Just before Christmas, we heard from GramB of Nisswa: “I learned something about myself yesterday.
“I have been looking forward to putting in the Christmas CDs to hear my favorites. The sacred carols were beautiful, but when the secular Christmas songs came on about ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ and ‘There’s no place like home for the holidays,’ I became teary-eyed because of COV ID keeping families apart on Christmas Eve and Day. Although I understand it — I agree with the restrictions; I realize that staying safe this year will mean a better, healthier 2021 — there is a part of me that is still sad!
“I will genuinely miss my four daughters, their spouses, and our nine grandchildren, and all of the activities and joy that a Christmas together brings!”
Our pets, ourselves
Susan from Arizona: “I’m not a ‘cat person’ myself,but my son and daughter-in-law very much are. Their cat, Thomas, is very mesmerized by this Christmas phone-booth snow globe.
Dept. of Neat Stuff
Christmas Ornaments Division
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Back in the good old days of the 1950s and ’60s, when real Christmas trees were lit with incandescent bulbs that produced enough heat to melt plastic ornaments, turn needles brown, and sometimes set the tree on fire, a variety of ornaments were created to make use of this heat.
“The most popular of these was the Twinkler, an ornament that contained a small metal fan/propeller, balanced on a needle point, that would spin when hung above a hot light bulb.
“The Christmas Tree Twinkler, as it was officially named, was produced and sold by the Tinkle Toy Co., a division of the Plakie Toy Co., Youngstown, Ohio. It came in two shapes, the star and the carousel/bird cage, and in many colors.
“The photo shows two Twinkler ornaments that were purchased by my parents many years ago and which still work.
“According to the box, Twinklers are ‘Ornaments that spin . . . Watch by the hour . . . Children love them . . . Spangly, Sparkly Twinklers . . . It flashes * It whirls * It’s perpetual motion!’ We’ve been through this last claim already with the Drinking Bird. No it isn’t perpetual motion. Just say NO to claims of perpetual motion. Even so, they are pretty neat. I can attest that adults as well as children love them and will watch them for hours.
“Twinklers share other similarities with the Drinking Bird. While originally meant to operate in a certain way, in this case from the heat of a light bulb, they can also be powered by alternate heat sources such as a warm radiator, various electronic devices that give off heat, and, under the right circumstances, by the sun in a sunny window.
“Twinklers originally sold for 29 cents each, or 98 cents for a pack of four. Now they cost $25 to $50 each on eBay. But be careful. There are many imitations. Buy only the original ‘spangly, sparkly Twinklers’ made in Youngstown, Ohio.”
’Tis the season — still!
The Grand Duchess of Grand Avenue: “Subject: Oh drat!
“Kinda sorry to see the season is over. Not tired of wearing my festive headgear yet!”
Could be verse!
A Christmas Eve “timerick” from Tim Torkildson (the world’s preeminent “timerick” writer):
“A tofu wrap will Santa get
“with almond milk tonight;
“his cookie days are over —
“he must change his appetite.
“No sugar and no dairy
“in this brave new world of ours.
“Kris Kringle ain’t so jolly now
“without his candy bars!”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: And the thunder rolled.
“Mark Twain’s quote regarding ‘lightning bug vs. lightning’ [Bulletin Board interjects: “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — ’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning”] flashed through my mind again today.
“I was reading a post from a woodworker friend complaining about the accessories that automatically come with his tools, but are useless for his needs. In his case, it was a router that included an extra plunge base that just added to the price, as well as to his collection of brand-new plunge bases. I’ve always found that the hardest clutter for me to dispose of is new stuff that I know I’ll never use. I remembered all the TV-set bases I have down in the storeroom that are still in their plastic bags. He used a term that I’ve never heard before to describe the objects that are unnecessary but too nice to throw away. What he called it really struck me: ‘non garbage trash.'”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Heinlein quotes.
“While looking for a (science-fiction writer) Robert A. Heinlein quote
about railroading, I found these by him on Goodreads.com:
“‘Never try to outstubborn a cat.’
“‘Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to
find easier ways to do something.’
“‘Butterflies are self-propelled flowers.’
“‘Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.’
“Note: I won’t quote what he says about women. Many of those statements make me want to dig him up and shoot him — were I a person who did
things like that.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede: “The strong, north winds that came with Wednesday’s [December 23] snow formed lines on my patio screen door.
“I don’t remember seeing this before and wondered how this happened.
“The glass door just had snow blobs on it and no lines.
“Christmas Eve morning, the back-yard trees were nicely flocked with snow, and all the rooftops were ready to receive a visit by sleigh.
“Christmas Day morning, the skies were well decorated, too.
“Nature did a very nice job this year making things seem appropriately festive.”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by Steve Tarnowski of Duluth: “Morning visitor post-Duluth snow, the morning of December 21, 2020.”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, reported by The Feline Fanatic: “Subject: Stopping by for a spot of lunch.
“I want to share a picture of my lunch guest from a couple weeks ago. It was one of those lovely warm days, and I went to bring the trash bin back to the garage and noticed something by the creek. I thought if was a plastic grocery bag that had escaped. As I started to walk down to get it, I noticed that it moved and there was a gray head looking at me! Was lucky enough to grab a bad cellphone pic before it flew into the pine tree (off camera).
“A little later in the afternoon, I went down to check on the spot to see why the bird may have been on the ground for so long — and discovered a pile of fur. I guess it just stopped by for a squirrel sandwich for lunch.
“Perhaps our resident avian expert can tell me what kind of hawk it is.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: “Our resident avian expert” is, as most of you know, our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland. If anyone can make a definitive identification from a bad cellphone pic, he’s the guy!
The verbing of America
Plus: Fun (and not at all fun) Facts to Know and Tell
LeoJEOSP writes: “Subject: December 1, 1942 Minneapolis Morning Tribune.
“I love history and favor American history.
“I read the front-page story ‘Every Streetcar on Job Today As Gas Rations Curb Driving.’
“The first paragraph read: ‘Every Minneapolis streetcar in running order will go into service Tuesday morning to replace automobiles garaged by gas rationing which began midnight Monday.'”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We were more interested in the item headlined “BOSTON FIRE CLAIMS BUCK JONES.”
Who was Buck Jones? What was that fire?
Wikipedia (excerpted) to the rescue:
Buck Jones (December 12, 1891 – November 30, 1942) was an American motion picture star, known for his work in many popular western movies. In his early film appearances, he was credited as Charles Jones.
Charles Frederick Gebhart was born on the outskirts of Vincennes, Indiana, on December 12, 1891 — some sources indicate December 4, 1889, but his marriage license and military records confirm the 1891 date. In 1907 he joined the United States Army a month after his 16th birthday: his mother had signed a consent form that gave his age as 18. He was assigned to Troop G, 6th Cavalry Regiment, and was deployed to the Philippines in October 1907, where he served in combat and was wounded during the Moro Rebellion. Upon his return to the US in December 1909, he was honorably discharged at Fort McDowell, California.
Jones had an affection for race cars and the racing industry and became close friends with early driver Harry Stillman. Through his association with Stillman he began working extensively as a test driver for the Marmon Motor Car Company. Yet by October 1910 he had re-enlisted in the United States Army. Because he wanted to learn to fly, he requested a transfer to the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps in 1913, without knowing that only an officer could become a pilot. He received his second honorable discharge from the Army in October 1913.
Cowboy, stuntman, beginning of film career
Following his military service he began working as a cowboy on the 101 Ranch near Bliss, Oklahoma. While attending equestrian shows he met Odille “Dell” Osborne, who rode horses professionally. The two became involved and married in 1915. Both had very little money, so the producers of a Wild West Show they were working on at the time offered to allow them to marry in an actual show performance, in public, which they accepted.
While in Los Angeles, and with his wife pregnant, Jones decided to leave the cowboy life behind and get a job in the film industry. He was hired by Universal Pictures for $5 per day as a bit player and stuntman. He later worked for Canyon Pictures, then Fox Film Corporation, eventually earning $40 per week as a stuntman. With Fox his salary increased to $150 per week, and company owner William Fox decided to use him as a backup to Tom Mix. This led to his first starring role, The Last Straw, released in 1920.
In 1925 Jones made three films with a very young Carole Lombard. He had more than 160 film credits to his name by this time and had joined Hoot Gibson, Tom Mix, and Ken Maynard as the top cowboy actors of the day. By 1928 he formed his own production company, but his independently-produced film The Big Hop (a non-Western) failed. He then organized a touring Wild West show, with himself as a featured attraction, but this expensive venture also failed due to the faltering economy of late 1929.
With the new talking pictures replacing silent films as a national pastime, outdoor Westerns fell out of favor briefly. The major studios weren’t interested in hiring Buck Jones. He signed with Columbia Pictures, then just a lowly “B” picture studio, starring in Westerns for $300 a week, a fraction of his top salary in the silent-film days. His voice–a rugged baritone–recorded well and the films were very successful, re-establishing him as a major movie name. During the 1930s he starred in Western features and serials for Columbia and Universal Pictures.
His star waned in the late 1930s when singing cowboys became the rage and Jones, then in his late 40s, was uncomfortably cast in conventional leading-man roles. He rejoined Columbia in the fall of 1940, starring in the serial White Eagle (an expansion of his 1932 feature of the same name). The new serial was a hit and Jones was again re-established. His final series of Western features, co-produced by Jones and his friend Scott R. Dunlap of Monogram Pictures, featured The Rough Riders trio: Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton.
In 1937 Jones starred in Hoofbeats, a 15-minute radio program syndicated via electrical transcription. The program was produced in the studios of Recordings, Inc., with Grape Nuts Flakes as sponsor.
Buck Jones lent his name and likeness to various product endorsements, including Post Grape-Nuts Flakes (his radio sponsor) and Daisy Outdoor Products. His licensing also extended to the Big Little Book series, for example:
Buck Jones and The Two Gun Kid (1937) – Big Little Book #1404. Author: Gaylord Du Bois.
Buck Jones and The Night Riders (1937) – Big Big Book #4069. Author: Gaylord Du Bois. Artist: Hal Arbo.
Buck Jones and The Rock Creek Cattle War (1938) – Big Little Book #1461. Author: Gaylord Du Bois.
Buck Jones and The Killers of Crooked Butte (1940) – Better Little Book #1451. Author: Gaylord Du Bois
Jones was also a consultant for Daisy, which issued a Daisy “Buck Jones” model pump-action air rifle. Incorporating a compass and a “sundial” into the stock, it was one of Daisy’s top-end air rifles and sold well for several years. There was some confusion decades later with the release of the film A Christmas Story, due to author Jean Shepherd’s erroneous recollection that the Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun had a compass and sundial in the stock; the BB gun never had them except for the two specially made for the film.
Buck Jones was one of the 492 victims of the Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston, Massachusetts on November 28, 1942. He died two days later on November 30, at age 50. 
Some news reports said that he had successfully escaped but had gone back into the building to save others and was trapped. . . .
References in popular media
On his album When I Was a Kid, Bill Cosby has a routine called “Buck Jones”, in which he talks about seeing Buck Jones movies as a kid. He says that Jones had a horse named Silver, like the Lone Ranger, and that he would chew gum to signal that he was getting angry. Cosby mentions a specific movie in which a saloon tough picks a fight by pouring redeye liquor over Jones. On “Merv Griffin’s ’60s Retrospective” DVD, John Wayne in 1970 states that Buck Jones is his hero. He also states that Jones went in the fire to help people.
In 1997, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
In 1960, Jones was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture industry. The star is located at 6834 Hollywood Blvd.
Western Blood (1918)
The Rainbow Trail (1918)
The Speed Maniac (1919)
The Coming of the Law (1919)
The Feud (1919)
The Cyclone (1920)
The Last Straw (1920)
The Spirit of Good (1920)
Just Pals (1920)
Two Moons (1920)
The Big Punch (1921)
Trooper O’Neill (1922)
West of Chicago (1922)
Bells of San Juan (1922)
The Boss of Camp 4 (1922)
Second Hand Love (1923)
Cupid’s Fireman (1923)
Not a Drum Was Heard (1924)
The Vagabond Trail (1924)
The Circus Cowboy (1924)
Against All Odds (1924)
Winner Take All (1924)
Dick Turpin (1925)
The Arizona Romeo (1925)
The Timber Wolf (1925)
The Fighting Buckaroo (1926)
The Gentle Cyclone (1926)
A Man Four-Square (1926)
The Cowboy and the Countess (1926)
Hills of Peril (1927)
Whispering Smith (1927)
The Lone Rider (1930)
Shadow Ranch (1930)
Men Without Law (1930)
The Dawn Trail (1930)
The Texas Ranger (1931)
Desert Vengeance (1931)
The Fighting Sheriff (1931)
Range Feud (1931)
Ridin’ For Justice (1932)
South of the Rio Grande (1932)
High Speed (1932)
One Man Law (1932)
Hello Trouble (1932)
McKenna of the Mounted (1932)
The California Trail (1933)
The Man Trailer (1934)
The Red Rider (1934) 15-chapter serial
Stone of Silver Creek (1935)
Border Brigands (1935)
Empty Saddles (1936)
The Boss Rider of Gun Creek (1936)
Hollywood Round-up (1937)
Headin’ East (1937)
Boss of Lonely Valley (1937)
Smoke Tree Range (1937)
California Frontier (1938)
Forbidden Trails (1941)
Below the Border (1942)
Dawn on the Great Divide (1942)
And as for the tragic Cocoanut Grove fire, see today’s Website of the Day. What a horrifying event.
CAUTION! Words at Play!
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “I didn’t enjoy the result of the Vikings/Saints game on Christmas, but I chuckled when I read the headline of the main story in the Minneapolis paper the next day: ‘Christmas rapping.’”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “This personalized Minnesota plate was on a Dodge minivan in the parking lot of the Roseville Target: ‘1AUSSIE.’
“BTW: If you weren’t aware, that is Target store #1 — the first one ever!”
Band Name of the Day: Tinkle and the Twinklers — or: Squirrel Sandwich
Website of the Day: The Cocoanut Grove Fire