Al Batt: Be kind and you’ll think better of yourself

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Echoes from the Loafers Club Meeting

My 89-year-old uncle had to get married.

He had to?

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Yeah, he couldn’t lift those big hay bales all by himself anymore.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: One apology saves many. When the chips are down, buy them. The price is bound to go back up. A woman asked me why men have ears. I replied in the way that men in my family have responded to that question for generations. I said, “What?”

Old Man McGinty

Old Man McGinty, the youngest Old Man McGinty ever, is retired. He told me that he gets up in the morning with nothing to do and goes to bed at night with it half-done. Old Man McGinty thinks he saw a cougar. He says he hasn’t spotted a mouse in his house since he saw the cat. He figures that a mountain lion is a good mouser.

On the road in Iowa

I stopped in Story City, Iowa. There are at least 3,434 stories there. I went to the Story City Carousel, an authentic 1913 Herscell-Spillman portable merry-go-round. It’s one of fewer than 200 existing hand-carved wooden carousels in this country.

I’d visited the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, Iowa, a couple of times since it opened in 1995 to honor (I’ll bet you’ve guessed who) Bob Feller. Feller was a Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and a native of Van Meter. In July of 1936, at age 17, Feller made his debut with the Cleveland Indians while still enrolled at Van Meter High School. He struck out 15 in his first start and 17 three weeks later. Feller graduated from Van Meter High School the next May. Rapid Robert had a sizzling fastball, won 266 games, pitched three no-hitters, struck out 348 in a single season (1946) and set a record in 1938 for strikeouts in a single game (18), which stood until 1969. The museum closed and became Van Meter’s City Hall. On my trips to Van Meter, I kept an eye out for The Van Meter Visitor, a bizarre legend and unsolved mystery, which terrorized Van Meter for several nights in 1903. It emerged from an abandoned mine, was said to be half human, flew incredibly fast on bat wings, produced a powerful stench and shot a blinding light from its horned head. Today, it would be identified as a Green Bay Packer fan. Guns seemed to have no impact on the creature. A cashier at the bank took a plaster cast of its “great three-toed tracks.” Reports had it perched atop a telephone pole and hopping like a kangaroo. A teacher likened it to a devil. It disappeared and hasn’t been seen since. I’ll keep looking. I have to, because whenever I visit Van Meter, I am The Van Meter Visitor.

Ask Al

“What about you would surprise a former teacher?” My woodworking teacher, Mr. Lillesve, would be surprised to learn that I still have all of my fingers.

“What is the best way to serve lutefisk?” To someone else.

“Who put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp bah bomp? Who put the ram in the rama lama ding dong? Who put the bop in the bop shoo bop shoo bop?” It wasn’t me. I put the dip in the dip da dip da dip.

“Do spider webs smell like spider butts?” They don’t smell like noses.

Nature notes

“Is it true that high muskrat mounds forecast deep snow?” My father claimed that was a predictor of winter’s severity. There may be something in most old sayings, but in general, such conditions have natural causes and don’t indicate what the weather will be. 

“Can an owl turn its head all the way around?” An owl’s eyes are fixed in its sockets, so it must rotate its neck to look around. An owl’s head rotation is part illusion and part structure. The actual rotation is about 270 degrees. 

A reader from St. Peter wrote, wondering why the unincorporated town of Burr, Minnesota, located near the South Dakota border, isn’t included in the weather reports of winter temperatures in Minnesota. I don’t know. The name is a natural for an account of a frigid day. 

Meeting adjourned

It’s more important what you think of yourself than what others think of you. Be kind and you’ll think better of yourself.