Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Or: The highfalutin pleasures (Pandemic Division)
Friendly Bob of Fridley: “Subject: A COVID Christmas (responsorial).
“The submission from Hindsight, which included the story of the young girl who had ‘learned’ from her schoolmates that a certain fellow did not actually exist, reminded me of the classic Cedric Adams bit ‘Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus’ from the 1950s.
“Thankfully, Helen Diehl was wise enough to preserve this for posterity, and it can be found here. [Bulletin Board interjects: Helen Diehl is, of course, the widow of the late Bill Diehl — he of the half-century career as a writer and editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and broadcaster for various Twin Cities radio stations, including, for many years, Cedric Adams’s home base, WCCO-AM, clear channel 830 on the dial. Oh, and by the way: Bill was a full-throated fan of Bulletin Board, and an occasional contributor who went by the handle Judge Crater of St. Paul. On the chance that you don’t know the story of Judge Crater, see here. And if you’d like to remember the unforgettable Bill Diehl, please listen up here.]
“‘Yes, Virginia’ is the second item in a long list of memorable holiday ‘Radio Tapes,’ many of which will be of interest to Twin Citians, and others, too. Later in the list is a Boone & Erickson rendition of ‘Yes, Virginia’ from the 1980s. And Clellan Card’s ‘The Night Before Christmas” from 1964, which I remember well! Done in a true ‘Axel’ way, he speaks in a ‘Sven and Ole’ accent, has some great sound effects, rhymes when it is convenient, and takes a lot of liberties with Clement Clarke Moore’s original ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’ poem. I always liked the part near the end when he says ‘ . . . to his team gave a vistle; they yumped up and ran like they sat on a t’istle.’
“My late sister (this will be our second Christmas without her) always loved the Cedric Adams piece. As I recall, WCCO would rerun it at Christmas time, and she would make sure that we younger ones would have a chance (or, as Axel wound say, ‘a shance’) to hear the message.
“I never listen to the radio anymore, so I do not know if they still do this or not. If not, it is a loss for all of us.
“I think I will go listen to some more ‘Radio Tapes’ now.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: If you would like to join Friendly Bob in that diversion, go to radiotapes.com (but not till you finish Bulletin Board!).
Zoo Lou of St. Paul writes: “Subject: World’s Worst Typist.
“I have done a lot of writing over the years for the weekly Sun Newspapers, the Saint Paul Almanac, high school and college papers, the City of St. Paul and, of course, the Bulletin Board. I have also written several children’s stories. [Bulletin Board interjects: See today’s Websites of the Day.]
“With all this experience, you might assume I would be a decent typist. But I readily admit I’m the worst typist who ever struck a typewriter or word-processor key with his index fingers. I can bungle words and punctuations like you would not believe, especially when I try to go fast. You’ve heard of ‘hunt and peck’? I’m ‘hunt and miss.’
“In the days of the old manual typewriters, I used enough Wite-Out to send the company’s stock soaring. Then came the word processor, and that has been a real Godsend for me. But instead of Wite-Out, I now make constant use of the backspace key to correct mistakes. This has helped ease the frustration and ‘mild’ cursing when I was pounding out copy on my uncooperative antique Corona typewriter and waiting for the Wite-Out to dry.
“One painful memory of my ineptness as a typist involved an essay I did for a college English class that was so sloppy and poorly written (I started it late on the night before it was due), I attached a note with an apology, placing partial blame on sticking keys and a worn-out ribbon. When the teacher returned the paper with a grade of D, he also attached a note: ‘I would rather you wrote a good essay than make excuses for a bad one. And if you can’t afford a new ribbon, I could loan you a few dollars!’ It was a lesson I have never forgotten.
“Despite my lack of typing skills, I did feel a sense of redemption when I watched the 2015 film ‘Trumbo,’ which was about Oscar-winning screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted in the ’40s and ’50s for being affiliated with the Communist Party. As played by actor Bryan Cranston, Trumbo used just his index fingers to turn out script after script. You can’t know how good that made me feel!
“I will never be in the same creative class as a Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the screenplays for such movies as ‘Roman Holiday,’ ‘Spartacus,’ ‘Exodus,’ and ‘Papillon’ . But it is nice to know that this talented writer and I both use the same hunt-and-peck method of typing. Now if I could just come up with an idea for a great movie script.”
Dept. of Neat Stuff
Drinking Bird Division
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “The Drinking Bird has existed for many years and in many forms. But in all of its incarnations, it is basically a funny-looking glass bird filled with a colored liquid that ‘drinks’ water and bobs up and down.
“It is said that the Drinking Bird has amazed Homer Simpson (true), delighted President Herbert Hoover (possibly), and stumped Albert Einstein (highly unlikely).
“The box for one such Bird asks: ‘Is it perpetual motion, or is it something more than that? Well, the answer is, it’s more than that.’ Spoiler alert: Unfortunately it is not more than perpetual motion, since perpetual motion itself doesn’t exist, because it would totally violate the laws of physics. [Bulletin Board suggests: Maybe different from perpetual motion? Then again, what isn’t?]
“The Drinking Bird is an example of a very simple heat engine (think car engine) combined with a fulcrum and lever (think teeter-totter) which obeys the laws of physics, chemistry and mechanics. To start the Bird moving, the Bird’s head is dipped into a glass of water. The water evaporates, cooling the head. This pulls the liquid from the tail upwards until the balance of the Bird changes and the Bird starts rocking. The cycle repeats until the water is used up.
“It is a little-known fact that the Drinking Bird has a cousin who could be, but isn’t, known as the Non-Drinking Bird. They are identical in every way except that instead of dipping the head of the Bird into water, a very gentle heat source is applied to its tail. This eliminates the mess and bother of a glass of water and prevents the Bird’s head from getting all cruddy over time.
“For example, the Bird can be solar-powered by putting it in a sunny window and letting the heat from the sun make it move. This works best if the head is kept shaded.
“If your house is heated by radiators, setting a Bird or two on top of a radiator will let you see when the furnace is operating.
“The Bird can also keep you company while working at your computer by putting it on top of your modem/router or near the heat vent of your computer.
“The Drinking Bird is not a toy. The Bird is a very delicate creature filled with a rather nasty liquid. The Bird is also very skittish. It has a tendency to leap from its resting place and, because it is a flightless Bird, end up in pieces on the floor. I find it is best to put a weight on its feet for stability.
“And if you buy one, you might as well buy two, because sooner or later the first Bird will meet its inevitable death.
“P.S. YouTube has many Drinking Bird videos. Here are a few.
“An extremely detailed explanation of how the Bird works:
“A simple explanation of how the Bird works:
“Drinking birds in action:
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Or: The Verbing of America?
Aggie Girl: “Subject: Everyone’s a critic . . . “
“An article on the website of a major news source (CNN) about the new COVID-19 vaccine stated: ‘. . . but health officials are working to have 20 million people distributed by the first week of January.’
“It seems to me that distributing all those people will probably make the virus spread more, not less. Perhaps if they distributed actual vaccines, it would work better.”
The verbing of America
Donald: “I heard these from various sources:
“‘It’s important to me to role-model.’
“‘They headhuntered her for six months.’
“‘They obsoleted our program.’”
The Permanent Motherly/Daughterly Record
And: Death, be not somber!
Norton’s mom of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: “Subject: How’d you get that shirt!!!!
“I wore my red-and-black-plaid flannel shirt today, and once again the story connected to it emerged from the cobwebs in my brain.
“My mom, who died at the age of 97 in 2017, loved flannel shirts. A year or so before she died, I bought her a red-and-black-plaid flannel shirt, but she liked her clothing ‘roomy,’ so she asked me if I could return it and get one in a larger size. I found the exact-same shirt in a larger size — and instead of returning the smaller one, I decided to keep it for myself, as I am also a fan of flannel shirts.
“When Mom died, my brother and I decided that because Mom didn’t have a lot of dressy clothing, she could wear that black-and-red flannel shirt over a mock turtleneck (not turtleneck; Mom hated those) and a pair of her slacks, which she wore daily, for her trip to Heaven, which would include a brief stop in the church for a funeral.
“A few weeks after Mom’s funeral, I received a call from the funeral home asking me if I could come to the business to sign some documents pertaining to Mom’s life insurance, to allow it to be released to them.
“When I got to the facility, they were having one of those prepaid funeral seminars, and there were people milling around, and among those people was the funeral director who had prepared Mom’s body for her last journey, including dressing her. This woman looked at me and got a shocked look on her face. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong. Then I realized I was wearing MY red-and-black-plaid flannel shirt, and I guessed that she was trying to figure out how I’d gotten it off Mom after they’d closed the lid on the casket at the conclusion of the funeral service.
“I never did have a chance to talk to her, so she probably has her own story about a red-and-black flannel shirt and the mysteries thereof.
“And that’s my story . . . and I’m guessing Mom is up there reading this and chuckling about it, too.”
Not exactly what she had in mind
The Happy Medium: “Subject: A Strange Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
“This coronavirus thing has invaded our lives and has caused all sorts of restrictions for us. Restaurants are closed. There’s no toilet paper in the stores. We can’t visit one another in our homes. And, once we do have a chance to be out and about, our minds are filled with befuddled thoughts as we drive from here to there. Hence, my story.
“The other day, after a few minutes of shopping for toilet paper and groceries, I headed for home. Driving down the street where I live, I hit the garage-door opener, and the garage door didn’t open. I pressed it again. No luck. The batteries must have died. Darn, I’ll need to get new batteries. Stopping at the garage door, I glanced to my right and noticed our neighbors had put up a giant snowman with glittering lights. How nice. I didn’t remember that being there when I left to go shopping.
“Just for the fun of it, I tried the garage door opener again. No luck. So, I took my keys from the ignition and got out of the car to go in the house to open the door from there. That’s when I noticed my Christmas decorations were gone from the stoop. Stolen. Darn again. This is supposed to be the time for giving, not for taking away. Advancing up the steps to my house, the door opened. My next-door neighbor was in my house. What was going on? I looked at him in surprise and he said: ‘Hi, neighbor. Did you come to visit me?’
“Yes. You figured it out. I had reached the Forum, but it wasn’t the right Forum address.
“By the way, did I mention I live in an association of townhouses where all the houses are quite similar, if not identical? I’ll pay better attention next time when on my way to the Forum.”
It’s a small world, after all . . .
GramB of Nisswa: “Last Saturday, our daughter Teresa and granddaughter Maddy went ‘treasure hunting’ at a thrift store in St. Paul. Maddy came across a vintage mug, the image being the same as that of the cover of an August 1958 Saturday Evening Post magazine. Maddy, fond of vintage items, showed her mom the mug, then went ahead and bought it to keep in her room.
“When they returned home, Teresa surprised Maddy with the actual 1958 Saturday Evening Post magazine, the cover matching the mug. She turned to the center double-page color layout, and there was Maddy’s grandma — me — dancing with friends at the Fairgrounds for a Norwegian festival. (Right-side back.)
“I was in eighth grade; Maddy is in 11th. She thought this ‘small world’ coincidence was pretty cool, and Grandma could hardly believe it!
“Thank you, Teresa, for bringing Grandma and granddaughter together in yet another way, 62 years later! Love you both! Happy treasure hunting!”
The Permanent Family Record
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: The Remember When Dollhouse.
“On seeing the Pioneer Press story about the dollhouse auctioned for charity by Linda Besk, the Good Wife and I looked at each other and were drawn immediately to make comments about our own dollhouse. Ours is a creation of love, by and for every member of our family — a work of art that will live on for years.
“It started when we still lived in Wyoming, more than 40 years ago, as something every father wants to make for his daughter. It didn’t get to be a reality until we moved to Minnesota and became an object we all contributed our collective labors to. By the time we completed it several years later, it had grown beyond our initial expectations. Our daughter was now 13 years old. That truly is not only old enough to really appreciate what it is, but also old enough to contribute to making it be that which it had become. We all played a role in its development, from selecting the style — called the ‘Remember When Dollhouse’ — to its finishing touches. I did the woodworking with limited tools, but it required far more than just woodworking: real wood floors with mini-planks made from thin veneer sheets of wood; lapboard siding planks individually cut from the same sheeting. It had electric (battery-powered) lights, a working doorbell, but only pretend running water. The Good Wife made fitted sheets and window curtains. Daughter made clothing and helped form furniture to fully outfit the home. Our son was found twisting 18-gauge wire to make hangers for the closet. We sanded, painted and at Dayton’s furniture department found a high-end dining-room-table base by the Baker Furniture company without the tabletop itself. The dream essentially was complete.
“We took the Remember When Dollhouse to the Minnesota State Fair in 1983. There we were awarded a blue ribbon, and it was featured on the Steve-and-Sharon television show [“Good Company,” on KSTP] that week. The blue ribbon has dramatically faded, but it still hangs from one of the upper deck railings as a reminder of what we did together. Maybe someday we might offer it for a charitable fundraiser, too. In any case, we do decorate it seasonally — now, of course, for Christmas.
“Here’s what the dollhouse looks like in its current configuration.
“Here’s the Christmas tree with twinkling lights in the living room, stocking hung by the chimney with care, and presents under the tree.
“The real meaning of Christmas: a Nativity set displayed on the attic-level balcony.
“The front of the house with front wing open.
“Side of the house with attic opened.
“And, finally, Santa ready to come down the chimney.”
’Tis the season!
Plus: Life as we know it (Pandemic Division)
Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: (1) “Subject: Remembering the libraries.
“As a constant reader, I get books and materials from five local library systems. I have accumulated small fines, and normally hope that the systems will have mass forgivenesses so I don’t gotta pay.
“But libraries are hurting like everyone else nowadays. Today I wiped out my fines (between $3 and $6) in each of three library systems. It ain’t much, but they can certainly use every penny.
“Merry Christmas to all our libraries. You’re the best!”
(2) “Cher was on ‘Amanpour & Company’ this week, on TPT. She had some wonderful insights on hitting rough patches in life, and about having a child who is trans. My favorite quote, as transcribed by CNN: ‘I kept thinking of myself as a bumper car. And I thought if I hit the wall, I’ll come back and I’ll go another direction.’
“That is the kind of attitude that got me through some rough times — such as our Right Now.
“May the Shots Be With Us!”
Big enough for ya?
Rancid Beef of South St. Paul: “Subject: Now I understand why the parking lot is so big!
“Menards, as with other retailers, is limiting the number of customers in the store to help prevent the spread of the COVID. The sign at the entrance states that only 7,146 customers are allowed inside at one time.
“7,146?! What’s their normal capacity?”
Ask a serious question . . .
Or: The Permanent Fraternal Record
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: We can use more of this!
“I called my younger brother recently, and I asked him how he was doing.
“I’d heard the response before, but not from him, and not in a long time. It was one I’d first heard from Frank, who worked in the pro shop at Tartan Park and then Eagle Valley: ‘If I were any better, I’d have to be two people.’”
The simple pleasures
Just after Thanksgiving, we heard from Tim Torkildson: “Here is a compilation of my posts [Bulletin Board notes: some of them, anyway] this past week on social media with the hashtag #givethanks:
“Most of my children have married and decided to have children of their own; I’m grateful for their courage and faith in starting families in a world that seems so uncertain and dark. And, of course, I’m just crazy-mad delighted to have grandchildren to spoil!
“I will forever be grateful to my first radio boss, Oscar Halvorson. He took a big chance and hired me wet behind the ears to do the news at KGCX in Williston, N.D., back in 1979. A farmer at heart, he once told me he won title to the radio station in a poker game.
“As the sunset lights up the mountains in my back yard, I give thanks that because of the Savior my own personal sunset, whenever it may come, promises to be peaceful & happy, no matter how the world spins out of control.
“I grew up with long, cold, unforgiving winters in Minnesota; so now my old bones are grateful indeed for the mild winters here in Provo — where I can wear sandals year-round!
“For many years, when I worked as a clown on mud shows, I slept in the back of trucks or vans — so I am truly thankful to have a soft, clean, warm, comfortable bed of my own to sleep in tonight. I still think of it as an unbelievable luxury sometimes.
“I am thankful for my old friends who have reached out to me through social media in the past few years. Renewing acquaintanceships with them is a sweet sweet blessing (except when they’re trying to sell me something!).
“Since I don’t drive anymore, I am most grateful for friends and family members who give me rides to the doctor and the market, and sometimes just take me out for a spin to get some fresh air. God bless you all!
“I have lived abroad, in places where I couldn’t drink the tap water for fear of disease or poisoning. I am so grateful today to live here in a city of abundant and clean tap water. Bottoms up!
“My monthly Social Security check allows me to live with comfort and dignity. I’m thankful for the wise and compassionate leaders who founded this program nearly a century ago.
“I love reading, but my poor old eyes begin to dwindle, so I am profoundly grateful for my Kindle; it allows me still to roam the Elysian Fields of literature, where I am always welcome.
“I am thankful for the amazing view from my patio each day. I grew up in the flat Midwest, so this mountain vista graces my later days with a strength and beauty I drink in like nectar.
“I am most grateful for my journalist friends who take a moment from time to time to tell me they enjoy my light topical verses. It makes me feel I’m serving a useful purpose here on Earth.
“I’m grateful for the homely aroma and comforting warmth of clean laundry fresh out of the dryer. (For the folding, not so much!)
“After the divorce, I was estranged from my children for many years. But tonight I’m having my youngest child, Daisy, over for slow-cooker pork roast and veggies. How grateful I am to be getting to know them again!
“My parents were not religious, but they both worked hard to give me a stable home, good food, and warm clothes. I’m grateful for their unwavering watchcare.
“As a young man I worked for Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus as a clown. What a great privilege and blessing it was to be paid to make people laugh! I associated with people whose zest for humor was unparalleled. I always remember those days of slapstick and greasepaint with gratitude and wonder.”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “I spotted this personalized Minnesota plate on a Toyota: ‘MR J’
“I checked closely to make sure it wasn’t actually ‘MR T’ or DR J.’”
CAUTION! Words at Play!
Cherie in IGH: “My husband, Jim, was watching a commercial about taking an RN degree program via online classes. ‘That’s scary,’ he said, ‘learning online rather than in-person. The first time the new RN is asked to draw blood, what are they going say: “Gimme a pen”?'”
Transplanted (formerly The Man from Milaca): “Subject: ‘Back in the days . . .’
“You can imagine the story which starts ‘Back in the days,’ right?
“Well, this wasn’t that long ago. Only six or seven months, I guess. It has been
“It was the earliest days of the strongest restrictions of the pandemic here in the Sunshine State. My county was still unaffected by the disease. But the term ‘lock-down’ was being thrown around like a baseball in a game of pepper.
“I still had to be out, and I wasn’t too concerned. Then I saw the sign. The message has been in my mind (or what’s left of it?) ever since.
“What was the message? ‘People write lock-down because they can’t spell kwarinteen.’
“I hope Santa is delivering a lot of dictionaries this year!”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
’Tis the Season! Then & Now Division
Writes otvo: “We grew up on farms, early enough to remember horse-drawn hay wagons and braving cold December darkness before REA lines extended out to farms, and late enough to hear Bing Crosby dream about a white Christmas on the radio. Without a doubt, some of our happiest Christmas memories are rooted in our farm background.
“On Christmas Eve day, there was a certain excitement in the air. It was the day all farm roads led to churches after evening chores were done. Everybody came to Christmas Eve service: Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Baptists and Catholics.
“My wife remembers, at age 11, being excited to be selected to read the familiar Christmas story at the Christmas Eve service. She remembers the sanctuary decorations, the traditional songs, and that her parents were so proud of her, especially her dad. Since she was the oldest, she helped her dad’s hired man with milking the cows, even on Christmas Eve. While in high school, the evening milking was her total responsibility. She says: ‘All this and parental guidance have given me a sense of hard work and responsibility during all my life. And that is what I tried to pass on to my children, now grown.’
“Christmas Day, she recalls, was spent with extended family: grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She remembers having the traditional English plum pudding after Christmas dinner.
“I recall spending Christmas Eve day doing chores around the farm, such as feeding the cattle and giving them extra feed as a gift from Santa to tide them over in case chores were late the next day. One year, I had to manure out the calf pen as a punishment for misbehaving. Once all the chores were done on Christmas Eve, the highlight of the evening was attending Christmas Eve service at the Lutheran church.
“After service, all the kids received a brown paper bag filled with peanuts, a Delicious apple, an orange, some pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and ribbon candy. I remember my folks driving around on the crisp, clear and cold night looking at all the bright Christmas lights in Red Wing before returning to the farm to await Santa’s arrival
“These wonderful scenes are recorded only in our minds. An appropriate way to end this story is to bring the scenes up to date. After careers away from the farm, we are back on a small farm, tiny by today’s farm sizes, with no cows to milk or animals to feed. Nevertheless, we are still recording memories in our minds — but with the advantage of iPhones and Zoom.
“This Christmas, we feel grateful that we are here on the farm, just on the south side of age 80, up every day, staying fit, working outside . . . and yet to go a day without a lot of love and humor.”
Band Name of the Day: The Drinking Birds
Websites of the Day: NEW ANIMAL CHILDREN’S BOOKS BY LOUIE DISANTO