ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a small local column called "Third and Main" which appeared once a week in The Dayton Herald ... after seven months, and with less fanfare than the opening of a supermarket, it began to go "daily”...
Once upon a time is the way most fairy stories begin. The fact that 'Third and Main" has been running six days a week for 20 years has a dreamlike quality for me. Yet I have the 20 shoe-boxes full of clippings, one for each year, to prove that writing a daily column in my own hometown paper has been one of the most satisfying facets of my life. Although, if anyone had asked me-20 years ago-if I wanted to write a column for the next 20 years, I would have said no. It sounds impossible. I doubt that anyone-20 years ago-would have asked me to write a daily column for 20 years. All they really wanted then-and now-is a column with readers, and if it also entertained, amused, mildly instructed and stayed out of trouble, then that was so much gravy.
The war was on then, when "Third and Main" went daily on Nov. 20, 1944-World War II ... and the lighter side of civilian life was reflected in such events as the storekeeper who got his entire month's supply of cigarettes in one day and put them all on display to give his customers a thrill, but kept on rationing them one pack at a time ... and the man who hurried to apply for a special sugar stamp because he had just found out he could trade it for a shoe stamp which he could trade for shotgun shells so he could go hunting ... and the woman whose shopping bag split, spilling 40 bars of soap on the sidewalk, and nobody would help her pick them up.
It was in the last days of 1944 that I was trying to find a name for my 1924 Model T Ford-and Mrs. Alvin Rose of Miamisburg won the theater tickets by suggesting I call it the T-24 because it flew so low!
The Wooly Worm was predicting the weather ... and I went to my first Dayton Rotary club meeting...
And I'll never forget my two favorite interviews that year of '45.
One was with Robert A. Lovett, then assistant secretary of war for air.
Miles of red tape had to be unraveled before I could get in to see him at Wright Field where he had paid a surprise visit.
I was loaded with pertinent questions to ask: What's the future of air power? In his opinion, how should the air force dollar be spent-the greater portion for experimentation and research, or training of men?
Said Lovett: "How do you do. No interview. Goodbye."
The other interview was with Polly, the 47-year-old poll parrot who laughed, sang, yodeled and talked distinctly.
I wanted to hear him sing his favorite song so I encouraged him by singing a few phrases: "After the ball is over, after the break of day."
Polly cocked his head and commented, "Pretty good, pretty good," and laughed himself silly. Finally, he got around to singing "After the ball is-"
His owner prompted him. "After the ball is over, Polly." Polly gave A Look and sang, "After the ball is THROUGH!"
'45 was the year, also, that everybody was putting cottonballs on screendoors to keep the flies away ... and the readers rediscovered that tongue-teasing word, "spizzerincturn" ... when Clarence Siebenthaler, Rotarian with a tree project, gave me a Japanese cherry tree taken from the lawn of the White House and I planted it in Darke county.
'46 was the year I saw both oceans for the first time in my life...
"Third and Main" was written from Atlantic City in June, where I went to get a medal, and from San Francisco in August, where I went just because I'd always wanted to go.
It was the year everybody was talking about water wizards and could they really find water-Joe Gebhart was doing pretty well at it with an old forked peach stick ... and they'd discarded "spizzerinctum" for another jawbreaker, "discumgalligumfriscated" which means bewildered and confused ... and for "scrumdiddliumptious" which means what it says!
It was the year interest was revived in the Bessie Little bridge, now Triangle, where Bessie Little was murdered and thrown into the water ... and Deborah, the Will Hamilton's cat, had her 100th kitten ... and women still were being politely bounced from the all-male Dayton Bicycle club, and little boys vainly tried to buy bicycles there.
And we all laughed at the story of the Dayton man, in Chicago on business, who was in the mood for celebration when he successfully completed his business. He attacked a quart of Irish whisky and, before he went to sleep, phoned his wife in Dayton to tell her of his success.
His wife recognized his mood. "You're drunk," she said. "Go back to sleep." And she hung up the phone.
The Daytonian obeyed his wife, turned over and went to sleep.
When he paid his hotel bill the next day, the long distance phone charge was $43. He'd forgotten to hang up the receiver!
Before I could turn around, it was 1947-and "Third and Main" was chronicling the current laugh-maker which went like this:
"Spell rat." "R-A-T."
"No, I don't mean rat like a mouse, I mean rat like rat now." "Spell fur."
"No, I don't mean fur like a coat, I mean fur like how fur you going."
"No, I don't mean gnat like a flea, I mean gnat like gnat now."
The "moron sundae" was the big thing in 1947 .... For 8Sc, the teenagers were slurping sundaes made of eight balls of ice cream, 2 Vi peaches, 1 banana, cherries, pineapple, chocolate syrup and whipped cream.
The year that "Third and Main" readers busied themselves talking about fried pumpkin blossoms and ponhaas ... and Wooly Worm's predictions.
When a Dayton woman lost her false teeth in the bundle of wash that went to the laundry. The laundry was returned and back came the teeth that had gone the whole washing and rinsing distance in her apron pocket. "They didn't fit before, but they sure do now," she beamed.
It was the year a flop-eared, buff-colored, big-eyed puppy came to live at our house, and I wondered what on earth I'd do with a dog around ...
1948-Remember that story about the Daytonian whipping along a road outside of town when he heard the reproachful beckoning of a uniformed sentry of the law? The motorist looked at his speedometer and knew he'd better think up a good one.
"OK, OK," said the Uniform. "Where's your pilot's license?"
The motorist was surprised, but he reached in his billfold and pulled out his pilot's license. The Uniform took one look at it and his jaw dropped to his chest. Both men observed a moment of silence.
"For eight years," said the Uniform, "I've been asking motorists for their pilot's licenses. And this is the first time anyone ever showed me one," he mourned.
"OK, Bud, on your way. This is one time you don't get a ticket. You HAD your pilot's license."
1948 was the year Clark Johnson laughed and laughed because his Wooly Worm predictions came true .... Deborah had her 109th kitten . . . . 'Third and Main" gallivanted around the country a couple times on assignments .... Buff ate his first spring hat ... the readers had themselves a time with palindromes (words or sentences that read the same backwards and forwards like Hannah and "Madam, I'm Adam") ... and the readers also wanted to talk about Schnittz un Knepp and feed sacks (I got a MILyun of them in the mail! ) ... and Gentle John Kilonis came up with the best quote of the year: "Ladies," said Gentle John, "they're a nice novelty." ...
In 1949, this was the best story of the year-the tale of a pet dog who always got very excited whenever the telephone rang. He'd tear around as if he were going to a four-alarm fire. It was good exercise for an apartment-bound dog. So his owners fell into the habit of telephoning home on those occasions when they were away from home in the evenings. They knew the sound of the ball would wake their dog and give him a few minutes of exercise.
On one particular evening, a friend who knew about the arrangement let himself into the couple's apartment in their absence. He sat around and read, contentedly, because he knew the phone would ring sooner or later.
Sure enough, it did. The man let the phone ring several times. Then he lifted the receiver, panted enthusiastically for a few seconds, and replaced the receiver.
The couple is still trying to find out what happened.
1949 was the year Shorty Keever lost his corset stay (the one he used to tear paper) and old-fashioned readers gifted him with a dozen ... we finally learned the correct way to spell Harman with an "A" not an "0," no matter what the directories say, because the Harman school's fourth grade made a project out of it to be sure ... there was the incident of the Pea Soup when every time I added a cup of water, heated the soup, drank a cup of soup, refrigerated it, then added a cup of water, heated it, I still had the same amount remaining, so I finally buried the soup! ... the readers got a kick out of talking about peanut coffeecakes, pierced ears and lime in the teakettles ...
1950? Well, that was the year we took turns laughing with the bride who asked her grocer for "informal tea" ... and the bride who asked the butcher for a "pound of mince meat from a young, tender mince" ... and the bride who read Ida Jean Kain's column about Mother Nature's muscular girdle and then inquired all around town ,to see where she could buy one ... Deborah had her 119th kitten ... Buff and his master and Marj moved to the country and got snowed in for three days during the Big Blizzard on the Thanksgiving weekend ... Mrs. Lena Donohoo became the column's Good Samaritan in charge of finding homes for cats and dogs ...
And in November of 1950 a couple of Dayton attorneys looked out of their windows in the Winters Bank building and watched workmen setting up Rike's annual outdoor Christmas decorations. As the reindeer went into place, the attorneys named them over: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixon, Comet, Cupid, Dander and Blitzen. Rike's had two more reindeer than Santa! How come? asked the attorneys-and that's how it started.
Rike's had a contest and children of the MiamiValley named the two extra reindeer Whipper and Snapper ...
The two best stories of that year concerned (1) the woman who could not stop her power lawn mower and mowed her lawn, her neighbor's lawn and halfway around the block before she was rescued ... and ... (2) the fishermen who THOUGHT that cornmeal made their fish taste a bit strange but ate the fish anyway and didn't find our until they got home that the cornmeal was really soap powder their thoughtful wives had included in their fishing gear!
In 1951 ... Deborah had her 121st kitten ... the Wooly Worm kept right on predicting ... will you ever forget the oven-fried chicken? I won't! ... Bessie, the Iron Maiden, that old-fashioned dress form that I battered half-way close to my shape, took up residence in my house and looked so real Buff barked at her ... Rike's put two more reindeer in their Christmas decorations, the Dayton attorneys looked our their windows again and then called Marj, and we had another contest to name the reindeer Elf and Zwelf ...
The best story of the year was the one about Robert Pfuhl, Daytonian, who used to sing in a choir in Detroit. The choir loft was behind the pulpit and, when the singers sat down, they were our of sight of the congregation. On one particular Sunday morning, the choir members got hungry so Bob crawled on his hands and knees behind the wooden wall separating the choir from the pulpit, and out the side door. He ran across the street to a delicatessen for a couple bags of popcorn and then back to the church.
Then came the problem of how to open the door while stooping and, at the same time, carrying the popcorn. He solved it by carrying the bags of popcorn in his teeth. He very quietly opened the door to the choir loft and started across the floor on all fours. It seemed to him he had gone a considerable distance when finally a pair of striped trousers appeared in his path.
The minister's trousers! Bob had entered the wrong turn and had crawled with two bags of popcorn in his mouth all the way across the front of the church in full view of the congregation.
He turned right around, popcorn bags still in his mouth, crawled all the way back to the door, opened it, crawled out, got his hat, left the choir and the church and the city forever!
1952 ... when a local priest expounded his theories on the use of slogans in today's world. His slogan had a religious theme, of course, but to illustrate the widespread use of advertising slogans in this era, he said, "You see slogans on every side." Then, flinging his arms in an upstretched gesture, he mimicked, "'What'll you have? What'll you have?'"
Yes, sir, it was a little boy sitting in front of him who piped right up:
"Pabst's Blue Ribbon!"
And when lrv Snyder, amateur magician, acquired a magician's coffin -and an idea. He thought he'd playa joke on a pal, Clyde Clem, who is not a magician.
Irv loaded the coffin with a realistic dummy with rubber head, scars, patch on one eye and a human expression. Then he loaded the coffin on a flatbed truck and started from his Blossomheath home to Clem's house on Stroop road.
While Irv and the truck and the coffin bounced down Far Hills avenue, the coffin lid jounced awry. Enough to cause consternation among the riders of the Dayton Power and Light company truck which followed behind. They thought it was a real body.
Chuckling, Irv turned off in Clem's direction and hid the coffin in his garage. Sure enough, Clem came home, jumped a foot in the air, decided when he got over his first fright that it could be nobody in that coffin except Irv, so he kicked it around a while before opening the lid. And the laugh was even greater when it wasn't Irv in the coffin but a dummy who looked even more human.
Well, so much for the joke. Everybody laughed and laughed and Irv loaded the coffin on the truck again and trucked on home. It was quitting time about then and, on the way in on Lebanon pike, a couple of construction workers, empty dinner pails under their arms, thumbed the truck for a ride.
"Sure," said Irv, "pile in the back."
"No, SIR," they said, their eyes as wide as the Great Miami river.
"We'll walk. We ain't riding with no corpse!" He couldn't convince them otherwise, either ...
It was still 1952 when the readers got involved with waffles and how to keep them from sticking ... Dr. Kenneth McFarland opened a speech by saying, "I feel like one of you today." Pause. "I don't know which one of you but, if I did, I'd tell him to go home and lie down. I'm tired." ... and the parody THAT year was: "Between the taft and the stassen, when the speeches are beginning to sour / comes a pause in the day's nominations that is known as the eisenhower" ... it was "Marj Heyduck Day" at the Riverdale bowling alleys ... when my favorite joke about everybody sending samples except Cadillacs and money fell apart because Bob Simons sent a toy car and the Second National Bank of Greenville sent one of their samples, a $1 bill ... it was the year of the "mouse stories" with the mouse in the coffeepot, the mouse in the toaster and heaven knows whereall upsetting readers' breakfast reading ... and the year the Phillipsburg EUB church began its annual Thanksgiving Day dinners for lonesome folks ... a baby lamb used in the nativity scene at Bellbrook high school was named Marj ... two more reindeer on Rike's were named Jinx and Winx ...
1953 was the year a Dayton family got the milk bottles mixed up the morning after New Year's Eve and poured egg nog instead of milk in the eat's bowl and now the cat won't drink plain milk anymore ... when Gretchen, 4 1/2, and Susan, 3, were having a serious argument.
Gretchen: Mommy, we do, too, live in 'Canurn, don't we? Mother: Yes, honey, but it's ARcanum.
Susan: See? It's OURcanum.
Gretchen: It's not YOURcanum-it's MYcanum.
It was the year the readers laughed and hashed over a report in a Chicago newspaper that had a contest to find the most unusual "white elephant" anybody was stuck with ... winner had 11 wedding gowns that she'd bought at a bazaar because they were such a bargain she couldn't resist ... it was the year dog finery started to blossom in New York and the first columns about dog perfumes and dog earrings amused the readers ... and the story about the child, 5, who heard the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Bible class. When he got home, his mother said, "And what did you learn in school today?" and he replied: "Teacher talked about your shack, my shack and a bungalow."
It was the year I rounded a curve in the misty October dawn while driving down 503 toward Arcanum and noticed an unusual movement in a corn field. The way the tops of the cornstalks were moving, it looked as if something big and prehistoric was roaming the countryside. It got closer and closer and then reared its head over one of the rows. If I had been Buff, I would have barked like all git out! They're certainly making strange looking corn-pickers these days-the big, long chutes sticking up in front look just like the neck of a dinosaur ...
It was the year I went to Hollywood and came home with a blond wig which I wore for a half hour with great success: Buff barked at me, my mother screamed, and John Moore, managing editor, took his feet off his desk with such a thump the newspaper presses shook! ...
Rike's reindeer increased by two again but we gave up naming them -Dave Rike and I couldn't face another mountain of letters that close to Christmas anymore. Besides, the year before, Dave and I wanted to name the reindeer Orville and Wilbur but we were frowned upon by saner folk so we capitulated ... but decided then and there not to have any more reindeer-naming contests no matter how their numbers increased ...
1954 started with the story about the slightly overweight young woman who went to a local paint store and asked for a gallon of thinner. Said she to the open-mouthed clerk: "I hate dieting. It ought to be quicker if I bathed in it, don't you think?" ... it was the time the kids went back to school after Christmas vacation saying "Hope you had a Cool Yule and a Frantic First" ... when we learned that an old girdle, put in a missionary barrel, came to a mission school as a book-carrier. The garters had been removed, the lower edges sewed together and a handle put on top ... Buff got his picture in a national magazine, looking out his own window in our back door ... there was a rash of one-liners beginning with a call received at our office. Said the caller: "Can you tell me where in the Bible I can find the Lord's prayer?" Replied the cub who answered: "I'm not sure but try the 23rd psalm" ... and a young reporter assigned to get a story about Ash Wednesday called the sanitation department ... and somebody called the office and said, "I want to talk to someone about a preying mantis" and the operator replied, "Just a moment, I'll connect you with the church editor" ...
This was the year I shared a birthday cake-and the firemen's lunch -with the firemen at Engine House No. 11, Brown and Wyoming ... and the year men's work sox were turned into stuffed monkeys and sold at every bazaar in the valley ... and when the Miamisburg Rotarians gave a live goose as an attendance booster-the member who didn't turn up got the goose at his home later to keep for a week until the next meeting when he was SURE to attend' When I spoke at a Miamisburg Rotary dinner, I backed into the goose's crate and got nipped-in the leg!
1955 -the year Lilly Dache threw a penthouse picnic in her New York apartment and MiamiValley women everywhere copied her idea for their spring and summer luncheons ... I learned about dripless paint too late but Lowe Bros. laboratory mixed some up to match my lilac hat and that's how I got a bathroom painted lilac forevermore ... TV influenced the youngsters' conversations:
When grandma told a little girl that grandpa had gone to the bank, the little girl said, "To rob it?"
When another youngster heard that his aged uncle had died, his first question was: "Who shot him?"
And another child volunteered to answer a teacher's question about the meaning of ambush. "It means daddy's tired," said the child. "Whenever daddy's tired, he says ambush."
This was the year the recipes took over ... cream pie, pineapple cookies, mashed potato doughnuts, fresh cocoanut cake ... and the Wooly Worm kept on predicting, as usual, with the usual surprising success ...
1956-Pink went my kitchen, and a lot of readers followed with the same color scheme so we exchanged ideas on what to paint pink next ... the cream pie recipes were finally printed! ... Buff slid out the kitchen door when he hit the waxed floor at a fast clip, thus bringing out more waxed floor stories, especially the one about the 10-year-old, bathing in a tin tub, who tried to get out, slipped and skidded out the door in the tub and onto the porch in front of a visitor the lilac bush finally bloomed ... the mouse stories started up again there was a story about the lady who wore to church her favorite hat decorated with a bunch of cherries at one side. During the sermon, a fly kept buzzing her hat and she kept swatting him away. Just as the minister announced the last hymn, "There Shall Be Showers of Blessings," the lady got angry with the persistent fly, swatted heftily, hit the hat instead and a shower of cherries flew all over the congregation .... Carmel and San Francisco claimed my heart forever ... Lou Emm played "Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing" on his radio show one early dawning and I heard the birdies sing, so I mentioned it in print ... a few days later, Lou played the same tune, this time adding, "Marj, go to the door and see if the birds are singing." Half asleep, in Darke county 40 miles away, I actually walked to the door to listen for the birdies before I realized what a patsy I was ... when I mentioned the long underwear of my childhood, and the long red underwear of my later days (when I tore a three-cornered hole in my slacks, I wouldn't mend them because I thought it was funny to see the red underwear show), Henry Flesh, president of the Atlas Underwear corporation, Piqua, sent a pair of red firemen's drawers and, by golly, the first cold weekend, I WORE them ....
1957 -There was much discussion about what walked across my roof at night ... dozens of readers decided it had to be a raccoon-and, one moonlit night, somebody actually saw a raccoon on my roof so that settled that-and started a file of raccoon stories including the one that occurred to two Greenville men on a fishing trip .... Bob Schinke started cleaning the fish he'd caught early one morning. He laid a cleaned fish on a stump, started to clean another, turned to place it on the stump -and the original fish was gone.
"Come on, George," he called to his partner, "if you got strength enough to fool around with the fish, you can come over here and clean them." Bob went on cleaning fish, turned around, all the cleaned fish were gone this time. He could hear George but he couldn't see him.
"OK," said Bob, "fun's fun but I'm coming after you and you're going to clean ALL the fish!" He parted the bushes and there was "George," a sassy raccoon sitting on his haunches, eating cleaned fish in his paws. George Shroyer was still asleep in his bunk inside the cabin.
"Well," said Bob to the raccoon, "at least you're more company than George. Here, have the last fish with my compliments!"
It was the year a little boy, saying grace at the table, embellished it with this line: "And lead us into temptation with liberty and justice for all" ... and the year a Dayton surgeon startled everybody in the Fidelity building elevator the morning he went to work carrying on his arm a grape basket full of hammer, chisel, screwdriver and drill. He couldn't convince anybody he had a new desk with a drawer that needed adjusting ....
And when a little boy, finally corralled by his exasperated mother after he'd been running out of the yard all day, said to his mother when she promised him a spanking: "Please don't spank me today, mother, I'm too tired to cry."
And on Aug. 15 appeared for the first time in print the famous "heel-in-the-grate" story which has been copied and repeated in many media ever since ... (it's detailed in "The Best of Marj'' book of 1962)…
1958-Catastrophes galore-everybody had stories to tell about homemade catastrophes beginning with my own: when a repairman's vacuum cleaner exploded in my house and absolutely everything was covered with black oily soot ... but, glory be, my household catastrophe was covered by insurance and I stood around, open-mouthed, the day six men from a Dayton cleaning firm cleaned my house from top to bottom and inside out in eight hours' ...
Mrs. James Oren reported the time she took a nap and her small children got into the lard and had it in the rugs, furniture, windows and doors and were skating in it on the kitchen floor ... and Mrs. Mackey J. Goodman reported the time she broke a gallon bottle of bleach when it dropped on the corner of a glass-topped coffee-table ... the bleach polka-dotted everything in the living room and hall, and even soaked through the floor to mess up the laundry hanging in the basement' ... and Mrs. M. S. phoned to say none of us could say we'd had a real mess until we had cleaned a chicken off a ceiling! Her pressure cooker exploded-and she had chicken everywhere! ... before the stories about messes finished, we had printed more than 50 and the readers said they enjoyed reading about other people's messes because it made them so happy they weren't their own' ...
It was the year we all decided Feb. 13 was a good day to "Return All Borrowed Books-and Umbrellas." ... Mayor Bill Patterson even made a proclamation to that effect and, as I recall, we did return books that year-but nobody remembered it from that year forward ...
The year I confessed the puppy-love I had, the year I was 13, for the young handsome purser on the Ohio riverboat, "Betsy Ann" ... and the purser, Frederick Way Jr., a hale and hearty retired riverboat-man, read the story clear over in Sewickly, Pa., and sent me a colored print of our beloved "Betsy Ann" ...
Best story of the year (repeated by magazines) was the one that happened in the MiamiValley at a program when a military color guard was used to open the meeting. The hall was darkened dramatically and the precise military marching of a crack drill team was heard in the distance. As the marching steps grew louder, a spotlight picked up the color bearer and many were the goose pimples that arose as the spectators saw Old Glory waving proudly down the aisles and up on the stage.
The men snapped to attention on the platform and the ceremony of presenting the colors was completed. At the finale, the curtain behind the line of uniformed men went up to reveal a stage setting, now complemented by the color guard.
As snare drums rolled, the stage curtain began its assent. The golden eagle atop the standard bearing the American flag caught in the folds of the rising curtain. The flagpole was surely but certainly being drawn from the hands of the standard bearer. The flag was going up, up, up in full view of the fascinated audience.
The empty-handed standard bearer stood transfixed, unable to move.
But the captain of the guard saw his duty and he did it. He rushed forward, grabbed the end of the flagpole and took a firm grip.
The curtain kept on going up, up, up. So did the golden eagle. So did the flagpole. So did the captain of the guard, hanging on for dear life, his feet swinging high above the stage floor.
Backstage levers had to be thrown, reversing the action of the huge curtain, before Old Glory and the captain could return to normal. The audience never did.
That same year came this unforgettable story: it happened in a downtown Dayton eatery with carry-out service. A woman approached the waitress behind the counter and said, "How much is cherry pie?"
"By the piece or the whole pie?" "The whole pie."
"I don't know."
"How much by the piece?" "I don't know."
"Could you find out how much?"
"By the piece?"
"No, the whole pie."
"OK." And then waitress began a slow, systematic search of every nook and cranny of her counter. Finally she dredged up a price list. Slowly she looked at each item.
"Cherry pie," she said, triumphantly. "It's $1.1 0 plus pan." "How much is the pan?"
"I don't know."
"Could you find out?"
"OK." Again the slow-motion action of checking a pflce list. Then she found it. "It's 15c for the pan."
"All right," said the customer. 'Til take a whole pie and be sure to
wrap it carefully."
"What kind of pie?" "Cherry."
"Oh, well, we don't have any cherry."
1959- This was the year I lost things in my filing system at the office, particularly my extra pair of stockings .... I didn't file them under S for stockings, H for hosiery, or E for emergency ... or even under J for Just in case ... but in a special file marked Extra Stockings for Emergencies ... see? Simple!
The year a woman from Brookville drove into a Salem avenue service station, all excited. "I only have nine miles left before my 2,000mile oil change," she said, breathlessly. "And I don't have any money with me. Do you think I can make it back to Brookville?" she asked.
The year we argued whether that cement wall around the courthouse in Greenville was called coping or curb ... after many readers, and Howard Korns, architect, got into the act, Marj had to give up-the correct word is curb ....
A first grader learned the details of the Easter story in school and when the Easter story was presented on television, she excitedly told her mother what was going to happen. "See?" she said, 'There is the tomb and there is a big rock in front of it and an angel will come and roll the rock away. Here comes somebody. Oh, good-it's the rock 'n' roll angel!"
And the year of the wedding when everybody thought the bridegroom ran out on the bride ... but he didn't, he took her along. What the congregation didn't know was the fact that the church organ developed asthma and gave out altogether just as the couple turned from the altar and began to walk up the aisle. "Let's make a run for it," whispered the bridegroom when the church organ failed, and he raced up the aisle. But he took the bride along ....
It was the year "Third and Main" went to Europe for the first time, with the Business and Trade tour of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce ... and the year I learned I was a compulsive box-saver and hundreds of readers confessed they were, too ....
1960-The year an umbrella collapsed on my head during a shower -and a photographer took my picture-and it showed up in Thal's Main street window to illustrate how NOT to use the umbrellas they had on sale! ...
That Cadillac-filled-with-cement story went on and on and on-and somebody showed up with a miniature Cadillac filled with cement for a paperweight for my desk ....
The Wooly Worm Man said, in March, that he believed he'd read the "wrong end of the worm" the past October and now he believed we'd get snow in May! (We did.)
Third and Main went to Europe again, covered the opening day of the 1960 Olympics, compared Olympic wrestling with the grunt-and groaners of past seasons in Dayton and watched Sam Hall win a silver medal in diving ....
Sen. John F. Kennedy came to Dayton on a campaign trip and bystanders noticed he was laughing when he stood on the Biltmore ballroom platform and that he carried a box under his arm when he left the stage. Turned out a Dayton firm had given him a gift for Jackie Kennedy: a maternity dress ....
1961- The year I cleaned out the medicine cabinet and tried alit all the samples of lipstick, eye shadow, eye-liner, eyebrow pencil and rouge -in stripes and streaks all over my face and hands-and the doorbell rang. The stranger standing there took one look at me-and fled ... and when the story turned up about the young girl who came home crying from school because she'd received a failing grade. Her parents looked over her report card: English-A, math-A, history-A. They were puzzled. Weeping, she pointed to the last line following her name and address. It said Sex: F.
And that story about a Dayton man, who sat on the platform during a dinner meeting before his speech. It felt as if he had some lettuce caught in his teeth and he couldn't, gracefully, get it out with his tongue. Quietly he removed his ballpoint pen from his pocket, and pretending to be absentmindedly listening to the introductions, he used the pen to check the spaces between his teeth for lettuce. He never learned until later that he had made his entire speech with white teeth carefully Outlined in blue from his ballpoint pen!
The story about the Dayton child who washed 15 pounds of wild rice in an automatic washer. ...
Best story of the year was the Dayton woman, advanced to a new position on a Dayton hospital auxiliary board, who went home to tell her husband the news. "I'm chairman of the disaster committee," she said, proudly. "What's that?" he asked. "I get to plan the disasters," she said.
It ran a close second to the story about Bob Saxon's French poodle, Mojo, who likes to sit on top the bathroom convenience listening to Bob's electric razor when he shaves. One morning Bob started to shave while Mojo was out of the room. Suddenly, there was a mad scramble indicating Mojo was racing like wildfire to get to the bathroom. At the door, Mojo launched himself into a flying leap to reach his familiar perch. Bob yelled a warning too late. Mojo landed on target. The lid was up!
It was the year Marj invented the double chaise that makes you twice as lazy ... and the Cookie Tree (made of three rounds of wood, a broomstick, some paint and ribbons and lace edging) grew again in many households ...
1962-Third and Main took a Mediterranean cruise with members of the Dayton Woman's club ... survived a storm at sea ....
And then went to Honolulu on vacation-and got a close look at the JohnstonIsland nuclear test which lit up the Hawaiian sky turning ....
Puzzles like "the Norwegian drinks water and the Japanese owns the zebra" were popular and the readers mulled over the Passing of the Old Orange Crates the last of Frank Schwilk's famous nectar sodas got mouths to watering ....
Readers laughed at the story about the father who, one evening, blew his top because he was sick and tired of being the referee for family arguments at the dinner table. "Arguments! Fights! Nothing but family, family, family. Don't bother about me-I'm just the father around here," he stormed. "What do I have to do to get MY way once in a while?" His four-year-old pulled at his arm and said, seriously, "Cry a little."
And "The Best of Marj'' was launched with a series of teas held all around the Miami Valley ... and Walter Maxwell of Piqua had the barber trim his hair with a "Merry Xmas" cut with a razor in the back of his burr haircut ....
1963-the year "Third and Main" went to Nassau in the Bahamas, to Chicago to judge folding paper boxes, to Dallas to look at Texas fashions and to Laguna Beach, Calif., just because ... and we all laughed about the story of the Oakwood woman who thought the traffic sign meant "Go Right On, Red or Green" when it really meant "Go Right -On Red Or Green" ... and the man who thought the "No U Turn" sign meant "No, YOU Turn! " ...
There was that Christmas party I gave for Greenville friends on the Sunday after Easter when the Coffee Clubbers hired a Santa Claus to surprise me and Santa himself surprised two fishermen who fell back into the lake when he called "Merry Christmas" to them ....
And all the stories about the spray can mix-ups ... people who sprayed nosedrops instead of sweetener into coffee, deodorant for cologne, starch for hair spray ....
And when a child heard his aunt was going around the world, he asked, "How many orbits will she make?"
Memory gems with Lucia Mae Wiant stirred many memories, and many letters .... Marj took a nostalgic train ride to Cincinnati-followed by lots of parents taking their children for one last ride before trains disappear ... and the Wooly Worm kept on predicting the weather. ...
1964-And now it's the 20th year ... and I remember when John Kuhnle remarked on the 13th anniversary: "It's hard enough to write when a body's got something to write about, but YOU'VE been writing 13 years on nothing!" ... and now 20 years on the same topic! ...
It's the year I started taking lessons from Velma Kenney on the electric organ and fell clear off the bench when my open-toed scuffs caught on the foot pedals ....
And a Dayton woman confessed she pasted on her husband's bathroom mirror the sign Count Marco suggested: "27 Million Women Want My Husband So I Must Always Look My Best" ... her husband was in such a happy daze he didn't even see the dent she put in the front of their brand-new car. ...
In the spring, I watched old riverboats race on the Ohio ... and rode a bus to Columbus to see how a governor works in the state capitol and how his wife handles an executive mansion ... and, on a detour, found the best strawberries I've ever tasted, starting a whole rash of strawberry and detour stories ... and an old, old house, empty and forlorn, finally tumbled into oblivion while many readers sighed ... a new young gray cat found the sleeping corner around the chimney on my roof and settled himself there on cool clear nights ... and then, suddenly, 20 years of writing a daily column are funneled into a volume called 'The Anniversary Marj," and a fairy tale once upon a time comes true ....