You always hear that author Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote all of his Tarzan the Apeman novels without ever visiting Africa. After reading several of these novels and enduring even more of the movies based on them, I sincerely wonder if Burroughs staying at home was such a good idea. Recently, I re-watched "Tarzan's New York Adventure," starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O'Sullivan, which takes the apeman and his bride to the Big Apple in search of the kidnapped Boy, played by Johnny Sheffield. I rest my case.
Oh! The old swimmin' hole! When I last saw the place, the scene had all changed, like the change in my face.—James Whitcomb Riley The summer is upon us and such balderdash by Riley will no doubt stir memories in the souls of many former kids. Not me. Talks about old swimming holes make my flesh crawl. Old swimmin' holes are not for me. I like the kind of pool that's lined with tile and has more chemicals in it than water.
Call me snoopy but I can't resist finding out how much people earn for what they do. Back in the Dark Ages, my college roommates and I waited for the Wisconsin employees state salary findings, which were published in the college newspaper every year. We didn't care how much Gov. Kohler earned, only what our professors at Wisconsin State College-Eau Claire brought home each year.
"BACON MAKES BETTER LOVERS"—seen on a seed corn cap in River Falls That's right. Not Sir Francis, the renowned 17th century essayist thought by some to have written the works of Shakespeare, but just plain bacon, the pork product striated with fat and lean, sliced thin or extra thick, fried crisp or limp, has arrived on our cultural scene with a real sizzle. I recently read that bacon-flavored ice cream is a tantalizing new taste treat.
Gentle reader, I'm writing this story two weeks from the appearance of this column. I'm up to my armpits in snow and have lots of gripes to unload. First, I'm disappointed that Mother Nature has finessed me once again. My B.W. and I spent big bucks to stay in Florida through all of February and March and what did we find when we got back to Walnut Street in dear old The City on the Kinni! SNOWDRIFTS! "Oh, they won't last long," said B.W., who's making a bid to become the Panglossian optimist of River Falls. No, my Darling, only for two more weeks and then some.
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," said Romeo Montague in William Shakespeare's immortal play. "A rose by any other name WOULDN'T NECESSARILY smell as sweet," says I, the Bard of Walnut. Think about it. If the name Spangler Arlington Brugh would smell as sweet as Robert Taylor, why didn't the actor use his real name, the one that was coined in Beatrice, Nebraska. That's right, Spangler Arlington Brugh. Same goes for Doris Kapplehoffer, who changed hers to Doris Day. Does Marion Morrison have the manly ring of "John Wayne?"
I recently returned from two months in Sarasota, where I spent most of my time at the swimming pool, chatting with other oldtimers, most of whom know that I'm a retired journalist. To hear them tell it journalism as we know it is heading for a final crisis and within a week or so our only means of communication will be to TWEET, the illiterate equivalent of Cato's orations.
Half a century ago, I worked as a bartender in the elegant old Hotel Eau Claire. Business was slow late at night and so I looked forward to having John, the assistant night manager, drop by to talk about life. He was elderly, stooped and had worked for the Boss Chain, an Iowa corporation, for years. One night he told me how he had discovered Grant Wood, the famous Iowa artist, who lived in a town where my friend had worked. So then I asked him how he got hooked up in the hotel biz. "I missed a deadline," he said, smiling.
"It was the worst of times; it was the best of times" to paraphrase Charles Dickens. The last story I'll write this year about Sarasota began when my Beautiful Wife, the well-dressed Doyen of Walnut Street, decided she needed a few golf lessons, so she could impress her brother when he came to spend a few days with us. BW heard about an offer where she could get five group lessons with a pro for $100 at "Palmer Ranch Golf Course," a huge, beautiful complex just blocks from our modest resort.
Folks often ask us, "Why do you go to the same town every time you take a winter trip? Why is it always Sarasota?" First off it's because familiarity does not breed contempt. That's especially true if you're heading into your ninth decade on the planet—when you're done with deep-sea fishing, hot-air ballooning, and white-water rafting.