How the barbershop quartet became a barbershop trio — or: A funny thing happened on the way to the gig!

Accidents of mirth

Waldo Windmill writes: “I sang in a barbershop quartet which performed on hundreds of shows in the Twin Cities area, as well as throughout the United States and Canada. Surprisingly, we missed only two scheduled appearances during that entire period.

“One I remember vividly. We were booked to perform in downtown Minneapolis on a snowy, cold December evening in 1965. Bob, Dan, and I arrived at the show venue dressed and ready to perform as per usual, but John failed to arrive in a timely fashion.

“We soon found out why: He had been involved in an automobile accident on his way to the gig. Therein lies the story.

“John at the time was driving a BMW Isetta, a unique small, somewhat egg-shaped car with the engine in the rear and a single door in the front (not the side) of the car. The two front wheels were spaced considerably wider apart than the rear wheels.

“John was alone in the car, and he, too, was dressed in stage uniform: a Gay Nineties outfit complete with straw hat, spats, and patent-leather shoes. Imagine what onlookers must have thought as they watched a man dressed in that fashion in the month of December emerge from the front of a strange-looking vehicle with blood running down his face and a large tear in the knee of his pants.

“He was immediately taken directly to the hospital. He likely elicited a few stares there as well!”

The Permanent Motherly/Fatherly Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules remembers: “Subject: Fishing with Old Man Gonyea.

“Mother’s lifelong dream of moving back to the Lake Country was a long time coming, but finally, after 30 years of marriage, my folks bought a little cottage by the shores of Lake Minnetonka. No, not ON the shore; BY the shore. It was a block-and-a-half walk to the community dock, where we had fishing rights.

“There was a nice old couple who lived behind us, and when Old Lady Gonyea told Mother how much her husband had always enjoyed fishing before he became blind, Mother offered to take him with her. They would sling their fishing poles over their shoulders, Mom would guide him by his elbow, and they would walk down to the lake. Mom helped him navigate onto the dock, and they sat on the benches at the end of the dock and fished together.

“One day, Old Man Gonyea mentioned to Mom how much better the fishing used to be when he was allowed to use his rowboat. What? He had a rowboat? Mom talked to his son, and the rowboat was back at the dockside the next time they went fishing. Mom rowed out in the direction of his old favorite fishing spot, and they caught ‘a mess of sunnies’ to share. Mom fried them up for supper that night, and Dad enjoyed them as he chattered away about his day on the job.

“They went fishing several times a week that summer. One day as Mother was talking about how much better the fishing was from the boat than from the dock, Dad’s ears pricked up, and he actually heard for the first time that his dear aged wife (she was only 56 years old) was risking her life rowing a heavy old blind man in a decrepit old boat! Dad’s face went white, and he told Mom that was much too dangerous. He didn’t want her rowing that boat ever again. Mom didn’t say anything, but we knew Dad’s silly worrying was not going to stop her. The next morning, Dad told Mom that he had hardly slept all night, what with worrying about her rowing that boat. He said very firmly: ‘Bess, I want you to promise that you will never tell me again that you went out in that boat!’

“Mom kept her promise. She didn’t stop rowing the boat; she just no longer told Dad about it.”

The Permanent Family Record

From Eos: “When I was a kid, my dad’s Uncle Bernard came to visit. ‘Bones,’ as my dad called him, was a Methodist minister. (He was a very dignified man, most of the time.)

“Mom fixed a nice meal. After dinner came dessert: apple pie with Reddi-wip. I’m not sure why he did it, but Bones decided to squirt some Reddi-wip directly into his mouth. Unfortunately, the can was almost empty. He almost dislodged his uvula, and started coughing. Then he laughed. Then we ALL laughed.

“If his congregation could have seen him then!”

The Literallyists

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Bring back the guillotine!

“A commentator on one of the cable news shows was so incensed by the actions of some politicians that he almost shouted: ‘. . . heads should literally roll out the door!’”

Well-aged brew

John in Highland: “Subject: Old breweries.

“I enjoy the discussion when I hear people talk about how old their favorite brewery is, as if age might convey quality and/or popularity. Well, if it does, I have a contender that has been around for almost a millennium.

“While taking a summer-vacation trip with my number-one son and one of his friends, we traveled around Bavaria, discovering castles, autobahns, and breweries. One of the places that we came upon was the Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei on the Danube River near the little town of Kelheim. Weltenburg Abbey was founded by Benedictine monks around 617. The brewery has been in operation since 1050. It has received many awards as the best dunkel (dark) beer in the world. Today the abbey is open to the public and has a restaurant and, in warm months, an outdoor biergarten. On a wall adjacent to the biergarten is a large tube through which is expelled the spent wort from the brewing process. The mixture plops into a wooden cart and is saved for animal feed. The smell of the dark grains is overwhelming.

“My companions have vowed to revisit the Abbey on its thousand-year anniversary.”

Know thyself!
Highfalutin Pleasures Division

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Starting this week, I will be battery-operated. I’m getting a pacemaker! :-)”

This ’n’ that ’n’ the other
Al B of Hartland Division

All from Al B of Hartland: (1) “I didn’t recognize some people when they were wearing masks. Now I don’t recognize some without their masks.”

(2) “The minute I became completely soaked, I immediately predicted rain for the game.

“I saw the Twins play when I was a mere stripling thanks to Luther League. We took a bus trip to Metropolitan Stadium and our seats high in the stands. On a clear day, we could see the color of the outfield grass. We got a free bun with every hot dog, but there was a cover charge for a program.

“Years later, I coached baseball teams. I started with the age group wherein all of the fielders ran for any ball in play. Some players had the pleasure of riding to games in my 1961 Chevy Biscayne. It had a three-on-the-tree shift and a rust problem. Its floor was trying to corrode away. The trunk held bats, balls, scorebooks and catcher’s equipment. We were headed home when the floor mat wiggled its way through the floor and embraced the exhaust pipe. This wasn’t a good combination. To say it was a fire makes it sound worse than it was, but there was a fire. I pulled the car over and got the kids out. The car had no fire extinguisher. It barely had a motor. I gathered a handful of gravel, tossed it on the flame and encouraged my players to do the same. They did. They’d been trained. Our home field sat downhill from the world. The infield was filled with rocks. A fellow coach, Gary Hanson, instituted a tradition wherein each player had to haul a couple of handfuls of rocks from the field before practice could start.

“Once I was sure the car wouldn’t burst into an inferno, I took the kids home. They agreed it was their best day in baseball.”

(3) “Brown thrashers put the world in tune with this long-winded song: ‘Plant a seed, plant a seed, bury it, bury it, cover it up, cover it up, let it grow, let it grow, pull it up, pull it up, eat it, eat it. Hello, hello. Yes, yes, yes. Who is this? Who is this? Well, well, well, I should say, I should say. How’s that? How’s that? I don’t know, I don’t know. What did you say? What did you say? Certainly, certainly. Well, well, well. Not that I know of, not that I know of. Tomorrow? Tomorrow? I guess so, I guess so. All right, all right. Goodbye, goodbye.'”

Then & Now
Bulletin Board Division

Patty-cakes of Inver Grove Heights reports: “Almost 14 years ago, I sent a picture of our grandson John on his grandpa’s John Deere.

“Fast-forward (and I mean really fast!) to this past week when our granddaughter Vivien was visiting. Here’s a picture of her sitting on another John Deere.”

The verbing of America

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Barack Obama made this statement in an interview with Anderson Cooper: ‘We have more economic stratification and segregation. You combine that with racial stratification and the siloing of the media, so you don’t have just Walter Cronkite delivering the news, but you have one thousand different venues.’”

Could be verse!
Imitation Burma-Shave Division

Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Burma-Shave.





Our pets, our birds, ourselves

The Hastings Crazy Quilter observes: “One woman’s trash is another’s treasure!

“For over 25 years, the dogs in our home had been Labradors. Labradors are wonderful family dogs, with short hair; when they shed, it’s not that big a deal.

“Our latest dog, however, is a Catahoula — with long white hair that turns up everywhere. She sheds so much, I swear I get enough hair each brushing to make a new puppy. I try to brush her outside, where the clumps of hair float away on the breeze. After a vigorous brushing, our front yard looks like something furry died out there.

“The other day, I saw a chipping sparrow gathering up that dog hair. Chipping sparrows are small (5- to 6-inch) birds that typically feed on the ground and take cover/nest in shrubs. They have one to three broods a year. This female was gathering up so much dog hair in her beak, you could hardly see her head. She flew off to line her nest and came back two more times. Glad to see all that dog hair is of some use! Somewhere in our yard is the cushiest nest in the neighborhood.

“One time, a chipping sparrow nested in the yew bush outside our dining-room window. From inside we could look right down into the nest, see the eggs hatch and the small birds grow.

“Unfortunately chipping sparrows are often brood-parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds. Cowbirds will lay their eggs in another bird’s nest, so that bird will have to feed and raise their young. Many birds cannot recognize that one of the eggs in their nest doesn’t look like the others. Because the cowbird egg hatches quickly and the baby cowbird is larger, they frequently get more food and attention from the parent birds, resulting in lower populations of the parasitized birds.

“I’m sure hoping all that white dog hair doesn’t give away the location of the chipping sparrow’s nest.”

The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Where We Live Division

Dennis from Eagan: “I spotted this hilarious ORKIN digital ad on the northbound MN-77 highway sideline near 66th Street, close to Richfield and the MSP airport.

“Thanks to the MLS soccer team’s mascot, the LOONS may just keep their state-bird designation away from the pesky mosquito.

“The second photo has appeared several times on Facebook pages during the past five years, but I choose Minnetonka’s Ron Johnson as the ‘original poster,’ back in June 2016.

“I think that a great caption for the warning-sign picture would be ‘Mosquito encounter ahead! Just don’t get carried away with it.'”

Dept. of Neat Stuff
Magnetic Spinning Wheel Toy Division

Semi-Legend writes: “Subject: Pretty Maggie Magnetic.

“When I read Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff’s report that the Whee-Lo was made by Maggie Magnetic Inc., I thought: ‘Sounds like a Harlan Ellison character.’

“Close. One of his memorable stories was ‘Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes.’ As one reviewer put it: ‘In this novelette, which is one of Harlan Ellison’s personal favorites, a dead prostitute haunts a slot machine in Las Vegas. This story has the awesome line: “Maggie. Hooker. Hustler. Grabber. Swinger. If there’s a buck in it, there’s rhythm and the onomatopoeia is Maggie Maggie Maggie.”

Everyone’s a critic!
Headline Division

Donald: “Subject: Sometimes it’s just too easy.

“The main story on Page 2B of the Sports section in the June 8th Pioneer Press focused on the Cubs/Giants game of the previous night. The Cubs won 4-3, and one of their stars was Patrick Wisdom, who hit two home runs. The headline read: ‘Wisdom’s hitting making Cubs look smart.’”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Say what?

“This appeared in the ‘HIT AND RUN’ section on Page C4 of the June 1 edition of the STrib:

“‘A late taste of seven-inning games’

“‘CLEVELAND – The Indians never had not played a seven-inning doubleheader before Sunday. On Monday, they played their second in a row.’”

Then & Now
Little Pitchers Division

Kathy Robertson writes: “Subject: What We Put Our Children Through.

“In the late 1980s, my 3-year-old and 7-year-old were ‘forced’ to listen to the Oldies station at home and in the car.

“One day, after a foray to Dayton’s in Minneapolis, we stopped to listen to the pianist playing the grand piano on the first floor. After we listened for a while, he asked if we had any requests. My 3-year-old marched up to him and asked if he knew ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ He seemed a bit surprised, but did a somewhat poor version for us.

“He then said he had never had such a request from a tiny person! Usually they asked for ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ or ‘The Wheels on the Bus.’

“She still likes the oldies, at age 35.”

BULLETIN BOARD MUSES: She was well trained.

And what’s not to like?

Band Name of the Day: A Mess of Sunnies — or: The Maggie Magnetics

Website of the Day: Brown Thrasher

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