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Opinions

Food for Thought

Why kids ask so many questions

I remember, at sometime in my early childhood, how many big and mysterious words there were in the world. Not just words I heard adults use, and that I assumed I would someday learn the meanings of, but words that were just out there– posted on cars, buildings, billboards– waiting for me to unravel their mysteries. Reading was like a parlor trick. Comprehending was another matter.

Walkin'

Back pain is back

My back went out for the first time in the late 1970s.
I was a twenty-something publishing a newspaper for the military community of Bamberg, Germany.
Once a week I’d check a sedan out from the motor pool and drive 140 miles to the Stars and Stripes headquarters in Darmstadt to get my paper printed. Occasionally, a vehicle from the pool would not be available and I’d have to scramble to find transportation.

Food for Thought

collect the whole set

I got a chuckle out of seeing that bumper sticker ahead of me while I waited at the stoplight. It got me thinking about all the crusades to save various species of wildlife I’ve seen over the years. When I was fresh out of college, there weren’t so many crusades, not nearly the number of animals designated as endangered as there are now, bumper stickers and posters for the various causes were uncommon. By the mid-’50s, I was becoming aware of causes other than soil conservation and the wisdom of having your dog or cat neutered.

Walkin'

Toilet tribulations

During a recent stay at a motel I saw something odd: in the bathroom there were two toilet paper rolls offered, one over the other.
This brought to mind one of the age-old conundrums that has pestered human minds since the first rolls were mass produced in the 14th century: should toilet paper be hung so it reels off the top or bottom?

Food For Thought

Bored to death

One of my good neighbors and I were chatting on the phone. You know how that goes– one topic leads to another and, before you know it, you’ve covered everything from recipes to politics, gardening to retirement, the flu epidemic to wind farms. I wish I could record such conversations because they often leave many things unfinished and, if I could follow them through to their conclusions, I’d probably get a month’s worth of columns out of one conversation.

Walkin'

Barney and his gun

Barney almost shot me by accident, twice.
The year was 1970, and I was working the night shift on the loading dock of the Marshall Fields Department Store in the Woodfield Mall outside of Chicago. I unloaded semi trailers as they arrived and then sorted the packages into two-dozen piles, one each for the drivers who delivered them the next day.

Food for Thought

Jelly simplified

It was the summer of 1944. I would be starting fourth grade in September. We had moved to our acreage on the edge of Knoxville the preceding March. There were walnut trees, pear trees, raspberry bushes, and an old apple tree– and oddly enough, no cherry trees on what had once been a cherry orchard. My mother was making raspberry jelly from berries we’d picked, and apple butter from some of the summer apples. These early apples, commonly called glass apples, made the best and smoothest apple butter when used before they were fully ripe.

Walkin'

Household pests

I’ve killed many a musca domestica, aka house fly, in my day.
As a child visiting Wisconsin, one of my favorite barn chores was poisoning the little buggers. Grandma had an old-fashioned pump sprayer, which she filled, I’m guessing, with a capful of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, aka DDT, and water. This was long before we knew that the substance was a scourge to birds, especially ones high on the food chain like hawks and eagles. So spray I did, pumping clouds of toxic vapor in the air.

Food for Thought

Wet soap

How many jokes or anecdotes have you heard about the difficulty of holding onto a wet bar of soap? I always supposed that was one of the reasons for the invention of soap-on-a-rope. All the new shower gels and body washes have nearly made that, and the soap dish itself, obsolete, but I think they have quite a long way to go before reaching perfection.

Walkin'

Aunt Izzy’s table

What I remember most about Aunt Izzy, my mother’s twin sister, is eating dinner at her table.
Our family, the city slickers from Chicago, would visit her family, the farm folk, at least twice a year. Izzy had seven children with husband Ray, and Mom and Dad added five to make an even dozen. Not that there’d be 12 kids at a meal. By the time the younger ones arrived, the older ones had moved out, but there might be eight or more sitting knee to knee, stomachs growling. Somehow she managed to fit us all in and make everyone feel welcome to eat to their heart’s content.

Food For Thought

Writing seasonal columns

Coming up with a column for a particular season or a specific holiday seems like a no-brainer to most people. “How simple,” they say, “you don’t have to thrash around looking for a topic to write about.” After close to 30 years of coming up with columns about New Year’s Day, Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day, May Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, Halloween, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and a few assorted other days, I can’t help repeating myself.

Walkin'

What about my gun rights?

I’ve been offered the sale of a handgun three times.
The first was in the early 1980s when I lived in North Twin View Heights, a housing development outside of Solon.
I was having breakfast at the nearby Vern’s Lakeside Cafe, a small restaurant run out of a converted mobile home. The sign out front boasted hot food and fresh bait. Inside, the décor gave new meaning to the expression “greasy spoon.” Vern lived in the trailer with his wife and half-dozen children who often ran about half-dressed or in diapers needing changing.