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Across The Lake

It's a lot harder to start a sentence than it is to finish it. That observation from another writer came to mind as I sat looking at a blank screen -- the same as used to happen when looking at a blank sheet of paper in the typewriter. A sentence, though, is not that much different from a column. It's usually harder to start, but that doesn't always make it easy to finish, either.

The lady's husband couldn't remember so he called his wife's friend. "When we used to go camping at Cherry Lake," he asked, "remember how we'd eat that can of shoestring potatoes and then we'd use the empty can as a cocktail shaker and when the drinks were mixed" he went on, "We'd sip our martinis. Did we use paper cups or was it styrofoam?" There wasn't even a pause. "Yes," he was told. "Paper cups. Do you remember how long it's been? Did they even have styrofoam then?" I understand they're thinking of trying it again if they can find a can of shoestrings.

When a business owner appreciates his customers, he often will show that appreciation by having an open house, a special sale or an anniversary celebration. The thanks can be extended in many ways, and often, even after years of retirement. That's the case with a Kelliher man who retired 20 years ago and thinks it might be nice to show his good nature with a customer appreciation event.

Dick Florhaug tells us Trails End in Blackduck seems like a good place to get together with those he's met during his working years, traveling the highways and byways where he often stopped to visit with men and women of all ages, all walks of life. Not many of them were walking at the time Dick met them, they were driving and most of the time they met because of where they were going and how much of a hurry they were in to get there.

Dick, as many of his friends know, was a state highway patrolman, working the area including where he now lives. The idea of a "customer appreciation day" struck him as a sort of fun idea but when he wondered aloud if any of those people who'd gotten tickets from him would show up, he was quickly asked, "I just got a warning -- would that mean I could still come?" We're mentioning this for a reason -- he said he thought it would be fun and this is a sort of challenge for him to go ahead and do it.

No ticket, traffic or otherwise, was needed for the Hardware Hank event here last weekend but the lady shopping for a new thermometer knew the value of recognized brand names. "I'll take one of those made by Farenheit," she insisted.

How's this for a neat idea. A newspaper in Illinois issued a challenge to readers to hang on to their daylight savings time -- don't waste it. Just put it in any convenient jar or bag and when fall comes, see how much daylight time you've saved. I'd probably put a little more credence into the idea if it wasn't that they put the story out on April Fool's Day.

Quick note of apology to readers whose copy of last week's American was one of those with ink smears obliterating the copy. A couple of you said they got copies so messed up they couldn't understand what I'd written. Hate to say it, but some of you say you have that trouble most of the time.

This next came from a friend in Hill City, a South Dakota town not far from where we lived for several years. The mother of a fifth grader on the basketball team said he would get the ball, work it in under the basket but then pass it off to someone else to shoot. The mother told the neighbor sitting next to her she kept telling her son to "shoot, shoot, shoot." The man didn't say anything until there was a break in the game. He called the youngster over and asked, "You know the important thing about basketball?" When the boy said "What?" The man said, "Chicks go for the guy who scores." That fifth grader wound up shooting more than just about anyone else on the team.

A few years ago someone tallied up the figure and found federal, state and local welfare assistance to a family of four at the time was about $36,000. It would be a lot more now in all probability but I'll bet one thing hasn't changed. Of all the money allotted to that family, 70 percent was gobbled up in the bureaucracy and never reached the people who needed help. Too much of that social welfare work seems designed for the welfare of the social worker.

Once again, and I didn't count them, but at a garage sale it seemed the number of cookbooks was, well, surprising. And they all look like they'd been used, a lot of the recipes had been marked or had notes marking the pages. Reminded me of Karen Brown, a woman we knew, who had shelves of cookbooks in her kitchen. Her husband, Jim, raised horseradish and My Favorite Reader loves the stuff, so we were invited over to help cut it up and grind it in an old washing machine he'd worked over to do the hard work. It may have been Karen who said if you went through all the recipes in all her cook books, you'd probably find 947 ways to do something with left-over turkey at Thanksgiving. And I think it may have been Jim who said probably six were edible.

As you celebrated the fourth, did you remember things like the last -- or even the first -- verse of America? The TV series in which Martin Sheen portrayed the president? That it was George C. Scott portraying General George Patton who repeated "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans." And the line, "O thus be it ever when free man shall stand." Nice things to remember and I trust you also had them in mind this Independence Day.

Thoughts while drying the dishes...7 Lest we forget, there are a lot of important people in the world but the ones you really want to be nice to are receptionists and the UPS man.