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Across The Lake

"There should be a lot of mail this morning," said My Favorite Reader over the last cup of the early pot of coffee. Any time it's a long weekend thanks to a Monday holiday, one of us makes this somewhat obvious observance to the other and this seemed to be her turn. Playing my part, I wondered if there'd be a letter from someone and then wondered who and then was asked if I'd checked the e-mail yet.

An e-mail message never seems to have the quality of a letter that arrives on paper, with at least a written signature and in the best case, a message written by hand, in ink and with perhaps even a word or two scratched out as the writer chose a better word, or corrected a misspelling. I believe it was the Eaton Paper Company that started the phrase, to get a letter, write a letter.

The morning trek to the mailbox was a highlight of the day at one time and we all knew about when the mail carrier would arrive (we still know it will be 10 a.m. for Tracey) and off would go the kids to see what was in the box. That's all changed now and maybe for the better, though pecking away at the computer keys doesn't seem to have the personal touch you'd like to put in a message to a friend.

It would be nice to make corrections without relying on spell-check or whatever program is built in to your computer's software program. Reminds me of what Clarence Prowell wrote after a visit to Office Max or a place like that where a computer technician had written PICNIC several times in the service call listings. He explained that it meant Problem In Chair Not In Computer.

Years back, our parents and often their parents left this area for a few weeks to go west to the grain fields of North Dakota. There was work there that meant real wages -- real in the sense that even at whatever the going rate was back then, it was paid in cash. Eventually, bigger farm equipment displaced the manual labor involved in shocking or hauling and feeding bundles in to threshing machines. The combine alone did away with a lot of jobs.

After the passage of many years, North Dakota again seems to be drawing workers from this area -- pipeline welders, "cat" skinners, roughnecks. The attraction is the continued oil field development there, with 1,000 wells due to be drilled by year's end. Already the number of people working there is nearing 13,000.

Not being a golfer, I don't know about this, but I do know the game of golf is said to have started in Scotland and I do know that there is a lot of lore about how the game came to be and it may or may not be, but the name of the game is said by some to come from Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden -- GOLF.

That bit of trivia has to be followed by another from our dentist friend in Redding, CA. Dr. 'Screamdrill' as he's known to friends, asks if we know what couple were the first ever shown together in bed on prime time TV. He supplies the answer. They were a Mr. and Mrs. but you probably knew them better as Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

Still on trivial things, what do these things all have in common? The fire escape, bulletproof vests and windshield wipers. All were invented by women.

If you have friends like ours, you've probably seen this, but if not, it's tied to all the talk in Congress about another stimulus package, one involving direct payments to taxpayers. (And yes, I know, if they give something to us, first they have to take something from us.) But if you did get a stimulus check, here's some advice on spending that surplus money wisely:

If you spend the money at Wal-Mart, a lot of it will go to China or Sri Lanka. If you spend the money on gasoline, the money will go to the Arabs. If you purchase a computer, the money will go to India, Taiwan or China. If you buy fruit and vegetables, it will go to Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. Buy an efficient car and the money could go to Japan or Korea. Buy useless stuff and the money goes to Taiwan. Pay off your credit cards and the money will go to management bonuses and they'll hide it offshore.

The part I liked was the suggestion on keeping the money in America by (1) spending it on yard sales, (2) going to ball games, (3) buying drinks for women, (4) on beer or (5) tattoos. Those are about the only American businesses still operating in the U. S. So, go to a ball game with a tattooed lady you met at a garage sale and drink beer all day. Oh, as Colombo would say, "One more thing." You could just wait for a friend in Benedict to send you another e-mail like that one.

Benedict, of course, is near LaPorte and that is where Independence Day was celebrated with a scaled-down version of a soap box derby. Local racers built their own cars and local merchants sponsored them with ads on the sides of the cars, much like a Nascar event. A lady named Judy Honer was supposed to call the race -- imagine she added a lot to the excitement at an event it would have been fun to attend. Next year?

June, the wedding month, is past, but one story needs repeating. All eyes were on the radiant bride as her father escorted her down the aisle. They reached the altar and the waiting groom. The bride kissed her father and placed something in his hand. Those in the front pew laughed and even the minister smiled broadly. As her father gave her away in marriage, the bride gave him back his credit card.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Lessons from a three-year old passed on by a friend: You don't say "Sir" when talking to a woman, it's "Ma'am." The exception is when the woman is grandma. Then it's "May I have a cookie?"