THROUGH THE YEARS, one column or another touched readers who have felt that particular one was written with them in mind ... or they tucked it away for re-reading later because it evoked memories of something special in their own lives ... or they just liked the rhythm of the words ... or it made them laugh, or cry ....
At any rate, here are some of those special columns requested by the readers to be included in a collection of "Third and Mains." ...
“It is Spring”
And every springtime a columnist-friend of mine is reminded of a sight he once saw on Market street in San Francisco and he re-tells the poignant tale as part of his own salute to the new season.
He saw a beggar with a sign around his neck saying, "It is spring - and I am blind."
Each spring the poignancy of that remark stings my heart. The sharpness of the pain remains with me as the season unfolds. Always in other years, my conscience hurt me as if it weren't fair for me to be able to see the buds bursting and the grass greening while others couldn't.
The spring, for me then, was always a joyous feeling, a glowing outpouring of love for the newness of life all around, underscored by a personal guilt I could not understand.
And now, again, spring. And, again, the oft-told story ... "It is spring - and I am blind."
When I read it, I waited for the sting of the words in my heart, that sudden surge of pain, the guilt feeling to cloud the joy ....
It didn't come.
Instead, this thought-that crowded out all others until there was nothing left but a sense of peace ... the reminder that some of the most wonderful things to be seen are not seen with the eyes ... the reminder that many of us with eyes to see still are blind ....
It is spring! One of the four seasons, yes, but it must be more than that. It is the happiness you feel when a friend says thanks without words ... the warmth in a gesture of courtesy toward a stranger ... the snatch of melody in a laugh ... the feeling at the end of the day when you realize that this IS the day you remembered not to criticize or judge or condemn your fellow man ... that quick lift you feel inside when something tells you that you have met the enemy and seen through him ....
"It is spring-and I am blind." No, no. It is spring-let me lift up mine eyes ....
CUSTOMER approached Charlie Michel at the West Side branch of Winters bank the other day and asked to have $100 in cash changed into traveler's checks.
"What denomination?" asked Charlie.
"Baptist," said the customer.
“Ice Storm in March”
I woke up to a world sheathed in ice. If I were a child to look out on that scene for the first time, nothing could convince me it could be less than a fairy world. Diamonds everywhere. No, there couldn't be that many diamonds-they must have been rhinestones. All the trees, fences, bushes, logs, grasses, tulip shoots, lilac buds-everything in a transparent casing of ice looking like glass.
The frozen droplets on the wire strands of the fences looked like notes of music on metal staffs ... monotonous melody repeated over and over along the road. The lilac buds, each detail perfect under glass. The coating of ice so beautiful and cruel ... thin branches broken under the weight of deceptively delicate decorations of ice ... some small branches looking like a new kind of modern jewelry ... brown slick cords immobile in the middle of smooth glass ... leftover berries on one bush, ice-enclosed, looked like dangling earrings.
The room that overlooks the lake, the one with three sides made of windows, was unbelievable. The icy branches brushed close to the windows. When the sun shone and the wind moved among the branches, they glistened and tinkled like crystal chimes. On the smooth lake, three wild ducks swam with effortless grace.
And when you thought the scene could not be improved, then a brilliantly colored red bird flew in and touched briefly down on an icy branch. His weight made the branches sway slightly with a faint tinkle of fairy melody, and his plumage was reflected in the ice about him.
How could I sleep late with this big show going on outdoors? Buff and I crunched around the yard, admiring the icy woods, noticing that even weeds from last fall look beautiful when coated with frozen water.
It took a sledgehammer, brought up from below with an underhand swing, to loosen the logs on the woodpile, but what a warmth they made on the fire, with a sputtering and a fizzing as the ice melted.
I'm a pushover for the warm, tender days of June. Sometimes I think June is my favorite time of year. And then I remember the crisp October's bright blue weather ... and the reds and greens and golds of the autumn woods ... and my allegiance is split.
For sheer beauty, though, I vote for a March ice storm. Especially when I'm not out in it!
"Night To forget"
SHEER TERROR can be a loathsome thing. A crawling, fearful tearing away of everything you thought secure. That way leads to madness ...
Terror produced by imagination coupled with circumstances borders so close to the real thing that the experience is emotionally shattering -and remains in the memory as a vivid scar slow to heal ...
ONE DAY last week, I went to the World's Fair with other newspaperwomen in New York at this time to cover fall fashion collections and the terror I experienced there had nothing to do with clothes.
Oleg Cassini hosted a luncheon for the fashion editors, featuring a menu once served by his mother, the Countess Cassini, when she was official hostess for her father, the Imperial Russian Ambassador to the Theodore Roosevelt administration. (First course was three silver dollar-sized thin pancakes topped with sour cream, and side garnishes of finely chopped egg white, egg yolk and onions.)
Afterwards, Cassini presided at the first public fashion show to be seen in the Crystal Palace of Fashion at the BetterLivingCenter of the Fair.
Following this bash, Michael Brown and company presented a diminutive musicale starring Ship 'n' Shore blouses ... and then Mrs. B. K. Nehru, wife of the Ambassador of India to the United States, was hostess at the India Pavilion for tea and a showing of modern Indian fabrics in fashions designed by Adele Simpson.
With hardly time in between to breathe normally, there was dinner, then, at the Terrace club, at the top of the Port Authority building, followed by a televised fashion show by the Council of Fashion Designers of America at the United States Pavilion.
By the time the show went on television tape, to be shown later around the world as an example of costume design as a contemporary American art form, it was getting on toward of an incredibly crowded afternoon and evening.
At every break of 10 minutes or more since , the fashion editors had trotted or hired the two-mile-a-minute motorized carts to see another portion of the World's Fair while they were there. (The most popular attractions appeared to be the viewing of the Pieta at the Vatican City, the underground home, the Spanish Pavilion with original paintings and the Billy Graham and Christian Science buildings.)
Ten hours of this schedule and I couldn't sit still in the jammed together mend chairs placed for the captive television audience in the area of the United States Pavilion facing the huge undercover waterfalls.
I was itchy, tired and overdue for a shower.
Being a mature adult, of sound mind and body, capable of making decisions, I decided I'd had enough. I waded over legs and pocketbooks and red-hot cigars that blocked my trail through the rows of chairs toward the aisle-and out into the 90-degree New York World's Fair night.
Daytime crowds had thinned, already lights were being turned out here and there, some exhibits had shuttered for the night, and the transportation gliders were few and far between.
I walked a bit in the hot darkness, feeling some relief from the jam under glaring television lights. Footsteps echoed and shadows followed me as I walked down the middle of the World's Fair streets.
From the loudspeakers sprouting like thin trees on all the new-grass lawns came antiseptic metallic disembodied music. You had the feeling that the earth could melt and the tides recede but the same tinny tunes would spew forth forever ...
A few isolated stragglers hurried past me in the shadows, going this way and that, glancing quickly at me, then looking away as if I bore a legend proclaiming leper. From a diminishing spot of light and sound behind me, the United States Pavilion and its television fashion show -with 30 of the most expensive models wearing 120 of the fanciest clothes-continued, but now it seemed remote and unreal.
After a time, an empty motor-cart slithered across the road and I ran to catch it. Reluctantly, the young driver agreed to take me to an exit gate with a cab-stand, but had to know in advance if I had the minimum of $3 to pay him for the trip ...
A FEW MOMENTS LATER, the horror began. The driver unceremoniously deposited me within long sight of a turnstile exit and said that the cab-stand was just beyond.
He and the cart disappeared into the darkness. I called out, but too late. He was gone and I was alone, beyond the turnstiles, in a huge wasteland of emptiness. Dim lights from somewhere shed a ghoulish pall. Here and there, human forms appeared and disappeared in the odd light, never once taking shape, always moving, never approaching close ...
I saw a uniformed policeman and ran towards him, crying for help.
He looked over, around and through me but never once directly at me. I heard my own voice, but he didn't answer. I asked again. More lights went out, more sounds disappeared. The policeman muttered something and walked away ...
A lone cruising cab ignored a woman alone, and picked up two men passengers who appeared out of nowhere ... I waited and walked, hesitated, waited, walked some more ... there were no more cabs, no buses, fewer people, fewer lights, big empty nothingness, the panic began with a tightening of chest muscles, a tingling along the back of the neck, sweat beginning on the forehead ...
I ran toward another man in uniform and asked if he could direct me ... he brushed aside without a word ... I started back down the long, empty, dark fairground streets looking for a telephone, a lighted bus stop, something familiar ...
The roadway wound through deep shadows and faint pools of lesser darkness ... half the time I walked on faith with no sight of where my feet were stepping ... the road led over the eight-lane Grand Central Parkway with streams of headlights flowing like a river below and no one to see me or help me ...
Suddenly, in my darting imaginative mind burst all the stories I'd read about the recent tragedies in New York ... how helpless women were cruelly treated in full view of fellowmen who looked on and couldn't care less ... how women had pleaded for some crumb of help and their own kind had turned away ...
My feet stumbled from fatigue but sheer panic drove them forward.
This positively could not be happening to me, I told myself. I was running now, over the arched bridge, down the other side, heading toward an oasis of light by a bus-stop. Out of nowhere, a bus swooped to a stop, opened and shut the door and started up again. I threw myself against the glass doors and pounded. The driver stopped and shook his head.
"United States Pavilion?" I screamed. He shook his head through the closed glass door. I pounded with my fists and cried aloud. This time his mouth moved in answer but I heard no sound.
"I can't hear you," I called out. This time I could read his lips. "Too bad," he shrugged and pulled the bus away from my pounding fists.
Again, alone in comparative darkness, the lighted bus-stop a mirage.
, alone, no sanctuary, no light, no voice, no help. I felt trapped in a nightmare without ending. Only my silk suit clinging damply to my sweating skin brought reality to my senses.
I forced calmness upon myself. I looked up at the night sky. In a few seconds, a faint colored glow isolated itself from the black. I held to the thought that this was the light from the United States Pavilion still dawdling over its televised fashion ....
I ran, I stumbled, I kept going, as straight as I could in a line toward that pool of colored lights in the night sky. I stepped over curbs, cut across grassy plots, took one path after another, crossed roadways, trotted as fast as I was able in the dark for more than 10 actual minutes by my wristwatch ....
At long last, I heard the familiar roar of the artificial waterfalls, yet a whisper at that distance. It was, indeed, the pavilion with the lights and cameras and mesmerized audience drugged by fatigue.
How I got there I cannot remember now. But I did, and sank wet and disheveled into an empty seat behind the cameras. No one saw me go. No one saw me return.
I said a little prayer.
“Copper Kettle Apple Butter”
THE CLOCK turned backwards last Sunday ...
No matter that the calendar on the wall said "1963." No matter that air-conditioned automobiles parked outside the big old white barn ...
Inside, the big copper kettles were rumbling with the rhythmic ffft-plop, ffft-plop of apple butter in the making. And the spicy aroma of apples and cinnamon hung heavy in the air.
Around the big coal stove on the other side of the kettles sat five or six men, leaning back on unpainted kitchen chairs or hunched on wooden boxes, talking and smoking and occasionally chuckling. They kept an eye on the activity around the kettles but Charlie Ditmer, retired boiler operator, was clucking like a mother hen around the bubbling cauldrons so everything was going well.
Besides, they could tell by the fragrance and the color that it wasn't time yet to draw off the apple butter.
The steam started up in the coils inside the copper kettles along about Sunday morning and it was going to be near before the first kettle of apple butter would be ready to dip.
On the saw-horse table set along one side of the barn were the clean glass jars and jugs and crocks waiting for the pour-off ....
For the moment, old Charlie's son, Sylvester, had little to do beyond giving his "baby" a pat on her silver snout as he checked the steam in her boilers. His "baby," an S;"2-ton A. D. Baker steam engine manufactured in 1926 and shinier now than in her working days, furnished the steam that heated the coils that rumbled the apple butter that gurgled in the copper kettles that filled the barn with fragrant old-fashioned memories ....
My first notion that the clock was turning backwards came when I saw in the Greenville Advocate one evening last week a small advertisement which said: "Yes, we're going to make apple butter again Sunday at the barn. Bring your own containers."
That's all it was. No other identification. No price. No saying who was going to make it, nor why, nor how, nor the reason for doing it on a Sunday.
I asked around. "Oh, yes, they do that maybe every fall when the apples are ripe. The barn? Oh, that big old white barn along the railroad tracks, down near Harrison and Front, along in there ... "
I knew I had to go see for myself or I'd always wonder.
In the open doorway of the barn, early Sunday morning, stood a beautiful creature with big red iron wheels, nifty as a picture in shiny red and yellow paint, flying little American flags as she trembled with the excitement of supplying steam to the bubbling kettles inside the old white country barn, no"," almost in the heart of Greenville which grew around it.
A wagonload of firewood stood nearby. Little boys stood with their mouths open, watching the little old steam engine perk as boys must have been standing and staring even before Mark Twain's day.
Sylvester Ditmer, president of the Darke County Steam Threshers association, smiled. "This is the second time this year we've made apple butter. Last year, we did it four times, with four kettles going each time. This year, only three kettles-and I guess this is the last we'll do this fall since the apple crop wasn't as big as always.
"Who makes the apple butter? Why, all us fellas in the steam threshers association. Kind of a hobby, I guess. Sell it a dollar a quart. We don't make much money on it most times. We just like the good old-fashioned apple butter taste, and the fellowship of getting together.
"Time was when our women-folk peeled and cored the apples but they're out of the notion of doing it anymore, so we get all our apples down at Charlie Warner's. He's at Vandalia ... "
Harold Ary, association treasurer, interrupted. "But he gets his mail and telephone out of TippCity ... "
"That's right," agreed Ditmer. "We get the apples all cored and peeled, and then you put the cider and the ground apples and the sugar and spices all in the copper kettles, and keep it at the boiling point about seven hours, and that makes the best apple butter you ever did put in your mouth.
"It cooks down better than half and we go by the color when it's done."
"This is our steam engine beauty shop," explained Harold Ary. "During the winter, we bring our steam engines in by appointment, and we strip 'em down and work on 'em, and get in a lot of fellowship besides. That's the main point," he said.
"We've been making apple butter every fall for about eight years now." We looked over to watch Charlie Ditmer stir with a wooden paddle. "The women will come around this afternoon to help fill the crocks and jars," he nodded toward the tableful of containers, all labeled with names of owners who-like Marj-had stopped by in the morning to leave them for the pouring-off.
The ancient wooden plank floor of the barn showed packed dirt in some places and high-heeled visitors did well to look where they stepped. The barn was really made for overalls and boots, red neckerchiefs and pipes.
"We got a baker in our steam threshers outfit and he generally brings over some fresh bread in the afternoon and we sample the apple butter when it's time," said Ary. "Although, last year, a bunch of women drove over from Springfield and they took their fingers and licked apple-butter out of the kettles when we finished, they were that anxious."
Along about , when the apple butter was ready to pour.
I went back to the old white barn. In one's and two's, the folks around Greenville were stopping by the barn to pick up their containers. If you didn't know what was going on, it looked mighty mysterious to see a couple people stand a moment outside the barn, sniff the air, smile and go inside ... and a few minutes later, cradling gallon jugs or crocks in their arms, those same people would hurry out of the barn and straight for their cars.
Those jars and jugs and crocks were still hot-and you hurried to get shut of the warmth in your arms and against your stomach as you carried your jugful of memories home.
Standing carefully over the kettles, Harold Ary used an enameled two-quart saucepan to dip the apple-butter. Somebody held a tin funnel, several somebodies kept the empty containers coming and the full ones going, somebody else checked off names in a book and money in a cigar box.
Watching the scene was Ezry, the 21/2 year old Rhode Island Red rooster who wears a harness and walks on a leash. Mrs. Ary ("The only lady who balances a steam engine on a teeter-totter," says her husband, pridefully) said her grandchildren named the rooster.
Supper Sunday night at my house consisted wholly of fresh bread and butter, spread with warm homemade old-fashioned apple butter made in copper kettles with a steam engine.
You could feast on the aroma alone.
The house is very still in the early hour before the day begins. All the modernisms geared to electricity are barely humming-as if mechanical miracles need sleep, too. The television screen is dark, the radio silent, the telephone mute. There is a breathless quiet everywhere-not a dead thing but a silence that is alive ... waiting ... waiting ...
Last night's log, still glowing in the fireplace, suddenly crumples into a rash of sparks that burn brightly for an instant then, cooling, blend into the bed of gray ash. One spark arches against the firescreen. Denied escape, it drops to darkness.
From somewhere above and outside, a solitary fruit from the flowering crab tree loosens its hold on a branch, drops to the sloping roof and slowly rolls down, down, down into a backwash of fallen leaves mounded against the house's foundation.
The gentle sound of the little red crab-apple plopping into the dry leaves-followed by small scurry sounds as if some little woodland creature had been momentarily disturbed-bring forth a kind of low-throated response from a bird somewhere nearby. It is too soon to herald the dawn. The creatures of sky and field settle back into their quietness.
It is when the quiet is the deepest, the night at its ebb that always I am suddenly wide awake. As if someone had touched my cheek and said, "A wake, thou that sleepest."
For long moments I stand looking toward the lake, without moving, without thinking, absorbing the quietness which seeps into my bones, my flesh, my soul. The fragrance of a wood fire softly fading away is a present comfort. The night sounds are companionable. And, as my eyes grow accustomed to the dark, the outlines of the little lake-sometimes silver and shining with the reflection of a morning star, sometimes dark and brooding-take form beyond the gate. A breeze seems to spring up out of nowhere, stirring a few November branches against each other. And then it is gone.
Whether it be a black March with the crackle of icebuds singing on the wire fence--or the lushness of an August dawn rising from the earth-or a November morning, it is always a time of thanksgiving when I am suddenly awakened from an untroubled sleep for reasons unknown to me at the moment.
No more do I fret and tell myself, "Go back to sleep' It's going to be a long day too soon." No more do I feel obliged to take advantage of the extra time by flitting around the house on needful chores, gaining time now for-for what, later?
Mine not to reason why. I gather my robe tightly around, curl up against the pillows on the double chaise and settle the warmth of the wool afghan around my shoulders and knees. The silence without becomes the silence within.
It is in moments like this that thanksgiving wells up and overflows.
I am grateful for things unspoken. If I weep a little, it is not so much for things as they were or as they might have been but gratitude for things as they are ....
“Date with the Dentist”
IT NEVER FAILS. Don Damuth packs three bales of cotton In my cheek, sticks a few assorted pieces of road-moving equipment in my mouth, grabs up a handful of pickaxes, starts work on my poor little tooth and then says, friendly-like, "Where did you stay in San Francisco?"
My mother taught me to answer people when they speak to me. I squirm in the dentist's chair, wrinkle my nose and try to get my tongue out from under the roadblock. A gurgle is all that strains itself through ... and I almost choke in the process.
"Why do you insist upon talking with your mouth full?" asks Damuth.
I glare at him as best I can. He is not disturbed. He keeps on with his chatty little conversation as he grinds out a three-lane highway to China. I am old and gray by the time he decides to stop drilling for oil. He busies himself looking out the window.
I thtayed ath a thlithle hothel ...
"What's wrong with you?" he says as he decides to pitch Out some of the cotton packing ...
I said I stayed at a little hotel ... "Where?"
In San Francisco!
Well, you asked me and I'm telling you ...
"Oh, that was hours ago. I thought you were being a little peevish and weren't talking this morning. I've forgotten all about it."
Well, I never in all my life heard of anything so ridic ...
"Hold your tongue still or it will get in my way," says Damuth, packing a fresh bale of cotton back in my cheek, imprisoning my tongue in the process. Then he starts whipping up a batch of ready-mix.
I decide to ignore the whole thing. I shut my eyes and wait. I can't go anyplace anyway. "Say," he says, as he starts troweling great gobs of ready-mix in that poor little old tooth, "did you ever hear the one about the little boy who took his report card home to show his father?"
I open one eye and glare.
"Oh, it's all right," says Damuth. I try to shake my head to indicate that yes I HAD heard that story when he says, "I can't do my work if you're going to wiggle around in that chair."
I shut my eyes again, as frustrated as ever a woman can get when she can't talk back and defend herself.
"Well," says Damuth as if there had been no interruption, "the report card wasn't too good so the boy waited until his father had had a good dinner and then he went past him fast and slipped the card in front of his father and went right out into the hall. Then he looked back to see how his father was taking it. His father was-hey, open your eyes!"
I open my eyes. "How can I tell a story with gestures if you aren't going to watch?" asks Damuth, indignantly. He gestures with his cement trowel. "His father was sputtering and making faces-and the little boy said, 'Dad, do you think it is environmental or hereditary?' "
I shut my eyes and groan. "Quit your complaining," says Damuth.
"You know this doesn't hurt." He shovels all the equipment and the cotton out of my mouth leaving it tasting like the bottom of a birdcage.
The filling didn't hurt but that story's awful!
"You weren't listening," says the dentist in a hurt tone. "Whenever you shut your eyes, you aren't listening," he diagnoses. "That story's pretty good there in the middle ... "
Oh, I'll bet it is ...
"And the next time you come in, I hope you're in a better mood. It's a pity to start out a week grumbling and fussing ... "
For a big man, he ducks a left hook very well. I know he's only kidding and that he teases me unmercifully to keep my mind off the drilling since he knows I have an unholy horror of dentist's drills ... but, someday ... POW!
“Autumn At Last”
THEY KEPT TELLING ME, 'You ought to write something about autumn. Here it is, the annual changing of the seasons and your typewriter is mute ... "
They kept nudging me, "When are you going to say something about the coloring of the leaves? The mornings are cooler ... "
They nagged, "Haven't you noticed the way the lake looks? Haven't you watched the flocks of birds overhead, on their way south? Hasn't the changing landscape caught your eye? Why are you silent, why do you delay? .. "
I could only shake my head.
They needled: "What's the matter? Losing your touch? .. "
I know it's autumn! I see the leaves turning brown! I hear them falling like brittle rain upon my roof! I smell fall in the air! I touch a finger to a red-haw on the branch hanging low near my back door and it comes away in my hand ...
"Then why do you write about pretzels, tongue-twisting, and meringue in the soapsuds when you should be filling your soul with autumn and your column with thoughts that sing! " ...
I told you I KNOW it's autumn, I see it, I hear it, I smell it and I touch it! It's autumn! I go along with you on that!
"Then, why ... ?"
Because I don't FEEL it yet. There are some things I have to feel deep down inside before I can put them into words, and then they write themselves. I merely listen to the refrain. So far this year, autumn
has been two-dimensional for me maybe three-dimensional ... but I haven't heard its song in my heart yet ....
That's the way things stood between Autumn and me ... until last Sunday ... and then its song began ... first, faintly, as if it were something remembered ... then a pulsing in the throat as the melody strengthened ... then a gladsome feeling that burst everywhere at once ...
When I was, at once, sad and happy, melancholy and full of joybut, mostly, contented, I knew I'd found Autumn and Autumn had found me.
I can't tell you exactly when it began ...
Perhaps it was that moment when it was too early to be morning and too late to be night-when the stars brightened now and then through the clouds and there was a touch to the air akin to a cool hand on a fevered brow.
It might have been in the late afternoon when I fled the indoor life and walked in a quiet peaceful lane far from the sounds of humans. Across the far meadow and beyond the pasture a red barn on a hill looked like a painting framed in gray clouds. Geese honked in a hidden barnyard and the sound drifted on the air currents.
Maybe it happened when I held the bright blue flower of the wild chicory in my hand ... and bit into a tiny wild cherry which was all seed beneath the skin ...
Or when I rounded a curve in the lane and came upon a small drained pond with one long-legged, long-billed gray-blue heron standing in a moist spot in the pond bottom now criss-crossed with muskrat trails ... and watched, spellbound, when it slowly rose into the air, gradually folding and drawing up its long thin legs like a jet plane pulling in its landing gear ...
Or when three tiny killdeer ran across the pockmarked bottom of the empty pond and then flew high into the trees with their shrill cries ...
Perhaps the moment of Autumn occurred when I held an acorn in the palm of my hand and saw again the tiny detailed markings of the little hat it wore ... how exquisitely and minutely scalloped without a flaw, such workmanship and skill in its design and beauty ...
But I think it really must have happened when I saw the miracle of the milk-weed pod with all the little brown seeds tucked so neatly inside, their silk parachutes folded beautifully, meticulously ... all of this accomplished without a government subsidy or a planning committee ...
Autumn had meaning for me then. Not only did I see it in the wild heron ... and hear it in the call of the geese and the killdeer ... smell it in the smoky crisp air ... touch it in the mighty oak that lay within the acorn ... but, at last, Autumn appeared in the miracle of the milkweed pod, and then I felt it in my heart ....
THEY DON'T make 'em this way very often ...
Heard about a fellow, the other day, who wanted to drill two holes in his floor so he could thread some wire through them for a do-it-yourself project in which he was involved. He couldn't find his brace and bit, and he was too tired to look for his electric drill and what with one thing and another, he just picked up his rifle and shot two holes in the floor.
They were the exact size holes he wanted, and the wire fit perfectly.
He was pleased with the quick solution to his problem.
Then he went down in his basement to complete the underside of his do-it-yourself project.
He'd done it himself, all right. Shot two holes in his furnace!
“The Bluebirds Visit Buff”
THE EVENING was young but I felt older than Methuselah ... it had been a "hard day at the office" with a multitude of details on one thing and another ... and the only possible antidote was a soothing hot shower to be followed by an interval on the couch with whatever fresh publication was in the daily mail-and it turned out to be something I especially wanted to read, the George Bernard Shaw issue of the Saturday Review. I patted a pillow into the couch, laid the SR handy and then went in to turn on the shower.
Came a series of faint little knocks at the back door. I wasn't sure at first I heard them-the woodpeckers knock the same way in the mornings ... but I threw on my old terry robe anyway and went to investigate.
Buff barked an insistent alarm as I flicked on the outside lights. There, a circle of seven little eight-year-olds, all bright-eyed and smiling, backed by three adults!
And the eighth, the littlest of them all, the mascot, was tap-tap-tapping at the door. Company! And Marj in her favorite, ragged pink robe and no lipstick! What a sight that must have been. But there was no retreat ...
I worried for naught. Through the noise of Buff's excited barking came this tiny little voice: "Is Buff at home?"
This is Buff, I said, opening the door. Out he bounded, friendly but standoffish, sniffing at bare knees, accepting little pats, still barking but more conversational than alarming. The visitors didn't look twice at Marj in her well-worn pink. They had come to see Buff and he was enjoying the attention. I dare say if he'd been offered a pencil and paper, he'd have signed autographs.
"We're the Shining Bluebirds from Laura," said a leader. "All except that one. She's too little ... she's the mascot." That One was trying to pat Buff's head and getting a flip of his wiggly tail instead as he flirted from one Bluebird to the other.
On cue, Buff hunted his ball outside and, failing to find it, dashed indoors for the ball he had parked behind a chair. He handed over the ball, watched the pitch, fielded it and returned it to home plate. He grandstanded with his favorite trick that involves dog biscuits on his outstretched paws and an unbelievable demonstration of patience. Then he walked his guests to the gate and stayed politely in the yard as they walked up the lane.
"Thank you," said the leaders. "The Shining Bluebirds have been wanting to meet Buff for a long time and this will be a high spot in their three-day outing. We'll write it up in our bulletin."
Oh, my, I sighed, looking down at the old bathrobe with the imprint of two muddy paws on one knee.
"Well, we don't write up ALL the details," laughed an understanding adult. The leaders counted heads. All present. We waved goodbye to the Shining Bluebirds trudging up the lane in the gathering dusk ... I my hand, Buff his tail. Then we turned back to our house.
Buff walked importantly alongside. He jumped up the steps and inside the house. He trotted purposefully ahead of me into the living room where he turned around, sat down abruptly, looked straight at me and gave a big, heavy sigh of satisfaction.
I wish I could read that dog's mind. From the look in his eye, he was mighty pleased with himself right then.
WHEN A "ways and means" chairman thinks up a good way to make money for her group, it deserves public notice. Kathy Suber, librarian, is ways and means chairman for Altrusa, which had its annual picnic at Clara Weisenborn's home yesterday.
Clara moved into a new home at Needmore and Chambersburg roads and she's been writing so much about it in her daily column-the gardening, the redecorating inside, the refurbishing outside-that she has her friends drooling until they can get to see the place for themselves.
Kathy Suber took advantage of this feminine curiosity. She issued building inspection permits to all Altrusans-fee, 25 cents for the club treasury. No, there were no holdouts. Nobody refused to pay. Kathy thought of that angle, too. You had to have a building inspection permit to get inside the house, including all rooms, and that included the bathroom!
“Easter Is A New Dress”
EASTER is a new dress.
How do I know? I read it on a printed page this week. "Easter is a new dress," it said, showing pictures of new dresses.
What is a new dress to a butcher? To him, Easter is a ham. Easter is also a straw basket with chocolate eggs, jellybeans and a candy rabbit. Easter is a row of broken-handled cups and jelly glasses on the kitchen sink with a different colored dye in each container ... and hen's eggs simmering to a hard-cooked stage on the stove.
Easter is eating out.
a new hat
the Risen Lord
fluffy chicks that grow into spindly chickens.
Easter is a church service at dawn with cold shivers that aren't entirely due to the damp chill.
Easter is a parade.
a beginning again.
Easter is company coming.
an egg roll with a certainty that some eggs will be forgotten, some trampled, some dropped and all committee members weary
an opened tomb
a nap while the kids take in a movie matinee. Easter is new life
patent leather shoes
just another day to work
spring Iambs and fleecy clouds and the next day an ice storm.
Easter is something special or it's the day between Saturday and Monday.
Easter is a variable date
April Fool's day, too, this year the early service or the late one. Easter is a bewildered bunny.
Easter is about anything you think it is or want it to be.
"Easter is a new dress?" Could be. And if you eat too many colored eggs and chocolate bunnies, Easter can be pepto bismal on Monday!