“He came to Minneapolis during the campaign of 1936, and his long open convertible drove right down 38th Street. We were excited because that was only two blocks from our house. I envied Aunt Ethel and Uncle Bob, because their house was on the other side of 38th and only two houses from the corner. Heck, they could even watch from their front porch!
“My spinster Aunt Ethel was a loyal Republican, my dad was a die-hard Democrat, and though they were quite fond of each other, they often got into fierce arguments over politics. Dad had been goading Aunt Ethel about the coming presidential visit: ‘Here’s your chance, Ethel. Maybe, if you wink at him, he will stop and talk to you.’ Aunt Ethel sniffed and said: ‘Huh! I wouldn’t walk out the door to see That Man!’
“It was a perfectly lovely autumn afternoon when we took our dog, Nancy, with us and hustled down to 38th to line up before the crowds got too thick. Dad started to snort as soon as we arrived because there stood Aunt Ethel, ready and waiting, right across the street from us.
“Since I was only 4, that is the extent of my memory of that exciting day, so I was pleased to read this on-the-spot color commentary from a letter my Uncle Bob wrote to my sister Ruth on October 9th, 1936, Friday evening at 7:30 p.m.:
“‘We have just seen the Prez! His Excellency, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, preceded by a battalion of mounted police and a brigade of secret service boys, came down 38th Street, and thence to town via Nicollet. We were all up on the corner — Ethel and I on our side, with your mother et. al., including Nancy, on the other. Many hurrahs, cheers and an occasional “Landon!” as a reminder. No casualties to date.’”
Our State Fair is the best state fair!
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Every year, shortly after Labor Day, the State Fair posts the total attendance on a sign on the side of the Grandstand. I doubt if that happened this year, so I’ll do my part. Here are the attendance numbers from the past two years and my estimate of this year’s attendance.”
The best State Fair in our state!
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “Subject: Fair collage.
“A few years ago, I thought it might be fun to make a State Fair collage, with the goal of entering it for consideration in the Fine Arts show.
“So that year on my Fair Day, I made a point to take photos of all my favorite iconic Fair sites. Not everyone has the same favorites, of course. But you can zoom in and around to see mine.
“Next, there was the actual creation of the collage, and later taking it to be framed. Here is my finished piece, which I called ‘Fair Play.’
“After it was finished, I had to follow through with entering it in the juried competition. Quite the big deal. I was beyond thrilled when I was notified that I’d made it to the second round of jurying, and had to deliver my 40-by-30-inch framed collage to the Fine Arts Building to be viewed in person.
“Well, my collage didn’t make it into the show in the second round. I knew it was a bit kitschy to be considered fine art. But I sure had fun with the whole process.
“My sister lives near the Fairgrounds, so she picked up my entry following my rejection, and it’s still up in her attic.”
We ran Cheesehead By Proxy‘s piece in this past Sunday’s Sunday Bulletin Board in the Pioneer Press, and it elicited this reply from K. Smith: “The State Fair collage picture ‘Fair Play’ by Cheesehead By Proxy would make a terrific jigsaw puzzle.”
BULLETIN BOARD REPLIES: Indeed, it would.
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other
Writes Friendly Bob of Fridley: “I have faithfully read for many years every Bulletin Board that comes along, but it seems that lately I have not been getting my fill. Maybe more of us need to use this ‘down time’ to dig into our memories, look around us, or whatever else it takes to contribute to this wonderful forum. Or maybe my brain is just perceiving things differently. [Bulletin Board says: There’s nothing amiss with your brain. The numbers of contributors and contributions have been gradually declining ever since we left the daily paper, four years ago this month — and have now reached an all-time low so low that, to be frank, our survival is in question. We would happily welcome back those who have, for whatever reason, vanished without a trace! We, too, miss their stories and observations.]
“I have certainly enjoyed the recent musings about the State Fair. For those of us who really found it to be a special part of growing up, we all have our favorite memories. I’ll try not to get too long with this!
“Early memories include Mom talking about the polio epidemic and the fact that we missed out on the Fair because of it. Only recently I have discovered that it was before I was born!
“We grew up on a dairy farm about an hour to the south, and the State Fair was our summer vacation, generally on Kids’ Day (the first Monday then), just eight days before returning to school. With little money to spend, we learned to appreciate the varied sights that abounded. Despite our family’s very poor record for promptness, Pa somehow managed to get us to the gate on Commonwealth almost exactly as it opened at 6 a.m., when we could still park on the grounds. Things not open yet? No problem. At the time Machinery Hill was immense, and was loaded with shiny new farm equipment we would never see at home. Always loved to get to the Conservation Building at its 9 a.m. opening time. Sweet Martha’s cookies, washed down at the all-you-can-drink-for-a-dime milk stand. [Bulletin Board interjects: We believe that you are mixing eras there. Sweet Martha’s cookies premiered at the State Fair in 1979 — long after you were a kid!] The aforementioned Crop Art in the Ag-Hort Building. Peters hot dogs for 9 cents (!). When we had a little money, a Pronto Pup and a pineapple malt in the Dairy Building, where we could also watch the butter carving of Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
“Too bad we usually had to leave by about 4 p.m. to go back and milk those cows!
“One year I timed things just right to arrive at one of the music stages when The Mamas and the Papas (minus Mama Cass Elliot) were performing. I thought it a great treat to sing along with them on ‘California Dreamin’.’
“Many people at the Fair had very simple tastes, and if we managed to snag one of those square yardsticks/walking sticks, we were queried many times during the day where we had acquired such a wonderful gadget! I rode the Space Tower ride a few times once that appeared, but it was never one of my favorites. But it was GREAT when I was finally old enough to ride a boat at Ye Old Mill, even if I had no sweetheart along.
“Later years were not as much fun, due to physical limitations and no one to go with me. I talked to a disabled friend from Northern Minnesota about getting around with a powered wheelchair, and he told me that the year he tried it was a nightmare. Minnesota Nice does not apply in the surging crowds, and he said he was essentially invisible to others. So I had no desire to give that a try.
“One year, I decided that I just had to have some of that State Fair food. We were in luck, as there were stands outside of the grounds peddling the greasy fare. I had three sisters and a brother-in-law along, and we got close to $100 worth of sustenance (?) to munch on in my van.
“The pictures of scenes at the Fair were much appreciated, too. Back then, I did not have a camera, so I never got any myself. Mom was a photography enthusiast, and I know she took pictures of the Fair, but I fear those are all lost to time. One of the few I remember was one she took when I was about 3 or 4: a shot of my twin sister and me on leashes/harnesses to keep us in check!
“It is really sad that this all had to be canceled this year, and we just have to hope next year will be better. I predict record turnouts.
“Another thing I had to say something about was the ‘copy editor’ musings from Donald. I’m certainly not making fun of the tough job editors have in trying to get error-free stories out. There are ‘lists’ around that purport to assist in doing a better job of writing in general. Here is one: It is called ’50 Rules for Writing Good.’ Following the tongue-in-cheek flavor of the site, the supplied list has only 40 items. They even offer a downloadable graphic of these ‘rules’ that you can put up by your desk. One of my favorites has always been ’29. Check to see if you any words out.’ I get people with that one a lot. I should go back over this email and see how many of those suggestions apply.
“One more musing from me. I had to laugh at the door mat that Red’s Offspring saw in a catalog:
“‘SEND A TEXT
“‘WHEN YOU ARRIVE’
“(picture of a dog bone)
“‘NO NEED TO KNOCK AND
“‘GET THE DOG INVOLVED’”
“When my twin sister lived in Kenyon, she had a couple of large indoor dogs that would go berserk at the sound of a knock on the door. Once when I was there visiting, I was telling a story that needed sound effects, so I made the mistake of knocking on the table. Predictable reaction from the dogs. Twin sister now lives in Montevideo and has only one large indoor dog (Tripp). I asked her if he reacted the same way. He is smart enough to know if there is actually someone at the door, and that evokes the usual barking. But she told me he does not respond to a knock on the table. However, she told me: ‘Watch this.’ Not sure if she rapped on the table first, but when she said loudly ‘Come in!,’ THAT set him off. We humans are so easily amused.
“OK . . . silent mode on.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Fine. Just don’t KEEP it on!
Between fact and fiction
So testifies Tim Torkildson: “Subject: The greatest man I ever knew.
“The greatest man I ever knew lived under a bridge. The bridge ran over the Mississippi River. The cars driving over it made a continuous and monotonous buzz. In the summer the river smelled to high heaven. And the carp grew to the size of leviathan.
“The greatest man I ever knew spoke very little. He had bad teeth. They were very crooked and brown. But he liked to shake hands a lot. He kept his hands spotlessly clean. Even had an emery board to keep his nails smooth. He smiled at everyone he met.
“The greatest man I ever knew met me one day by accident. At an old hotel being demolished downtown. I was working a temp job there, ripping out carpets and throwing moldy furniture out the window into a Dumpster. I found an old barometer, encased in brass and weighing a ton. I was taking it home when I saw him smiling at me. ‘May I have that please?’ he asked me. I don’t know why, but I gave it to him. Then I followed him down under the bridge, where he hung the barometer onto a rusty iron rod sticking out of the bridge foundation.
“The greatest man I ever knew opened a can of pork and beans and offered me some. But I couldn’t stand to eat them cold, so I went away. But not before he smiled and shook my hand very warmly. And I never saw him again.
“The greatest man I ever knew was gone when I went back under the bridge years later. But the old barometer was still there. A bird’s nest sat on top of it, with three blue speckled eggs inside. There was a rusty can of pork and beans on the ground right underneath it. A small turtle crawled out of it, looked up at me, then smiled. I wanted it to speak to me; I almost wrote down here that it did speak to me — words of warmth and wisdom, of comfort and great joy. But of course turtles don’t talk. They’re not supposed to and they don’t need to; they have all sorts of other pleasant and important things to do in this world.
“The greatest man I ever knew taught me that.”
Then & Now
The simple pleasures
Lady Di from Roseville writes: “I am so lucky to be able to relax, enjoy and unwind in my beautiful yard. It’s a haven, an oasis and just a wonderful getaway in the city.”
Our theater of seasons
Just before Summer turned unmistakably toward Autumn, we heard from Mounds View Swede:
Recent flowers in my yard include my favorite hosta blossoms–the one variety that produces very fragrant blossoms and of which we have many.
“And the dahlia bulbs that my serious gardening neighbors gave me are blossoming now. I find some of these blossoms so unique looking!
“And once I saw how mine were doing, I knew it was time to go the neighbors’ garden and see theirs.
“I am grateful these neighbors allow me to explore their yard and appreciate their efforts. I make sure they see these photos, too.
“What a visual feast!
“A white version of my red dahlia blossom.
“And a version with a mixture of colors to keep things interesting.
“When it rains, it pours–when they start blooming, such a variety to see!
“I am glad these neighbors go to all this effort to show such variety and beauty. They have had busloads come this summer to see them, so it isn’t all for naught.
“This blossom and the next one are probably not dahlias, but striking, nonetheless.
“The shadowed area behind these blossoms really sets them off. It’s fun to find such visual opportunities.
“I am not sure if this blossom is a dahlia or not, but I like it anyway. Have a few petals!
“But, since this is a dahlia, the first one may well be, too.
“A familiar shape, much like the one in my garden.
“As the blossoming time nears an end for this season, I can justifiably state it’s going out with a powerful ending in variety and color. We have been fortunate to not have the extremes of storms, heat, and drought that some parts of the country have faced, and I am thankful for that. May such beauty as I find here adorn those places in the future that have lost so much this late summer.
“This is not a dahlia!
“I like the white, inner core of what I think is a morning glory.”
Life as we know it
All from Al B of Hartland: (1) “My wife was in a grocery store. She wanted to buy a seedless watermelon. The store kept their watermelons in a huge box at the end of an aisle. There was only one melon left in that container, and she couldn’t reach it. She said there were no big people around to help her.
“I have been asked often to grab an item from the top shelf for someone. I’m vertically enhanced, and the one asking wasn’t. One day, I’m going to ask a short person to get something from the bottom shelf for me. That would be good. I could use the help.”
(2) “Dog days are related to the Dog Star, Sirius, which is the brightest star visible from Earth at night. Dog days are the 40-day period (July 3 — August 11) when the sun is in the same region of the sky as Sirius. Greeks and Romans thought Sirius gave the sun extra heat, but that’s not true. Dog days are when birdsong lessens and if you add the temperature and humidity to your age, it will be too high.”
(3) “I’ve learned: Uncomfortable chairs become antiques because no one sat on them.”
(4) “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.
“My day’s goal had been to not upset the blue jays. A lot of things irritate them and my wife has told me that if I don’t know what the problem is, it’s me. One day, I saw the source of their outrage had a yellow bill and black eyes. It wasn’t me glaring at an ancient invoice. It was a barred owl.
“Canada geese flew overhead. The goslings have just begun their flying lives, and the adults had regained theirs after a molt had left them flightless. They flew together, a family of aviators.”
“Butterflies filled the yard. It was their home, I was just walking through it. The air was made of painted ladies, red admirals, sulphurs, cabbage whites, monarchs, question marks and azures.
“Butterflies don’t have lungs. They breathe through tiny openings on the sides of their bodies called spiracles that carry the oxygen through tubes to their bodies. Frass is the excrement produced by insects. I don’t know why I added the part about frass, but it makes a worthy replacement word for any reader who has a penchant for creative cussing. Just remember, bears do not frass in the woods.”
(5) “The days go by too quickly. I tried to make one day seem as if it’d last forever by walking in the rain.
“Mosquitoes thought I was a meal they’d ordered from room service. For every drop of rain that fell, a mosquito grew. Mosquitoes can breed in a bottle cap of water.
“A picnic beetle bit me, and I heard myself snarl: ‘I’ll fix your wagon.’ I remember hearing my father say that very same thing as he stalked a fly with a flyswatter.”
(6) “I heard a cardinal sing. Both male and female cardinals sing.
“I’ve been a lifelong fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. It began when I was a dear boy in a dairy barn and the Philco wooden radio stationed there, one with 19 knobs and dials, only two of which made any difference (on/off/volume and station select), was able to receive the signal of KMOX, a clear-channel station with 50,000 watts of power from St. Louis. I was enthralled by word pictures painted by announcers like Jack Buck, Joe Garagiola and Harry Caray. [Bulletin Board interjects: The KMOX signal, at 1120 AM, comes in as clear as day on our car radio, when we are out driving at night and skipping from AM station to AM station — one of our simple pleasures.]
“The images of the birds on the team uniforms aren’t a true replica of northern cardinals. They have yellow bills and light eyes. The real bird has a reddish-orange bill (juveniles have gray to black bills) and dark eyes.”
(7) “My wife, tired of lugging my stuff around in her purse, suggested I get a man bag. I failed to act on that suggestion, so she gave me one. It’s a messenger bag. I call it a man purse. Some say it’s a murse. It’s one of the colors of fall and comfortable to tote around. I enjoy its company. I take it with me when I go. When I get into my car, the one with the ‘Rest area or bust’ bumper sticker, the man purse travels along.”
(8) “I saw a turkey vulture dining on a skunk that had lost a game of chicken with a car. What is a bad meal to a vulture?
“If anosmia (the loss of the sense of smell) is an early symptom of COVID-19, I’ve learned I’m OK — thanks to that skunk.”
(9) “Each year, I enjoy watching Northwestern crows at The National Shrine of St. Thérèse in Juneau, Alaska. They are slightly smaller than our American crows, but a recent genetic study found the two species are the same. I’ve watched those crows drop mollusks onto rocks to expose the fleshy interiors or drop rocks to crack shells. It’s a good strategy, except some crows perched on the rocks and waited for others to do the work.
(10) “Back there in grade school, we drew things in pencil on construction paper. I usually drew a cow. I’d been around cows all my life. I knew what they looked like, but my drawings all looked like unfit amoeba. That required me to write ‘cow’ on the paper and have an arrow pointing from that word to the drawing.”
(11) “I had three Aunt Helens. I loved them all. One day, my mother, sister, girl cousins and one Aunt Helen found a way to be shed of me by raising enough money for me to buy myself an ice cream cone. It wasn’t a far hike to the ice cream place. I walked along, trying not to think of anything and having good luck in that regard, when I happened upon a house with an old guy sitting on a front-porch glider while he smoked a cigar and read a newspaper. ‘Hey, kid!’ he yelled at me through a cloud of smoke. ‘You want a cigar band?’
‘I didn’t, but I was taught never to diminish any gift by refusing to accept it. I walked up the few steps to his glider and he handed me a cigar band. I don’t remember the brand. He smiled as if he’d done a great deed and went back to reading his paper. I thanked him politely and left the scene.”
Marge Filkins remembers: “Our mom was cutting our stepdad’s hair one day. As she was finishing up by his ears, she said: ‘What should I do about your ears?’ He said: ‘Keep them!’
“Love and miss you both in Heaven, from all your kids!”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.
“Sign of the times: a person chasing their wind-blown face mask across the supermarket parking lot.”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Musing in the grocery store.
“Walking into ‘my’ grocery store, I heard the song lyrics ‘And stay right here, ’cause these are the good old days.’ Which seemed ironic, in a store full of masked shoppers.
“It is from ‘my’ era, but I didn’t remember the name of the song. Tonight I looked it up. It is ‘Anticipation,’ by Carly Simon. Which basically says to live in your right now — the opposite of what so many people seem to want to do right now.
“Either way: Onward!”
Band Name of the Day: Al B and His Cigar Band
Website of the Day, recommended by The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “I REALLY needed this today”: The Secret Garden