Another episode of creative hearing, reported by The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Not smarter than . . .
“After her trip to the post office, my wife informed me: ‘I bought some Yogi Bear stamps.’
“I replied ‘That’s nice’ and looked forward to seeing the cartoon character (and possibly Boo Boo) the next time I needed postage.
“The need arose a few days later, and as I located the stamps — much to my surprise — there was Lawrence Peter Berra in his Yankee pinstripes.
“As Yogi would say . . .”
BULLETIN BOARD YOGIFIES: Hey, hey, hey, Boo Boo! Nobody goes to the post office anymore. It’s too crowded!
And speaking of too crowded:
Life (and death) as we know it
John in Highland: “Subject: ‘It’s Time You Were Learning the Miner’s Job.’
“Those of us of Irish descent have heard stories of our forebears who fled the potato famine in the mid-1800s and came to America. In large U.S. cities, many of the men became policemen. Many others became coal miners.
“Recently I became aware of a song written by Ewan MacColl, ‘Schoolday’s Over,’ that describes a collier’s (coal miner’s) life.
“My great-grandfather, Cornelius (Con), left Killimor, County Tipperary, Ireland for the U.S. in 1848 at age 22. Con settled in St. Paul, where he met and married an Irish girl named Margaret Cregan. They lived in St. Paul in the 1850s, at Sixth and Minnesota Streets. Reports of newly discovered coal veins and need for laborers caused them to eventually relocate to Streator, Illinois.
“Con worked as a miner in the ‘Peanut Hill’ coal mine in Streator. He was described as a man well educated and thoroughly posted in historical events. According to the local newspaper, few men read more or were better versed on passing events. His family included eight children, five boys and three girls.
“In the spring of 1878, thunderstorms caused the Coal Run creek to overflow its banks, flooding the mine. Most of the 75 miners were able to escape the torrent, but Con delayed, trying to find his son, who had already escaped through an air shaft. Con was swept away. His body was not found until weeks later.
“My grandfather, John, was born on the night before Con died. As the Irish are known to say: ‘Sooner or later, life will break your heart.'”
Our ‘trees,’ ourselves
Spaceships and Robots and Stars, Oh My! Division (responsorial)
OOK of St. Paul: “Subject: Decorative tree.
“Like many people, I was fascinated by the latest story and photos from Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff about his metal tree. Decorating with science, science fiction, and space ornaments between Independence Day and Halloween was genius.
“I have an additional theme suggestion: Minnesota State Fair! I found a few ornaments online, like this one.
“And then I went looking for holidays that would be fun to decorate for. August 19 is National Aviation Day. September 11 is Patriot Day. I saw a few others, but they might be reaching a bit. Can’t wait to see the Halloween tree!
“Thanks to Bulletin Board and Gregory J. for sharing more wonder with us.”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “Subject: Remember the Embers.
“Once again I bought something interesting, at least to me, on eBay. It was a laminated Embers menu from around 1970, when I, my family, and friends used to eat there quite often. The front was fake wood grain with just ‘Embers’ in script on it.
“Inside was the slogan ‘Remember the Embers for real good food.’ It was catchy if not exactly grammatically correct.
“A variation of this on the back cover read ‘Welcome to the Embers for real good food.’ [Bulletin Board muses: Put a comma between “real” and “good,” and you’d have what Embers could offer. Even Embers’ ad agency might have found fault with “really good food.”]
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, the Embers menu made up for its minimal food descriptions with plenty of photos.
“Embers offered Steak, Fish, Seafood and Chicken Dinners, not to mention Steak and Seafood Sandwiches, Diet Delights, Franks and Country Ham sandwiches. (For some reason, all of the Franks were called ‘Mr. K,’ and the Country Ham sandwiches, ‘Mr. B,’ with multiple versions of each.)
“Of course Embers was best known for its Embergers and Jumbo Embergers. They both came in standard, with Melted Cheese, California Style, Royal, Combo and Royal Combo versions, which featured various combinations of lettuce, cheese, bacon strips and fries. A Jumbo Royal Combo cost $2.55, while the standard Emberger was only 95 cents.
“No meal was complete without dessert, for which coupons could be found almost constantly in the local newspapers. The most popular dessert was pie. There were apple, blueberry, strawberry and pecan fruit pies, with or without ice cream, and banana coconut, strawberry, apple, blueberry and hot fudge cream pies. All pies cost 65 or 75 cents.
“Embers was great in its heyday, but it started to slowly fade away in the 1980s. An attempt to bring it back to its former glory took place in the late 1990s, with limited success. The final Embers, located in Fridley, closed in March 2021 . . . but we’ll always ‘Remember the Embers.’
“Here are a couple of Embers commercials:
“P.S. These are probably way too many photos to use, but a scanner is a terrible thing to waste.”
The Permanent Granddaughterly Record
Apple Picking Time Division
Vertically Challenged: “Oh, what fun to be had at the apple orchard! Little Natalia had so much fun picking apples and patting the pumpkins!
“I hope she found the perfect one to decorate! 🎃”
Our birds, ourselves
Doris G of Randolph, Minnesota: “We were among those unfortunate people who did not see any bluebirds this spring or summer. The houses are still up, with hopes they might still stop here as they migrate. So far on two occasions, we have seen them here in the morning.”
Ask Bulletin Board (responsorial)
In the most recent edition of Bulletin Board, Donald wrote: “I bring a query to you, Seer, Sage, and Soothsayer (wait a minute — I’m dating myself — that was Carnac) in hope that you will make me unperplexed.
“There are four seasons, correct? Winter, spring, summer and fall/autumn. Why are there two names for the season between summer and winter?
“No other season has more than one name.
“Have at it, BB.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAID: We are certain that we cannot improve on this post from Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/34260-fall-autumn-season-names.html.
We presently heard from Lawyergirl of St. Paul: “It turns out that Donald‘s calculation of the number of seasons is wrong. There are two. We’re nearing the end of Road Construction Season and heading towards Winter.”
And from Frogman of Grant: “Responding to Donald and to BB:
“No, it is not correct that there are four seasons, at least not if you take a global view. Places near the equator experience such small temperature differentials as the Earth’s orientation to the sun changes that they instead see only two seasons: wet and dry. And I guess if you concede that the wet season is also called the rainy season, then you have a conundrum not unlike fall/autumn, in which one season has two names.
“This reminds me, somehow, of the term the English use for people who have more than one last name — something like, say, Reginald Tweed-Blackthorn. The English call those ‘double-barrelled’ names. I think that could apply to fall/autumn.”
Our pets, ourselves (responsorial)
Leading to: Out of the mouths of babes (Great Comebacks Division)
Smilin’ Sue: “Subject: Smart Animals and Smart Kids.
“Bill of the River Lake mentioned a smart dog which seemed to be a talented back-seat driver, looking both ways at an intersection while waiting for the traffic to clear.
“This reminded me of another smart-animal story. My 8-year-old granddaughter, Little Miss LL, is a keen observer who enjoys viewing the street out of my front picture window. A week ago, we were highly amused by a big, black crow which strutted smartly across the street while looking both ways many times during its safe trip from curb to curb. That same day as we were driving through our small-town college campus, a student totally engrossed with texting stepped into oncoming traffic without even looking up. Little Miss LL commented that maybe the crow could teach the college student how to safely cross the street.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede has been out and about with his camera in hand: “I have enjoyed noticing the change in leaf colors this fall, as usual. I’ve been noticing how some leaves start with just a spot of color. I assume the tip is the first place that shows the reduction of the usual chemicals that keep the leaves green and lets the other colors show. I understand it is largely because of the shortening day length.
“A vine on my neighbor’s side of the fence was decorating my side nicely.
“At the compost site in Ardan Park, there are some Virginia Creeper vines climbing the trees and fence and providing nice fall color where you don’t usually see it.
Soon: “Subject: Five more fall leaf photos.
“The Virginia Creeper vines provided a nice contrast to the slower-changing leaves behind them. They really stood out.
“Some trees were getting really involved with the process of leaf changes.
“And I enjoyed the variety of colors they showed.
“And I enjoyed when a tree would show the whole range of colors all at once.
“Seeing these things makes me fill with wonder.
“Driving to a gas station, I passed this tree and really liked what I saw, so stopped on the way back to photograph it. It looked like a ‘celebration’ to me, with the ends of almost all the branches changed to yellow.
“I zoomed in on some of the branch ends to capture their color.
The color against a blue sky is always my favorite angle.”
This ’n’ that (responsorial)
JR in Shoreview: “Had to laugh out loud with Auction Girl (10/10/21).
“(1) I HAVE a 53-year-old GE toaster that I got for a wedding present. (Marriage lasted only seven years, but that’s another story.) I tried to replace it once, for a fancy toaster with wider openings for bagels, but the thing was such a piece of shoddy workmanship that I returned it. That was a couple of decades ago.
“(2) I also used to start every workday by calling time and temperature so I’d know what to wear that day — and how late I was running!
“Thanks for your great column. Always enjoy it.”
Then & Now
Including: Fifteen Nanoseconds of Fame
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: Sputnik.
“Back in the Fifties, when we lived in our cottage at Lake Minnetonka, the night skies were so dark, they were perfect for star gazing, and we spent many hours watching the skies during meteor showers. We splurged and bought a 60-power telescope and enjoyed seeing the craters on the moon, the rings of Saturn and four of Jupiter’s moons. My kids all grew up with an interest in ‘what’s up there.’
“So when I received a photo from Down Under of my oldest grandson crouching down in their chilly early-spring evening with his almost-5-year-old son as they watched a satellite streaking across their sky, it brought back memories of a morning long ago.
“It was 64 years ago this October when Sputnik made its surprise appearance soaring across our sky. The breaking news was astounding. They gave us timetables to tell us when we might be able to see it. I bundled up our two little kids and went outside before sunrise that chilly morning to catch a glimpse of it. It didn’t matter that our son was only 3 and our daughter 19 months; this was History, and they were going to know someday that they had seen Earth’s first artificial satellite. My husband was already on duty at the broadcasting station when I called him up to boast. He called me back a few minutes later and said he had a radio announcer on the line. They wanted to interview me, with the first reported local sighting. Ahh, fame.”
Everyone’s a (TV) critic!
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: A PBS show people might enjoy.
“Tonight TPT played a ‘Nova’ program from 2016 called ‘Operation Lighthouse Rescue.’ It shows how the Gay Head Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard was moved inland from the eroding bluff where it was built. It reminds me of sitting by a second-floor window in Cossetta’s on West Seventh Street in St. Paul, watching as a mansion was moved past it.
“For those who missed the show, a few Minnesota libraries have copies of the DVD. And members of PBS can watch it online.”
Joy of Juxtaposition?
Or: What’s in a pair of names?
Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: I didn’t know he played baseball.
“The ‘SPORTS SLEUTH’ puzzle in a recent edition of the Pioneer Press had this as a topic: ‘WORLD SERIES GAME 1 STARTING PITCHERS.’
“The answers are listed in columns, beginning with ‘Bumgarner’ and ending with ‘Shields.’
“The third column caught my eye with these two names literally topping the list: ‘Lester’ and ‘Maddux.’ I remembered the name of a Georgia segregationist from the 1960s: Lester Maddux.
“After Googling him, I discovered his name was spelled ‘Maddox.’
This ’n’ that
From Al B of Hartland: (1) “I hiked in Colorado and heard the sounds of Canada jays (also called gray jays, whiskey jacks and camp robbers). I placed a bit of fiber bar on my palm, and a jay landed on my paw and grabbed the morsel.
“I’d offered a helping hand to another and was thrilled at what I’d received in return.”
(2) “It’s OK to feed uncooked rice to birds. A myth was promulgated by advice columnist Ann Landers in 1988 when she published a letter from a reader warning against the practice of throwing rice at weddings. Internet stories warned of birds exploding after eating rice.
“Many birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks are called ‘rice birds’ because of their appetite for the grain.
“Rice is fine for birds, but some wedding parties throw birdseed instead.”
The verbing of America
Donald reports: “Brian Williams used this one twice in the same week: ‘The Democrats have been Charlie-Browned by the Republicans.’”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We presume that Mr. Williams was referring to poor Charlie’s belief that, contrary to all experience, Lucy Van Pelt wouldn’t pull back the football just before he could kick it.
So haven’t the Democrats been Van Pelted?
Live and learn!
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Tito said: ‘You want me to do what?’
“At the U.S. Air Force Academy, cadets were not allowed to own an automobile until their First Class (senior) year. While most cadets made their purchase as soon as they became First Classmen, some waited until just before graduation. One such cadet was Julio, who was from Puerto Rico. He made a careful and deliberate decision to purchase a shiny brand-new 1964 Triumph TR4 just a week or so before we graduated.
“It was a beautiful car, sparkling white with chrome trim. It had that British snort to it, not the powerful growl of the Corvettes which numbered most of the automobiles in the Cadet parking lot, but it was still authoritative in its own right. Julio took his squadron mates for rides to feel the new snap and go of that TR-4. Some of us were planning a short overnight trip up in the mountains, and Julio, whom we had nicknamed ‘Tito,’ offered to drive. It was a perfect opportunity to guide that new sports car around the never-ending S-turns and grind through the gears going up and down. I led the way, driving my 8-year-old Chevy. There were four or five of us, two in Tito’s car and the rest in mine. I think Jack and Chuck were with us.
“We did not go very far before we left the paved roads and started up some gravel side roads to look for a place to camp out and spend the night. We picked a comfortable-looking spot and parked our cars. The new Triumph was on a sandy spot, but we didn’t think much of it. Like other young guys, we had some Colorado Kool-Aid (Coors) and I shot a jack rabbit, which we roasted over an open fire. If I remember correctly, it tasted something like I suspect a Michelin would. It was extremely tough and had an air of sage. No problem. We were able to get by quite readily.
“In the morning, we planned to do some fun driving on the mountain roads and see what that TR4 could do. We never got a chance to do that. As soon as Tito fired up that TR4 and engaged first gear, the wheels started spinning in the sand. He rocked back and forth, but to no avail. The British fun car was stuck; what we call ‘high-centered.’ We tried pushing from both ends, but it seemed to only make things worse. The rear end was not positive traction, in that it just kept spinning tires. When one wheel slipped, the other tried and eventually would also slip. Neither side could gain traction.
“We tried a lot of different ways to push, rock and lift that car out of the sand pit, but nothing worked. We were determined not to have to call a tow truck. My dad had told me a story about getting a car unstuck. I thought he was kidding, but we tried it anyway. Tito said: ‘You want me to do what?’ We took a log, longer in length than the width of the car, and tied it across both rear wheels. We wanted to go backwards, so we tied it to the the back side of the rear wheels. Then we carefully, I emphasize very carefully, had Tito drive the car onto the log. It lifted the car up, way up, but Tito was indeed careful, and he had nerves of steel, because the back wheels lifted up about a full 18 inches and back down again as the car settled with the log now on the front side of the wheels. We untied the log and retied it onto the back of the wheels again. After just two such attempts, we got the car moved enough so that it could, with a little help of the crew pushing, drive out of that slickery sand.
“It turned out that we did not get a scratch on the TR4. Nor did we even talk about our experience. That half-revolution which raised the car up rather quickly was scary by itself. It could be likened to a bucking bronco. But it did work. From that day forward, we have watched very carefully where we park our cars and avoid sand at all costs.”
Band Name of the Day: Reginald Tweed and His Blackthorns
Website of the Day, recommended by Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: ‘William Tell’ Overture.
“For anyone who needs a pick me up”: