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Across The Lake

They're still excited about it, but yet it's a little different to walk into a business and, first thing, being asked to admire their newest piece of equipment. Walk into Moon's and see if you don't get that kind of welcome from one of the ladies, even if it is three or four weeks since they got that new cash register. Sort of funny, but also a little sad because the one just replaced had been at Moon's front counter since 1984. Likely moved there from their previous location on Summit Avenue, up the street from where the Blackduck Bakery stood for years.

Moon's has been a family business for three generations, owned before that by an Edward French. In 1908, French filled a prescription and his signature still shows on the original order. As noted, the pharmacy business has changed and so has the nature of the medical profession. That 1908 prescription was for opium.

As for that old cash register, "It just couldn't be fixed any more," Sandy Kalvig said as she suggested there ought to be something in this column. Maybe an obituary in Across the Lake, Sandy suggested. Her fellow worker, Trudy Carrigan, nodded in agreement. Since there's been space here for thoughts about old tractors, old cars, old stores and even old people, we agreed that old cash registers headed for their final resting place probably warranted some final send-off as well.

There might have been more attention if we could have written about when a visit to Moon Drug could have meant picking up a prescription, or going in for a malted milk. Chan Moon's mother mixed a good one, thick and rich and real ice cream, right close to the magazine rack where you could sneak a quick read while she was at work with the malted mixer -- another piece of equipment that Chan kept when the soda fountain itself was no longer a part of the business.

Speaking of business equipment, what a different place for a pay phone. It was one of those occasions when a camera would have been so great to have. When you're going to the airport to meet someone, you admire the steps construction workers have taken to keep visitors safe -- and able to find their way. Even with a world seemingly overflowing with cell phones, in Bemidji you could still pull out some coins and make a phone call.

But you couldn't do it in a phone booth. We noticed that last week. The pay phone was still there, but it was mounted on the leaf from a dining room table, sitting on the airport floor, leaning against a wall in the new construction area. To make a call, first you get down on your knees...

Nicknames run the gamut. A moniker often reflects the degree of familiarity one feels with another person, or the respect in which that person is held. That thought was prompted when I learned an acquaintance has announced his pending retirement in a few weeks. "Just learned that 'Smooth' is leaving," I told My Favorite Reader, and was quickly asked who that was. "That's Truman's nickname," I said and went on to explain. I'll quote my friend Frank:

"The Chairman said to me that Truman could 'low talk'. I asked what was that. He said "See 'Smooth over there talking to that woman? He's talking to her without moving his lips. That's 'low talk.' That's smooth." I'm not sure if that's a regional term or what but since the chairman was Byron Tunnell, and he said it, Frank (and I and a lot of others) felt that if Byron had said it, it must be so. To a bunch of us, Truman has been 'Smooth' ever since."

Thoughts while drying the dishes... Step into the library and if you're asked if you want something, you can honestly answer, It's A Book. This is the library, you'll be reminded, and you can again say when asked what you want, It's A Book. That's actually the title of a very funny and very thoughtful one written by Lane Smith and published by the Roaring Brook Press. It looks like a book for kids, but I can't think of anyone who won't benefit from spending the short time it will take to read it. Ask for it, and remember, It's A Book.