Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fifty Years Ago

Let's get away from the hectic and crazy news of 2011 and see what it was like 50 years ago, in 1961.
01. Brother Sebastian.
Chon Day was a famous cartoonist who was active around the 1960's. The copy above is of one of his cartoons, which I labeled, The Skater Monk. Another cartoon that I liked from 1961 showed two monks in their order's wine cellar, using a candle to look at a massive wine barrel with a spigot. They are holding large mugs.. but are chagrined to see a sign posted over the barrel: "No Underground Testing." (Of course, during 1961, underground nuclear testing was a big issue.)
02. Booze:
Dr. Dean K. Brooks of Salem, Oregon said (1961) that drinking is not sinful and no Christian should look down on another for doing it. However, he also said that there are 5 good reasons for total abstinence:
1. To help others, lest they be harmed by our drinking.
2. To insure efficiency.
3. To forgo a luxury.
4. For health reasons.
5. To provide a devotional discipline.
Dr. Brooks, superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital at Salem was a member of the Episcopal Church Joint Commission on Society and Alcohol.
He was fighting an uphill battle for abstinence, because in 1961, people "went out drinking".. (watch the TV Mad Men series and see what it was like back then.. that show is very accurate, in my opinion).. I'm sure that in 2011, some people still "go out drinking", especially young people.
(Last night, Elaine and I were at a restaurant, and a young (25-ish) lady had a 22-ounce draft beer in front of her.. later she downed another one. I hope she wasn't driving.... but, listen to me being judgemental.)
Back in 1961, I got my first pay check from the Government and guess what the first thing I did with it was? Yes.. I bought a case of beer.. everything else had to wait. I can't remember now how long the beer lasted.. probably not long.
Now, under Doctors' orders, I have my two glasses of wine or beer each day, to keep me from having heart problems.. but, hey, I'm an old dude and need that help.
03. Sign of the Times?
The town planners of Bath, England, decided in 1961 to order a Baptist minister to take down the six-foot high sign on the roof of his church. The sign read: "Prepare To Meet Thy God." The Bath officials said that it was advertising.
04. Newspaper feature:
The newspaper of Sing Sing Penitentiary began to add a society column in 1961.
05. 1961 Headline:
I guess reception wasn't so good back then.
06. Music.
Tokyo garbage men began to broadcast the sound of bells playing "Rock-a-Bye Baby" as they moved down the street, picking up trash.
07. Classic book review.
Since a lot has been written about Catcher in the Rye recently, I thought you might like to read this book review from 1961, which was written by R. Barbour of Billerica, Mass., to Time magazine, I think.
" Yes indeed, let our children study the great American classic, The Catcher in the Rye and learn, before their formative days are done, that all is vomity, and that man's spirit floats no higher down the byways of life's sewers than the rest of the garbage he so brilliantly produces."
08. Falsies for Men?
The men's fashion magazine Tailor and Cutter suggested that men might want to consider the reinstitution of padding for men's legs that was popular in the 1700's. These "falsies" were strapped on skinny legs at the calf to make them look muscular.
09. Burglary Alibi.
An Ohio burglary suspect came up with the best alibi heard for a long time. He explained that at the time of the burglary, he was buried in a coffin for 2 1/2 days at an Indiana fairground as part of a stunt.
10. Nursery Rhyme.
The three little Pigg children went to court (near the market) in Oklahoma, Michigan, and had their names changed to Bond. The parent Piggs decided to keep their names.
11. Occupation Names.
Mrs. Ann H. Romanick, of Ellicott City, Maryland, found these names:
Father Wise .. a Jesuit professor.
Mrs. Jewell .. an officer of a jewelry association.
Mr. Goldseker .. a real estate dealer.
Dr. Glasser .. an optometrist.
Dr. Mules .. a veterinarian
Dr. Brain .. an educator.
Mr. Flowers .. a florist.
Miss Viol .. a music teacher.
12. Macho Man?
From a 1961 article in the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
No Frenchman should ever agree to:
Prepare breakfast.
Empty the kitchen garbage can.
Wear an apron.
Collect groceries on his way home.
Push a baby carriage.
Defrost the refrigerator.
Sew on buttons.
Answer the doorbell.
Clean the bath., or tick off the daily help. (whatever that means)
However, since this is the second half of the Twentieth Century, he may, without loss of dignity:
Clean his own shoes.
Carve the roast.
Cut the bread.
Open canned goods.
Uncork the wine.
Order the wine.
Wash his own socks.
Do the dishes.....perhaps now and again.. but only on Sundays, never, never weekdays.
(How about the American man in 1961? And how about now 50 years later? Think about how times have changed... at least for most of American men, I would hope.)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Where Are They Now?

I thought that I might try something different with my blog entry this time.

Almost 50 years ago, the first annual (and only) picture of the members of Niemand Associates was taken at Patapsco Park in suburban Baltimore, Maryland. All of the persons pictured were working at the Woodlawn Headquarters of the Social Security Administration (except for one very young person.) See how many of them you can identify... and where are they now?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

March Meditations


Some folks called "Anonymous" have asked if they could refer to this blog in their writings. Since they are "Anonymous", I can't contact them directly, so if they are reading this, I would say: "Be my guest." However, please be careful, because some of what I write comes from my own ideas which may not be the same as those of people in the mainstream of U.S. society. Also, some of what I write may be based on news items I have read about or heard about in "off-beat" sources. I attempt to mention my sources, when I can remember them.. just be careful because sometimes I write about things that happened some time ago.

While I am at it, I may as well also mention that most of the cartoons that accompany these blogs were drawn by me, and while some are original, most were probably copied many years ago from books, magazines and newspapers. Usually, I can't remember the source -- let's face it.. I'm an old dude. However, when I do remember the source cartoonists, I will mention them.

01. Common decency... and LOVE:

As I can see from lots and lots of Facebook entries, the Supreme Court decision in the Westboro Baptist Church case is extremely unpopular. On a recent CSPAN radio call-in show, almost all of the people who called in praised the decision because it reinforces our free-speech rights. However, almost all of those same people thought that the Westboro picketers had moved far beyond the limits of decency.

While I agree that we need to preserve our free-speech rights, I feel that we should have some established limits to "hate-speech", as they do in several European countries who went through the Hitler years and know how such speech can be used to inflame the masses.

I find it hard to understand the members of the Westboro Baptist Church.. I was a member of a Baptist Church for several years and I found the teachings of the church to be of a loving nature. In fact, when I was in my early teens and was getting into trouble, members of the Baptist Church helped me understand that what I was doing was hurting other people, especially people that I loved and who loved me.

Several years ago, I had the experience of attending a Baptist church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania a couple of times. After the services, the preacher would stand in the front of the church and offer hugs to anyone who wanted one. The line to get those loving hugs was very very long. I believe that everybody in the Congregation went up to get one. A few years later, I met the preacher in another setting and he immediately recognised me and gave me one of his famous hugs. This, of course, is what life is really all about... loving one another.. not hating one another.

The most famous people-lover/people-hugger of all time is of course, Leo Buscaglia (search my earlier blog entries if you don't know about Leo.)

02. Moebius Strip:

When I was a kid, my grandfather showed me the great attributes of the Moebius strip. This is, of course, the twisted figure that has no beginning and end, and which can be manipulated in miraculous ways. Cyril Kornbluth was intrigued by the Moebius strip and coined the following wonderful poem:

The Unfortunate Topologist

A burleycue dancer, a pip

Named Virginia, could peel in a zip;

But she read science fiction

And died of constriction

Attempting a Moebius strip.

03. Words to Live By

In 1983, I published the fourth Friday the 13th edition of Words To Live By.. being vital quotations collected over the years by some computer geeks that worked with me at the Social Security Administration. I came upon them again the other day and thought that some of the observations made then, are valid still today.

"On flextime, you're not late if you come in early." - Joe Johnson
"If you can't handle the job, get out of the fire." - Henry Drumheller
"Learn to be sincere, even if you have to fake it." - Bernie Rubin
"No program should ever Abend in production." - Morrison Clark
"If your computer run is going fine, you've obviously left out something important." - Lloyd Hess

Also contained in the document are some recipes, one of which was by Calvin W. Schwabe:

Grilled Rat, Bordeaux Style

Catch some alcoholic rats that inhabit wine cellars. Skin and eviscerate them, brush them with a thick sauce of olive oil and crushed shallots. Grill over a fire of broken wine barrels.

04. Frank W. Lewis

In my February 6, 2011 blog entry, I mentioned Frank W. Lewis, who created the cryptic puzzle for the NATION magazine for years. I mentioned a little of his accomplishments and why I admired him. What I didn't know at the time (and should have) was that he was a fellow member of the American Cryptogram Association (ACA). We have NOM's in this group (kind of like aliases).. mine is AHAB. Frank's was R. MASTERTON, an anagram of Montserrat, where he lived until the island's volcanic eruptions got the better of him.

HONEYBEE (another ACA member) says in The Cryptogram for March-April 2011: "...(he) would look at a Monome-Dinome ciphertext and see the 'ump-ti-ump-ti-ump-ti' that the dinomes make. Every time I solve a Monome-Dinome that memory still makes me smile."

A family member also mentions something that I did not know about Frank: "... his work in cracking the Japanese shipping code enabled the navy to pinpoint the exact location of any Maru sailing in the vastness of the Pacific, which contributed to the Allied victory and materially shortened the war..."


05. Kidspy

The Week magazine reports that school administrators in a Philadelphia suburb used webcams to spy on students at home. The webcams were on school-issued laptops. One of the students was shown a picture taken by one of the cameras that a school official says proved that he was taking drugs. The student says he was eating candy in his room. Was the use of these webcams a violation of the Fourth Amendment and privacy laws? A class action suit filed by angry parents may decide this.

06. Brain power?

Somebody named Reymann says that people should deviate from their normal routines from time to time, to challenge their brains. Two ways:

1. Brush your teeth with the opposite hand.
2. Get dressed in the morning with your eyes closed.

07. Mencken:

The German Society of Baltimore, Maryland can count Henry L. Mencken as their most famous member. (I am also a member, but not quite so famous...) I quote: "... Mencken is America's most quoted literary figure. Mark Twain comes in second... the Mencken Room at the Pratt Library (in Baltimore) accumulates 1,000 pages annually in the (Mencken) his lifetime Mencken wrote 40 books, produced 15,000,000 words."

08. Stupid Criminal Award Winner:

From the Intertel newsletter: As a female shopper exited a convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the police car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied: "Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."

09. Langston Hughes

I mis-quoted a poem by Mr. Hughes in an earlier blog entry. I believe this is the correct version.


I could tell you,
If I wanted to,
What makes me what I am.

But I don't really want to -
And you don't give a damn.

10. Study result:

A three year study at Oxford University discovered that ducks like water.

11. Longest word still?

In 1983, the longest word in the Oxford English dictionary was:


Which means: The act of estimating something to be worthless.

(Check me out on that, Brother Joe)

12. The Stone Reader

I'm told a documentary with this title is now a cult favorite. It's about the search for the author of The Stones of Summer, a book published to great reviews in 1972, sold just a few copies, and then disappeared, along with the author, Dow Mossman. Mossman was found in Iowa.. an ex welder and unemployed newspaper bundler. Now Dow is back writing again and his book has supposedly been republished. I'll have to get a copy of the documentary from Netflix and try to track down the book... maybe.