“’Oh,’ she said almost matter-of-factly, ‘did you hear about that awful thing that happened in New York?’” – Twin Cities

Remembering 9/11

Or: 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.”

See world

Another close encounter of the natural kind, courtesy of RUTABAGA55: “Space alien, or Green Darner dragonfly?”

Personal history

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.”

Mixed messages

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’s just flows ‘on the rocks’!”

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 1940s 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 hay mow. (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!”

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 [Sunday BB, 9/5/2021] 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.”

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

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“’Oh,’ she said almost matter-of-factly, ‘did you hear about that awful thing that happened in New York?’” – Twin Cities