02 Jun 19
Gregory of the North: “With the recent discussions of class trips, I’ve been wanting to send you this recollection — but I hesitated, as it wasn’t so much a class trip as a mission trip.
“It was 1968, and those of us living and hanging out in Luther Hall on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus decided it would be a good thing for us to go to Chicago and learn about the Civil Rights movement. So arrangements were made, and buses contracted, and soon we were off to Chicago’s South Side.
“We arrived on a Monday evening, and the following morning began a series of discussions with various representatives of the Civil Rights movement as to what we could do to bring more support from the white population. We worked and discussed and argued throughout the day, and that evening, most of the group retired to a lounge or their sleeping bags. Not so, yours truly. I thought it would be a good idea to get out into the community and get to meet some of the folks for whose rights I would be advocating.
“It probably was about 10 p.m. when I decided to go for my walk. I wandered around until well after midnight. I came across a barbershop that, to me inexplicably, was open at that late hour. I waved at the barber and his customer, and then walked on. It was a warm autumn evening, and a surprising number of people were sitting on the stoops of their apartment buildings. I greeted each one I encountered and walked on.
“Finally, at about 12:30 or so, a couple of young black men in berets walked up to me and asked me if I was with the group of Lutheran students. Surprised that they would know that, I said I was, and they offered to walk me back to the church where we were staying. I thanked them, went inside, and quickly fell asleep in my bag.
“The next day, our first speakers were representatives of the Black Panthers. Rather than opening with their usual political positions, they told a story of a ‘stupid white boy’ who was wandering around the neighborhood late at night, whom they’d had to save from local residents who thought he might be a white supremacist seeking to provoke some trouble. They said they had to explain to many people, including a local community leader who was having his hair cut, that this particular white boy was just someone who is harmlessly stupid from Minnesota. The Panthers then went on to say how provocative this kid was, given the recent history of race relations in various parts of the country, and they asked — no, commanded — that no one else take ‘tours’ on their own.
“After their presentation, and during a break, the Panther representatives came over to me and told me that they knew I meant no harm, but — with exceedingly colorful language — left no doubt in my mind what they thought of my solo forays. With that, one of the men punched me in the shoulder and told me to stay safe. The other grabbed my head and rubbed his hand on my scalp, telling me I had to get something besides book smarts into my head. (He said it forcefully and with unique combinations of colorful commentary.) He released me and looked me straight in the eye. He told me that he knew a lot of white people feared the Black Panthers. He told me that when I met people like that, I should tell them about how a couple of Panthers saved the neighborhood from disruption, and probably saved a white boy’s posterior, although the actual choice of words was more distinctive. I thanked him for what they had done, and for my lesson. He said ‘Yeah’ and punched me in the arm in the same place as the other had. Then they were gone, back into their community.
“Although I haven’t thought about this event for a long time, I have never forgotten it. The lessons learned about respect and humility have served me well, throughout my military career, sports, and just life in general. Thank you for the opportunity to recount it.”
And now Mr. Tulkinghorn (our Official Attorney) writes, un-Officially:
“Our sixth-grade class trip took us on a scenic journey through Western Pennsylvania, from the little steel town of Sharon (across the state line from Youngstown, Ohio) to the big city itself, Pittsburgh, PA. We visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, to be suitably awed by the skeletons of the T-Rex, the Triceratops, and the Brontosaurus (since renamed, I know!). Then off to the Pittsburgh Zoo, which in those days was typical: keeping the animals in smallish pens without any real plants, so the poor display subjects mostly stayed grumpily indoors in the shade — impossible to see properly. Finally, to wrap up the day, we stopped on the way out of town at the Isaly’s ice-cream shop, a famous Pittsburgh landmark in those days.
“This was a ways back: 1964 or so. Fifty-five years? Seems like yesterday when my friend Bobby Johnson’s mom picked us up from the Blue Bird bus in her faded blue VW Bug.”
Our theater of seasons
Mounds View Swede: “The sun came out late-afternoon Thursday, after some showers, so I went out to see how things looked. I enjoyed the water drops on the different hosta plants.
“The bleeding hearts are blooming nicely . . .
“. . . along with some other garden plants I haven’t identified yet.
“There was one cluster of plum blossoms left in my neighbor’s yard.
“And my front-yard maple tree has real, maple-shaped leaves now . . .
“. . . as does my front-yard oak tree.
“The fresh leaves look their best now.”
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “My high-school Shop teacher passed away a couple days ago.
“Back in the ’50s, I had a booming nightcrawler business and needed a sign for out by the street. I found a nice board — 1 inch by 4 inches by 48 inches — in the wood-storage room during class that looked good and went straight to the bandsaw. I cut out a long arrow shape from it and painted it white, with red ‘NIGHTCRAWLERS’ lettering. He found me about half done and explained in very carefully restricted language that Honduran mahogany was not a good fit for the project. Bless his heart; he let me finish it. I hope he never drove by my house and saw it nailed to the telephone pole by our driveway.
“R.I.P.. Mr. Grandprey.”
Now & Then (responsorial)
Friendly Bob of Fridley: “For those who enjoyed the story of The Good Doctor’s Clock, I have a recommendation.
“Over 50 years ago, I had the good fortune to be able to visit the Bily Clocks Museum in Spillville, Iowa. There are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe the mind-blowing works to be seen there in this tiny town of 367 (2010 census) about 75 miles south-southeast of Rochester, Minnesota. I was a young lad when I visited, and am quite sure I was not mature enough to fully appreciate everything.
“At this museum, there is also a fascinating display about Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, who spent the summer of 1893 in Spillville.
“Guided tours are available to fill curious minds from everywhere. Use your favorite search engine to find lots of information about the Bily brothers, the museum, and Spillville. Some pictures can be found as well, but these marvels really need to be seen in person.”
Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul: “I’ve been watching old ‘Law & Order’ repeats on the WE TV channel lately, and during the commercial breaks, in between ads for horrible-looking ‘reality’ shows, dietary supplements making dubious claims, telephone psychics making even more dubious claims, and ads for actual medicine, there are ads for one of WE TV’s other crime procedural shows: ‘Criminal Minds.’
“The gimmick for these ads is to show a ‘six seconds “Criminal Minds” solution.’ Then comes a heavily edited episode. It’s a series of quick clips that take the viewer through an entire episode in a mere six seconds. And then the announcer says: ‘If they can do all that in six seconds, imagine what they can do in an hour!’
“They do that!
“They do in an hour what you cut down to six seconds! The story is just a bit more filled out, that’s all.
“I tell you, it’s hard out here for a pedant.”
The sign on the road to the cemetery said ‘Dead End’
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division
Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “Subject: And the missing PEACE!
“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:
“‘Life is a Puzzle, Look HERE
“‘for the missing PIECE!'”
If the shoe fits . . .
Donald: “Subject: Not exactly the response I anticipated.
“I drove up near the mailbox located outside my community’s city hall and prepared to walk to said box. As I was opening my car door, a voice from behind me said: ‘I’ll take that.’
“I looked back to see someone from the city hall approaching with a basket full of mail.
“‘Thanks,’ I said, as I handed her my two pieces of mail. ‘You’re a good ambassador for the city.’
“‘Yes, I am,’ she replied.”
Vanity, thy name is . . .
Semi-Legend: “License plate on a café-au-lait-colored Lexus in the CHS Field parking lot Thursday during a concert there by the Long Odds: ‘UM HCKY.’
“U.M. HOCKEY is more likely.”
The Lowest Common Consumer
Dennis from Eagan: “My wife and I went to the Saints’ opener on May 16. CHS Field sells $1 beers (in the center-field concourse) on Thirsty Thursdays, and the closest restroom to that bar has a hilarious sign over the urinal.
“I personally didn’t need the reminder, but maybe somebody tried doing just that since the park opened in 2015.”
Dumb (?) Customer Jokes
Rusty of St. Paul reports: “Xcel came this morning to swap out my gas meter up here in Northern Wisconsin. What they do is randomly select homes or businesses in areas to replace the meters and send them to the Cities for analysis. If they find that one is failing, then they replace all of the meters in that area.
“The young gas tech pulled up in his huge Xcel truck, walked up, introduced himself and said: ‘I am here for your Periodic Random Sample Check.’
“I said to him: ‘Does that mean I have to pee in a bottle for you?’
“He got all red in the face as he processed what I said, then chuckled and said: ‘Ah . . . no.'”
Gee, our old La Salle ran great!
The Astronomer of Nininger writes: “Subject: My Old Chevy.
“Memorial Day marks the quasi-official start of the summer season, whether we’ve reached the Summer Solstice or not. It is the time when many communities close down a street or two, or a parking lot, and host an old-fashioned car show. Young men and old guys alike, in shorts and other summer attire, walk the streets, often with a beverage in hand, and see what collectors and restorers have preserved from the past.
“Old guys grew up when cars were king and muscle cars ruled the road. Big block engines were fitted onto old frames, and big-throated carburetors that sucked high-test gasoline like it was going out of style became the norm. Today, the newer generation can see what made old guys ‘tick.’ This is the time of year that I get my old Chevy out of its garage stall.
“Maybe it just means that it won’t snow anymore, or maybe it symbolizes a rebirth of freedom from the chains of winter that held us down. After I disconnect the trickle charger from the battery and check the fluid levels, I start it up. That sound of the engine rumbling through the tuned headers after so long a winter is music from heaven. Once around the driveway loop, and then out on the road.
“How can you think of anything troublesome when you are behind the wheel of an old friend like this? Out onto the highway, and let ‘er rip. This eager old Corvette moves with grace and agility. Up the hills she climbs, and tops them with grace that could only be matched by the soaring of a herd of impalas on the African plains. I reflect momentarily that it is so neat to run my old Chevy again. And I’ll appreciate every drive in it until she goes to sleep for the winter. Old guys rule!”
Band Name of the Day: Harmlessly Stupid