"He was a bold man that first ate an oyster."—Jonathan Swift On this day in 1874, my great-grandad wrote in his journal "Fair & mild. Worked on road grade. my hand Peterson helped. Went to Hall and bot two cans oysters and 4 lbs crackers. Paid $1.55" On the next day he wrote of hosting an oyster supper for nine people on his $1.55 outlay.
We're back from a too short vacation in Mexico and I'm faced with having to write a travel story. I'm not proficient at such a task and have been brutally criticized over the years for not bringing the correct attitude to the task. Many years ago one of the rival columnists in the Twin Cities media wrote an annual GET OUT OF TOWN! column aimed at other members of the media.
I'm proud to hold a B.S. in education, but remember the painful rules set down by administrators back in the days when I was a practice teacher and a young professor. A few cases in point: I went to college in Eau Claire, when it was still recovering from being a "normal" school designed to prepare teachers to go out after two years and teach in rural schools, or four years to teach in grade and high schools.
I thank my lucky stars for radio. I thank my family's lucky stars for radio. No, not TV. Radio.
"In this best of all possible worlds ... everything is for the best." Voltaire, 1694-1778, author of "Candide." Published in Paris, France, 1759. "If you have sour apples, make apple sauce," Edna Wood (1917-1988), owner of (and spoken in) the kitchen of the City Cafe, Main Street, Whitehall, Wis., 1965. I'd say that Voltaire's line was more famous than my stepmother's culinary remark. But both essayist and cook were driving at the same thing. Don't curse your bad luck because hidden in that misfortune may be a treasure.
Our old house on Walnut Street is stuffed with thousands of books, the result of my working for half of my adult life as a book reviewer for newspapers and magazines. It's a job that causes publishers to flood folks like me with copies of their new books, some of which I read and others which I don't.
Another 365 days have passed so it's time for columnists to make New Year's resolutions. Ah, dear me! My Beautiful Wife has occasionally commented over the past 49 years that I am covered with "primordial scales." In case you don't remember, that's how novelist Kurt Vonnegut described his anti-hero Elliot Rosewater's father, a description which suggests that the old Indiana senator was hopelessly conservative, a stick in the mud and a devotee of the old adage that all change is bad.
Memory's a funny thing. Some folks say I have a good memory. Sure, for remembering who played the villain in "David Copperfield," Basil Rathbone-Roland Young, take your pick. Or where we dined and what we ate on my first date with Ruth (Glass House in Toledo, Fondue Bourguignon.) Or where we ate in Paris that had the worst toilet (Cafe des Beaux Artes).