Dern ye, ya shoulda taken d’pie

When I was fifteen, I worked as a cook for The Viking Village Smorgasbord on Snelling Ave in St. Paul, MN. It’s not there anymore and someone long ago turned the building into a furniture store. A few decades have passed since I last clocked in, but a few stories stick vividly in my brain as if they happened only yesterday.

In “The Cities,” as we were wont to say, we prided ourselves on being urbane, but we were surrounded by the State of Minnesota that had its share of dirt farmers. On this particular weeknight, a farm couple wandered in for dinner. He was wearing his best overalls and she, her best go-to-church Sunday dress. Neither had very many teeth, their faces were ruddy with sun and wind and their hands gnarled from years of manual farm work. They held all the cash they were going to spend in The Cities in their hands. Maybe it was all they had left, maybe all they started out with or everything they planned on spending but you could tell it wasn’t much.

….

Fannie and her big blue car

Windmill Cookie

Windmill Cookie

We had just moved into the big house on Van Buren Ave. in St. Paul in 1968. There were only four of us kids then, my two younger sisters were still babies. My mom didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood except Fannie, a rather plump, proper lady who lived straight across the alley from us facing Blair Ave. I’m not quite sure how they met, but I think it was at the laundromat that used to be on the corner of Blair and Dale, the one with the 5¢ Coke machine that dispensed glass bottles.

When Fannie walked, her girdle and underthings swished beneath her dress. She always wore a pastel-colored dress, even in the winter. She had white hair that was cut short and gold-framed glasses. I don’t remember her ever smiling, but her face was friendly and pleasant to look at. It was the face of a calming, comfortable grandma.

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Living in the land of plenty

Donut - Land of Plenty

I remember growing up in St. Paul, there was a donut shop on University and Dale that made the best raised donuts in the world. They were big and my favorite was a chocolate with crushed peanuts on top. We would take a special trip there every few months and only get one donut for each of us. The donut would take forever to eat.

We had the same relationship with the Dairy Queen on Rice St. We would visit the DQ on the Sundays our family drove down by the Mississippi to watch the barge traffic. We didn’t go for those drives often and we would always only get a small cone per kid. No matter how hot it was, that ice cream would last for a long time.

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It will soon be September

September Leaf

It is mid August and it will soon be September.

I always get a bit nostalgic when September rolls around. It marks the end of summer but it also makes that calendar crease when the new year we were just celebrating tips into the bucket of another year gone by.

I get a bit lonely, but cheer up thinking about the smell of fall, the crackle of leaves, the feel of crisp morning air drawing inside my nostrils, the smell and feel of my favorite leather jacket that is about twenty years old and the holidays which are now right around the corner.

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Baying at the moon

Photo of the moon

I grew up in that period of awesome where kids thought walking on the moon was the best things anyone could ever hope to achieve. I was probably not ever going to get to the moon, but I wanted to see it.

I wanted a telescope. I wanted a telescope with enough power to see the flag Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted on the surface.

That didn’t happen and hasn’t yet. Maybe someday.

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How I accidentally learned German and the real meaning of cheating

I was going through an old high school yearbook and came upon this photo above. It reminded me of my typing class a very long time ago.

My dad worked at a heavy equipment dealer that sold bulldozers, backhoes and road-laying equipment. He used to bring home tons of stuff that the company would just throw out anyway (at least that what he said.) Among our valued possessions as kids were typing stands, huge nuts and bolts, big boxes of railroad marking chalk, a large slate chalkboard and lots of manual typewriters the company was getting rid of when electric ones came out.

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Cool your jets – a #letsblogoff post

When I was offered a job with Huffy that moved me from Minneapolis to Dayton, I was a young, ambitious, go-getter. Go, go, go. I supposed that is why they wanted me; lots of energy, lots of ideas, gonna change the world.

There was the courtship, the salary dance, the relocation package, the offer letter and then that period of silence. I was eager to get things decided, locked down, set on a to do list, go, go, go and these people were not returning my calls. What the hell was going on? I needed to know!

And then I get a call from Sandy, an older woman in the Human Resources department whom I knew only vaguely. She would later turn out to be a very good friend.

“Cool your jets,” she said.

I learned all I needed to know about salesmanship from those three little words, only I didn’t know it at the time. I learned that there was a natural ebb and flow to persuasion, that people needed time to process and that the timing and candace of information delivery was just as important as what you told them.

I learned how to be patiently calm in the eye of a storm.

I’m using this technique now with you in this blog post. Did you notice?

Does it affect how you feel about me that I told you?

This blog post is part of a blog-off series with a group of bloggers from different professions and world views, each exploring a theme from his/her world view. This was about answering the question, What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? To explore how others handled the theme, check them out below. I will add links as they publish.