The best State Fair in our state! (responsorial)
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “Subject: State Fair ‘Old Time’ photo.
“I enjoyed reading the recent stories from the family that ran a booth at the State Fair’s Heritage Square. I’m old enough to remember when that was a teen area during the 1960s! But I digress.
“Their family photo from the Old Time (or was it Old Tyme?) photo booth reminded me that ours has been hanging on the wall for decades now in the original cheapie metal Ben Franklin frame I purchased for it in 1983.
“Going to the State Fair was a major expense for us back then, and you couldn’t just charge things on a credit card or go to an ATM machine for cash; you had to bring cash with you. And when you had spent it all, you went home or walked around to see free attractions.
“I was so envious of the people who dressed up in the old clothes and had their picture taken at that booth. So a year ahead of time, I purposely saved up the $20 it was going to take to get a large Old Time photo. I‘d sort of had to squirrel the money away and set it aside expressly for this purpose. And once at the Fair, I had to hang on to that money and not spend it on corn dogs and other goodies.
“The camera they used at that booth in 1983 was an actual old large box camera on legs — the type they used in the 1800s that used glass plates; the kind where you had to stay absolutely still during however long it took to capture the image. (Maybe 15 full seconds?)
“That wasn’t really long for an adult to stay motionless, but for little kids it was forever. Thus you can see, in the case of our 5-year-old son, that his image is a bit blurry; it’s even blurrier for our squirmy daughter, age 3.
‘I believe we had to spend extra on the fancy cardboard oval matting. Then we had to carry that 11 x 14 photo everywhere on the rest of our Fair adventures without bending it. After all, it did cost that $20 I’d worked so hard to save.
“The other thing I recall was that our dresses, at least, had been split down the back so that customers could slip in and out of the outfits quickly.
“Now that squirmy little girl with the doll is about to turn 40 and has a 5-year-old son of her own. She is close to the age of Peachy’s daughter Nina, who died too soon at the age of 15. Thank you, Peachy, for the stories you’ve told that made me appreciate my daughter in a special way I might not have otherwise.”
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in northern Minnesota”: “Subject: Old photo addendum.
“I was going to clean the glass over that photo while I had it out, and noticed that the oval mat has covered my son’s ‘modern-day’ (circa 1983) tennis shoes.”
Fun facts to know and tell
Or: The Miracle on Pitch
Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Subject: The Other Epic Upset.
“I’m sure most people remember when the U.S. men’s hockey team stunned the mighty Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. It was one of the greatest upsets in sports history, and became known as ‘The Miracle on Ice.’
“But did you know that the United States was involved in another epic upset when they shocked soccer powerhouse England 1-0 in the opening round of the 1950 World Cup in Brazil? I honestly don’t recall hearing about this seminal moment in sports history until a few days ago, when I watched the 2005 movie ‘The Game of Their Lives,’ which had amazing parallels to the game with the U.S.S.R.
“The hastily assembled U.S. squad, a 500-1 underdog, was considered a mere after-thought to the Brits on their quest for the Cup. The pitch must have seemed as if it were tilted toward the American goal as England threw everything at their overwhelmed opponent but the Crown Jewels and Henry VIII’s chopping block.
“But, as in the game against the Soviets, the U.S. had destiny, and some good fortune, on their side. Not only were the Brits stonewalled by the spectacular play of goalie Frank Borghi, but they hit the crossbar and goalposts several times and had a number of near-misses. Haitian-born Joseph Gaetjens scored the game’s only goal on a beautiful header in the first half, which really got the crowd behind the Americans.
“Unlike the hockey team, however, the U.S. footballers couldn’t boast of capturing the gold medal (i.e., the Cup). They were eliminated after a 5-2 loss to Chile. (England was also knocked out of the tournament with a loss to Spain.) But for one shining moment, the United States was the darling of the soccer world.
“‘The Game of Their Lives,’ unfortunately, was a box-office flop, earning only $389,000 and poor reviews. I think it’s a reflection of the ennui many Americans had (and have) toward soccer (although its popularity has grown over the years), which is in sharp contrast to the rest of the world, where ‘the beautiful game’ is embraced with passion.
“On the other hand, the film ‘Miracle’ earned $64.5 million and re-ignited a sense of national pride that swept the country in 1980, when a team of young pucksters, coached by St. Paul’s Herb Brooks, captured the gold and became the darlings of the sports world.
“Hockey is my favorite sport, but I also love soccer. And I thought ‘The Game of Their Lives’ was an enjoyable movie that brought to light another miraculous triumph for the United States.”
Fifteen Nanoseconds of Fame
The Happy Medium: “Subject: Mom and Eleanor.
“‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’ — Eleanor Roosevelt
“Over the years, I’ve encouraged friends and relatives to jot down their most memorable experiences, so that stories of ordinary people didn’t get lost. I thought I had done that to a great extent, but the other day I found some items that reminded me of the past I hadn’t shared with very many people. So I am sharing this tiny bit of history with you today.
“I’m always gleaning through items looking to see what can be tossed. What I found was an old luncheon bulletin, my notes for the luncheon and one other item.
“The year was 1960, my senior year at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. I was the president of the University’s American Women Student Association. Each year AWS sponsored a spring Mother/Daughter Luncheon to which a special guest speaker was invited. This particular year happened to feature Eleanor Roosevelt. And, because I happened to be the president of AWS, I had the honor and trepidation of introducing her.
“Mom was thrilled to learn she would get to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. I hadn’t told her she would be sitting next to her at the head table. Mom purchased a new summer suit and wore a hat to match. Yes, we wore hats to special events such as Mother/Daughter Luncheons.
“During the luncheon, we three visited about this and that and, at one point, while Mom was searching her purse for a handkerchief, her purse dropped to the floor, spilling its contents with a clatter. Mom was almost in tears from embarrassment. I noticed that Mrs. Roosevelt quickly bent over to assist in the pick-up. I’ll never forget her distinct voice whispering ‘Think nothing of it. This happens to me all the time.’ With that, we continued our visit until it was time for Eleanor’s speech.
“For the life of me, even after looking at my notes, I don’t recall what I said for Eleanor Roosevelt’s introduction, nor what she said in her speech, but I do remember the graciousness offered my mother by the former First Lady of the United States and former Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. Yes, Mom had fun sharing this unique experience with her friends back home in rural Wisconsin.
“So, what was the other item found, you ask? It was Eleanor Roosevelt’s autograph written on the back of my name tag. How fun is that?”
Dept. of Neat Stuff
Thermodynamics Souvenir Division
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “I’m taking a break from Neat Stuff from Brown & Bigelow until I can get some decent photos of the next items.
“Instead, let’s discuss the radiometer. It started out as a scientific device that eventually became a toy and definitely falls into the category of Neat Stuff. The one I’m showing here has a bit of history.
“My family took a vacation to Chicago in the summer of 1963 or 1964. It was often referred to as The Vacation, because it was the only big trip we ever took. We traveled by train to the Windy City, stayed at a downtown hotel that had a talking elevator, visited relatives from both sides of the family, and took in some of the local tourist attractions.
“One such attraction was the Adler Planetarium. It was there that I got the aforementioned radiometer as a souvenir. It was a pretty typical radiometer except that there was a photo of the Adler Planetarium on the bottom, which noted it was located in the Chicago Park District.
“For those not familiar with a radiometer, it is a clear glass bulb with a built-in base. It contains a near perfect vacuum. It is essentially a light bulb, except in the place of a filament, it has a very sharp metal needle. Balanced on the needle is a rotor with four metal vanes, each one painted white on one side and black on the other. That’s it.
“When placed in sunlight or some other bright light, the rotor spins as if by magic. Of course the magic can be explained by the laws of thermodynamics as being the result of differential heating caused by the light hitting the dark and light surfaces of each vane. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but close enough.
“Somehow this radiometer survived the train trip back to St. Paul and fairly rough usage by an inquisitive boy. If one looks closely, there is a black dot on the white vane in the photo. This was caused by an experiment involving a magnifying glass and sunlight. At least no ants were harmed in this experiment.
“The years passed, and as an adult I purchased a variety of radiometers for myself. Then while cleaning out my parents’ house, I found the original radiometer in its box, complete with a booklet titled ‘The Mystery of Light and Energy.’ I took out the radiometer, set it in the sun and it worked.
“The exterior of the box contained statements such as: ‘Mr. Sun at Work.’ ‘Fun . . . with Science,’ ‘The Scientific Toy,’ ‘Here is Light in Action,’ ‘Fun . . . and Educational,’ and ‘A Real Solar Motor.’
“There is also this statement: ‘The Radiometer will fascinate all for many years, there are no parts to wear out, nothing to get out of order.’ They got that right. It’s been over 55 years, and it still works. I’d like to tell the manufacturer, Windsor Electronics, Inc. at 999 North Main Street in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, that their radiometer, which cost only $1.50, was well worth the price — but, alas, the radiometer outlived the company.”
Our birds, ourselves
Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: “Subject: Lots of bluebirds.
“Some from the first batch of five, and some from the second batch of four.
“We need a bigger dish!”
Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division
Gma Tom writes: “Question for Al B [of Hartland], our Official Ornithologist:
“The second or third time in the raspberry patch this season, I spotted a bird’s nest hidden amongst the bushes along the fence. In it were two robin’s-egg-blue little eggs, so I surmised a mother robin had again found an inconvenient spot to build her nest. My fear at that time was it maybe was abandoned. But next day there were three eggs in the nest, so not abandoned after all.
“Of course, many days the mother bird was hunkered down in the nest so far that I could see only the beady little eyes and head. Sort of wondered if that is what a robin’s head looked like up close, but ignored the thought.
“Shortly thereafter, about a week, three little hatchlings were spotted in the nest, with mama bird just outside. Aha, not a robin after all, but a catbird. That might explain the three eggs instead of four.
“Alas, next day only one hatchling in nest, who in about a week has feathered out and nearly fills the entire nest.
“My question is: Do catbirds eliminate excess offspring to allow survival of the fittest? Otherwise, who/what would have attacked the nest, but left one to survive?”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: All in a Day’s Work, or Busy as a Beaver.
“Last week as I was going down to the river, I was surprised to see evidence of a beaver busy at work. This part of the journey to the river where the Good Wife and I keep both a fishing boat and a pontoon docked is an arduous trek, challenging even with a 4 X 4 ATV. It is steep, yet I thought others might like to see what one or more industrious critters have been up to. The tree itself is more than 100 feet from the water itself, so even once it comes down, it will not contribute to the formation of a dam. But I have to wonder whether the beavers intend just to bring the tree down, or do they actually have a well-intentioned plan to drop it in a specific spot?
“The beavers are shy, keeping to themselves. I have not seen more than one at a time, but I suspect he or she has a mate who may be even more bashful. I’ve seen him swim across the water, forming a wave on the surface like a back-stretched V, yet ever so silently. But once it is clear that his presence is known, slap goes his tail. When it flatly whacks the water, the sound is almost deafening, echoing in the self-contained inlet. Oooh! That must hurt. It sure gets your attention.
“The tree itself is about 14 inches in diameter. It is what my dad told me years ago was a popple, and it must be tasty to the beaver. It is related to the aspen family — definitely not a hardwood like those surrounding their selection. I don’t suspect it is the best for firewood, but it still can be a mighty tree. It likely is easier to gnaw. I really respect those teeth.
“I was there the previous day, so this was done in one night or day as the case may be. Then they rested a couple days.
“A bit more aggressive, more chips in every direction and two seriously deep gnaws. I doubt that I could do that much even with a finely honed axe.
“Another two days rest, and at it again. The tree still stands, but one can see that perhaps one more day of devoted effort will likely bring it down. I hope I am not nearby!”
Now & Then (responsorial)
Semi-Legend reports: “Subject: ‘One Meatball.’
“LeoJEOSP‘s submitted WW2 ad for ‘MEAT BALLS with Spaghetti,” with ground beef at 25 cents a pound, reminded me of a song from that era.
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We found the comments interesting here.
Joy of Juxtaposition
Also from Semi-Legend: “Subject: ‘I’ll make you famous.’ ‘OK.’ (Novel / Comics J of J)
“The Other Paper for July 28 had two stories on its Variety front in which a print creator asked to use someone’s name for a character. Both agreed, then forgot about it until fame struck, sort of.
“Example the first:
“Novelist James Patterson had prostate surgery at the Mayo Clinic. His patient liaison was Angela Hoot:
“‘. . . after he got back home, he contacted Hoot and asked for permission to name a character after her.
“‘”Oh, sure, that’s fine,” Hoot said she replied, and then she mostly forgot about it. A couple of years went by.
“'”But then when I got the e-mail last week saying that I was the main character [in his newest novel, “1st Case”], I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh.'” She was, she said, geeked out.’
“Example the second:
“Robb Armstrong, whose comic strip ‘Jump Start’ runs in the STrib, said ‘Peanuts’ creator ‘Charles Schulz was an inspiration to me and an icon’:
“‘Q: Oh, and that “Peanuts” character? Which one is named after you?’
“‘A: The Black dude, Franklin. He didn’t have a last name. One time, Charles Schulz called me up and asked if Franklin could have my last name. I didn’t think about it at the time. But when Franklin turned 50, I did an interview about it, and it made me realize what an honor it was.'”
Keeping your eyes open
Plus: Could be verse!
(1) Photo and caption by Tim Torkildson: “The stark beauty of utility.”
(2) “Timerick” by Tim Torkildson:
“When I was young I often feigned
“a fever and a stomach pained,
“But only on a school day, natch,
“when homework fever I would catch.
“Schools today will hit a snag
“if kids still pull that same old gag.
“The least complaint from any child
“will make the classroom deep defiled
“and ev’ryone will be dismissed
“and put upon a strict blacklist.
“I hope I’m wrong, but I’ve become
“convinced our kids will grow up dumb
“unless researchers close the gap
“by fashioning a thinking cap!”
Could be verse!
Or: Our pets, ourselves (Pandemic Division)
By Grandma J. of Grant: “Subject: Pudge and the Pandemic
“Pudge, the gray cat
“Was fluffy, not fat.
“He had an apartment,
“Some folks called a ‘flat.’
“And Pudge slept in the sun
“All day, on his mat.
“Mostly, Pudge liked that his people weren’t home,
“Had the place to himself
“He liked being alone.
“He liked chasing his ball
“That was made out of foam.
“Oh yes! Pudge liked it
“When he was at home.
“But one day, his people
“They stayed and they stayed!
“Pudge thought they looked worried,
“He noticed they prayed.
“And the little one . . . played,
“And she played, and she played!
“She played with her tricycle
“Rode down the hall
“Knocked over his water dish!
“And that wasn’t all . . .
“Why, this little person
“Even grabbed Pudge’s ball!
“‘Enough!’ growled Pudge,
“As he bat the ball high
“Away from her hands
“Pudge made his ball fly!
“And she ran to her mom, yelling ‘Why, Kitty, Why?!’
“But Pudge took his ball
“And crawled under her bed.
“’I used to like people, but now, I just dread
“‘Their being around!’ as he shook his big head.
“‘Don’t bother the kitty,’
‘The mom told her kid,
“‘Let him get used to us,
“I know that he hid,
“‘But treat him with kindness, be patient my dear,
“‘He may even play with you, be of good cheer.’
“But Pudge and his ball
“Stayed under the bed.
“He only came out to go potty, get fed.
“He growled when she reached for him.
“Well . . . enough said!
“Pudge noticed his people
“Were glued to TV,
“He looked and he listened
“To what it might be?
“Some awful thing brewing
“And they weren’t prepared,
“Who was it? What was it?
“That made them so scared?
“Pudge heard ‘pandemic’ and ‘virus’ and more.
“He wondered, he listened
“For what was in store.
“He saw all his people wear masks on their faces!
“He saw them store paper in lots of odd places!
“And really the young one
“Loved Pudge best of all,
“He thought, ‘I’ll forgive her for taking my ball.
“‘And if she wants to dress me
“‘I’ll let her, that’s all!’
“And even the old ones
“Were better, perhaps
“They let Pudge up to cuddle
“While taking their naps,
“And during the news,
“Why, Pudge sat on their laps!
“So for months, Pudge was cuddled
“And pampered, and groomed.
“And he purred and he purred
“While the pandemic loomed.
“And he liked all his people all over his flat,
“And seldom was Pudge all alone on his mat.
“But one day, it ended!
“His people were cheering!
“Pudge noticed a person on TV appearing
“‘We’ve found a vaccine!’ said a fellow named Fauci,
“Pudge noticed his people,
“No longer looked grouchy!
“And Pudge thought, ‘What is it?
“‘What is a “vaccine”?
“‘Does it look like a ball? Or a treat?
“‘What’s it mean?!
“‘If my people go get it, will they get me some?
“‘Whatever it is, they no longer look glum!
“‘So go get your vaccine! Go get some of that!
“‘And while you’re about it, get some for your cat!’
“And the people went back
“To their pre-school and work
“But they still filled his food-dish — they still didn’t shirk,
“They cleaned out his box when they were around,
“Pudge was back to the days when there wasn’t a sound.
“And during those days in the now-empty flat,
“Pudge dreamed kitty-dreams while he slept on his mat
“And he thought, ‘Hmm, pandemic,
“‘It’s just gone . . . and that’s that.’”
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: Adding a book to the Bible.
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘THOU SHALT WEAR A MASK’
Everyone’s a critic!
Or: A tout for today
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Something folks might want to watch at home.
“C-SPAN cable channels show lots of interesting videos — especially on weekends, when they concentrate on book talks and American history.
“Those who don’t have cable TV can access them via the C-SPAN website.
“Lately they’ve shown oral histories in which Korean War vets were interviewed. Tonight I watched a 2012 interview with World War II Veteran Eugene DiSabatino. Eugene was in the Manhattan Project and was involved in the bombing of Nagasaki. He also mentioned run-ins with gangsters — and his opinion about who killed Jimmy Hoffa.
It just do add up!
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Now . . . that is Fast!
“An item in the Pioneer Press caught my eye:
“‘Supercomputer to tackle virus’
“‘WASHINGTON — The fastest supercomputer in the U.S. is being put to work in the search for a vaccine to prevent the coronavirus and treat those infected by it.
“‘The Summit, housed in the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge Laboratory in Tennessee, is capable of 200,000 trillion calculations per second.’”
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other ’n’ the other
Al B of Hartland: (1) “Work had piled high, so I was late getting out for my hike. A cardinal helped me put one foot in front of another by offering an encouraging ‘Boogity, boogity, boogity.’ I’m not sure it was done intentionally.”
(2) “I tossed a small pizza crust on the lawn to see what would become of it. A crow found it quickly. Later, while mowing the lawn, I found a crow feather in the spot where the pizza had been. A coincidence, or a quid pro crow?”
(3) “I watched a great horned owl land twice in the yard not long before dusk. I didn’t see it catch anything, It might have attempted to find relief from being mobbed by jays, robins, chickadees, nuthatches, catbirds, woodpeckers and grackles. Mobbing is a loud expression of outrage and a behavior birds engage in to defend themselves or their offspring from predators. The smaller birds worked together like an indignant committee to annoy the owl from the yard.”
(4) “There’s more beauty in my ZIP Code than I could see or hear in two lifetimes.”
More from Mounds View Swede: “Subject: Flowers and butterflies.
“While visiting my neighbors who grow so many, many flowers, I spotted this one — a ‘sunny’ welcoming face.
“And this one, entirely different. The variety of blossoms is amazing to me.
“I wondered how this scenario would play out. The bumblebee left for a different blossom, even though it was on this one first. I suppose with so many blossoms to choose from, that’s an easy decision to make.
“The compost-site manager showed me this Monarch butterfly pupa. The metallic-looking line is one of its characteristics.
“A Monarch butterfly pupa is black when it is closer to hatching.
“All the hollyhocks there have seed pods, and here is what is inside: 30 seeds ready to go.
“Anyone wanting to grow hollyhocks is welcome to stop by the Mounds View compost site to get some, according to the site manager.”
Band Name of the Day: Fluffy, Not Fat
Website of the Day, nominated by The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield (and enthusiastically seconded by us): How One Photographer Captures the Glory of Birds in Flight