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Across The Lake

Watch enough movies in which a French maid appears and you'll remember that a trademark of that occupation is an apron. One would think that a garment once that popular among housewives as well as French maids would warrant literary attention but in both the Bartlett and Oxford dictionaries of quotations, only one reference is listed. It's the mention in the book of Genesis of fig leaves being sewn together to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness.

There was no call for a fig leaf but a recent conversation left me feeling really out of touch. Three ladies including My Favorite Reader, were busy discussing aprons. It started with the mention of our eldest daughter bringing a couple of aprons to our recent gathering, wearing one and getting her youngest sister to wear another. The aprons dated back to when Janet had worked as a waitress and the stories about Grandma Mable making her a pair of aprons to wear on the job.

They were actually pretty cute, lots of fancy stitching and now the daughters looked right in style wearing them. Maybe not right in style, since women don't wear aprons like they used to. Maybe at a church supper or working in the kitchen at the Legion, but those are more the utilitarian kind. Nothing fancy. Betty Rossi recalled an apron show at some event a few years ago, at which women displayed a real variety of aprons from years past, at a time when one was always worn when cooking Sunday dinner and came off when it was time to sit down and eat.

Anyway, getting back to the Biblical reference, in the Geneva Bible printed in that city in 1560, the fig leaves weren't used for aprons at all. Instead, the reference in that version is to "breeches" being sewn from fig leaves and for that reason, the Geneva Bible is known to historians -- and printers -- as "the breeches Bible."

Today it would probably come with a "Made in China" label. In a recent note, Bill Venrick bemoaned how so many things we buy today all seem to have that workaday label. Bill lives in Ohio, grew up in Ohio and picked apples in the orchards near his home in Ohio. The other day he stopped at a store where he's shopped for years, bought a jar of apple juice and when he got home, read the label. It was apple juice, all right, but like so much juice today, it was made from concentrate. And the concentrate -- you guessed it -- "Made in China."

Conrad Slettom's name is probably familiar to regular readers of this space. He was a broadcaster with whom for many years I shared time the microphone during our morning Coffee Break broadcast. He later spent many summers operating a campground breakfast service in the shadow of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. And in recent years, he's become a regular source of humor and logical thought on the internet. He's just done it again, this time with the thoughts of youngsters on the subject of marriage. Some examples as they answer questions:

How do you decide whom to marry? Ten-year-old Allen said, "You've got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports and she should keep the chips and dip coming." Kristen, also 10, thought no person really decides because, "God decides it all before and you get to find out later who you're stuck with."

How can a stranger tell if two people are married? "You might have to guess," suggests Derrick, age 8, "based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids." Lori, another eight-year-old, when asked what her mom and dad have in common, quickly said, "Both don't want any more kids."

What do people do on a date? One thoughtful reply was that on the first date, "they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date." And a young girl suggested, "Dates are for having fun and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough." And kissing? Curt, age 7, says "The law says you have to be 18, so I wouldn't want to mess with that."

Is it better to be married or single? A nine-year old girl thinks it's better for girls to be single but not boys because, "Boys need someone to clean up after them." And if people didn't get married: "There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?" So how do you make a marriage work? Ricky, age 10, says "Tell your wife she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck."

Much has been written about the funeral for Major Michael Freyholtz but the behind-the-scenes activity seldom rates front-page coverage. The coordination of the schedule involved Air National Guard officers in Alaska, working with Air Force officials at Elmendorf Air Base there and Grand Forks Air Force Base personnel in North Dakota, all of it tied together with Kurt Cease at the funeral home in Blackduck.

Kurt's been involved in a lot of military funerals but none, he says, involving so many officers including a brigadier general, so many National Guard members who so admired the man being laid to rest that they volunteered to be part of the service, such perfection in a military honor guard (from the Grand Forks base, we're told) that when they stepped in unison during the service, it was as though you could hear only a single heel click.

We don't know who draped the flag on the Highway 71 overpass north of Bemidji, nor do we know the names of those who stood in respectful attention as the casket came north to Blackduck. We know the state patrol and sheriff's deputies capably managed traffic duties and many, many others quietly helped in many different ways.

Some of those taking part in the service will also be around this Saturday for the dedication of the memorial to Clarence Lossing and other veterans buried at Lakeview Cemetery. I suspect some of the Patriot Guard riders will be on hand. They came from miles around -- Thief River Falls, Bemidji, Deer River and Blackduck -- to be a part of the service.

Thoughts while drying the dishes... A listing of events was used by many of those participating and a copy given to help a reporter listed, among the eulogists, Lt. Col. B-12. It's the nickname the colonel uses when asked his name. Understandably, as he says with a smile. It's actually Braspenninckx. B followed by the other 12 letters.