Does a $6 tip on an $8.50 tab sound just about right? Yes, it does.

What is right with people?
Pandemic Division

Anonymous Woman of St. Paul: “Subject: A little kindness is needed right now.

“Lately I’m trying to get to restaurants — the Mom-and-Pop ones, etc., that still seem to be hurting from disruptions. Because we need to prime the pump to help folks make a steady living again.

“Today I met some retirement-aged women at a restaurant for Happy Hour. I split a pitcher of margaritas ($5) and got two tacos for $6 plus tax. But I added $6 as a tip, because the place was not busy and the waiter wasn’t getting rich on us. As I was leaving, he practically hugged me.

“Just to say: A little bit of looking out for our neighbors right now could go a long way toward helping folks feel good and hopeful again.

“In the 2017 ‘Wonder Woman’ movie, the hero tells Wonder Woman: ‘I can save today. You can save the world.’ I figure those words apply to lots of situations, where we can help each other just a little bit.”

Our times
Pandemic Division

From Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Lest we forget.

“‘America’s Got Talent’ is returning this year. I normally watch only major highlights, but just saw the Northwell Health Nurse Choir (medical workers who have dealt with the pandemic) get the Golden Buzzer for their beautiful rendition of ‘Lean on Me.’ The Golden Buzzer means they are going straight to the live shows later this year.

“Much sadness and frustration from 2020 is now fading from memories, as we reach for ‘normal.’ But folks should remember that one of the very many people we lost to COVID in 2020 was Bill Withers — who wrote ‘Lean on Me.’ It is ironic that so many of us use his songs for comfort, and that one of the best songs for those struggling with the pandemic is ‘Lean on Me.’

“Thanks, Bill!”

The Permanent Friendly Record

Merlyn of St. Paul writes: “Subject: The Adnils.

“I always thought our friendship would last for a lifetime. We were the Adnils (our first name backwards). Two little girls who had grown up together. Sharing the sphere of a new development of tract houses adjacent to the airport. When we moved there, the sidewalk down from the front of the houses ended at a mud street. Corn field across the street waited to be converted to more housing. By the time we were big enough to ride trikes, our houses were connected by sidewalk, & we were off & pedaling. I broke my big toe jumping out of her tree, pretending I was Tarzan. She dragged me home, sitting on the back of her trike. We made ‘gorgeous’ mud pies (topped with new street tar) to try and feed to neighbor kids. We played a piano duet in our recital (she was better than I was). Later, we camped every weekend at William O’Brien State Park with a friend/family group that became our summer home. Her family took me on their summer vacation, even though they already had six people (& their camping gear) crowded into a sedan. She was responsible for my BB moniker. We passed notes in junior high by slipping them into the music-room piano. I would sign mine ‘Me or LYN.’ She thought it was Merlyn, & so it stuck. Years & locations had separated us, but we always were able to come back together to reminisce about our lives.

“Recently, we had reconnected on Facebook Messenger, in a whole new way. Frequent check-ins on status of our daily lives. I’d inquire of the conditions at her home in California, near fires & smoke. Although I’m not a worrier, it concerned me that a woman with asthma was in that environment. I offered her a spot to crash, should she flee. She declined. I’d make things, & send her pictures. She’d give me praise, & share what she was up to. How she was hoping for travel restrictions to lift, so she could go to Norway again.

“This all stopped on July 10th. I sent her my usual ramblings about life here, & two pictures of my current projects. No response. That’s odd. Oh well, she must be busy. Then the call no one expects. Her sister telling me she had gone to the hospital & had died. What happened? Was anyone there to help her? No answers. I’m left in limbo. You can’t mother the world, but no one you love should be allowed to leave this earth, unheralded. No matter how time & space divide us, we will always be the notorious Adnils, & I, her Merlyn.”

In memoriam

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Tim.

“Tim was a big man. When he stepped on a scale, it probably read at least 350. It is hard to tell just how heavy people are when they get really big. The actual volume of a sphere is dependent on the cube of the radius. So a small increase in radius can mean a dramatic increase in weight. I am not implying that Tim was round like a sphere, but I use it as a simple mathematical construct to make weight estimates merely in one’s head. He loved to eat. But most importantly, he loved life.

“Tim was always the life of the party. He donned a Santa suit and would take care of things at our annual Christmas party. When our grandchildren saw him, there was no doubt that he was the real McCoy Santa. I can still see the look on their faces: hesitant smiles and big, almost bulging eyes, mouths dropping wide open. And Tim played the role with gusto. For adults he had those tiny liquor bottles, but real toys for the kids.

“We would go out to dinner every Friday evening with a group of neighbors. Tim usually had suggestions for an untried place to dine. He usually offered to drive. He did so because not all vehicles were comfortable enough for someone of his stature. His Suburban worked well. We crossed the Mississippi River and shortly thereafter the St. Croix. Now we were in Wisconsin. He drove on and on. That Highway 10 is a pretty drive as you go east out of Prescott, on past Ellsworth. The rolling hills and curvy road would make any sports car enthusiast’s face light up with wide-open eyeballs and genuine smiles ear to ear. We turned off on a side road which soon became gravel. It followed along the Rush River. The drive is one of the most scenic ones, typical of western Wisconsin.

“We crossed a little bridge, and before long we had arrived. We had not ever seen such a charming place, in literally the middle of nowhere. A few drops started coming down from above, but no matter; there was a roof over the bar and dining area. It was not huge, but it could hold a lot of people. Those drops started to get a bit more intense. But we were dry, and with a glass of ‘Rush River Red’ in hand, we weren’t concerned at all. The owner, Larry, bellowed out Dean Martin’s ‘That’s Amore,’ and folks sang along.

“Thunder started rolling through those hills encasing the river. It was getting darker, and the rumbles increased the decibel level. Larry assured us that he had a basement with enough capacity to secure the safety of everyone. Additionally, it was well stocked with copious amounts of ‘Rush River Red’ and other beverages of choice. By the time our meals were served, the weather began to improve and was no longer a concern. We were able to enjoy the amenities of the restaurant and make plans to return.

“I said Tim loved life. He and I attended a monthly dinner of good fellow pilots. Tim was a Navy pilot, and I flew for the Air Force, but we enjoyed each other’s company. Tim liked everyone. He was a strong Christian as well. When we see the sign that says ‘Faith, Family, Friends,’ that pretty much sums up how Tim lived. When he passed away, fellow aviators had a fly-by at his funeral. Passing over the church, one plane of the four pulled up and headed west. Aviators go west when they die, into the setting sun.”

Know thyself!
Or: The Permanent Grandfatherly/Grandsonly Record

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Some things are hard to believe.

“We recently received an invitation to grandson Nick’s high-school graduation party. As I read it, I recalled an incident from when Nick was much younger.

“I don’t remember many details, but people were on our deck for a family gathering. Whatever we were discussing must have led to some discussion of my past athletic accomplishments.

“I’ll never forget Nick’s astonishment as he inquired: ‘Grandpa was an athlete?’

“Oh, the tales I could tell . . . .”

The frontiers of graphic art
Or: Older Than Dirt

Elvis reports: “Elvis took a trip into the fancy Milwaukee Art Museum recently. He encountered some confusing hieroglyphics that took a bit of head-scratching to figure out.

“But then there was pillar with three of the four symbols, and a translation:

“Obviously the disabled person would have problems with the stairs. (As an aside, Elvis thinks it’s cool that someone advocated to update the wheelchair symbol from a static, sit-up-straight icon to a speedy, on-the-move one.)

“Finding the stairway was easy thanks to the arrow, but notice the symbols changed and now include what Elvis assumes is a non-gendered child.

“And once Elvis got to the bottom, the signs went back to the old-style ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ to get him to the right doorway.

Elvis mused that the staff probably get many more requests for help on where the restrooms are than before the graphics were updated.”

The Permanent Family Record
And: Come again? Or: Not exactly what he had in mind

A pair of stories from Waldo Windmill: (1) “Each morning during the 1945-46 school year, I walked a mile and one-half to attend high school in a small Southeastern Wisconsin town. At the same time, my two younger sisters walked approximately the same distance in the opposite direction to the one-room school they attended.

“On a few occasions, however, I joined them in their trek to their institution of learning. On those days I, a high-school sophomore, was to spend the day substituting as their teacher.

“My sisters’ regular teacher suffered from migraine headaches, which sometimes prevented her from carrying out her duties. On a few such occasions, I was contacted and asked to replace her in the classroom for that day. That, of course, meant that I would either have to skip school or obtain permission from my high-school principal to take the day off. I chose the latter alternative for a couple of reasons: (1) Neither my parents nor I would have been comfortable with my simply absenting myself from school; and (2) I was confident that the principal would grant me permission to miss school for the day, because it was he who requested that I spend the day teaching in my sisters’ school. I was actually substituting for his wife, their regular teacher.

“And the best part of the deal was that I not only was allowed to miss classes for a day, but was paid five dollars for doing so!”

(2) “A group of us formed a Fantasy Football league in the 1980s, well before such leagues became common. The preseason draft of NFL football players was always a highlight. As I recall, we drafted a quarterback, a placekicker, a tight end, a pair of running backs and wide receivers, then determined winners of Fantasy League games by compiling points scored by league draftees in actual NFL competition.

“One year, our draft was held in a New Brighton bar/restaurant. The draft proceeded routinely until it was league member Byron’s turn to select a player in one of the late rounds. An attractive young waitress walked by the table where he was seated just as Byron shouted ‘Lipps,’ indicating his selection of Louis Lipps, a Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and a frequent target of passes thrown by quarterback Mark Malone. The reaction of the waitress, however, clearly indicated her displeasure at what she thought was a pass of a different kind aimed at her.

“And poor Byron had no idea what was going on!”

Keeping your eyes open (responsorial)

Semi-Legend writes: “LeoJEOSP submitted ads for milk. A whole-milk half-gallon carton was $4.49. Two other jugs were $1,100. The ad said they were out of stock.

“Two possibilities:

“1) Pricey, but apparently fast-moving.

“2) If they’re out of stock, they can charge any price they want.”

Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?

Woodbury Reader: “Subject: Huh?

Today while watching a baseball game, an announcer was interviewing someone and asked: ‘Can I pick your ear?'””


Not exactly what anyone had in mind

Sunday email from Vertically Challenged: “Subject: Oops!

“Anyone missing their Dollar Tree ad from their paper this morning?”

Keeping your eyes open

Doris Day: “Pine Creek Golf Course (La Crescent, Minnesota) on a foggy early morning. Taken by Boris Day, noted non-early riser.”

Muse, amuse

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Channeling Andy Rooney again this morning.

“I just read a tongue-in-cheek post about Tupperware-lid frustration on Facebook. We never had a problem with Tupperware lids when I was a kid. To me, plastic food containers were a solution in search of a problem. Especially the ones for cakes and pies. Cakes and pies never lasted more than 24 hours from the oven in my home. They only dirtied the pan they were baked in. My mother would never bake anything so far in advance that it needed to be stored. We had refrigerator dishes back then, though. Because they were glass and you could see what was inside if you got forgetful. My mom had a bunch of them that were filled with celery, beets and other stuff I never ate. I liked my dad’s that was always filled with white radishes from the garden, though. Most even had molded-in decorations that made them acceptable serving dishes. You could just take them out of the fridge and plunk them on the table without any guilt. The past sure had a lot less frustration. Not many counselors, life coaches and psychiatrists, either, as I recall. I can say for sure that no one ever forgot to serve leftover vegetables or tried to stretch an incorrect glass top to force-fit a refrigerator dish.”

Great minds . . .
Headline Division

Donald: “Subject: Where have I read that before?

“A headline on the front page of the Sports section of the July 7 edition of the Pioneer Press: ‘Banham happy to be back with Lynx.’

“A headline on the front page of the Sports section of the July 7 edition of the paper west of St. Paul: ‘Banham happy to be back with Lynx.’”

The Permanent Family Record

John in Highland writes: “This photo includes seven of 10 Salmon family members, children of my Great-Grandfather William Salmon. William, with his widowed mother and siblings, emigrated from Ireland in 1855, the family first settling near Bloomington, Illinois. He later set off for Minnesota, where he purchased a farm between Taunton and Minneota, married and raised his family. There are William Salmon descendants scattered from Chicago to Alberta, and whenever I meet someone with the name, I have to ask if we are related.

“My grandfather, John, and his brother Deglin got into the hardware business, first in Minneota and later in Claremont, where they ran Salmon Brothers Hardware. Tom became an attorney and later a judge in Minneapolis. William settled in Minneota and worked for many years as constable. Dan served as justice of the peace and trustee of the village of Taunton. Maurice became a policeman in Minneapolis. Hanora started as a school teacher in Taunton and later became a secretary in the office of the Clerk of the Minnesota Supreme Court in St. Paul. Michael (not in the photo) and his wife moved to Medicine Hat, Alberta, where he ran a general store.

“As the photo demonstrates, the Salmon men were follicularly challenged. The first time I saw this photo, I remarked to my grandma Salmon that at least one of the men, Tom, had hair. She laughed and said: ‘Hah, that’s a wig!'”

On the job (cont.)

Replying to her own recently launched category is Grandma Pat, “formerly of rural Roberts, Wisconsin”: “For some time I had a Saturday job in the office of a city cemetery. This cemetery had a pond with a huge population of geese. One day a man came in and asked if he could buy a goose from me. I explained that they were not for sale. He could not understand why, and assured me that he would not steal, he would pay. It actually would have made some sense to just allow this man to take home a goose and have a nice dinner for his family. Unfortunately I just couldn’t do that.

“On another day, a young Mexican man drove up in a car that seemed to be held together by bubble gum and duct tape. He carried an ornately carved wooden cross about 3 feet long. I saw him speak to the manager briefly and then leave with the cross. I asked about this, and was told that some months back, this young man had been working in the area and his 2-year-old son had died. He had no money for a marker, and had gone to Texas for work. He had driven all the way back to Iowa to place the cross on his little one’s grave, only to be turned away because of regulations.

“Some years later, when I had moved to Wisconsin, I took a job working with families in my area. This was before local roads were numbered, and I would get directions like: turn left at the old Murphy farm, then go to the second driveway after the blue silos. This was quite confusing, as I had no idea where those Murphys were, and I realized that there were maybe hundreds of blue silos.

“One time I was to go to a little town, turn left at the town lion, and then proceed two blocks to my destination. I circled round and round, looking for the town lion. I had in mind a lovely golden sculpture of a lion with its front paws outstretched. I found no such thing. Finally I stopped and inquired, only to be told that this lion was actually a dark blue plastic drinking fountain in the shape of a lion.

“So many memories!”

Band Name of the Day: The Mud Pies

Website of the Day: Milwaukee Art Museum

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