Democracy in America
First, The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: Election day.
“When we first moved to the suburbs, I made close friends with the lady across the street. As our families grew, our kids also became lifelong friends, but the memory that stands out during this election year is the ritual we performed each election day.
“Our husbands voted before they went to work, and we waited until the lines would be shorter before we loaded our preschool kids in her car and drove off to the local school to cast our votes.
“Voting Day was special back in the ’60s; at least in our minds it was. We wore suitable dresses, high heels on our feet and hats on our properly coiffed hair. Even our little boys had to wear their clip-on bow ties. We were trying to teach them that that day was a special privilege and they owed it respect.
“The kids were remarkably patient and well-behaved as we stood in line, sometimes for a long time — especially in 1960, with the Kennedy/Nixon election. When we reached the voting booth, we took turns watching the kids, as each of entered and cast our vote, canceling each other out.”
And now Rusty of St. Paul: “Subject: Election night 1976.
“While at Macalester College, I took journalism courses from George Moses, who had been the Minneapolis bureau chief of the Associated Press. On election night 1976, he arranged for a number of his ‘J’ students to work for the AP in Minneapolis, collecting results from Minnesota. As you recall, the race was the incumbent, Gerald Ford, vs. Jimmy Carter and his Minnesota running mate, Walter Mondale.
“We were at the bureau in the evening, and as the polls closed we expected to be there through the wee hours. Teletype machines were sounding off. Reporters were at their desks writing and loudly conferring. My classmates and I were at a long table with phones in front of us. This was the real deal: democracy taking place and being freely reported on.
“I can’t recall if the polling stations called in their votes or if we called them, but at some point I was on the phone with the election judge of Afton, Minnesota, Senator Mondale’s town of residence. ‘Afton goes for Ford!’ I was told. I thought there must be some mistake. ‘Excuse me?’ I replied. ‘Yes, Afton goes for Ford!’ He gave me the vote totals. I wrote them down on my form, thanked him and hung up, dumbfounded.
“An AP reporter walked by. I waved my paper and told him he had to look at this. I don’t remember his exact words, but I do recall he felt this was quite the scoop. I assumed he verified my results, then he wrote up his story and put it on the AP wire.
“I do recall a long, but electric, night. I can’t remember if I got any winks when I went home, but do remember watching the ‘Today Show’ that morning and proudly heard my scoop being reported.
“I still have my pay stub from the check I received for working that night.”
A thought for today
Via Sally, the cleaning lady of Shoreview: “We often need reminders at such times as this.
“‘Some things you must always be unable to bear . . . injustice and outrage and dishonor or shame . . . not for kudos and not for cash; your picture in the paper nor money in the bank either. Just refuse to bear them.’ — William Faulkner, from ‘Intruder in the Dust'”
The vision thing
Dennis from Eagan writes: “Subject: Separation of church & state?
“I found these political lawn signs in Bloomington on Normandale Boulevard, about one mile south of I-494.
“Does anyone know what specific office Jesus is running for in 2020?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Seems like pretty much all of ’em!
If you don’t laugh, you might cry!
Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “Subject: The Lighter Side of Politics.
“Like many of you, I am totally fed-up with the buffoonery, caustic rhetoric, and grandstanding that has marked this presidential campaign. I needed to find something that would make me smile and laugh, like I did when I read ‘The Lighter Side of . . . ,’ my favorite feature in the old Mad Magazine.
“After seeking out bits of wit, wisdom and general irreverence from a richly diverse collection of people, I now present my own version of ‘The Lighter Side of Politics,’ with all due deference to Alfred E. Neuman and the ‘usual gang of idiots’ at Mad Magazine.
“And what better way to start than with three gems from beloved writer, actor and social commentator Will Rogers: (1) ‘Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.’ (2) ‘The only good thing about this group of candidates is that only one of them can win.’ (3) ‘I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.’
“In contrast to Rogers’s charming, country-boy image, there’s brash, eccentric writer and intellectual Gore Vidal: ‘Any American who is prepared to run for President should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.’
“Between writing about Huck, Tom and leaping frogs, Mark Twain offered these scathing insights: (1) ‘Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.’ (2) ‘Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or imbeciles who really mean it.’
“Poet Carl Sandburg: ‘A politician should have three hats. One for throwing in the ring, one for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of it if elected.’
“Actor W. C. Fields, a master of playing the cantankerous rapscallion: ‘Hell, I never vote for anybody. I vote against.’
“Writer George Orwell: ‘Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidarity to pure wind.’
“Actor Bill Murray, in a rare moment of clarity: ‘So, if we lie to the government, it’s a felony. If they lie to us, it’s politics.’
“Syndicated columnist and political activist Jim Hightower: ‘If ignorance goes to forty dollars a barrel, I want drilling rights to George Bush’s head.’
“The Little General himself, Napoleon Bonaparte, put forth this opinion: ‘In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.’ (I wonder what he thought of the military?)
“Finally, you can bet your life I didn’t forget about the one, the only Groucho Marx: ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.’
“I hope this made you smile and laugh. But please, don’t let it keep you from voting.”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Maybe we should replace politics with something like haka dancing.
“Politics have been especially loud lately. Tonight I’ve been online watching haka dances (Maori of New Zealand) devised for life events and confronting enemies. Some may have been appropriated from indigenous people, but I find it kinda refreshing to see ‘enemies’ stomping feet, waving arms and sticking out their tongues in challenge. Much more fun than organized debates.
“This is one of my favorite hakas.”
The REF in White Bear Lake: “More and more frequently, one runs across ‘creative spelling’ examples that make one realize that not enough people read. They’ve heard the words in conversation, but haven’t actually seen them in print.
“Like Wednesday’s ‘Candorville’ in the Pioneer Press, as the protagonist prepares to go vote”:
Could be verse!
A “timerick” from the world’s foremost (and only) timerick writer, Tim Torkildson: “I do not care which way my friends / may choose to cast their vote / It never bothers me at all / it doesn’t get my goat / My friendship is diversified / I’m never very rash / as long as they are gentle souls / and have a lot of cash.”
Our birds, ourselves
Our Theater of Seasons Division
Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota, sent this picture and caption:
“Cardinal blending in with the fall colors.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede: “Last Monday’s snow was light and decorated some of the branches in a delicate way.
“Tuesday’s snow was much heavier . . .
“. . . and ‘flocked’ this cluster of oak leaves . . .
“. . . and was wet enough to decorate the trunk and branches, too.
“The falling oak leaves, in turn, decorated the snow.
“Out front, the planter tub annuals, finished now after the frosts, got decorated by nature.
“I am not a fan of early snows, but the sudden visual change it brings is interesting to note. It doesn’t have to stay (hint, hint).
“The Friday-morning snow highlighted some of the remaining leaves . . .
“. . . and ‘flocked’ some more of them. We used to flock the family Christmas tree when I was young, to make it look snowy.
“As the temps rose Friday, the snow turned to droplets of water, adding a new interest to see.
“When I first spotted these from a distance, they looked like pearls of light on the leaves. And I noticed while photographing them that those droplets of water were magnifying the leaf area beneath them — something I don’t remember noticing before.
“The morning was a gray day — with gray sky over dull, gray water on Lake Owasso.”
Could be verse!
By Eos: “Subject: Golf 2020.
“Am I done with golf this season?
“Oh dear, I hope I’m NOT.
“My last game was not pretty,
“I didn’t play so hot.
“My driving was erratic,
“my putting was a mess,
“but my short game was the part
“that caused me the MOST stress.
“I need just one more round
“to make me feel okay
“about cleaning up my clubs,
“and putting them away.
“So come on, Mother Nature,
“give me one more shot!
“My last game was not pretty,
“and I didn’t play so hot.”
Ask Bulletin Board
Or: Everyone’s a copy editor
Donald writes: “Knowing that you are a seer, sage, soothsayer, all-knowing, all-seeing — wait— that was Carnac.
“Aware that you know everything there is to know about the realm of golf, I submit to you a recent item from the Sports section of the Pioneer Press. It appeared under ‘Holes in one’: ‘(name), St. Paul, Eagle Valley GC No. 5, 315 yards, lob wedge.’
“Whatcha think? A lot of roll?”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We think No. 5 at Eagle Valley is a 135-yard hole, and that a 135-yard lob-wedge shot is still plenty impressive — especially when it goes into the hole!
Oh, and by the way . . . here’s a fun fact we learned nearly half a century ago, during a summer job in the accounting department of Coca-Cola Bottling Midwest:
The difference between numbers in which two digits have been transposed is always divisible by 9, with no remainder.
In this case: 315 minus 135 equals 180, or 20 times 9.
The highfalutin amusements
And: Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake writes: “Subject: MEMORIES OF THE GOOD OLE DAYS.
“A friend sent this to me today, and I would like to share it with all of the ‘senior’ BB readers if possible.
“I can remember every one of these!”
“Remember Slow Food? Someone asked the other day, ‘What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?’
“‘We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,’ I informed him. ‘All the food was slow.’
“‘C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?’
“‘It was a place called “at home,”‘ I explained. ‘Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.’
“By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.
“But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it :
“Some parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore Levi’s, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears & Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.
“My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer.
“I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed.(Slow.)
“We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 11. It was, of course, black and white, and the station went off the air at midnight, after playing the National Anthem and a poem about God; it came back on the air at about 6 a.m. And there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people.
“I was 19 before I tasted my first pizza; it was called ‘pizza pie.’ When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned. It’s still the best pizza I ever had.
“I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line.
“Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was.
“All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers — my brother delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which he got to keep 2 cents. He had to get up at 6 a.m. every morning.
“On Saturday, he had to collect the 42 cents from his customers. His favorite customers were the ones who gave him 50 cents and told him to keep the change. His least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.
“Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. There were no movie ratings because all movies were responsibly produced for everyone to enjoy viewing, without profanity or violence or most anything offensive. [Bulletin Board says: This is a description of old-time movies that bears very little resemblance to old-time movies! Yes, there wasn’t a great deal of profanity — but there was no shortage of violence. For evidence of those claims, we commend you to the wonderful Saturday-evening, Sunday-daytime “Noir Alley” series on Turner Classic Movies.]
“If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don’t blame me if they bust a gut laughing.
“Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it?
“MEMORIES from a friend:
“My Dad is cleaning out my grandmother’s house (she died in December) and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to ‘sprinkle’ clothes with because we didn’t have steam irons. Man, I am old.
“How many do you remember?
“Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.
“Ignition switches on the dashboard.
“Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.
“Real ice boxes.
“Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
“Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
“Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.
“Older Than Dirt Quiz :
“Count all the ones that you remember, not the ones you were told about.
“Blackjack chewing gum
“Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
“Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
“Coffee shops or diners with table side jukeboxes
“Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers.
“Party lines on the telephone
“Newsreels before the movie
“Butch wax (that was our hair product)
“TV test patterns that came on at night after the last show and were there until TV shows started again in the morning. (There were only 3 channels [if you were fortunate].)
“45 RPM records
“S&H green stamps
“Metal ice trays with lever
Our times (Pandemic Division)
Including: What is right with people?
Auction Girl: “Subject: Who’s A Collector?
“This spring, just as the door closed on Wisconsin’s economy, Auction Girl got a new job as an essential worker. Little Store on the Prairie, a specialty supermarket like that St. Paul one with the funny name, offers a full grocery-shopping experience with perks like carry-out.
“Despite shortages, we had very little ‘hoarding’ behavior. Everyone seemed to be OK with ‘enough’: TP (two rolls to an order), yeast, flour, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc. It was OK to not buy the whole display. Save some for the next guy.
“Those first few weeks of ‘quarantine,’ I put on my store uniform, drove an empty highway (you could hear the birds singing), and carried a letter in case the cops stopped me. It was weird, like being in a Ray Bradbury story.
“Because of the job, I have been around a world of people, hearing their stories about quarantine, school years abruptly ended, friends they couldn’t see, unemployment hoops, children, and lost chances. It was Easter then. We all looked for the summer time. We all wore hand-made flu masks, and identified people by their eyes, builds, and walk patterns. ‘Everything has an angle, and so does everyone.’
“All summer, I got to watch the sun come up over a nearly empty parking area. Got enough exercise by noon to fill a whole day at an office job. Learned to make just about anything from the weekly sale items.
“Now that it’s snowy and people are starting to worry for real about their health, the economy, and our future, silly manufactured masks cover the faces. We attempt to make things better for one person at a time. People, though in a hurry, thank us for sanitizing the credit-card machine between customers.”
The bright side
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Every mask has a silver lining.
“My face will be warmer outside this winter.”
Doris Day: “Subject: Sign of the times?
“Laundry Day. Had to get the iron and ironing board out to iron our masks. How 2020.”
Life as we know it
Jeni of B’ville: “With COVID and ice inhibiting my outside activities, I have a new endeavor that is very rewarding.
“Five grandkids and one great-grandchild have names that have appeared in my family in past generations. I am composing biographies of these ancestors. Discussion questions are directed to the three children under age 12, ready for them when they reach sixth grade. The names of my relatives are Oliver, Logan, James, Lily, Lourine and Adalyn Eizabeth. My task is time-consuming but very welcome to the recipients and a joy to me.
“I encourage others to celebrate in this way the names in their family that have been passed on to the next generation.”
Now & Then
Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “Teachers are dealing with huge challenges in this time of COVID. This was also true in past times, as evidenced in these ‘Rules for Teachers’ in Sacramento, California, in 1915.” [Bulletin Board interjects: Well, they might or might not be genuine, and they might or might not have come from Sacramento. It’s hard to know for sure, especially when there are people like this on eBay.]
“You will not marry during the term of your contract.
“You are not to keep company with men. You must be home between the hours of 8 pm and 6 am unless attending a school function.
“You may not loiter downtown in ice cream stores.
“You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have the permission of the Chairman of the Board.
“You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother.
“You may not smoke cigarettes.
“You may not dress in bright colors.
“You may under no circumstances dye your hair.
“You must wear at least two petticoats.
“Your dresses must not be any shorter than 2 inches above the ankle.
“To keep the school room neat and clean you must sweep the floor at least once daily, scrub the floor at least once a week with hot soapy water, clean the blackboards at least once a day, and start the fire at 7 am so the room will be warm by 8 am.”
There’s nothin’ like a simile!
The Wordsmith: “My favorite source of similes, Car & Driver magazine, strikes again. In the November issue, they review a new model from Land Rover. They say that the vehicle’s roof rack produces ‘more wind noise than a gas station burrito.’”
Unclear on the competition
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Aren’t they the same thing?
“As my wife and I were standing in line at the UPS store, we heard the clerk inform a customer: ‘Oh, what you want is FedEx.’
“Ship and learn.”
Our pets, our husbands, ourselves
Doris Day reports: “Boomer the cat and his Cat Waitress (me) each take a pill around lunchtime. Boomer goes first. I open his mouth, fire the capsule down his gullet, then give him a spoonful of cat food to wash it down. I then take mine.
“Our flow was interrupted today by Boris Day asking some dumb question. While rolling my eyes at his nonsense, I opened wide and took the cat’s medicine. Oopsie.
“I called the vet immediately to see if I needed to eat the cat food as well. Me.Ow.
“Gulp/Purr/Licks Paw. =^..^-“
Band Name of the Day: Jesus 2020 — or: The Usual Gang of Idiots
Website of the Day: What democracy is, in the carefully chosen words of E.B. White