Then & Now
Papageno writes: “Much has been said about our selfie-obsessed culture, but I thought I’d add some perspective.
“I’ve been scanning my parents’ photos and 8-millimeter movies. (Both of them passed some years ago.) I just went through more than a hundred photos from their 1987 trip to China. And I kept exactly three — because those were the only ones that had my mother in them. None of them had my father. The rest were endless discardable shots of landmarks and scenes that meant nothing to me.
“If we were traveling today, we would take landmark shots, perhaps, but we would know that you could always find better photos of Tiananmen Square or the Forbidden City on the Internet. It may be a subject for ridicule, but it’s actually much more interesting for our friends and especially our children to see pictures of us enjoying those trips.
“‘Would you like me to take one of you two together?’ Nobody would have ever offered that in 1987, yet now it happens all the time. Say what you will about modern times, but that has to be a plus. [Bulletin Board says: That offer might well be more common nowadays, but it was surely not invented after 1987.] My travel photos now have as many shots of me and my partner as they have discardable scenery shots that will mean nothing to anyone else.
“I wish I had more photos of my dad. And I wish I could tell him: ‘Move in closer! I want Mom to fill the frame!’ So many people shots have a fingernail-sized person so tiny you can barely make them out with a magnifying glass.
“I sometimes joke that on family trips, Dad would say: ‘Get out of the way! I’m taking a picture!’ Of all the thousands of family-vacation photos and movies I’ve been going through, how I wish more of them actually contained family.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Perhaps just coincidentally, we recently ran across this fine article about Anatol Josepho, the man who invented that original selfie generator, the photo booth.
The Permanent Family Record
Including: Then & Now (responsorial)
Cheesehead By Proxy, “back in Northern Minnesota”: “I enjoyed the stories from Reads the Funnies First, whose dad spent time with them when they were little.
“We used to play a similar vehicle game from the car while on road trips. Our kids would choose a low number and take turns as cars drove by on the opposite side, seeing which car was ‘theirs.’ One time my husband played along, and his car was a real junker, with smoke billowing out of the engine as it rumbled along. We all went into hysterics about ‘Dad’s car.’
“This was over 30 years ago, and I can still laugh about it!”
Now & Then
Leading to: The highfalutin pleasures
Rancid Beef of South St. Paul: “Subject: Can you play ‘Mr. Jaws’?
“Growing up in the 1970s, I listened to music on AM radio. WDGY and KSTP and KDWB are the stations I remember listening to most often.
“When my young friends and I called a radio station to request a song, the DJ would ask how old we were. We always said 14. The rumor was that radio stations wouldn’t play your request if you were under 14.
“I wonder sometimes how many requests the radio stations received back then from squeaky-voiced ’14-year-olds.'”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Can we play “Mr. Jaws”? Indeed, we can! (We’ll leave it to you to decide whether we should!)
Then & Now
Just a Coincidence? Division (Architectural Subdivision)
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff reports: “Subject: A tale of two churches.
“I’ve been doing research into the history of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, which is located in the Lowertown area of St. Paul.
“As sometimes happens when digging up the past, something unusual turned up. This is a very brief version of the story of two churches separated by 10 miles and a hundred years, and how they are connected.
“The first St. Mary’s Church was built in 1865 in the fashionable residential area of Lowertown, at Ninth and Locust (now Lafayette). It was an impressive building constructed of blue limestone, with an 80-foot bell tower and an attached chapel. At its dedication, it was declared to be ‘the handsomest church in the city’ and ‘a gem of architectural beauty.’
“It was a sturdy church, and it survived, with only some damage to its roof and windows, a tornado which in 1904 blew down a nearby church, many houses and trees, and destroyed the High Bridge. However, the church could not survive the growth of the city of St. Paul. Its neighborhood began to change from residential to industrial as railroad tracks and businesses displaced homes. In 1921 a new church was built to the west at Eighth and Rosabel (now Wall). It is still in use today. The old church was sold to a lumberyard in 1922 and eventually was torn down.
“One of St. Mary’s very loyal and active parishioners was Mary T. Hill, wife of James J. Hill — yes, the James J. Hill. James wasn’t Catholic, but Mary was. During the summer, the Hills would move way out into the country to escape the heat of the city, to a farm they owned called North Oaks. Mary, her children and grandchildren would then attend Sunday Mass at St. Mary of the Lake Church in nearby White Bear Lake. Mary died in 1921, just as her own St. Mary’s Church was being replaced with a new one.
“At about the same time, St. Mary of the Lake was planning to build a new church. Three of Mary Hill’s very wealthy daughters decided to honor their recently departed mother by providing the funds for the new St. Mary of the Lake Church in White Bear Lake. But as we very well know, the rich can be an eccentric and quirky class of people — so the girls also stipulated that the new church would have to be an exact replica of their mother’s beloved St. Mary’s in St. Paul.
“Money talks, and thus it came to be that in 1926, an identical St. Mary’s Church came into existence in White Bear Lake, where it still stands today, a century after the original St. Mary’s ceased to be a church.”
Ramblin’ Rose: “Subject: What Are the Odds?
“I don’t consider myself a particularly lucky person at games of chance. If there is a raffle, I know my ticket purchase is going to charity; I won’t be going home with anything new. I was once at an event where 25 door prizes were given out to about 150 attendees. You’d think my odds would be pretty good at being awarded one of those beautiful new books or lush plants, but no. Every ticket number within 10 numbers of mine was called, and there I sat, smiling for all of the cheering winners, and wondering if I had done something terrible in my childhood that caused me to be fated this way. And yet, perhaps luck is all in the perception.
“I got an envelope in the mail the other day. I knew instantly that I’d won a drawing, and I admit I wasn’t totally happy. Nope, this was the drawing for jury duty, and I’d won again. Now, our constitution guarantees you a trial by a jury of your peers, and I think that’s certainly better than what happens in other parts of the world. It is our civic duty to participate when called upon, and I will answer this summons. But really, I might have won this drawing too many times. This is the sixth time I have been chosen and summoned.
“The first time, I was in college in another state. I had taken up residence there, so I was in the pool of potential jurors. I was excused, though, as classes were in session at the time; I thought that was reasonable. They didn’t call me again.
“However, Minnesota seems stuck on me. I was called within a year of returning to our great state. They will deny it, but deep in my brain is the idea that new residents are somehow given their own special pool. Just saying. Anyway, I served. And I served again several years later when I was called by the U.S. Federal District Court. Just a couple of years later, my county called me, but excused me when they saw how recently I’d served. But they later called again, and once again I served. They’ve learned how to space it out so they don’t have to excuse you. And now I’ve won again. I will serve, but I am not looking forward to sitting in a room full of strangers during a pandemic.
“I wanted to calculate the odds of being called so many times in a 30-year period. The pool, or universe, is made up of registered voters, licensed drivers, and those with a state ID card within your county. My county has about 266,000 residents; I couldn’t find data on how many licensed drivers and registered voters we have, although I’m sure it’s out there. There are several more variables that would come into play, and I don’t have that information. The Math Nut happily assures me that being called repeatedly, while others are never called, is an indication that the process is truly random. OK, that’s a good thing. He, though, has been called only once in his life, and never in this county. He was called while in college, and Hennepin County didn’t excuse him even though classes were in session; he missed several days of school. I hope that process has changed.
“So, the moral is to do your civic duty and to be happy that the opportunity exists in this country. But really, I’d be happy to share.”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: The latest cartoon in my head.
“The drawing would feature a street scene with a well-dressed man handing a bottle of wine to a beggar sitting on the sidewalk at his feet. The man offering the wine says to the beggar: ‘Now don’t sell this and just go buy food with the money.'”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: You have reminded us of a New Yorker cartoon of the early 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, when “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” was a popular song, recorded by both Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee.
The cartoon showed a long line of men in a soup-kitchen line. The fellow at the head of the line, clearly a once-prosperous man now down on his luck, is talking to the disheveled guy behind him: “Just whom do you think you’re calling ‘Buddy’?”
Two versions of the great “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”
Unstuck in time
Everyone’s a Copy Editor Division
Email from Donald: “Subject: NFL time-travel.
“From the ‘ON THE AIR TODAY’ section in Monday’s Sports section of the paper west of St. Paul:
“‘NFL playoffs: Arizona at St. Louis 7:15 Ch. 5, ESPN’
“Someone, alert Roger Goodell!”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Forget Roger Goodell. We’re going to alert Paul Tagliabue!
Our theater of seasons
Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake reports: “Subject: OUR FEATHERED FRIENDS IN THE SNOW.
“Today’s snow caused a feeding frenzy for the birds in our back yard, with many cardinals and four tom turkeys.”
Here’s The Mighty Wickard, “hailing from Blaine, where the driveways seem to grow longer each winter”: “Subject: Now Hear This.
“Today’s random thought: How come all the people who ‘hear voices’ that tell them to do bad things never hear stuff like ‘Go Shovel The Mighty Wickard’s Driveway’?”
Band Name of the Day: Hearing Voices
Website of the Day: