Including: The Permanent Maternal Record
Zoo Lou of St. Paul writes: “I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since the mind-numbing terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
“After watching a documentary by Spike Lee recalling the horrors of that fateful day, I remember something that brought a ray of innocent, and unintended, humor during one of our nation’s darkest hours.
“I was sitting on my deck after a round of golf at Goodrich in Maplewood with my friend Bill Struss. Every golfer and staff member was talking about the attacks, and we heard rumors that more than 20,000 people had been killed, which made for an emotional and distracted 18 holes. Staring up at the sky, I was beset by feelings of shock, outrage, and disbelief. The images of the plane slamming into the south tower of the World Trade Center and both buildings ultimately collapsing was like something out of a movie. Surely this could not be real.
“Then my mom, Phyllis, returned from her weekly visit to Mystic Lake Casino. And what’s the first thing she said? ‘I won $400 on Keno! I got six numbers out of six. Isn’t that something? Just think — $400!’
“As she was about to go in the house, blissfully fanning out four $100 bills, Mom suddenly stopped. ‘Oh,’ she said almost matter-of-factly, ‘did you hear about that awful thing that happened in New York?’ Mom’s priorities may have been a bit skewed, but her sincerity and excitement were so genuine, it made me smile.
“When Mom was in the hospital after suffering kidney failure, I was standing by her bed with a lady pastor and told the story of Keno and 9/11. And just at that moment, Mom passed away.
“I will always believe that my mom, who had been almost comatose for several days, could hear me telling that story and it brought her peace and happiness. What a beautiful way to enter eternity.”
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: It was 20 years ago.
“Sometimes I feel as if a giant hand moves me around in my life. Early in 2001, I lost my job at Guy World when I had roughly 80 percent of the pension credits I needed for retirement there. It was devastating and scary, between my fear of poverty and my sudden loss of an environment and co-workers I still miss. But I try to tie knots and go on, when change happens.
“Luckily I had library credentials to fall back on. By June 2001, I was a Substitute Librarian in Minneapolis — mainly in the poorer neighborhoods. I am grateful that I met and interacted with many Muslim immigrants in the months before 9/11, so my impressions were not affected by it. I have told a number of immigrants how my ancestors were treated when they fled the Potato Famine in Ireland. Irish accents were ridiculed, and it was common for employers to post NINA (No Irish Need Apply) signs — which my grandparents remembered. The O’ was removed from one name in my family because of the discrimination; the ancestor who removed it believed that he did better in life because he did so. But, as William Kent Krueger pointed out in his latest book, we Irish blend into crowds of those from Northern countries, while some — such as Indigenous people and Muslim immigrants — might not.
“One last thought on immigrants I met: As a graduate of schools run by nuns, I found the veils on young girls a little confusing. I finally decided that veils do not necessarily denote sainthood. It helped me, to figure that out.
“On September 11, 2001, I was to be the only reference librarian in the Lake Street branch, since the main librarian would be elsewhere. It was also a Primary Election day, so I stopped to vote in the lobby of the Battle Creek Middle School in St. Paul. They had TVs suspended from the ceiling, far enough away from the election so we could watch them. I saw the second of the Twin Towers fall, ‘live,’ then left for work. On Election Day in November, I had trouble returning there to vote. My muscle memory still includes watching the towers burn.
“As I walked into the Lake Street library to work, I asked if there was a TV we could turn on for patrons. But the only TVs were suspended from the ceiling in the meeting room, which was used for the election. And we could not have a TV in a polling place, lest it affect voting.
“It wasn’t a busy day, reference-wise. A few people discussed and researched the news in the morning, but later in the day patrons didn’t seem interested in it. I wondered if I was the only one who thought it was an historic day — until I got home and watched TV. I figured out that people — especially kids — needed to get away from the news.
“The next day, a class of middle-schoolers from the neighborhood visited the Lake Street library. Their teacher told me that the kids were worried that their school would be bombed next. They didn’t understand it all — but then I don’t, either.
“9/11 tested the young Internet that day, with so many people online at once. It was quite slow, by 2021 standards, and we accessed it only via computers. But it gave us instant access to news in a way that is more common now — for good and for bad.
“I hope to see good come from that horrible day — and that those affected by it have found some comfort.”
Or: There, but for the grace of God . . .
From joegolfer: “I think many of us have reflected on the Vietnam era as we watched the news from Afghanistan over the past couple weeks. For the first time, I was compelled to look up what my draft number would have been, had I been a male born the same day. It was quite sobering to discover it was a very low 23.”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “My brother-in-law spotted this personalized Maine plate when he was visiting his daughter in that state: ‘SAY14US.'”
Another close encounter of the natural kind, courtesy of Rutabaga55: “Space alien, or Green Darner dragonfly?”
Now & Then
Waldo Windmill: “This past summer’s paucity of rainfall brought back memories of my childhood and adolescence growing up on a dairy farm in rural Southeastern Wisconsin. Adequate and timely rainfall was always on our minds as we planted and nurtured crops during the summer, hoping to have a successful harvest of hay, corn, and grain sufficient to sustain our farm animals, especially dairy cattle, through the long winter.
“‘Putting up’ hay in the 1930s and ’40s in my family preceded the use of equipment such as the hay baler. My dad used a horse-drawn mower to mow the alfalfa and timothy, allowed it to dry in the field, then hooked up his horses to a hay rake, which would turn over the partially dried prospective fodder and place it in long rows called windrows. The horses would then be hitched to a hay wagon and hay loader, which would pick up the dried grass and put it into the wagon. The dried grass (hay) would be hauled to the barn, where it was taken from the wagon by a forklift and deposited in the upper level of the barn in the haymow. (City folk may find it useful to consult a dictionary to understand my use of mow as both a verb and a noun.)
“Another staple of dairy cattle’s diet on our farm was corn silage. At the appropriate time in the fall, field corn would be harvested with a horse-drawn corn binder, which would cut the standing corn, gather and secure the stalks into bundles and drop the tied bundles in the field. They would then be loaded onto wagons, taken to the farmyard, and fed into a corn chopper and blower which would chop up the stalks and corn ears and blow the resulting silage into the farm silo.
“The harvesting of hay and corn as described above was carried out by our family alone. Harvesting oats, however, was a community operation. The first step was to use a grain binder to cut and bundle the grain. All family hands were then called upon to stack the bundles into groups called ‘shocks’ to await the much-anticipated day when the threshing machine would arrive.
“That day, for us kids at least, was a blast! Neighborhood farmers banded together to contract for the use of a threshing machine which would travel from farm to farm. This huge implement’s job was to separate the seeds from the stalks, make them available to be collected and stored as cattle feed, then blow the chopped stalk pieces into a pile to be gathered and used as animal bedding. What made each threshing day special was that horses and wagons came from each neighbor who was involved in the ‘threshing pool.’ All assisted in transporting the grain bundles from the field to the barnyard, where they were tossed into the threshing machine so it could do its job. We kids spent the day assessing and comparing the relative quality of the various horse-and-wagon teams.
“Another unique aspect of the threshing bee, as it came to be called, was that wives of participating farmers prepared massive scrumptious noon meals for the workers on the day that the threshing machine was scheduled for their farm. Fortunately for the hard-working threshing crew, each meal preparer appeared to do her best to outdo each of her fellow chefs in providing a sure-to-be-talked-about not-to-be-duplicated mouth-watering stomach-filling feast.
“I recall my parents and older brothers commenting about the schedule which determined how the threshing machine would make its way around the neighborhood. It was apparent to them that whoever was involved in the planning was clearly cognizant of the reputation concerning each wife’s culinary skills. They observed that over a period of years, certain farms seemed always to be scheduled in such a way that responsibility for the noon meal would fall to them. Others seemed to never experience that ‘good fortune.’
“Be that as it may, a summer with good growing conditions for hay, corn, and grain certainly greatly improved chances for a profitable year for neighborhood farmers. Moreover, I’m sure our farm animals were equally grateful for the excellent food they enjoyed all winter!”
Leading to: The great comebacks
Cee Cee of Mahtomedi: “We are up Nort’ celebrating 52 years of marital bliss and happened upon this sign, which brought a smile to our faces.
“We should have bought a bottle of champagne! But temperance, ya know.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We emailed Cee Cee to this effect: “We have bought alcoholic beverages at that very store. You know why it’s called the Temperance River? (What we’ve heard, anyway.) There’s no ’bar at the end of it.”
Cee Cee replied: “I had not heard about the name . . . so no sand bar. It just flows ‘on the rocks’!”
The “marathon” men, women and children
Moonglo writes: “Do you think you are too old or out of shape to run a marathon? Here is good news for you! On Saturday, September 11th, at 11 a.m., you can run (or walk) the ninth annual marathon that is only ONE BLOCK. It is open to all ages, and that includes wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers for the tikes. This is a benefit for the White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf, which puts healthful food on the tables of many less fortunate. For a donation of $35 for each adult or $15 for children under 12, you receive a T-shirt that reads ‘I FINISHED THE FOOD SHELF MARATHON’ (with no mention that it was only one block). You will receive two White Castles for a carb load, a bottle of water halfway down the block (so no one gets dehydrated), and if you make it ALL THE WAY to the end of the block, you receive coffee and doughnut holes. You can have all this fun while contributing to a worthwhile cause. The shirts, food and water are all supplied by our generous sponsors, so every dollar you donate goes to the food shelf. The race starts at 3rd Street and Bald Eagle Avenue, and we run to 2nd Street. You can arrive at 10:30 to receive your sliders, do the marathon, and be home by 11:30! To pre-register, go online to whitebearfoodshelf.org, or find an entry blank in the White Bear Press newspaper. Hope to see lots of you there for a fun and entertaining event.”
The Permanent Sonly Record
The Astronomer of Nininger writes: “The Good Wife and I recall the amusement we experienced as our number-one son (and only one) began talking. He started early, or so it seemed to us, and he had a rather interesting command of the English language. He spoke not just in full sentences rather than desperately selected single words; I’d say he started talking in extended paragraphs, oftentimes rolling them into fully monopolized conversations. He still can talk his way out of tickets for driving offenses, paper bags and the like.
“Starting to talk like this early on might suggest to the reader that the connections between words and their actual meaning might not always be clear. That maturation comes with experience and practice. I had a good friend named John Williams. We flew together in the Air Force in the ’60s, often as wingmen, and are in almost daily contact thanks to the marvels of e-mail and Twitter. Somehow when number-one son said John’s name, it came out ‘John Wayne.’
“Know full well that John Wayne was highly regarded by this toddler. The Duke was iconic in military- and Western-themed movies back in the early ’70s, when number-one son was growing up. John Wayne represented what was good in America; he represented the American way of life, even for ‘pilgrims.’ When the Williams family visited us out in Wyoming, our son was in seventh heaven. He got to meet John Wayne face to face. You could not tell him the difference between John Wayne and John Williams.
“Today we have cellphones, but in those days living out West in a sparsely populated area, the CB radio was essential and was popular. Once, while driving up to Yellowstone for a long weekend, number-one son talked (almost incessantly) on the CB radio. But instead of saying ‘Walkie Talkie,’ he blurted out ‘Wild Turkey,’ a beverage frequently consumed by adults of our household. While visiting a restroom in a park campground, a woman stopped and asked me: ‘Are you his father?’ When I replied in the affirmative, she said: ‘Boy, you must have a lot of patience.’”
The Permanent Family Record
Or: What’s in a name? (responsorial)
The Mendota Heights Missus: “Subject: Named after cars.
“I was just reading what DebK of Rosemount wrote about people being named after cars and was reminded of someone in San Francisco.
“Many moons ago, when I lived there, one of my favorite and most popular places to eat at in Chinatown had a waiter whose name was Edsel Ford Fong (or Fung). As I recall, the food was good, but I believe he was the real reason the place was so popular. He would insult and yell at the customers, and people loved it! In order to sit in his section, you had to climb upstairs to eat, and people were happy to do it.
“Those were the days.”
And now Kathy S. of St Paul: “Re: goofy names for kids:
“In formerly local author John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers books, there is a character named Johnson Johnson who has a brother named Mercury Johnson. The brothers’ dad loved outboard boat motors, but luckily he didn’t have a third son he could name Evinrude.”
Not exactly what he had in mind (responsorial)
Including: CAUTION! Words at Play!
Semi-Legend writes: “Subject: Immaculate Reception.
“I was until now ignorant of the origins or explanation for the consensus Immaculate Reception.
“But I can understand that someone might think it was the consequence of the Hail Mary Pass.”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Plus: CAUTION! Words at Play!
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Maybe I am, and maybe I ain’t.
“The Joy of Juxtaposition (or JoJ, in ‘BulletinBoardese’) was not lost on the Runabout during our last visit to Vitrioretinal Retinal Surgery this week.
“She pointed out the cursive aluminum script that urged us to covertly express our friendliness in this time of emaskulation (sic).”
The verbing of America
From Donald: “Overheard at a funeral luncheon: ‘Are you all done gall-bladdering?’”
Bill of the river lake: “Subject: New local gangs.
“Word has it that there is a new, young gang in our metro area whose goal is to
steal catalytic converters . . . from e-cars.
“So all you Tesla owners out there, beware.”
Words to live by
Or: The Permanent Maternal Record
Your Late Night Lady writes: “The father of dear late friend Nancy was a professor at what is now UW-Milwaukee. But in the summertime, he was the manager of a girls camp in northern Wisconsin, which included accommodations for his family. The outbuildings had toilets and wash basins, but no tubs or showers. (This was in the late 1930s.) Nancy and her sister were old enough to do their own sponge-baths, but they remember their mother’s directions: Wash up as far as possible. Then wash down as far as possible. Then wash possible.”
Band Name of the Day: The Possibles
Website of the Day: