The Permanent Fatherly/Sonsly Record
The Astronomer of Nininger: “The virus has given us more time to think about things that we might not have thought about during ‘normal’ times.
“I recently found myself recognizing and crediting my father for part of his fantastic role in raising my brother and me. It took courage and patience and love.
“I thought back to when I was a mere 12-year-old, my brother just 10 at the time.
“My father generally took us out fishing and hunting — I suspect because he loved the outdoors, and he loved us. Back then, it seemed to us just something that fathers did, and we just couldn’t wait for the next time we would go. But in retrospect, most of my friends did not have these experiences. In fact, I cannot tell you of even one of my acquaintances who was fortunate enough to spend such times with his father. Understand that I am not saying that others did not spend time with their fathers. They might have gone to baseball games, football contests and the like. But to take us hunting, for example, was far more than going to a game. It was a full-time commitment that immersed us together in understanding our environment, love of the outdoors and respect for life.
“We grew up in the inner city of Chicago, living in the old two-flat home that Dad grew up in. We always called him the ‘Governor.’ To go duck hunting, we’d have to wake up about 3:30 a.m. and drive that 1950 Chevrolet some 90 miles to a small town named Lindenwood. (I realized many years later, when reading a poem by a local artist in St. Paul, that ‘Basswood is Linden.’) Can you imagine the patience it took to bring two young boys into a restaurant for breakfast on the way? But you know, I still remember those American fries that the cook in Sycamore grilled for us with sunny-side-up eggs and thick, crispy bacon. I can still smell that bacon, salty — and while I’m not sure if it is the chemical preserves used in the processing, the fat or the meat itself that creates that unmistakable aroma, I won’t ever forget it.
“When we arrived at the ‘Goose Pond,’ we had to drive partway to it down the old ‘cow lane’ where cows would transit back and forth between pasture and the barn for milking. It was muddy and just wide enough for the car to fit. There was an old gate, made of sturdy branches about 4 feet in length, with four strands of barbed wire strung across and stapled to it. I was bigger and stronger than my brother, so I got to unhook it for the car to get through. The Governor drove, of course. I think that when I was about 13, the Governor let me drive through the gate. That took some guts. We had to walk the last several hundred yards, in the dark.
“Duck season was generally not too cold. We still had to dress warm, because even if the afternoon was mild, October mornings were crisp and frosty. The Governor had to make sure we were dressed properly. We had to carry the duck decoys: a gunny sack with about a dozen ‘dekes’ that the Governor actually carved from blocks of balsa wood while my mother was in the hospital giving birth to me. I still have some of those decoys, and I’ll never let them go.
“We got to our blind, a crab apple tree that spread out enough to cover us. The Governor had made a little bench for us to sit on, but before we settled in, we had to spread the decoys out. One was placed at the greatest distance you could rightly shoot — and the others, generally around the pond. The Goose Pond was mud-bottomed and about an acre and a half in area. It was a quiet place where ducks could stop on their migration southward. We never saw a goose on that pond, but I suspect some people did and called it the Goose Pond evermore.
“Once the decoys were spread, we could sit, side-by-side, waiting for the ducks to detour there from their southward journey. The Governor had an old Olt duck call but told us that if it wasn’t used properly, we’d scare more ducks away than we’d attract. So we didn’t call very much. On those Illinois plains in the early morning, the temperature/dew point spread was not very much, and the air was was often misty and adorned with a fog that was thin and lifted as it got lighter out. We sat there, almost freezing. The Governor reached into his coveralls and pulled out a small, half-pint flask of ginger-flavored brandy. He took a snort and carefully passed it to my brother Stan and me. We didn’t drink much at all, but it was sort of an indoctrination, a rite of passage, that duck hunters go through under the branches of that crab apple tree that covered us. I can’t recall what it tasted like, but Stan and I said it was really good. It barely wet our lips, but we liked that we were there with our father, sharing a sip of that first taste of alcohol.
“We didn’t drink much alcohol then, or any other time. Barely a sip. But it was how we were cared for. The Governor treated us special. He treated us with respect. He had patience with us. I shot my first duck that day, a greenhead mallard drake. That old 16-gauge Baker double reached out just past the outer decoy. I still have that shotgun, but don’t shoot it much because of its age.
“Every time I hold it in my hands, I relive those times growing up by the Goose Pond and spending time with the Governor and my brother. I know we were more than loved. We were blessed.”
Keeping your eyes open
Plus: The little treasures (Volume 26) (responsorial)
Both from Doris G. of Randolph, Minnesota: (1) “Full moon, 03-28-21.”
(2) “Subject: Old picture.
“I was quite surprised to see a pic in the March 26 Bulletin Board [“The little treasures (Volume 26)”] that was sent in by Phyllis Kavanagh of Shoreview.
“I have one very similar of my dad (John Lobner) and his sister Marie.
“I don’t know the date or location, other than it is probably Minneapolis.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: In the early years of Bulletin Board, we featured many such photographs of children, made by itinerant photographers — with props (no pun intended) that included various model airplanes, as well as cars, ponies and goats.
We believe that those pictures included that exact airplane — but, alas, we have no even reasonably inconvenient way to verify that.
Joy of Juxtaposition
Red’s Offspring, “north of St. Paul”: “A friend forwarded me one of those emails that are made up of a series of cartoons, signs, photos, etc., intended to evoke laughter.
“One picture featured three men who looked as if they were easily confused, standing in their bib overalls and staring at the camera. This was the caption: ‘Have ye ever listened to some folks for a minute and thought . . . “Their cornbread ain’t done in the middle”?’
“Ordinarily I’d respond by thinking: ’That’s a humorous and rather unusual expression.’ (My thoughts are very formal.)
“Not this time! My response was: ‘I never thought I’d see that again!’
“I dug through my collection of potential Bulletin Board items until I found what I was looking for. It was Page A5 from the February 25, 2021, edition of the STrib: ‘Behind Nashville bombing. a conspiracy theorist’ was the headline for the article. The story focused on the man responsible for the Nashville bombing, and it quoted a waitress who described him in these terms: ‘Deck [waitress], 44, first met Warner [bomber], when he came into the South Nashville Waffle House where she worked. “The first time I met him, I just thought his cornbread wasn’t really done in the middle and he was off a little bit,” she said.’
“If we ever meet, don’t be surprised if I lay that one on you.”
Our Community of Strangers Division (Pointing Pictures Subdivision)
Papageno writes: “Subject: What are you pointing at?
“I am planning a return trip to Ireland once These Dark Times are lifted. With my girlfriend (Babaloo), who has never been Across the Pond, I was going through photographs from my 2011 trip. There is one photo from the west coast of my pointing out to sea, and she immediately asked: ‘What are you pointing at?’
“So I had to explain — just as I had had to explain to my travel mates 10 years ago, when I asked one of them to take the picture: It’s a Bulletin Board thing. Do you remember Pointing Pictures? It doesn’t matter what you’re pointing at; you just have to be pointing — although in this case, I think there was a monastery on an island out-of-frame, or something.
“As a bit of nostalgia, I submit my Pointing Picture of 2011.”
Gregory of the North: “Subject: Memorable people one meets along the way.
“When I was stationed in Germany the second time, there was a little Gasthaus that I adopted as my own. I never got to the point of the fictional ‘Cheers’ bar, where people would shout ‘Norm!’ when he arrived, but the bartender and waitresses got to know me enough that when I sat down, a stein of Doppelbock would appear. Not many people drank Doppelbock then, and one day a guy arrived and ordered one. He looked around for a place to sit, and as is common in Europe, I invited him to join me and he came over and sat down.
“After exchanging pleasantries, he told me he was a Trappist monk. So naturally I asked him what he was doing ‘loose’ from the monastery, why he was in ‘civilian’ clothes, and why he was allowed to speak with me, since I knew that Trappists were a silent order. He said he was on a 40-day ‘leave’ to come out and experience the world, to decide whether he wanted to remain a monk or leave the order for a ‘normal’ life.
“The guy was in his 30s, as was I, and he seemed to be in good physical condition, not the stereotype of the slightly obese monk with a pronounced beer belly. His mind was something else! This was one of the most erudite and well-spoken men I have ever met. We talked about every topic one can imagine — from grand philosophical treatises to whether he still felt attraction to women. (He said he did, but that he would sublimate those urges and desires into Godly pursuits.).
“About halfway through the evening, we switched to English for my sake. Naturally, he spoke impeccable British-style English. We ended up closing the bar, having consumed only two beers each that we each paid for ourselves. After saying auf wiedersehen on the street outside the tavern, I never saw him again. Naturally, I have questioned whether he was really a monk, or whether he was just a lonely guy who needed attention, or perhaps even a gay guy looking for a partner. But I had the strong impression then, and still do now, that he was genuine. He showed me an elaborate hand-carved crucifix that he said he wore with his habit that didn’t really fit with alternative explanations. In any case, it was an evening of great conversations — and he certainly was and is a memorable figure.”
Fellow travelers (Snowbird Division)
And: CAUTION! Words at Play! (responsorial)
The Original Robyn from Maplewood (now Woodbury): “Subject: Greetings from Mississippi.
“First item: Golfer Guy Mike and I have been wintering on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for three years now. The first year, we hit Biloxi on the day of their Mardi Gras parade. Mardi Gras is very serious stuff down here, and, while it was annoying to be stuck in the middle of the crowds when also being completely lost, it was also fascinating to see the people with their beads, painted faces, ‘interesting’ clothing choices, and huge grins.
“The past two years have been mostly paradeless because of COVID, at least in Biloxi/Gulfport. Sadly, it has also taken me two years to put together why many area restaurants are closed on Tuesdays all year, rather than taking the more traditional Monday closure after a busy weekend. The reason: For 51 Tuesdays a year, it’s just a day off. On that 52nd Tuesday, it is Mardi Gras! In fact, during that 52nd week, area schools and many businesses are closed Monday (preparation day), Tuesday (Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday parade and party time), and Wednesday (recuperation day). Hoping for a resumption of the parades next year.
“The second item refers back to Semi-Legend‘s ‘Words at Play’ submission that was printed on Sunday, March 28. He mentioned adding some of his own punny names to enhance his enjoyment of ‘Stark Naked: A Paranomastic Odyssey’ by Norman Juster. One of those names was ‘Ida Claire.’ My paternal grandmother’s name was truly Ida Clare, but her favorite exclamatory phrase was ‘Oh, my stars!’
“My maternal grandmother’s name was Nellie Mae, but her friends all knew she probably would.”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Debbie Reiter writes: “Thought this sign outside the Vadnais Heights post office was hilarious. Someone has a great sense of humor.”
Another episode of creative hearing, reported by Bill of the river lake: “Subject: A tortoise is a tortoise.
“A local elementary-school teacher was showing his Russian tortoise to a few
of his after-school students.
“I thought that he said it was a ‘rushin’ tortoise’ and remarked that this seemed to be a classic example of an oxymoron.
“This somehow reminded me of the tale of the tortoise and the hare.
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede has emerged again: “Three spring photos in our yard.
“A sunny, mild day was a good incentive to take a walk around the yard to see what was happening.
“Most of the rhubarb plants were pushing up. This one plant really had a bunch of stems sprouting.
“The Northwoods Maple branches have clusters of buds reddening and getting ready to open.
“The lamium in a front garden is pushing fall leaves aside with fresh green leaves.
“Our gentle rain followed by a sunny day really helped get things going. More soon.’
Soon: “Subject: Four Ardan Park early spring photos.
“Since it was such a comfortable day, I decided to pop over to Ardan Park to see how spring was happening there.
“The first thing that caught my eye were the pussy willows with their whitish fuzz.
“There were several duck ‘couples’ on the pond, and all were skittish. As soon as they spotted me, they swam as far away as they could, making good photos hard to get.
“The cattail catkins were spreading their fuzz finally.
“And high overhead, two large birds were interacting in flight. It was hard to tell if it was a mutual attraction or one trying to drive the other away.
“It was fun to see such signs of life — and with a few more days of warmer weather ahead, there should be more ‘action’ to discover.”
More action: “Subject: Four early spring photos near Lake Owasso.
“Thursday is usually the day I take a weekly magazine to a friend of mine living in a memory-care apartment there. I took my camera with this time, too,
to see what was happening as spring starts to reveal itself.
“The fruit trees with their ‘robin’ food were quite ready to provide for them until it is warm enough for worms to start being accessible.
“And some large birds were circling overhead here, too.
“One of them flew much lower to get a good look at me, I think. I don’t know what kind of birds these are.
“I was intrigued by how the feathers were spread out to help with different maneuvers.
“I hope Bulletin Board’s bird expert [Bulletin Board notes: That’s our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland] can tell me what kinds of birds these are.”
Our birds, ourselves
Ask Al B Division
Gma Tom: “Subject: He’s back!
“There he is again this year! That dumb ole male robin that insists on pecking away at my garage windows. This is at least the third year that I have a big ole robin constantly pecking at the garage windows and making a huge mess on them.
“I know I’m supposed to distract the bird by hanging something in the window. Well, I have a Christmas decoration on a suction cup in one window and some tools that hang in front of the other, but it does nothing to stop this bird.
“Being garage windows, they are not equipped with curtain rods, so in the past I had to tack up some type of covering over the windows, but this eliminates much of the light source in my garage, so it is not a very satisfactory solution.
“What I’m really wondering is: Is this the same ole bird every year, or is he passing on his ‘dumb’ genes to his offspring? Al B?”
This ’n’ that ’n’ the other
Al B of Hartland Division
From the doubly aforementioned Al B of Hartland: (1) “I was hot and turned in bed. I felt like a rotisserie chicken. I discovered that my wife had sneaked an extra blanket onto the bed. Happy the cause was benign, I staggered to the window and looked at 9 inches of snowfall — more or less. I serve on a board on which everyone but me is from Alaska, and I mentioned on our Zoom meeting we’d had a snowfall and gave 8 inches as an approximation — to be modest about the weather. A member from Haines said they’d just received 17, and another from Anchorage said 19 inches. They won. I should have claimed 9 feet.
“I remember snowfalls from my formative years. The amounts increase in my memory. Dylan Thomas wrote: ‘I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.’
“Snow adds to March Madness, which has referred to a form of madness or uncharacteristic behavior affecting people in March since the 1900s. The expression may come from the erratic weather of the season or the harebrained behavior of hares. The NCAA’s March Madness incites insanity.
“Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote: ‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’ Some pessimistic Minnesotans maintain that if spring comes, winter can’t be far behind.”
(2) “I worked in a gas station in a large city. It was an inconvenient convenience store. It sold gas, snacks, pop and cigarettes, and it had a restroom. The key to the restroom’s locked door was chained to a hunk of metal the size of an anvil. The restroom hadn’t been cleaned since sliced bread was invented. My boss told me to clean it. I wasn’t happy to have that assignment. I hung a sign on the door that read:’Too closed for comfort.'”
(3) “I seek magic. A yard-filling flock of red-winged blackbirds blackening the snow-covered ground was magical. The world needed to hear their song. It’s spring singing.
“Researchers from California Polytechnic State University analyzed how the natural sounds people hear when outdoors affect well-being. They found that the chorus of birdsong increased welfare. I tried to determine by use of my Hartland Grade School arithmetic how many blackbirds there were and reckoned there were at least 14, but that might have been low. I’d estimate it was well into the hundreds.
“A much smaller flock of rusty blackbirds blew in with a storm. I’m always happy to see them. I wanted to yell: ‘Pour another cup of water into the soup, we have company.’
“Brown-headed cowbirds joined the melee on the ground below the feeders. A female cowbird was taking a break in a lilac when two male house sparrows attacked her. She fought back, and the battle was prolonged. Had her parasitizing reputation preceded her? Was it over a prime perching position? Or was it merely orneriness? Interesting behavior, no matter the cause.
“Dark-eyed juncos made the sounds of ray guns. The snow must go. The juncos must, too.
“A male and female cardinal kissed on a lilac branch. He offered her a sunflower seed, and their bills touched in what I found a heartwarming moment. It’s known as mate feeding and is a sign of courtship. I gave my wife a Chunky candy bar when courting her.
“Crows walked bandy-legged over the lawn, searching winter’s detritus for food. A northern harrier (formerly called a marsh hawk) male was a gray glider swooping low over a field. Glorious!”
Our birds, ourselves
The Feline Fanatic: “I know I’m getting older and am hoping this isn’t an omen.
“As I finished up work today, I noticed a large shadow over the side yard and saw a large bird fly by a couple times. I walked closer to the window to try and catch a better view, thinking it might be the resident hawk. Imagine my surprise when said bird flew past the window and I realized by its featherless red head it was a buzzard!
“Crikey! I’m not dead yet!
“Ironically, just prior to the sighting I was reading my email saying I was selected to get my vaccine and telling me where to sign up.”
Older Than Dirt?
Or: Ask Bulletin Board
Ramblin’ Rose: “Subject: Curiosity reigns.
“Perplexed, puzzled, and bewildered am I. What is this Older Than Dirt? I see many references to it in BB; heck, even our esteemed editor has proclaimed himself to be OTD, which I find hard to believe. [Bulletin Board says: We were exaggerating. Literary license?] But then, I’m unclear on the concept. Or is it a hard line rather than a concept?
“I would agree that one could self-identify as OTD if they were born in the 1920s. Ditto for living through the Great Depression. How about remembering WWII? Having practiced hiding under your desk during the Cuban Missile Crisis? Seeing the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan? Knowing who Ed Sullivan was? Being in the bullseye for AARP? Do Social Security and Medicare membership automatically tip you into that group? Do I have a choice about this?
“Perhaps it’s a concept we move ourselves into. What if my hair becomes salt-and-pepper, or gains a silvery shine? A retreating hairline could play into this. Retirement? Does becoming a grandparent, at any age, have an impact? But don’t grandchildren keep you young? What about the condescending media reference that we become ‘elderly’ at 65, more than becoming a ‘senior’ at either 55 or 60, depending on the context? What happened to 60 is the new 40?
“BB’ers seem to fall into different camps. Many appear to proudly wear the OTD mantle, evidence of a life well-lived. Good for them. Others proclaim they are not yet OTD, but do have a good bit of life experience. I am reminded of when one of my older sisters turned 50, and admitted to it, agreeably noting that she was starting her fifth decade. I couldn’t resist pointing out that she had just finished that fifth decade and was beginning her sixth. She thought about it for a few moments; then her expression began to crumble, and I thought she was going to cry. I felt awful. But she recovered with a toss of her head and exclaimed: ‘Well, there you go!’ She is clearly in the second camp.
“So, what is this OTD? So many stories. So many possibilities. What say you, BB? Curiosity reigns.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Older Than Dirt is a fluid concept, which each of us must define for himself, herself or ourself. Could be just a matter of mood, at times; one could conceivably be OTD one day and SC (Spring Chicken) the next.
The one thing we know for certain is that it is NEVER proper to affix that label to anyone else!
Our ‘trees,’ ourselves
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “I’ve created several versions of an Easter tree.
“This one is simplicity itself. It consists of plastic Easter eggs hung on a wrought-iron tree. That says it all.”
Could be verse!
Tim Torkildson writes: “I’m sailing in a leaky boat;
“the Lord alone keeps me afloat.
“And yet how oft I do defy
“my Captain’s orders and deny
“His right to steer me safely to
“my sacred blissful rendezvous!”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
Or: The vision thing (Headline Division)
Rusty of St. Paul writes: “As I don’t eat meat, I am always on the lookout for plant-based ‘meats.’ But I don’t want to eat one whose substrate is a city!”
Cooking with gases
Kathy S. of St Paul: “Subject: When life gives you lava.
“A volcano started erupting in Iceland. Spectators who came to see it brought hot dogs and buns, and cooked their hot dogs with heat from flowing lava. No charcoal needed!”
Band Name of the Day: The Rushin’ Tortoises
Website of the Day: