the game. The guy directly behind me wore the nicest raccoon coat that I had ever seen. The coat had an inside pocket that held a flask from which he took multiple slugs.
“The game was exciting. On the first possession, Sandy Stephens hit Tom Hall with a pass on the sideline, and he ran in untouched for a touchdown. He must have blended in with all the other maroon jerseys on the Minnesota sideline because no one had covered him. Wisconsin had a great receiver, Pat Richter, who would later go on to be athletic director. [Bulletin Board trivializes: Richter was a nine-time letter winner at Wisconsin — three times each in football, basketball and baseball.] The lead in the game went back and forth, with the Badgers eventually winning, 23-21.
“The loss meant that the Gophers ended the season second behind Ohio State for the conference lead, and out of the running for the Rose Bowl. But in a move that Ohio State football fans never understood, their administration decided to turn down the invitation, opening the door for the Gophers.
“Minnesota won the game, defeating UCLA 21-3 in the last Rose Bowl that the Gophers have attended.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Let’s make that “the most recent Rose Bowl . . . .”
Oh, and by the way: Even though they’re silent, and even though they predate the invention of slow-motion instant replay, this three-part series — Gophers vs. the Michigan Wolverines, for the Little Brown Jug, on October 28, 1961, before 63,898 fans at Memorial Stadium — is a heckuva lot of fun . . . not least because of the punters, the placekickers and the referee:
Keeping your ears open
Donald: “Subject: Expanding his vocabulary on the job.
“From ‘THEY SAID IT’ in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated: ‘”He talks so much. He said so many cuss words I’ve never heard of, and I’m 22 years old.” Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, on what it was like to face Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.'”
Where have you gone, Paul Molitor . . . ?
Or: Sic transit gloria mundi
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: If ‘What’s past is prologue . . .’
“It was nice to see Rocco Baldelli named American League Manager of the Year. If recent Twins history provides a clue to his future, his tenure should extend through next season, before he’s fired.”
What’s in a (Bulletin Board) name?
Otis from Inver Grove: “I am always curious about people’s names. Whenever I come across a person with a unique name, I always inquire about the story behind it. And most are delighted to share it.
“I have always enjoyed the names of our Bulletin Board contributors. Some are self-explanatory. For example, Al B of Hartland. Today I read a posting from Stinky Bananalips. OK, I just have to ask: What is the story behind this name???
“Would enjoy hearing the story behind other Bulletin Board handles as well.”
‘Tis the season!
Auntie Cathy: “This time of year, I think about Christmas cookies past.
“The ones my mother made were baked in the weeks leading up to Christmas and put in large shortening cans from the bakery that became a tower of tin on the kitchen stairs. My favorites — chocolate-covered toffee bars — were relegated to the chilly back porch so the chocolate wouldn’t melt. Of course I loved the frosted sugar cutouts and spritz, too. And I never turned down any of the others.
“My daughter and I always did Christmas cookie baking in one long day. All my old favorites were on the list, as well as some that never made the list a second time. But the most memorable were the ones we called Etiennes, named after her little Yorkie. It wasn’t an original recipe, but I remember that dates and Rice Krispies were the main ingredients, and they were right-tasty tubular cookies. When we pulled the first batch, nicely browned, out of the oven, they looked exactly like what Etienne deposited in the yard on a regular basis. Nevertheless, they became my favorite Christmas cookie because of laughs we had every Christmas baking day and the tradition with my daughter.”
It takes all kinds!
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “Belated Halloween Post.
“Here’s a couple of jack-o-lanterns I saw at one house in my daughter’s neighborhood on Halloween. The carvers must have been in a poopy mood!”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said ‘Dead End’
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “Subject: Not another scheme.
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘WANT TO GET RICH QUICK?
“‘COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!'”
Website of the Day: Bulletin Board’s Twitter page (where we make a habit of posting items of particular interest, including many potential Websites of the Day; we encourage you to visit that page, which you need not “follow” if you don’t care to)
Band Name of the Day: The Flying Bears