Al Batt: You don’t have to sit on the cactus of life

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Back home, I was well thought of.

No kidding?

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Everyone said I had brains in Wisconsin.

Why did you leave them there?
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: There are always exceptions to every exception. Don’t let a bad day make you feel as if you have a bad life. Sales are to shoppers what decoys are to ducks.
The cafe chronicles

His mug read, “This is your brain on coffee.”

He didn’t like bacon. He liked his meat to be in geometric shapes.

He sat at the Table of Infinite Knowledge with other men who rotate their socks to save on the heels. Most of them wore Members Only jackets until the other members complained. Breakfast came. We traded packets of jelly.
Old Man McGinty

Old Man McGinty, the youngest Old Man McGinty ever, greeted me, “Good morning.”

Then he spent 10 minutes telling me why it wasn’t that good.
The jack shaft

I visited with friends about many things. We talked of Carl Swanson who ran a machine shop in New Richland when we were boys. Carl could make parts for most equipment, if you gave him a couple of days. His eyeglasses were heavily pitted from welding and grinding. Carl powered his shop with a belt attached to the power takeoff pulley of a single engine. This belt could be moved to other pulleys that ran different machines in his shop. It appeared to be held together by bubble gum and baling wire, but it worked. It was a contraption that Rube Goldberg might have drawn. Goldberg’s cartoons depicted complicated devices that performed simple tasks in convoluted ways. Carl’s was noisy and amazing.
Those thrilling days of yesteryear

I found the perfect branch on the perfect tree. It was a tall tree and the branch was high. I was a kid who found little room for worry about the danger of most things. I scrambled up the tree, dragging a rope along with me, and tied the rope securely to the limb and dropped the other end to the ground. Back on terra firma, I tied a well-used car tire to the other end. It was a retread. I paused to see what I’d created. There it was. A tire swing. Bob Vila never built anything so beautiful on his TV show. A neighbor boy dropped by. He was hard to impress. I showed him my tire swing. He thought it was nifty. He climbed aboard the tire and I gave him a push with a grunt. He was much heavier than I was. It might have taken two grunts to get him moving, but when he did, he cut through the air with the greatest of ease. He was pleased. Then things went sour. If Bob Vila ever builds a tire swing, I hope he doesn’t hang it from a dead branch.
I was wiggling

I went to the grocery store. I filled my shopping basket quickly and after a few electronic exercises, I walked to my car with a bag of groceries. I should thank Piggly Wiggly. I hadn’t shopped there, but Piggly Wiggly changed my life. In 1916, a new grocery store opened in Memphis. A festive atmosphere greeted the curious shoppers. There was a beauty contest and a brass band. Ladies were given flowers and children received balloons. Billboards and newspaper ads about Piggly Wiggly had promised a new shopping experience—one that would forever change the retail grocery business. In those days, retail stores operated this way. Customers placed their order with a clerk, who gathered and bagged the items and totaled up the cost. Piggly Wiggly let customers select the products themselves.

Clarence Saunders founded Piggly Wiggly. It’s a mystery as to how he decided upon the name. One story said that he’d looked out a train window and saw pigs struggling to get under a fence. When asked why he’d chosen such an unusual name for his organization, he replied, “So people will ask that very question.”
Nature notes

“How big are turkey vultures?” They weigh around 4 pounds and have a wingspan that averages nearly 6 feet. They have an ability to eat dead things. Anthrax and rabies, no problem. They have acidic gastric juices, gut bacteria that act as a defense and a strong immune system that makes them resistant to botulism.
Meeting adjourned

Life may have given you a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it. Be kind.