Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Biggest Day

DEAR GEORGE: Around noon today we watched Joe Biden take the oath of office and deliver a stirring inauguration speech. Then an hour later we drove over to the UC Med Center and got our first Moderna vaccinations. Two life-changing events in the course of an hour. I can’t remember such a time in my life. Watching the inauguration I felt my whole body suddenly relax, and I realized I’ve probably been in a constant state of muscle tension for the last four years. My main aim has been to live long enough to see the end of the Trump presidency, and I can’t express how satisfying that was (though I know that many have the exact same feeling). I realize that the damage that Trump caused will last for years and even decades, but there’s that reassuring sense that the country’s course as been righted, at least to the extent that that’s possible. I also think it’s remarkable that we got our anti-Covid vaccine on the same day as the inauguration. That’s also a great relief and a concrete sign of hope for the future. Frankly, I was amazed that it came as quickly as it did. For me it means a return to the fitness center and my aerobic exercise classes by early March and many more public events that I’ve been missing by the autumn. Like Trump, the country’s recovery from the pandemic will likely take years, but the growing availability of the vaccine is an occasion for optimism and rejoicing. I think we’ll just sit back and enjoy this happy time. LOVE, DAVE

Monday, January 18, 2021

Best Cincinnati News Stories of 2020

Dear George, Having grown up in a small town of about 10,000 (and a “metro” area of 25,000), I now live in a place where there’s about 100 times as many people and, consequently, 100 times as many amazing, weird, horrible, and heartwarming news stories. I keep track of these during the year and select the “best” (i.e.,quirkiest) at year’s end. I think, because of the pandemic and most people sheltering in place, 2020 may not have been as newsworthy as most years. At least it wasn’t in our household. However, here are some stories that should tickle one’s fancy. Love, Dave
PCH SCAM Lavernia Jilson and her mom Anna Willcox were thrilled when they got a letter from Publisher’s Clearing House saying that Anna had won $3 million. The letter explained that she would receive the $3 million in the next few weeks. Till then PCH was sending a $6,000 check to cover her insurance and attorney fees. Following instructions, Williams deposited the $6,000 check in her PNC bank account and sent $5,000 of it to the “attorneys”. Days later the bank reported that the $6,000 PCH check was no good, that Williams had overdraft fees, and that she would have to return $5,000 to them before she could access her account. Since Williams has no money, she is praying that the bank can help her with the $5,000 she sent off. (wcpo.com, 1-3-20; note: pseudonyms used throughout )
TOILET PAPER ROBOT Procter & Gamble previewed new inventions at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. The star of the show, created by the Charmin division, was a little robot called the RollBot. When you are sitting on the toilet and find yourself short of toilet paper, you can use your smartphone to activate RollBot, and he/she/it will roll in and bring you a fresh roll. (barrons.com, 1-5-20)
SEX OFFENDER BROUHAHA AT THE UNIVERSITY Former Title IX coordinator Andie Golderg has brought a sex discrimination suit against the university after she publicly addressed the university’s honoring a sex offender graduate with a “triumph cord” for overcoming adversity. According to Goldberg, her investigation “threatened to cause significant embarrassment” to the university and its upper level administrators. The student in question was convicted as a sex offender at a prior school and reportedly was accused by 11 victims. Students at the university wrote, “let’s not support rapists in 2019.” Goldblum’s supervisor said that she was asked to resign because of insubordination. (cincinnati.com, 1-8-20)
SILENT BOOK CLUB Cincinnati’s first silent book club, likely to appeal to introverts, has begun meeting at the Taste of Belgium in Over-the-Rhine. The idea was started by two friends in 2012 who didn’t like traditional book clubs and who met to read in companionable silence at a neighborhood bar. Book lovers are invited to the Cincinnati chapter to bring their own book and read in silence. Everyone is welcome. (wlwt.com, 1-11-20)
RUNNING MUSIC FESTIVAL The nation’s first running music festival will be held at Cincinnati’s Coney Island Amusement Park. The fun run includes a music-filled course with live DJs, light shows, bubble zones, and neon and black lights. It’s not a timed race, and participants can decide to run, walk, skip, or dance. Once they cross the finish line, there will be a party at the main stages which will include lights, fog, confetti, and giveaways. (wlwt.com, 1-22-20)
FIONA’S SUPER BOWL PREDICTION Our zoo arranged for its famous young hippo, three-year-old Fiona, to make a prediction for the Super Bowl. Presented with two enrichment items, one with a Kansas City Chiefs logo and one with a San Francisco Forty-Niners log, Fiona nuzzled the Chiefs item but then promptly vomited on it. The zoo concluded that her prediction is clear: Team San Francisco. (cincinnati.com, 1-31-20)
LOST HOODIE When Harvel Girdner, age 32 of Northside, lost his hoodie, he called police 25 times to get their help in finding it, using different locations for police to respond to. When the police arrived each time, Girdner asked them for a ride around town to try to locate his hoodie. Determining that he was intoxicated, police suggested that he go to bed, but he was arrested after the 25th call. (cincinnati.com, 2-3-20)
GOOD SEX Cincinnati ranked number four in the nation in Men’s Health Magazine’s list of most sexually satisfied cities, just behind neighboring Indianapolis. Columbus, and Fort Wayne. The rankings are based on birth rates, condom and sex toy sales, and STD rates. The news report doesn’t clarify whether high or low STD rates are counted toward sexual satisfaction. (local12.com, 2-15-20)
DRUNK WITH GUNS Greater Cincinnati resident, Furdie Webber, 50, of Clermont County brought a case to the Ohio Supreme Court to carry and shoot firearms when drunk. Weber’s wife called 911 when he was drunk with a shotgun, and police came and confiscated it. Weber said that is a violation of his 2nd amendment rights. His lawyer posted on Facebook that the Colonists were probably drunk when they faced the British in battle. (cincinnati.com, 2-20-20)
GUNSHOTS IN BETHEL The police in Bethel, a small village in nearby Clermont County, received two reports of gunshots in Bethel. At 4:30 on Tuesday a man called from Skyline Chili, stating that four people in a white sedan had shot him. Police determined that he was “suffering some type of psychotic episode.” Six hours later a woman told dispatchers she had been shot in the shoulder. When police arrived they determined that she had been bitten by some type of insect. She was treated and released. (cincinnati.com, 2-20-20)
KILLED THE GOAT TOO Russell Hendly III, 49, of nearby Carlisle is accused of trespassing into his next door neighbor’s garage, stealing their truck, doing donuts on their front lawn, and strangling the family’s pet goat to death. When deputies found Henderson naked in the truck with the radio playing at full volume, he explained that he did it because God instructed him to do so. (wsmemory.com, 3-12-20)
SEX TOY BOOM With multiple states announcing stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus, Cincinnati-based Pure Romance reports that its sex toy sales are up 88 percent this week compared to a year ago. What else are people to do when they’re stuck at home. Maybe we’ll see the baby boom that health officials have been talking about. (cincinnati.com, 3-27-20)
SORE LOSER After an undisclosed number of drinks, Carter Zimmerly, 55, of Florence, KY, challenged his juvenile son to an arm-wrestling contest. After multiple arm-wrestling losses, Zimmerly became agitated, got his gun, and fired two shots into the ceiling. The house was surrounded by several SWAT teams, but Zimmerly refused for eight hours to surrender. Finally he was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. (cincinnati.com, 7-6-20)
BAD STYLING JOB Alysia Jeckson, 20, of Winton Hills came to North College Hill to have her hair done by Danica Thomas, 20. Jackson became “extremely upset with how her hair had been styled,” left the house, got into her car, and drove into the yard, striking Thomas who “flew backwards into the air” and hit the ground, causing injuries to her back and legs. Jeckson fled the scene and was arrested two days later. Thomas has been released from the hospital, but she has trouble walking and will need physical therapy. (cincinnati.com, 9-1-20)
COWS ON THE LOOSE Three cows got loose from a farm in the area and wandered onto the highway, closing westbound Interstate 74 to northbound I-275. Area police spent a couple of hours trying to corral the cows who were eating on the highway median. A police officer commented, “Honestly, they probably would have been fine if we had kept going, but the last thing we want is someone to hit a cow.” (cincinnati.com, 12-2-20)
MONKEY SLAVE LABOR PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) dumped a truckload of cocoanuts at Kroger headquarters in downtown Cincinnati. They are asking Kroger to stop doing business with a Thai brand that uses chained monkey slave labor to pick coconuts used in its coconut milk products. A spokesperson said, “These monkeys are denied everything that makes their lives worth living.” (citybeat.com, 12-3-20)
WORLD’S WORST SITTER The FBI arrested 29-year-old Ryan McDonald for possessing and transporting child pornography. The FBI discovered McDonald through a messenger group called “Toddlers”, members of which exchanged hundreds of videos and images of child rape. McDonald has actively sought work as a babysitter over the last decade, posting ads n SitterCity.com, care.com, and craigslist.org. Currently he was communicating with a Louisville family to provide childcare. (cincinnati.com, 12-8-20)
TOGETHERNESS FOREVER Police arrested husband and wife Robert Rickson, 35, and Kanya Stalworthy, 39, on charges of abusing a corpse. Police found the corpse of a man in their apartment who had died about 10 weeks ago. The couple placed clothing over the body, sealed the room he was in, and used a spray to try to cover up the smells. Thus far the police have not identified who the man is, although Stalworthy’s son, Dominic, 19, has not been seen since the date of the death. (cincinnati.com, 12-8-20)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve

Dear George,
It’s probably been 30 years since we’ve gone to a New Years Eve Party. Maybe 40. This might mean (a) we need more friends, (b) our friends aren’t the sort celebrate the new year with a party, or (c) both of these. In any case, I’m happy to not be going to a New Year’s party. There’s too much emphasis on doing crazy things and having an unattainably good time. I suggested to Katja that we celebrate with Ryan Seacrest, even though he’s my least favorite celebrity. It looks like we will join Ryan.
New Year’s resolutions are a lot easier this year since we’ve been deprived of so many things in the past nine months. First of all, I plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Then I will start going back to the gym and doing line dancing and zumba. I’ll re-enroll in OLLI courses at the university, and I’ll rejoin my “Underground Writers” group. And I can’t wait to travel to visit family members. Unlike most New Years resolutions, these are very pleasant and will be easy to follow.
We are thrilled that the inauguration will be held in less than three weeks. In some ways, the Trump era has been the most disturbing and depressing period in our lives. There’s not going to be a magical transformation however. Trump’s not going to disappear, the country remains deeply polarized, and Washington is likely to remain dysfunctional. However, anything will be better.
Most commentators suggest that 2020 was the worst year in memory, and I won’t disagree. However, there are always good things. One consequence of the pandemic is that Katja and I spent more time at home together, and that was enjoyable — a reminder of why we got married in the first place. Because of Covid, we had the longest Cincinnati visit of all times with J and our grandkids, and that was a treat. As they departed for New Orleans, they left their miniature schnauzer, Iko, in our care, and Iko has become my close friend, making sheltering in place much more tolerable. Although my poetry classes at OLLI were cancelled in March, I’ve spent more time at home trying to hone my poetic skills. Though I haven’t made any visible progress, I remain hopeful.
So that’s it for 2020. When you’re our age, every year is a blessing, and it doesn’t matter if one feels bored or short-changed. 2020 was catastrophic for many millions of families, and Katja and I are appreciative of our relative good fortune. Happy New Year to all!
Love, Dave

Friday, December 25, 2020

Warm Fuzzy Christmas Feelings

Steve and Dave, Christmas 1943
Dear George,
Happy Christmas greetings to all of our loved ones. The pandemic puts a bit of a crimp on the occasion since there are fewer get-togethers than normal, but we still find ourselves in a festive frame of mind. I started making a list of Christmas memories. Here are some of the things that came back to me.
In my childhood we had an extended family gathering each Christmas: my grandfather V.A. Sr.; uncle Ralph and aunt Martha with their kids Ann and John; uncle Kent and aunt Millie with Thor, Stewart, and Kurt; and my bachelor uncle Karl (Kent’s twin) who drove up from Neenah-Menasha. With no spouse or kids of his own, Karl always brought extravagant gifts, e.g., fur stoles or jewelry for for sister-in-laws, a nuclear chemistry set for me one year. Between family gifts and Santa, we kids were all running over with excitement. In the upper photo I’m Santa along with my cousins and siblings: (from the left) Thor, Johnny, Peter, Ann (in my lap), Steve, Vicki, and one of our Irish setters. The middle photo pictures Karl, Millie, Thor, and Kent. The bottom photo is my grandpa V.A. and myself.
We must have been pretty good children since Santa always brought plenty of treasures. We liked games the best since we could play them together. The carom board was one of our favorites, although it ended in disaster when Steven made a particularly boisterous shot, and his cue struck my sister Vicki’s front tooth, knocking it out. We admired the gold tooth she acquired as a consequence, but as a self-conscious pre-teen, Vicki was mortified.
Skipping ahead about twenty years, Christmas was always an exciting time in our Cincinnati home, though less gala an event than my own childhood. After he turned 4, we took our son J to Johnny’s Toy Store the week before Christmas each year to try to determine what toys he was attracted to. It always started out exciting but then proved too overwhelming — after half an hour J would break down in uncontrolled tears. However, J was in a calmer and more upbeat mood when Santa came to visit at his friend Jessica’s house.
We got a tree each year, and I usually decorated it with cookie dough faces painted with acrylics. One year I brought home a bare-branched sumac tree and decorated it with paper-mache heads molded over balloons. It was such a success that we left it up in our dining room for two or three years.
Whenever we had a white Christmas, J and I went outside a made a snowman in the side yard. As he grew bigger, we started making snow rabbits, and eventually they were taller than both of us. One year we were saddened when neighbors started putting their Christmas trees out at the curbside after the holiday, and we started dragging them back to our house. Soon we had seventeen trees on our back patio — a small forest which we kept there until Valentine’s Day.
When J was just a little kid we started going to Katja’s sister Ami’s and brother-in-law Bruce’s Upper West Side condo for the holidays. Manhattan at Christmas time was a winter paradise. J and I hopped on the subway shortly after we’d arrive and headed down to Times Square, joining the holiday crowds. Ami always made a delicious Christmas meal, joined by Bruce’s mom Vera, sister Sandra, and brother-in-law Clarence. Then Ami and Bruce treated us to dinner out at an elegant Manhattan restaurant. Katja and Ami would always have a lunch date at the Grand Central Oyster Bar, followed by shopping at Bloomingdale’s. The Met, MOMA, Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s, so many holiday treats. J became enthralled with New York, eventually deciding that that was the only place he wanted to go to college, a decision that helped shape his life course.
We stopped doing Christmas trees after J grew up and left home, but about a decade ago Katja bought a potted evergreen to celebrate the holiday. Come spring she planted it in our side yard, and now it’s some twenty feet high, a year-round reminder of Christmas at our house.
Christmas is a bundle of good feelings. There’s Santa, presents, and holiday meals, but the essence of it is family togetherness. The pandemic, of course, has complicated that, but we just finished a FaceTime visit with J, K, and our grandkids in New Orleans — a cheery and fun get-together. Next year we hope we’ll do it in person.
Love, Dave

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Everyday Foibles: Creeping Dementia

Dear George, I keep a file on my computer called “Everyday Foibles”, and I try to add at least one item a week that describes some funny or quirky happening I’ve experienced. My most frequent categories seem to be: medical, marriage, technology confusion, hearing problems, being cheap, and senior moments. Here are a few of the latter. I used to worry about losing my mind, but then it dawned on me that I’ve had a tenuous connection to reality most of my life. Love, Dave FADING MEMORIES I went out to lunch at the burger joint the other day with my retired colleagues, Bill and Norris. Norris said we were like the ROMEO’s, and he recounted being out with a group of retirees when a woman came up and gave them that name: “Retired Old Men Eating Out.” We all chuckled. Then Norris went to the men’s room, and Bill and I started talking about working out. Bill said that every night he does exercises with 3-lb. weights while watching Vanna White on TV. Both of us got stuck trying to remember the name of the show. “It’s not Jeopardy…It’s…It’s…It’s…” But we couldn’t get it. Norris came back, and we told him we couldn’t remember the name of Vanna’s and Pat Sajack’s show. Norris scoffed and shook his head as if we’d totally lost it. “It’s The Price is Right,” he blurted out. The moment he said it, he knew he was wrong. Norris corrected himself – “The Wheel ofFortune” – but he was too late to redeem himself. Everybody laughed some more. TYLENOL MEMORY TEST Katja asked me to pick up some Tylenol at CVS, and, as I scanned the various options at the store, it occurred to me that it wasn’t that long since Tylenol had been completely banned from the market. I could still visualize the empty shelf space. Now, it finally seems, they’ve finally come back full force. Back home I told Katja that they now have a full stock of Tylenol, though it’s probably taken 5 or 6 years to recover. Katja scoffed and said they banned Tylenol back in the 1980’s and it’s been available for many years. Finding that ridiculous, I googled “Tylenol history”. It turns out that the product had been pulled from the shelves in 1982, nearly 40 years ago. I can still see the empty shelf space as if it were yesterday. I wonder if my entire memory is in a state of collapse. MY VALUABLES When I came into the bedroom Katja was frantic. Drawers opened, boxes all over the floor. She explained that some of her jewelry wasmissing. I pointed out that our cleaning lady crew has had had several different helpers recently, but Katja didn’t think that was the problem. Then I suggested that she might get a lock box and keep her valuable jewelry in it. Again, she was unimpressed. “I keep could my valuables locked up too,” I added. Katja said I don’t have any valuables. “Yes I do,” I countered. In my mind, I started thinking about my valuables. Maybe my cuff links. My big toe nail clipper. Then it came to me, and I blurted it out: “My Swiss Army Knife!” END-STAGE DIZZINESS For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling dizzy every now and then. A friend asked if my blood pressure was low, so I’ve been keeping aneye on it. The doctor had increased my BP medication a while back,and lately it’s lower than it’s ever been. So maybe the medicationwas taking hold (too well). I looked it up on the Internet and sideeffects of BP medication was a plausible explanation for dizziness. The other ones that caught my eye much more, though, were (1) brain tumors and (2) bleeding inside the brain. Those causes seemed more likely. When I brush my teeth these days, I watch in the mirror for blood to come out of my ears. If no blood comes out by tomorrow, then I’ve probably got a brain tumor. These are just the horrible facts of life, and I’m trying to accept my terminal fate gracefully. I’M NOT LOSING MY MIND (DO YOU THINK?) The other day on my way to the fitness center I stopped at the Family Dollar store to buy some pooper-scooper bags. On my way home I realized I didn’t have my sunglasses. I stopped back at the Family Dollar store, but they didn’t have them. The next day I checked at the reception desk at the fitness center, and, happily, my glasses were sitting there waiting for me. Then today I left the fitness center, but, when I got in my car, I realized that I was missing my sunglasses again. I went back to the desk, but the woman working there hadn’t seen them. Then she looked at me again and pointed at my baseball cap on my head. I reached up, and there were my sunglasses where I’d stuck them for safekeeping. I blushed deeply and said, “Oh please don’t tell anybody,” and the woman smiled and promised she wouldn’t. TOO MUCH SMILING (OR MAYBE TOO LITTLE) The other day I woke up with some facial pain on both my right and left cheekbones. I didn’t remember ever experiencing that before, and it was puzzling. Each time I smiled, I could feel the muscles moving in the very spots that were irritated. I decided my symptoms must be a result of smiling too much. Later that day I told a friend about my symptoms, and she said that it was probably due to not enough smiling. That was an interesting alternative. I liked my interpretation better, though I couldn’t recall smiling enough to injure myself. The next day the pain had moved up to my forehead. I told Katja about it, and she said it was probably sinuses. I said I didn’t have any sinuses in my forehead, but she said I did. But today the pain has gone away, so it doesn’t matter any more. However, I plan to not smile for two or three weeks to avoid a recurrence.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Vic's Hometown Photos



Dear George, 

My dad, Vic L., was an excellent amateur photographer.  Thanks to my brother Peter, who restored many of Vic’s photographs from the late 1930’s through the early 1950’s and beyond in the form of postcards, we’ve enjoyed a treasure trove of images from our childhood family history.  The majority are of family members, friends, and our home on the river, but a number are also of various sights in our home town of Menominee, Michigan, and her sister city, Marinette, Wisconsin.  Here are some of my favorites.

Happy Thanksgiving to All,

Dave 






Interstate bridge connecting Marinette and Menominee




The Interstate Bridge at night from Riverside Avenue (Marinette) 




Lauerman's Department Store, Dunlap Square, Marinette




Bay Scenc




Sailboats on Green Bay 




The Ann Arbor Car Ferry (Frankfort, Manitowoc, Menominee)




The Menominee Marina 




My Grandfather's Menominee Rexall Drug Store  




Interior, soda fountain, Menominee Rexall drugstore 




Businesses on Sheridan Road at Ogden Avenue (Vic's law office was above the M&M Light & Traction Co.)




Washington Grade School (attended by my siblings, Steve, Peter, and Vicki and myself) 




The Ogden Club 




The Menominee River 




Dam on the Menominee River 




The Ideal Dairy (2 dips for a nickel) 




Local Industry 




Local Industry 





Company houses 




Local Industry 




Dunlap Square at Christmas time, Marinette 




Marinette railroad depot 




Nighttime Main Street scene, Marinette 



Seagulls and Menominee River at Menekaunee (Marinette)



Fisherman at work in Menekanuee (Marinette)

 


The Parker-Watts Circus



Circus Parade on Sheridan Road