Out of the mouths of babes
Life (And Potential Death) As We Know It Division
KATHY S. of St. Paul reports: “Subject: Cry from joy.
“A beautiful young Ukrainian boy was interviewed on TV.
“‘I would have to cry from joy,’ he said, talking about what it would be like to have his father come back from the war with Russia.
“There is poetry in his words.
“I wish I could hug him.”
Our theater of seasons
Plus: Till death us do part (The Vision Thing Division)
WAYNE NELSON of Forest Lake, with a pair of reports:(1) “Subject: MORE LITTLE MOUTHS TO FEED.
“We now have around 30 new mouths to feed. We have three families of turkeys that have joined forces with all of their new children and are now making the rounds with the neighbors, looking for some food to eat.
“I couldn’t get them in a picture all at once, because they were scattered around, but they all sure left together on to their next stop. This is the second time that they were here today.
“They’ll all keep coming back now until they are fully grown, and then they will leave to start a family of their own. Then the cycle will start all over again!”
(2) “Subject: THE BATHROOM IS ON FIRE.
“Last week I had a little fun with my wife. She was out sitting in the porch when I ran out there and told her to hurry up and get into the bathroom because the toilet was smoking. She panicked as she quickly made her way to the bathroom to see what was smoking.
“We are still laughing about it!”
Out of the mouth of babes
Or: Our times
RUSTY of St. Paul writes: “My daughter is a nanny in New York City. She has a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She had a teaching job in an elementary school in Manhattan for a year, but can make more money as a nanny, raising rich people’s kids for them.
“So: teaching 30 kids for a pittance, or minding one kid for a ton more money?
“This week she is in Italy, taking care of a New York City couple’s 2-year-old at their villa. The vista photos she has sent us are stunning.
“She called us today to check in.
“She says this young child loves ‘Imaginative Play,’ so she had a stuffed animal and a Barbie doll talk to him.
“The stuffed animal said: ‘How is your day going today?’
“‘Good,’ he said.
“He then looked self-absorbed in a pressured way.
“Barbie asked him: ‘What are you doing now?’
“He answered earnestly to Barbie: ‘I’m making a POOP now, lady!’”
Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop?
BILL OF THE RIVER LAKE: “Subject: A what?
“The other day, we were talking by phone with an elderly relative, and she expressed concerns about a young pregnant neighbor who was having a difficult late-pregnancy issue involving location of the umbilical cord.
“She said: ‘I hope all goes OK with that ripcord!’
“Maybe she thought that the baby would just parachute out.”
Older Than Dirt
Or: Know thyself!
THE DORYMAN of Prescott, Wis.: “Subject: High-tech baseball.
“You know you are getting up there a bit in age when you are listening to a Twins broadcast, and the announcer describes a line drive as a ‘laser hit,’ and the first thing that pops into your head is ‘frozen rope.’”
Fun facts to know and tell
ZOO LOU of St. Paul writes: “Subject: Who were those beloved actors playing a ‘prehistoric goon’ in a Three Stooges short, and a troubled wife in an episode of ‘Police Story’?
“To give my brain a respite from the world, I recently watched some Three Stooges shorts. One, titled ‘Outer Space Jitters’ (1957), featuring Joe Besser, a very poor replacement for Curly and Shemp, had an unexpected surprise.
“The boys found themselves on a distant planet, where aliens demonstrate their scientific superiority by bringing a ‘prehistoric goon’ back to life. When the hulking goon, replete with bushy eyebrows and huge fangs, stood up and began grunting and chasing our favorite knuckleheads (oh, how I longed for Curly’s Woob! Woob! Woob!), it turned out to be none other than Dan Blocker, who two years later would be cast as the beloved Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright on the popular TV western ‘Bonanza.’
“While Blocker’s performance as a goon was not exactly Oscar-worthy, the producers of ‘Bonanza’ must have seen some potential. Perhaps it was the fact that Big Dan, who had a photographic memory, could take one look at the Stooges script and have his lines down pat: Grunt! Grunt! Grunt!
“I had another surprise while watching a ‘Police Story’ (1973-’88) marathon on the Decades channel. There was Michael Learned, who played Olivia Walton on ‘The Waltons,’ cast as the alcoholic wife of a police officer (William Shatner). Wait! John Boy’s mama, the rock of the Walton clan, mother of the century, playing an alcoholic? Learned gave an outstanding performance, but I kept thinking that this was the sainted Mrs. Walton, who probably drank nothing stronger than lemonade and prune juice.
“It’s interesting to note that Learned was already playing Ma Walton when she appeared in ‘Police Story.’ I’m sure seeing her falling-down drunk was quite unsettling for some ‘Waltons’ fans. I also wonder what her TV family thought of Learned playing such a gritty role.
“Sometimes it’s hard to escape the high-profile characters that actors become associated with. Just ask the ‘goon’ and the mother of the century.”
The Lowest Common Consumer
HORNTOAD of White Bear Lake: “Subject: No Good.
“My wife and I go for evening walks in the area near our home. Sometimes we take a path that cuts through a wooded area near a lake. On one spot along the path is a runoff overflow pond.
“The pond is about 150 feet by 50 feet and probably 4 to 5 feet maximum depth, and is surrounded on all sides by a fairly steep embankment tangled with weeds, reeds, brush and trees that have grown thick and tall over the years. The water is nearly covered in a layer of algae and lily pads. Despite this, it all makes for a very pleasant scene. And ducks love it.
“Between the path and pond stand signs warning people that there must be No Boating, Fishing, Skating or Swimming. Best to help citizens be safe, of course. Someone has added a healthy quip below one of the signs: ‘Breathing Optional.’
“I look at this setting and question how anyone could get a boat into the pond, or, even worse, how they’d get it out. And why they would want to put a boat in there, since there are no fish.
“It makes no sense to skate there, either. There’s no warming house, it would be boring, and you’d have to crawl up the banks while grabbing hold of dead brush to get out. Also, wouldn’t you know it, located one block away, is . . . an ice arena. Really.
“Swimming? That’s funny.
“Still, the signs should absolutely stay in place as is. Better safe than sorry. And it gives walkers a little chuckle as they pass the small pond where activities they wouldn’t want to do are not allowed.”
Our pets, ourselves
THE ASTRONOMER of Nininger: “Subject: Why is the horse trailer barking?
“He barked his orders, so we called him General. He was a big dog, even for a Saint Bernard. They say that was because he was European-bred. We just never could get him on a scale to weigh him, but his estimated weight was 250 pounds. Whatever it was, it was all muscle.
“General came to us when his owners got Air Force orders for an assignment to Guam. When our kids saw him the first time, their eyes bulged and they reared back when his tongue lashed out with a loving slobber across their faces. It seemed as if our children’s heads could easily fit inside General’s mouth. He always seemed to have a smile on his face, and he was certainly well-behaved.
“We had to move about 70 miles, and there was no way he could fit in the cab of my pickup or our car. So we loaded him into the horse trailer. We had to stop at the hardware store in downtown Laramie first, so I parked in a space that could accommodate the trailer behind the truck. When we got back a few minutes later, people had encircled the trailer, amazed at the trailer that barked. Could a horse really sound like that?
“When we got to our new home, he and our other canine companion — Rusty, a Vizsla — went out to explore the new surroundings. There was so much to see and smell that they kept pretty busy. Going around in ever-widening circles, they eventually reached the closest neighbors, Doris and Tom, about three-quarters of a mile to the south. Doris explained to me that when she saw General coming she thought he was a Shetland pony and immediately went for a horse halter. She was surprised when he looked up at her with those big dark eyes and smiled as only he could do, lower mouth extended downward and his jowls dripping saliva.
“Don Van Pelt the bootmaker lived about two miles north of us. The Good Wife decided that we needed a good collar for General. After all, Rusty had a nice one. So she went to the boot shop and came back a short time later. She had just about taken off her jacket when the phone rang, asking for me. It was Don, questioning the size of the collar. The Good Wife had told him 32 inches, and he thought that would be way too big. I told him that maybe it should be 34 inches. I actually could wear it as a belt.
“One cold winter day, we could not find General. After he’d been gone more than 24 hours, we called the radio station. Everyone within about 20 miles listened to the radio, and public-service announcements got the word out that General was missing. It wasn’t very long before the phone rang, telling us that he was lying on a couch on the porch of a home a few miles away. I drove there with my pickup, and sure enough, it was General. He did not want to budge, but with help of the homeowner, I was able to get him into the bed of the pickup, and he just lay there. Doc Gloyd, the Vet, told us he had frostbitten testicles. No wonder he didn’t want to come home or walk anywhere.
“True to the reputation which precedes all Saint Bernards, he did love to drink beer, especially from a keg. He would slop it up, and that was fun for him. He and I would wrestle, rolling on the ground, and he never bit me. He easily would intimidate anyone because of his size. Across the road, a rancher had a herd of Scottish Highland cattle. They had long horns, and when they saw General coming toward them, they immediately departed. One day the owner drove up to our place in his pickup. He rolled down the window, cranking by hand as you had to do in those days, and started to tell me that General scared his cattle. Just then, General arrived, stood upwards with his paws on the open window ledge and faced him eyeball to eyeball. He went to say ‘. . . but that’s OK.’
“General was a special gem. We loved him, and he loved us. We keep his memory buried deep in our hearts.”