During the Golden Age of Jingles, you could take it from Fizbee: ‘Clark Super 100 gasoline, / Thousands say it’s best . . .”

Gee, our old La Salle ran great
Leading to: Please release me!

John in Highland writes: “Remember Fizbee?

“He was the comic commentator who gained local fame in the 1950s and ’60s as the radio spokesman for Clark gasoline stations. He was a big fan of the 1960 Gopher football team, which played Washington in the Rose Bowl.

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“I can still hear Clark’s jingle (earworm), which played over and over on the radio:

“Clark Super 100 gasoline,

“Thousands say it’s best.

“The largest-selling independent gasoline

“In the Middle West.

“Fill up today, you’ll see just what we mean.

“Buy Clark Super 100 gasoline.”

Muse, amuse
Or: Our times

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Wish I would have thought of this sooner.

“So I’m putting my broken TV in the car to go recycle for a $25 charge, and it dawns on me that I should have put it into the box my new one came in and set it outside by my front door for the ‘porch pirates.’

“NEXT TIME!”

’Tis the season!

The Astronomer of Nininger: “The weekend before last, the Good Wife and I hosted our 40th annual Holiday Celebration. We used to be insistent that we called our celebration a Christmas Open House, but the Good Wife felt that we had friends of other religious faiths who might want to join us. Hanukkah is also celebrated during the Christmas season; once, a Jewish woman asked if she could come so she could see how we celebrated Christmas. Hanukkah itself celebrates the second liberation of the Temple in Jerusalem, but essentially tells the world that there is a need to tolerate other religions and the central ideas that bring us closer to our Father in heaven rather than tearing us further apart.

“At no other time of year do we decorate our home nearly as much as at Christmas. Out front we place a ‘one-horse open sleigh’ made by the Wisconsin Carriage Company some 150 years ago.

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“Santa arrived about 7:30 p.m. He had a reserved parking place in front. The Good Wife prepared a sack of goodies for him to distribute: For some adults, there were mini-bottles of alcohol; for youngsters, there was chocolate. It was cool to see how many women had to have their picture taken with him.

“But the biggest treat of the evening was all the food prepared by the Good Wife. She baked for days beforehand, and one neighbor helped prepare some Yule log cakes. The Good Wife made a trip to a special bakery where she could procure just the right buns for the ham. There were meatballs and eggnog. The Good Wife’s eggnog is unlike any other I have ever tasted. It is so thick that a spoon could literally float on it. And it is sooo good! I cannot even venture to guess how many eggs went into preparing it. But it is worth it. Several friends help serve; some help greet people as they come and go. A lot of people came from from the local community, but others came from St. Paul, Elk River, Victoria and one from Indiana. The most distant couple drove from Oaxaca, Mexico. We have to admit that they did not drive that far just for our party, but rather to see family. Still, we are happy that they did come visit us, too.

“It is good to see people whom we haven’t seen for a while, because that is what Christmas is all about. It is about people, God’s creatures, coming together and celebrating the season. We don’t know how many more years we can host such an event, but there is no better way to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

‘Tis the season!
Or: Now & Then

Al B of Hartland: “I get excited about Christmas each year. I look forward to it, but I can’t help but look back at Christmases past. As a boy, I got brown bags from the school, the church and the city each Christmas. It was a big deal. I got the same brown bag of goodies at each place. Each bag contained a red Delicious apple that wasn’t delicious, aged peanuts in the shell, ribbon candy that was so hard, any leftovers were used to fill the potholes in the streets, and another hard candy, with a Christmas-tree icon on each piece, that was like chewing marbles.

“It sounds dreadful, doesn’t it?

“It wasn’t. It was wonderful.”

What is right with people?
‘Tis the Season Division (responsorial)

Birdwatcher in La Crescent:The recent post about St. Joseph’s Hospital reminds me of the memories I had there.

“In the 1960s, our four children were all born at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Back then, a person could smoke in their hospital room. Unfortunately, I was a smoker back then, and so was my doctor. I remember one time when the doctor came into my room for his daily visit with a lit cigarette, puffing away, and me smoking and holding our newborn. Yikes!

“We were sure a dumb generation. Thank goodness the times have changed, and for the better in some regards — especially smoking. When I quit smoking, it was the hardest thing I ever accomplished, but I am so glad that I persevered.

“Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.”

’Tis the season!
And: Then & Now

The Train Grampa: “Subject: Magic moments.

“It was just days before Christmas, the year was 1934, and my folks were unusually excited and worked up about something. It seems they could hardly believe what their good friends Bob & Bell Parks had just told them about their plans to drive up to Melrose, Minnesota, for a Christmas visit with their relatives, and they had asked my folks if they would like to go along. They could drop them off for a visit to my grandparents, who lived on the home farm, which is about a mile and a half north of Freeport, which is the last town before Melrose. Honestly, that’s hardly out of the way, is it?

“The Parkses had a big old Studebaker, and Bob claimed that it would comfortably accommodate my mom and dad and my little brother and me just fine. Oh boy, they couldn’t refuse such an offer as that, because my folks did not have an automobile; nor could they afford bus or train fare for Christmas visits, as the Depression had hit them hard.

“It was Christmas time, and that made it extra special, and of course my grandparents, as they always did, had the house decorated for the holidays. In the living room stood a beautiful large Christmas tree, and part of the decorations were candles — honest-to-goodness real wax Christmas candles. It was beautiful, but of course the candles were not lit because of the need to be extremely careful about the danger of fire.

“The REA (Rural Electrification Administration) had not gotten around to providing electricity to that area of Stearns County just yet [Bulletin Board notes: In fact, the REA didn’t get around to existing until May 11, 1935, when President Roosevelt established it via Executive Order No. 7037]; consequently, the farmhouse was using kerosene lamps for lighting in the evenings. In the dim light, I observed four milking pails filled with water sitting in the corner of the room next to the tree. Sure, the reason is obvious, but as a 6-year-old, I began asking: ‘Why aren’t the candles lit?’ Now, everyone knows that a child of that age can be an obnoxious little pain, and I kept nagging Grandpa until he took his little Nichtsnutz into his arms and dispensed a little knowledge about fire and trees. (Nichtsnutz is a German term which translates in English to a good-for-nothing or a little pest.)

“I must have been driving him nuts with my constant begging to light the candles. My incessant nagging drove him into a conference with Grandma, and then, lo and behold, IT HAPPENED, and it was glorious! That dimly lit room took on a flickering glow, the likes of which I have never forgotten. Thanks, Grandma, my love for you is a highlight of my life. The lit candles were all I expected them to be, and they gave life to a memory never to be forgotten.

“Now don’t you believe for a moment that a memory like I just described can never be experienced again, because look at that! Yep. There they were in the catalog: little LED Christmas Candles: perfect-reproduction, battery-operated Christmas candles available for purchase. Well, you know I just had to get some, and just maybe I could re-create that wonderful moment of so long ago. I went for it. No disappointment here. It worked as planned. Who says you can never live some wonderful moments of life all over again? They are so realistic that in our darkened living room, with only the light from our fireplace and their twinkling effect, this 91-year-old man can become a rascally little 6-year-old for the second time in one lifetime. Whoopee!”

Then & Now
’Tis the Season Division

A pre-Christmas memory from Old Old Gramps: “Subject: Christmas 1945.

“The war had ended, and most of the servicemen were thinking, even if they couldn’t
sing, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ — but that was wishful thinking, as you got to go
according to how many points you had. You accumulated points: one point monthly for overseas duty, and one-half point monthly for stateside duty. I had missed the last two Christmases home and was about to miss this one, as I had only 29 points and was then stationed on the island of Saipan. The servicemen who were eligible had 36 or more points at that time. I probably had to do three more months, as I would get three points for the next three months, and the total required points was dropping by a point a month, making me eligible at 32 or 33 points. Most greetings were not ‘How are you?’ or ‘Merry Christmas’; it was ‘How many points you got?’

“The Navy was probably trying to do their good deed for Christmas when they flew in
a planeload of turkey legs from Australia. Boy, did they get suckered! Or maybe it
was us who got suckered. They cooked the legs and issued (notice I didn’t say served) one to each person. The legs were black, and you couldn’t cut them with a steak knife. With a little modification, they would have made good bowling pins. Somebody in Australia was chuckling all the way to the bank.

“In addition to the turkey, each Gob was issued a chit that allowed him to buy two beers at the Ship’s Store. This was a big deal, as the Navy was very strict about when enlisted men could consume or possess alcohol. It didn’t take long for a line to form, and soon the store opened. What a letdown. Sometimes the beer came in bottles, but most of the time in cans. Since nearly all of the aluminum was going into airplanes and such, the cans were made out of tin or steel, which is subject to rusting in a hot, humid area. Those cans didn’t rust just on the outside; they rusted all the way through. By now everyone would have been happy with a C-Ration and a hot cup of coffee.

“I’m spending this Christmas at my daughter’s, BLESS THAT GAL, and I’m sure all of the food will be good.

“Merry Christmas, everyone.”

Life as we know it

A just-before-Christmas note from Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Well, it’s (almost) Christmas, and the kids are asking if we’re there yet.

“My mom didn’t like Christmas because she hated to lie. And Santa involves You Know What. So of course I am a major fan of Santa. Go figure.

“Here’s to all the frazzled parents and others trying to be ready In Time. Because there is nothing to bind a family/group together like a gathering. Even if we don’t agree on politics or politeness.

“P.S. There are a lot of seniors (and others) out there whose close family has died or can no longer travel. Please call them up or bring them a card or whatever. Because time gets very long when you feel left out while other people ‘have a place to go.’

“And, as I found out in August, there are people around us who are so lonely that they’ll cry if you take time to sit on a park bench with them.”

Our times

The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “Subject: 99 Good News Stories You Probably Didn’t Hear About in 2019.

“The news I needed today . . . and it’s not just pictures of puppies: https://futurecrun.ch/99-good-news-2019.”

See world

KH of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Neighbors.

“Other than when shoveling after a snowfall, we don’t see our next-door neighbors very often during the winter season. It’s always interesting to catch up on things in the spring.

“We think they got a new puppy.

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“We see this cute thing hanging around their yard a lot. We’re a little concerned that they don’t always feed it, because it comes up on our deck looking for a handout. We have so many questions. What did they name it? Is it an inside dog or outside dog? Does it get along with their kitties? Will I have to take care of it when they go on vacation? I can hardly wait till spring to get all the answers.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Do we need to tell you that KH of White Bear Lake is just havin’ a little fun with us (in the manner of Einstein of St. Paul)?

Our theater of seasons
Indoor Division

Grandma Paula: “Subject: Opening Day for the Holiday Garden Show at Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.

“On December 7th, my granddaughter Ashley, her two daughters and I decided to drive to Como Park to see the holiday flower show at the Conservatory. I told her we would probably have to brace ourselves for the crowd of people that would likely be there.

“I was wrong. Hardly anyone was there while we walked around a little after 1 in the afternoon.

“I took some photos, and we enjoyed the warmth inside the building on a very cold day. The colors of the display were very beautiful. Here are a few of the photos that I would like to share with you.”

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The highfalutin displeasures

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: The joys of electronic communication!

“For the last few weeks, I’ve been receiving daily emails trying to persuade me to refinance my mortgage. The latest one had this subject line: ‘All your contents have came in with requested information.’

“This appeared in the body of the message: ‘Confirm Your Lower Payment less then 1 min.’

“The closing line: ‘You are receiving this email because you signed up for our newsletter.’

“I didn’t sign up for it — I don’t want it — there’s no opt-out option available.

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Everyone’s a copy editor

Email from Donald: “Subject: Pick a number, any number.

“From the ‘NFL’ section on Page C2 of the Sports section of the December 23rd edition of the paper west of St. Paul:

“Headline: ‘Record a secondary accomplishment.’

“Subhead: ‘Michael Thomas has 136 receptions on the season.’

”’Last week, Drew Brees took his latest turn writing his name into the NFL record book. Now Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas has grabbed his piece of league history with the most catches in a single season. . . .

“‘Thomas insisted passing Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison’s mark of 143 receptions meant nothing. Thomas needed 10 receptions to tie Harrison’s mark . . . and he finished with 12 catches for 136 yards . . . ‘ Aha! There it is!

“If I calculate correctly, Thomas actually had 145 receptions.”

Attention, Apostrophe Redistribution Squad! (responsorial)
Or: What’s in a name?

Crassbah: “I read the entry about the Apostrophe Protection Society and decided to send the information to my now-adult granddaughter. I began thinking of a funny story about her:

“As a preteen, she would come and stay with my husband and me for a week in the summer. I would take the week off work, and Grandpa would join us in the evenings. It became known as ‘Camp Grandma.’ She would attend lacrosse camp for two days, and we would do ‘stuff’ the rest of the time.

“In her final preteen year and her final week-long visit, we canoed and pulled the canoe up to walk the woods; she complained a lot during the walk, but complaining seemed to  increase her enjoyment. (Ew, the bugs; ew, the mud; ew — weeds in the lake.) During the walk, I said we should give each other Native American names to commemorate our day together. Immediately she said I would be Grandma Eat the Woods. You can guess what I was doing: I offered her a raspberry — ewwww! Almost as quickly, I offered up Granddaughter __itchy Pants. She saw how that would fit and gladly accepted the name.

“Several months later, we were with her brother, and I said that I thought he could also use a similar name. He suggested Grandson __itchy Pants. His sister bellowed: ‘No, no, no — that is my name; I earned it.’ He is Grandson Calming Waters. Grandpa has become Grandpa Fun Sucker, as bestowed by __itchy Pants.”

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede: “The late sunrise this time of year lets me occasionally see some striking early-morning colors off to the southeast.

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“As the sun gets higher on a clear day, the snow awakens with all sorts of sparkles when looking towards the southeast.

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“Towards the north, there still appeared some sparkles here and there, and I wondered about the position of the individual snowflakes that would let them reflect back this light.

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“This morning’s pre-sunrise sky was even better than a few days ago.

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“I am grateful for the occasional glimpses of beauty these times afford me. I hope others find beauty in this time of year, too.”

Mounds View Swede again, some days later: “I noticed new icicles while looking out the bedroom window and saw how the sun was highlighting them.

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“I noticed spots of light here and there and wonder why that would happen. What is in the icicle that would concentrate light like this?

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“There was an ‘acorn mine’ in the snow below the window . . .

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“. . . with a squirrel path leading to and from it.

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“There was also this path made by a smaller creature with a tail dragging behind it. It could be made by any of several creatures, and I wonder which one I have living near me.

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“Happy Holidays, everyone!”

Keeping your ears open

Lola writes: “Subject: TV Sports Announcers Say The Darnedest Things.

“Flipping through channels, when the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche game came on. One of the announcers said: ‘The Avalanche remind me a lot of the Blackhawks in O nine and O ten.’

“By the way, it’s not an O; it’s a zero.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Yes, and maybe so . . . but how, for example, would you say the year 1909 (if you think 19 Aught 9 seems obsolete)?

Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Two-Letter Division

Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “Subject: Telephone numbers.

“Out in Roseville, our phone number began with ME for Melrose. I have no idea what Melrose signified. Farther out, in Shoreview, some of my friends were at IV for Ivanhoe. Again: Why?

“My husband tells me that his number in Hopkins started with WE for West. That does make sense, anyway. He wonders how and why he can still recall his childhood phone number, but important details for today, like appointments, are easily forgotten.”

Website of the Day (responsorial)

Kathy S. of St. Paul (“who loves walking labyrinths”): “The ‘labyrinth’ in the article cited in the last BB is actually a maze — which is different from a labyrinth.

“A labyrinth is the longest way to walk from A to B and back. There is only one path, and you have to pay attention as the path loops back and forth. It is designed for contemplation.

“A maze is a physical puzzle with multiple paths, and some paths are dead ends. People may get lost in a maze, though not in a labyrinth.

“I have attached two pictures from my trip to Taos. I lucked into staying at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, which I recommend. They have this labyrinth on the ground outside the building where I stayed.

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“Truly a Southwest experience.”

Clowning around

Tim Torkildson: “Subject: The Can Pyramid.

“I was with the Ringling Blue Unit 40-some years ago, and we were playing Madison Square Garden in late April, when my clown partner for ‘come in’ (the warmup before the show starts) decided he wanted to do a solo act with his pet dog, and so left me in the lurch with nothing to do for 20 minutes while the audience was filing in. I tried the old rubber-ball-balancing-on-the-edge-of-a-parasol routine, but that was a lame gag a hundred years ago. I needed a new gag.

“There used to be a Greek place across the street from the Garden that made unrivaled bread pudding and sold a solid block of it for just a dollar. One day I was in there chowing down between shows, watching one of the proprietors stacking cans of black olives into a pyramid in their display window. It struck me that everyone who ever has watched some grocery clerk do that kind of thing secretly wished that the whole stack would collapse just as the last can was put on top. And BINGO, I had my new gag . . .

“I went Dumpster diving in the Garden, collecting empty pop cans and rinsing them out. It was disgusting how many of ’em had soggy cigarette butts in them. When I finally had enough empty pop cans in a big canvas sack, I dragged them out at the beginning of come in and went to work in center ring, making a broad can pyramid. It took some trial and error. They couldn’t be stacked straight across; they always collapsed after about the sixth row up — so I learned to stack ’em in a slight curve. I managed to take up the whole 20 minutes of come in patiently and stoically stacking up my cans into a pyramid. No mugging or waving my arms around — this was a classic running gag, not what we called a one-off (a gag that developed fast and had a violent blow-off). So the audience could watch me for a moment to see what I was doing, and then let their gaze wander to the 20 other clowns demanding their attention, and then occasionally come back to me to see how my can pyramid was progressing. You could feel the audience suspense growing: Is he going to make it? I zealously guarded my edifice from the other clowns, who would zoom perilously close to it on unicycles or in kiddy cars.

“Inevitably, just as the 20 minutes was up and the performance director got ready to blow his whistle to signal the start of the show, I proudly put the last can on top of my aluminum cairn — while I surreptitiously gave the base a nudge with my clown shoe. The whole thing came crashing down as the whistle blew, and the audience gave a great audible sigh — whether of sincere disappointment or ‘I knew it wouldn’t work,’ I never figured out. And then would come the biggest laugh I ever got in my professional clown career, and sometimes even a round of applause, as I sadly scooped up the cans back into the sack and scrambled out of the way as the opening parade of horses and elephants bore down on me.

“After we left the Garden, I kept picking up all the spare aluminum pop cans I could — to increase the size of my Tower of Babel. I was kinda picky, and never used a beer can — even though I’m sure no one in the audience could ever see what kind of cans I was stacking.

“The boss clown told me that the whole thing looked too shabby for Ringling Brothers, and bade me cover each can with bright paint and sequins. I told him where he could put his glamorous idea — and we left it at that. Back in those golden days, Ringling management believed in a sort of benign neglect when it came to clown alley; as long as you showed up relatively sober for work, they didn’t much care what you did.

“My gag was a hit throughout the Midwest that summer, and some of the veteran clowns got hot under the collar. I won’t say they were jealous; they just had trouble wrapping their old-school comedy minds around the fact that I was getting the big boffos without resorting to dropping my pants or exploding something. Then, in Kansas City, my sack of cans disappeared. One evening, they were leaning against my clown trunk in clown alley, and the next morning they were gone. Loudly exercising some of the mighty blasphemies that all true circus folk know, I started in Dumpster diving again to rebuild my stock. But, alas, I ran into the curious and penny-pinching folkways of the Midwest: The building maintenance crews regarded all discarded cans as their own private property, and some shambling gypsy like me had no business dipping my mitts into their treasure trove. Whenever I managed to squirrel away a fair amount of cans, the overnight coliseum crew would divest me of my booty, and I’d have it all to do over again. When the show reached Denver, I threw in the towel. Let the damn hewers of wood and drawers of mops have the damn cans. I could think of something else equally risible.

“But I never did. I ended the season doing come in with a large yellow papier-mache banana shoved in my ear, walking around and responding with a hand cupped to my ear as the audience yelled: ‘Hey, you got a banana in your ear!’

“Does anyone still remember the original joke, I wonder? It was big in grade schools back in 1976.”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Something like this?

Guy 1 says to Guy 2: “Hey, you got bananas in your ears.”

Guy 2: “What?”

Guy 1: “You got bananas in your ears.”

Guy 2: “Speak up! I’ve got bananas in my ears!”

The darnedest things

WARNING! Cute kid story ahead, from King Grandpa: “The grandkids were excited to go see the lights at Sam’s Christmas Village in Somerset, Wisconsin. As we were rounding up the hats, mittens, boots, snow pants and other necessities, I urged the kids on, telling them we needed to hustle, since we needed to drive to Wisconsin for the show. After 30 minutes of ‘Are we there yet?,’ I told Henry that yes, we were finally in Wisconsin.

“He asked: ‘Do they speak English here?’

“I love these kids.”

Band Name of the Day: The Dumb Generation

Website of the Day: