Sunday, January 31, 2010

Money cannot buy.....

There's an old cross on the back fence
an old really rugged cross
put there many years ago.
When new it was not
as interesting as it is now.
They were shiny cement nails
brazed together with bronze welding rod.
The nails have rusted in wonderful
color variations as the rain and ice
and sun and wind did its work.
You could never purchase something like this.

Money cannot buy......

Saturday, January 30, 2010

'Radical' he called himself

Radical treasure

By BOB HERBERT Op Ed columnist New York Times
Published: January 29, 2010

I had lunch with Howard Zinn just a few weeks ago, and I’ve seldom had more fun while talking about so many matters that were unreservedly unpleasant: the sorry state of government and politics in the U.S., the tragic futility of our escalation in Afghanistan, the plight of working people in an economy rigged to benefit the rich and powerful.

Mr. Zinn could talk about all of that and more without losing his sense of humor. He was a historian with a big, engaging smile that seemed ever-present. His death this week at the age of 87 was a loss that should have drawn much more attention from a press corps that spends an inordinate amount of its time obsessing idiotically over the likes of Tiger Woods and John Edwards.

Mr. Zinn was chagrined by the present state of affairs, but undaunted. “If there is going to be change, real change,” he said, “it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves. That’s how change happens.”

We were in a restaurant at the Warwick Hotel in Manhattan. Also there was Anthony Arnove, who had worked closely with Mr. Zinn in recent years and had collaborated on his last major project, “The People Speak.” It’s a film in which well-known performers bring to life the inspirational words of everyday citizens whose struggles led to some of the most profound changes in the nation’s history. Think of those who joined in — and in many cases became leaders of — the abolitionist movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement, the feminist revolution, the gay rights movement, and so on.

Think of what this country would have been like if those ordinary people had never bothered to fight and sometimes die for what they believed in. Mr. Zinn refers to them as “the people who have given this country whatever liberty and democracy we have.”

Our tendency is to give these true American heroes short shrift, just as we gave Howard Zinn short shrift. In the nitwit era that we’re living through now, it’s fashionable, for example, to bad-mouth labor unions and feminists even as workers throughout the land are treated like so much trash and the culture is so riddled with sexism that most people don’t even notice it. (There’s a restaurant chain called “Hooters,” for crying out loud.)

I always wondered why Howard Zinn was considered a radical. (He called himself a radical.)

He was an unbelievably decent man who felt obliged to challenge injustice and unfairness wherever he found it. What was so radical about believing that workers should get a fair shake on the job, that corporations have too much power over our lives and much too much influence with the government, that wars are so murderously destructive that alternatives to warfare should be found, that blacks and other racial and ethnic minorities should have the same rights as whites, that the interests of powerful political leaders and corporate elites are not the same as those of ordinary people who are struggling from week to week to make ends meet?

Mr. Zinn was often taken to task for peeling back the rosy veneer of much of American history to reveal sordid realities that had remained hidden for too long. When writing about Andrew Jackson in his most famous book, “A People’s History of the United States,” published in 1980, Mr. Zinn said:
“If you look through high school textbooks and elementary school textbooks in American history, you will find Jackson the frontiersman, soldier, democrat, man of the people — not Jackson the slaveholder, land speculator, executioner of dissident soldiers, exterminator of Indians.”

Radical? Hardly.

Mr. Zinn would protest peacefully for important issues he believed in — against racial segregation, for example, or against the war in Vietnam — and at times he was beaten and arrested for doing so.

He was a man of exceptionally strong character who worked hard as a boy growing up in Brooklyn during the Depression. He was a bomber pilot in World War II, and his experience of the unmitigated horror of warfare served as the foundation for his lifelong quest for peaceful solutions to conflict.

He had a wonderful family, and he cherished it. He and his wife, Roslyn, known to all as Roz, were married in 1944 and were inseparable for more than six decades until her death in 2008. She was an activist, too, and Howard’s editor. “I never showed my work to anyone except her,” he said.

They had two children and five grandchildren.

Mr. Zinn was in Santa Monica this week, resting up after a grueling year of work and travel, when he suffered a heart attack and died on Wednesday. He was a treasure and an inspiration.

That he was considered radical says way more about this society than it does about him.

Zinn's People's History of the United States has been a prominent text here

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Christians (or anybody), 1979 recommendations from archives

Raccoons were already living below ground, simply, in the sewers
Many people did not follow suit
in scaling back
But little by little, one goes far
It's never too late, until......

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


A reader writes; we render another public service announcement

Dear SRN,

We write to inquire of your culinary preference for Zepping up common soup.

Please advise. Would be delighted if you choose to reply via your cosmic instrument.

s/ Dulled Bud(s)


via SRN

Dear DB,

You ask a serious question that we long pondered, for we often sit down to a steaming bowl of our beloved over-the-counter soup mix, Mrs. Grass's Chicken, containing the little chicken fat nugget in the box. If you want excitement with your soup, if you want to feel like you're really reaching up on tip-toe, we suggest Penzey's Very Hot Peppers.

Granted, Mrs. Grass's is a soup for commoners, which we buy at the poor man's Pick N Save, but if you go out to Penzey's on Bluemound Rd, Brookfield WI - or send for their spice catalog which is a delight unto itself - you will find these special hot ground red peppers to shake into your Mrs. Grass's, and many other things, too, crying out for zip.

As spices are known to have briefer shelf-lives, we recommend the small container of pepper, as shown. Buy often, buy fresh. Or use very often, then buy larger quantities. We thrive on pepper, but prefer to trek to Penzey's frequently. The very air in the store is a kick; flying trapeze-time.

Yours truly,


get hip

Cabdriver No. 206 communicates,
not by 2-way radio, but via new-fangled Email medium.
Following this preface, find his commentary regarding the Magic Twanger reported yesterday - 'Talismen and women':

Our reply:

click images to enlarge

Tuesday, January 26, 2010




a plunger with pizzazz

once yellow

but worn over decades

of heavy pushing

to its present striation

showing the natural wood


a cacophony of glorious color

this place/



moose and water

Thanks Bob

Talismen and women, raccoondite, cont'd

(Polaroid photo taken circa 1978)

Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire said, wispily, "Ah've always relied on the kindness of strangers."

That is true here also. It is a faith and a trust. Sometimes we strangers impose our field among raccoons, or willing-to-try friends, using devices of our own construct. Such was the case with Toni Guardalabene, now of Albany CA, who, here in this today-discovered photo abided directions in operation the cosmic antenna known as the Magic Twanger. Any epiphanies she received she kept to herself. Her husband, former driver of Yellow Cab No. 206, John Guardalabene, looks on in bemused semi-belief.

He is a maker of magic also.

For more information on 206's input into this raccoondite system, see:

All things ARE connected.

The symbol of the Yibawean Society, see SRN archives, is represented in a stained glass panel given to us long ago by Bob and Dee Heeschen of St. Paul MN. Kindness abounds. They are/were also strange, in a way.

Clean-up continues

Avian subjects

The rearrangement of goods continues at SRN headquarters. Two more items presented themselves this morning. One is a photocopy we made of the little wallet certificate we received at Waukesha Airport (Spring City Flying Service) in May 1966.

The original little card was blue on a cream background and was a treasure we had kept, thumbtacked for years to the basement bathroom wall on a bulletin board. It is lost, but happiness prevailed at the finding of this copy. So much time has passed since that signal event and we could not easily prove that we even did that, without this card find. Flight instructor Sam James, wonder where he is now?
Those who have soloed know that you never know when the day comes that you will fly alone. Sam just told me to taxi to the hangar after a series of practice landings, exited the Cessna 150 and gave me a thumbs up with the words, "You're ready!"

Another great 'relocation' was the related attached photograph taken of us feeding a chickadee from our chilled hand on a winter day near Pembine WI. This dates back to the early 70's. We've written about this before, but this is still a welcome additional treasure to us. The picture in the link and the one attached were both taken at the same time. We had X-C skiied through some woods and wound up in this fellow's back yard. He was a neighbor and said he would show us how to feed chickadees from our hand. Unforgettable.
As previously said, the feet felt warm on our ungloved hand. The exhaled breath from the tiny nostrils of the beaks came out in two distinct streams.

Note that the bird has a seed in his beak and is flying out of my hand.

Monday, January 25, 2010

From Missouri

The blooming amaryllis
as of today
two blossoms/
side by side
with unquestionable love/
side by side
tightly pressed/
pistils and stamens
wave wildly through air/
if you have a time delay
you will see
and believe/
believe without seeing

Sunday, January 24, 2010

GESUNDHEIT? Here, we say.......




a derivitive of recondite

recondite definition
rec·on·dite (rek′ən dīt′; occas. ri kän′dīt′)
*beyond the grasp of the ordinary mind or understanding; profound; abstruse
*dealing with abstruse or difficult subjects
*obscure or concealed

Much of what one reads in the SRN fits that bill, n'est ce pas?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Men of steel
Lt. Maynard Dix
Navigator, 'The Little Savage'
B-17 Flying Fortress, WW II

In a recently searched dusty suitcase an old photo of Uncle Maynard's B-17 crew turned up.

He flew 25 missions over Germany. On one of them near the end, his aircraft was attacked by German fighter planes and gunnery from the ground. This was a frequent occurrence. This time they were badly hit. With one engine functioning and surrounded by badly wounded crewmembers Uncle Maynard took the controls and managed to return across the English Channel to his air base, setting down on the runway safely.

He was never one to brag.

Returning after the war, Uncle Maynard settled again in Newton Iowa where he resumed his job as an engineer for the Maytag Co. Hw lived a peaceful life in Newton and did not discuss what he was doing over Germany.

The Flying Fortress bristled with guns, fore, side, top, bottom and aft. Hence the name Fortress. The crew members appear very young, do they not? Their signatures include their position letter, P for Pilot, B for Bombardier, N for Navigator, etc.

Weather outside, frightful......

For the raccoon news' distant readers

we reprint today's final episode from The Freeman on Waukesha blizzards

which includes some testimonials of interest. Also noteworthy, yesterday's episode placed the total snowfall at 27.5 inches, which with the blowing drifts explained the snow depths spoken of below. These tales transcend a snowstorm such as 1947's as entertainment:

BLIZZARDS: Part 5 of 5

by John Schoenknecht

Residents remember Blizzard of ’47 decades later
Forty years later, in 1987, The Freeman commemorated the blizzard by reprinting the front page of the special edition. They also collected and printed memories of the storm from it subscribers. The recollections of those who lived at the time bring the reality of the difficulties into focus.

From Roy Christoph of Waukesha: “... I can recall events as though they happened today. Immediately after World War II, I came to Waukesha and began teaching biology at Carroll College in January 1946. I had been working at the college just over a year when the first day of the storm hit Jan. 29, 1947. I had not yet married, so I lived with Alice and Bill Biegemann on Wilson Avenue. When I awoke at 6:30 in the morning in my second floor bedroom, raised the shade and looked out, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not a track in the street, no cars, no people – just deep white everywhere and continued drifting to boot! What worried me was that I had a final exam in biology to administer that morning at 8 o’clock to several hundred students. It was to be given on the second floor of Main Hall, then the location of a large, amphitheater-type auditorium/chapel where lectures in the course were given. I was quite sure most, if not all, the students would get there because the vast majority were dormitory students. In those days, I never knew the college to cancel classes because of weather. So, after breakfast, I bundled up, got out into the street and trudged through waist-deep snow in many places toward East Avenue and then north to the college, quite tired but satisfied I had made it. Maintenance crews at the school had made a bit of progress on the sidewalks but not much. By the time 8 o’clock had arrived, I was amazed that only six persons were missing. But a more amazing thing happened at 8:20 a.m. Into the hall stumbled the most wornout pair of students I had ever seen. Red-faced, snow-covered wet and exhausted, Bruce Bertram and his wife, Beverly, had walked from their housing project home near the old Waukesha Motors plant all the way to Main Hall second floor. And they were voicing apologies for being late! (Bruce’s father ran an auto agency on St. Paul Avenue for years). I insisted that they should postpone the exam or at least take a good rest in a nearby room before attempting it. Both replied, “No.” The happy ending is that both did very well on the test.

From Eileen Deimel of Waukesha: Robert and I were married Nov. 9, 1946, so when the big storm hit almost three months later, we were newlyweds living in a trailer home on land owned by the Furrer family – or better known as Smith Pond. Bob made a path to Highway 59 and we walked in the road past the Motor Works to town. Walking was the only way to get around unless you had skis. It was two days before any of us living at Smith Pond could get our cars out.

From Dolly Rasmussen: I went out to shovel the driveway. I lived alone and there were chores I had to do. While I was shoveling the drive the phone rang. I rushed in to answer. It was a neighbor telling me “shoveling” was not a job for a lady.

From John W. Leerance: Working on the fire department at that time, our normal shift was 24 hours on duty, 24 hours off duty. But the storm was considered an emergency, so we were required to remain on duty for five full days, at both stations, No. 1 and No. 2. There were 22 firefighters, plus the chief and the fire inspector, at that time. The only fire call I can remember is a chimney fire in the 400 block of North Street on the afternoon that the storm hit. That call was made from No. 2 station at 824 N. Hartwell Ave. with the 1940 65-foot aerial ladder truck. The afternoon of the third day the electric car plow had opened Lincoln Avenue and Broadway. Engine No. 4 was dispatched to open a track from No. 2 station to Lincoln Avenue. With some difficulty, this was accomplished. Now we could give the city some fire protection. With some of the pressure off, on the fourth and fifth days we were allowed to go home for one meal a day, one man at a time, for only one hour each. Later on, I can recall responding to a call out on Summit Avenue. One lane was plowed with small turnoffs now and then. We would stand up on the fire engine to see if any traffic was coming, and to look ahead to see if we could make it to the next turnoff. ... These are other firemen on duty at that time, ... Emery Downie, Glen Land, Ed Panawash, Erv H. Goerke. Frank Stark had a slightly different recollection of the firefighter’s situation. He recalled: I remember it well. I was a member of the Waukesha Fire Department and was on duty when the storm hit. All offduty firemen were called back and we were at the station for three days. Of course we had chains on all of our vehicles and apparatus, but we were very lucky because we did not have any calls except for a chimney fire on the third night. I believe when the people at home found themselves snowbound they were extra cautious. I was stationed at the old No. 2 station on the corner of Hartwell and Arcadian avenues, and the snow on the south side of the building drifted 15 to 20 feet.

From Wilma (Herbst) O’Halloran: I have a vivid memory of that night. I know it was a school night, as I had left (Waukesha High) school after some extracurricular activity and gone directly to my job of selling tickets at the Park Theater. After working all evening and watching the weather get worse and worse, I and my coworker, Jackie Clark, decided to risk the walk home – as no buses were running by then and the roads really weren’t open to cars. We both put on theater uniforms (with pants) because of course we had not dressed properly for a winter storm. Like everybody else, we wore short pleated skirts and bobby socks and saddle shoes. Jackie set out for her house way south on East Avenue and I set out for mine way north of town. I had to walk right down the middle of the roads as drifting was so bad by this time, 10:30 or so. There were no cars at all and all was eerily quiet except for the wind. Most of the houses were dark and it was really a weird feeling. Most of my walk was uphill, against the wind, and through deep drifts. It was really exhausting work, and I got so tired at one point that I sat down in a nice soft drift to rest. I really don’t know what made me get up and get going again, but I did. I was getting near home by this time and I only had one more hill to climb. I trudged up it and rounded the corner and boy, what a welcome sight to see the lights of my house and my parents anxiously looking out for me. (I had called them to let them know when I started my walk of about a mile and a half.) So guess what I did the next day? Called my friend Jean Cotter, and we trudged all the way downtown again to check out the excitement of digging out. Of course there was no school, and lots of the kids earned some extra money shoveling off roofs.

From Marvin Schultz: We lived in the 900 block of Oakland Avenue. There was so much snow on our street that the snowplow couldn’t come for four or five days. No one could get through. On the fourth day all the neighbors came out with their shovels and shoveled the whole street down to Arcadian Avenue, which was Highway 59. It took many hours and it was night before it was finished. The first day of the blizzard there was thunder and lightning during the storm. The children made tunnels in the back yards that they could stand in. A lot of fun. They put rugs inside. We were thankful to have electricity.

From Jessie Biegemann: It was a Sunday morning, Jan. 26, at First Methodist Church. I was at the piano playing for beginners’ Sunday school, when suddenly someone came to me with the message that my dad had died suddenly of a heart attack at Northview Home. During the time of preparation for his funeral, rumors began to creep in about the big snowstorm that was headed in our direction. We already had plenty of snow and cold weather, but at the time we were so concerned with funeral arrangements for Dad that we paid little attention to what was ahead. But I’m telling you we no more than got out of the cemetery when it started snowing. And it snowed, and snowed and more snow and the storm got worse. Our school had to close. The milkman didn’t come to pick up our milk. We couldn’t get out anywhere. We were walking around in snow waist-deep doing chores, taking care of the cattle and chickens. We didn’t have cans to store all the milk so we fed the pigs and dumped the rest. Farmers worked all night down River Road or through the fields where they could get a way out, leaving banks so high you couldn’t see over them along the way. Pantries ran low on food. And it was a bitter struggle. When spring came we had flooded roads.

From Eugene Kraus: I was living in Watertown at the time and commuting daily, by auto, to my job at the International Harvester Foundry in Waukesha, where I had been employed since early 1941. I had several passengers who also worked in Waukesha. We left work in late afternoon, as usual, and braved the lonely road back home. We were fortunate enough to get through a number of drifts until we were about four miles from home. Then we encountered one that was too much for us and we were stalled. My brother, Harold, was with me as well as the two Kreuger brothers (Bill and Walter). After waiting for a while for a plow to come through, the two Kreuger brothers walked about a halfmile to a farmhouse to call for help while we waited in the car. The weather was really bad – visibility was about zero. One could not see where the road was except for the electric and telephone poles on the side of the road. After waiting about an hour and no help arrived, my brother and I decided to walk to the farmhouse down the road. We could not see it, but knew it was there from our daily travel. The snow by then was very deep all over, with drifts that were almost impossible to conquer. We got to the farmhouse finally (about 8:30 p.m.) and found out that there were no plows even trying to get through to our location, so we stayed the night, sleeping on the floor. The next morning, with no apparent help in sight, we walked home using the railroad tracks, which run parallel to the highway, as a path because trains were running and had cleared a path. We did have a close call, however, by using the railroad tracks. We were passing through a long “cut,” as it was called in those days, where there were high banks on either side of the track. The snow was very deep alongside and when we were about in the center of it a train was coming behind us. We scrambled to get up the bank out of the way of the train and just barely made it. We got nearly covered with snow from the cow catcher.

And finally, from Carol Honeyager Miller: My brother and I were delivering the Freeman, believe it or not. It was collection night, too. Grandma bundled us up. When I say bundled I mean earmuffs, two pairs of mittens each, scarves across our faces, double stockings, the works. She didn’t want us to catch cold. We were tired before we even got out the door. We put the newspapers on our sled and covered them so they wouldn’t get wet and started off. It was dark outside on the corner of Maria Street and St. Paul Avenue, where we lived at that time. Our route was St. Paul to Barstow, Barstow Street up the hill to Buena Vista to Pewaukee Road, North Street to the bridge, all the little side streets like Union, Collins, Albert etc. Most of the old streets and houses are gone now. It was a big route. Seemed like a hundred miles that night. By the time we had to climb up Pewaukee Road the snow was over our waists and we were soaked to the skin. I made the path for us. I was the oldest by about a year over my brother. We didn’t miss a house and delivered right to the doors, plus collected. Going home was the best. All downhill, pulling my brother on the sled. We were very late and the family was beginning to worry. We made it, weighing, it seemed, like a ton. Grandma stripped us, made us take our hot bath and put on our PJs, made her famous cold remedy and put us to bed. Well, at least we didn’t have to deliver papers the next day and school was closed. That was great. We couldn’t get out the door anyway until we grabbed a shovel. I have one bad memory of a Waukesha snowstorm in the mid-1970s. Because there was no school, a bunch of school kids and other people on Randall Street began helping each other dig out their driveways. We had just finished my with my neighbors (the Al Williams family), who lived at the intersection of Randall Street and Chicago Avenue. The snowplow came down the hill there and deposited a HUGE pile of snow in their driveway entrance. Frank Finman, Paul Williams and I dug it open again, and then the two boys helped dig out my driveway. I wonder how Waukesha would handle such a storm today. With modern plows and snowblowers, I imagine the roads would be cleared sooner and more easily – the big storms I remember only seem to delay us for a day at the most. I know that the good people of Waukesha would pull together, and although there might not be “Mulligans Guards” marching through the streets as in 1881, I am sure that as in 1947, strangers would greet each other on street corners with the words, “Some storm, eh?”

(John Schoenknecht, a retired Waukesha art teacher and a local historian, is the author of “The Great Waukesha Springs Era: 1868 – 1914.” He can be reached at

Sunny ?


OUR THOUGHTS TURN AGAIN to Sunny Rupnow. We heard her name mentioned today in reference to the story, now a legend, of how she once asked a farmer 'up north' if he intended to waste a 'perfectly good snake' - meaning, she would love to have it and cook it up back at the cabin.

The farmer, a neighbor, said Sunny surely could have it. He was just throwing it over the barb wire so the raptors could see it better. Sunny peeled the dead creature and we had pine snake for supper that night. The owls were left to other devices.

Sunny was a potter, sculptor, sketcher, watercolorist, finder of edibles in the woods, devoted gardner, arborist, magician of the kitchen, protector of stray animals...............etc.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Going somewhere

Travels with Christopher

There we were, having a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake and ice cream, the dessert after our supper of Pollock Tandoori, asparagus, rice and a fruit salad, and I found myself thinking of doing some traveling.

I toyed with my hologram bookmark from the Taiwanese gift shop at Holy Hill. I pondered the various destinations at hand; old winter blues to be kept at bay.

Sure, you can look directly at a thing and think you see it, I mused. But the bookmark shifted in my idle fingers, and lo!

I was suddenly focusing on the means of travel. An old streamliner, old passenger airplane, old freighter, or an old car all presented themselves.

My thoughts shifted, thanks to the miracle of holography, to how I would get to wherever I was going........

It seemed narrowed down, and let's not forget riding on somebody's shoulder.

Georgia O'Keefe was right........


Frostie, dancing cockatoo

caught smiling at conclusion of his karaoke dance routine, performed to the music of his favorite artist, RAY CHARLES.

Frostie selected the number, Shake Your Tail-feather.

" Shake it up, baby......"

Play video:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You aren't going to use that sticky thing on your shoes, are you?

To: Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News
517 Arcadian Ave
Waukesha WI 53186
You recently had a posting on your very interesting blog, asking for a shoe polishing idea for your Russell Moccasin shoes. I don't think we know of this brand of shoe here in Uruguay. Thank you for the website link.
I enclose a snapshot of me about to polish a pair of black leather shoes, using the peeling of a banana.
Yes, I said a banana.

I don't know how many Americans know of this simple method of shining your shoes with this fruit. Here, we have many bananas so it is easy and cheap for us.

Try it sometime. There are many things bananas are good for. (see attachment)

Elisio R.
Tacuarembo, UR

Dear Elisio,
Thank you so much for your great idea of polishing our beloved Russells with the banana peel. We early learned after trying it that using the INSIDE of the peel is what you mean. We got an acceptable shine, and were surprised that there was no residue of fruit oil or any detritus left on the leather after buffing. The leather did not feel sticky to the touch, either. The shine was very acceptable.
However, it isn't quite the HIGH-gloss shine we are after. The leather is well-cleaned and for this we thank you. Also for the other banana features you've sent, which we attach below for our readers.
Thanks too for allowing us to add another stick-pin to our world map of Sewer Raccoon readers!
Be well,
Editor, SRN
The other banana tips from Elisio follow:
A professor for a physiological psych class down here in South America told his class about bananas. He said the expression "going bananas" is from the effects of bananas on the brain.
Never put your banana in the refrigerator!!!
(Ed. note: This is interesting.)
Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.
Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit of South American leading athletes.
But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.
Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.
Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert. Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.
Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.
Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.
Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.
Mosquito bites: We have many in Uruguay. Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.
Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.
Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.
Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack. Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!
Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!
So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around.
So, Raccoon readers, maybe it’s time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

Great blizzard of '47


The international wire service at the Raccoon News picked up an item this morning from the smalltown newspaper, THE WAUKESHA FREEMAN, and reprints it herewith for a wider audience.

The Great Blizzard of 1947 is of particular interest to us. An ode we wrote is seen at the bottom of this posting.

In that wonderful and terrifying drifting storm, our father was on his commute on the interurban (electric trolley) from his job in Milwaukee to our home at Waukesha. It took four hours to complete the journey. He was carrying a small maple rocking chair on the train, a gift for his wife purchased that day at a dowtown Milwaukee furniture store.

After arriving in Waukesha, he carried that rocker through nearly impossible snowdrifts to make his belated but happy presentation. He was then home for a delightful snowbound 'vacation'.

BLIZZARDS: Part 3 of 5

Blizzard of '47 all but paralyzed Waukesha
Storm remains standard by which others judged
(by John Schoenknecht)

Many people still living recall the snowstorm of 1947. When I was a child, whenever we had a blizzard my mom would say, “This is nothing compared to the storm of 1947.” She would then recall her experiences in rural Port Washington. Most vivid in my mind is her description of a tunnel that they had to dig to get out of their front door.

In Waukesha, the great storm of 1947 surprised everyone, disrupted daily life and isolated and paralyzed the city. Snow began falling on Tuesday, Jan. 28. The wind was from the northeast, which seasoned Wisconsinites know causes the worst snowstorms. During the morning of Jan. 29, snow turned to light drizzle and sleet, coating the streets with ice which made them slippery and dangerous.

At 5:30 a.m., the county dispatched 22 snow plows to scrape county roads and sand hills and curves. However, in the city, engineer Walter Dick sent out two trucks to sand intersections at 8 a.m., but held off on plowing until Wednesday evening. A general plowing operation was scheduled for 2 a.m. Thursday, and all vehicles were ordered to be off the streets then.

Snow continued to fall and the winds increased. Eighteen inches of snow fell, creating drifts of 10 feet. Streets drifted shut and efforts to plow the streets were unsuccessful. Winds from the northeast reached 60 miles per hour. Thursday’s headline read “Raging Snow Storm Isolates City.”

Only four staff members of the Freeman were able to make it to work, but almost the entire production crew braved the storm. Editor Gib Koenig arrived to work on skis. The paper published a special four-page edition which some subscribers did not receive. The city had eight snowplows, and they were dispatched at 2 a.m. Thursday morning. By 10 a.m., four of them had broken down.

To replace the plows, the city rented three plows and two bulldozers from private contractors. Some streets were plowed by Thursday afternoon, but most were not cleared until sometime on Friday or Saturday, and then there was only one lane open to traffic. Two of the worst streets to open were Buena Vista Avenue and Barstow Street. Both had huge drifts which came as the winds howled down from the large open area of the Moor Mud Baths.

The city’s bus and cab services were stymied. Some cabs ran Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, but eventually all of them stopped. Some resumed traveling only on main streets by noon on Thursday. City buses stopped completely Wednesday afternoon and did not resume until Friday.

The interurban trains stalled Wednesday night, It took four hours to make the trip between Milwaukee and Waukesha, Service stopped on midnight on Wednessday.

The highways were a mess. The county highway commissioner, E. J. Stephan, conservatively estimated that 500 cars were stalled between Milwaukee and Waukesha. Drivers spent the night at farmers’ homes or in barns. Schoolchildren riding buses home were also victims of the storm, and throughout the county they spent the night sleeping on the floors of kind farmers who took them in. All three of Waukesha’s railroads were stalled. The last train left Waukesha at 7:32 p.m. Wednesday and the next train to arrive was at noon on Thursday, and it traveled behind a plow. It was seven hours late.

Several expectant mothers were taken to the hospital in special vehicles or delivered their babies at home. Mrs. Henry Buege of rural Waukesha was taken to the hospital late Wednesday night by Herbert Becker. Becker was a dynamiter and he owned a 4-by-4 ex-GI truck, equipped with a snow plow. He made it through the roads on which ambulances and squad cars had no chance. He brought Mrs. Buege to the hospital shortly before her child was born at 11 p.m.

(John Schoenknecht, a retired Waukesha art teacher and a local historian, is the author of “The Great Waukesha Springs Era: 1868 – 1914.” He can be reached at
Blizzard, Waukesha, 1947

The snow that falls so white and fresh
is quickly pushed to the sides of
the already salted streets
and more salt is spread behind the blades

The snow no matter how persevering
can't win a temporary victory
because it's not allowed to repose there
delaying commerce anymore

Snowbound in the city is an anachronism
The big blizzard of 1947, though, closed
businesses and schools, everything for days
in Waukesha Wisconsin

until the handful of plow-equipped trucks
could get around to opening all the streets,
and the Inter-Urban electric train did not run
into Milwaukee, so Dad was home for five days

The snow was dominant then, keeping everyone blessedly
at home, happy captives of unanticipated pass-times,
skiing to the grocers or to the post office, drinking
cocoa and digging tunnels outside, dawns to dusks

During cribbage games and radio shows, the wind blew
unending heavy snow all around town
And the ice-blinkered Fox Dairy horses struggled
to pull their milk wagons until they couldn't

negotiate the drifted valleys formerly known
to them as their street routes
And everything was rounded off white
for many deepening days

But now, when there is a forecast of snow
heavy or slight
armadas of municipal plows and reinforcements
of free-lancers idle their engines everywhere

loaded with tons of salt, waiting at checkpoints, ready
to make short work of any white that quietly comes
and to make the trains, trucks and everything else
run on time

The esthete dreaming of snow having dominion
over him for a just a little while
loses to technology and industry
and loses no precious time at work or school

thanks to economies dedicated to rumbling
street-clearing machines
and salt, lots of salt
And fervent salty neighbors

keeping their sidewalks absolutely clear
of Old Devil Snow, running neck and neck
toward the inevitable loss against the plowers
who fill and re-fill the grumblers' driveways

Over clear but gray-skied days, whizzing traffic splatters
more salt onto the salt-laced drifts and the sun melts
and re-freezes the mounds into darkened, pitted reefs
of dingy black coral

And you wish for another clean, crippling snow, as in 1947

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Can I come in?

Grace Kari
daughter of Laurie Dix Kari
and Phil Kari
peers through a window of of her A-frame be-blizzarded home in Wasilla, Alaska, after wiping the snow off the pane, pleading with her family to please let her in. She promises to be good, or at least better. Her entreaties were apparently weakening her strong-willed family, so she used her heaviest artillery to gain entrance to the toasty be-wood-stoven house.
Announcing that 'it is my birthday, for crumb sake!' and that she is now at the transformative age of automatic well-behaved SIXTEEN (16), and....... flashing her best smile....... zing-go, she got in.

And lo, the family was not making her stand in the cold out of strict old-school Finnish discipline. They were actually readying a birthday celebration for their acting, swimming and steel drumming daughter/sister. Grace knew they were pretending, so she played along and just acted kind of scared and, uh, frozen.


As the amaryllis carries with it a great deal of symbolism in this household,
the reader will note that the famous Grace-offering old man print hangs in an auspicious and well-juxtaposed position, near the blooming flower. (Click to enlarge.)
Happy birthday
Love, Grandpa

Diving Belle: a re-viewing

Been there?
Done same?

'Diving Belle' - a 1940's vintage electric percolator - audibly brews a scented, sensuous semi-hemispheric globe of
jet-black coffee on a quiet early morn....

As previously reported, the old chrome coffee maker was a gift of author and electric percolator collector Terry Mahoney, for our silver wedding anniversary last year.

See and enjoy Terry's blog: