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June 15 2017Europe 1956
I found the Irish poor but kind and London wet but jolly and theater in both places good. Paris was wet too but in a melancholy way, and the waiters in cafes so snooty you could starve if you didn’t correctly pronounce the nasalized vowels.
The Dutch were hearty laughers but without much humor. The Danes had humor and were cheerful and spoke excellent English. The Germans had no humor but were busy building gleaming new cities. Around the gaming tables of Baden Baden they jostled the pound-shy English asking: “Who won the war?”
So when I had been through these places and done my duty to monuments and museums, battlefields and cathedrals, it was August before I got to Venice. It was hot in Venice and the canals and close-built buildings made it stuffy. I took a room at the air-conditioned Bauer Grunwald and ate my dinner on the terrace watching the flaming sun drop over the Grand Canal.
For two days I walked crowded streets and crossed over little bridges or took Diritto boats to the beach at Lido. At night I sat in cafes of San Marco’s and listened to the orchestras and sipped wine. Then I took a train to Rome and changed for one to Naples. Then a bus to Sorrento.
I got to Sorrento on Sunday evening and found a hotel on a shady street that curved off the square. The hotel was cool, the rooms white-washed and clean, and underneath tall trees there was a patio that looked out over the bay.
Six waiters served me dinner there, and afterwards I walked back to the square and down the steep switch-back street with flowers hanging over the wall to the pier where boats came and went to Capri. There was a band playing and a lighted Ferris Wheel and the boat offices were crowded with people and children laughing and shouting.
I walked out on the pier and tried out of darkness to find Capri. I stared into the blackness but could see nothing. I threw my cigarette into the Bay of Naples and walked back up to the square where I sat in a sidewalk café lit by strings of little lights and sipped a bottle of Tuborg.
In the morning I took the boat to Capri. It was a warm breezy day and the boats were filled with tourists. I had met a lady in Venice who told me to skip Capri. She said tourists had ruined it for those who remembered Capri as it was before the war.
I didn’t ask what war. Capri has been under attack ever since Tiberius built his villa there. Attila and the Huns, those dreadful Goths and Vandals. This August morning I found myself in another barbarian army mustered at the funicular ready to begin the assault
A battalion in sport shirts, thirty-five millimeters strapped over shoulders, chest bandoliers with film. Like the Goths, we brought our women clutching bags to carry away the loot. The cable cars made their slow grinding climb to the top. We exploded from the cars, storming the little plaza to sack the cluttered shops. The natives put up feeble resistance.
June 15 2017
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Thin your fruit trees for a better harvest
In June the apple, peach, and plum trees start dropping some green fruit for various reasons. It is also time for us to start thinning the fruit. If we leave too much fruit, it could be small. Thinning will give us larger, juicy fruit. Also the tree is more likely to be able to produce fruit every year.
You want to have about 6-8 inches between fruit. If it is a short branch and they are closer, you could leave them. As the fruit gets bigger, it also gets heavier. Once the branches, start to bend down, it is time for a prop. Place a sturdy board out about 2/3 of the way out from the trunk. Be sure to check it after a windy day as sometimes it will fall over.
Last year, the mosquitoes were spreading some bad diseases, so many places had to spray to kill them. Unfortunately, they also killed the good bugs that might of helped kill the mosquitoes. This year they are reporting a lot of ticks. When you go into the woods or places that harbor a lot of mosquitoes and tick, be sure to wear long sleeves, and long pants and a hat. Also wear some insect repellant. There are a lot of things to repel mosquitoes, but we don’t see a lot about ticks. One that is advertised to repel deer ticks is Lemon Eucalyptus. It is a lotion and comes in a tube. As always follow the directions on the container.
by Jim Bennett • email@example.com
June 15 2017
The Summer of 1946
HOLLYWOOD COULDN’T HAVE scripted it any better.
Major League Baseball’s 1946 season remains one of the most exiting of all time. Just for starters, it featured a razor wire finish in the National League, resulting in a postseason playoff between the Dodgers and the Cardinals. The World Series was also an edge-of-your seat seven-game affair in which the Cardinals beat the favored Red Sox, 4 games to 3.
In perfect casting, Stan Musial and Ted Williams were opponents in the Series. Both players were chosen Most Valuable Player—Musial in the National League and Williams in the American League.
But let’s step back for a moment. The season of ’46 would have gripped the nation’s consciousness even without high drama; it was the season that saw many of the game’s superstars back in action. They had exchanged military uniforms for the baseball kind.
I’m not quite old enough to remember that season, but have just finished reading The Victory Season by Robert Weintraub, a book whose subtitle reads, The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball’s Golden Age. The book was given me by an old friend from New York. He knows I’m a Cardinals fan.
IN 1946, the nation was suffering through the disorienting transition from wartime to peacetime. Weintraub writes, “Nearly a million and a half men were discharged each month [from military service] starting at the end of 1945 and continuing throughout 1946. The result was a severe nationwide housing shortage… Chicago alone had one hundred thousand homeless vets on the streets.”
Most Americans faced some form of economic privation. “The cost of living skyrocketed some 18 percent as price controls were removed. Unfortunately, wages weren’t raised in conjunction…conditions were ripe for an outbreak of strikes, and they came with a vengeance.
“Manufacturers and producers indulged in profiteering, as hundreds of everyday goods, from meat to milk to automobiles to underwear, were kept out of stores. A massive black market took over, making Main Street USA resemble the dark alleyways of Berlin. ‘I find peace is hell,’ President Harry Truman, who as 1946 began had been on the job for all of eight months, remarked bitterly to his diary.”
In short, “1946 was a painful interregnum that is generally ignored by historians, a year of wrenching reorientation from a militaristic society geared for war to one that required the reabsorption of millions of servicemen and women into a country grossly unprepared for such a change.”
AND WHAT of baseball? It played an important role in the healing of a nation’s psyche during the difficult transition. Weintraub writes, “Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Joe and Dom DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Enos Slaughter, Pete Reiser—the varsity was back in action in ’46, and the fans were back too, in droves.
“The wartime version of the game had pitted ‘the tall men against the fat men at the company picnic,’ in Frank Graham’s matchless description of baseball from 1943-45.” In ’46, “Attendance figures skyrocketed. The per-team average leapt an incredible 71 percent, from 675,000 to 1.7 million paid bums in seats. Minor league baseball set attendance records across the country. Even with disposable income at a premium, the populace found its way into ballparks in every nook and cranny of the nation.”
Returning players consisted of stars, superstars, and future Hall of Famers. For the Red Sox, who ran away from other American League teams with a 104-50 record, fans welcomed home Rudy York, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, Dom DiMaggio, and the nonpareil Williams, among others.
Cardinals fans relished the return of Stan “The Man,” Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst, and Terry Moore. Peacetime allowed the Dodgers to field a lineup including Pee Wee Reese, Dixie Walker, Pete Reiser and Carl Furillo.
THE NATIONAL LEAGUE race tightened considerably on July 14, when the Dodgers, leading the Cards by 4 and a half games, came to St. Louis for a crucial 4-game series. According to Weintraub, the series “began with a Sunday doubleheader.” It was a charged atmosphere from the get-go, played before a packed Sportsman’s Park crowd of 34,000.
“The opener was tied at three in the eighth, when Slaughter launched a two-run homer to win the game.” In the nightcap, “Musial whacked a homer to deep right in the 12th inning, to win the game 2-1.” The Cardinals won the next two games as well to sweep the series, cutting Brooklyn’s lead to half a game. These games too were sellouts.
The Cardinals won game 7 of the World Series, 4-3, in St. Louis, on Slaughter’s heralded mad dash home when Boston’s Johnny Pesky hesitated (maybe) on the relay throw. A standing-room-only crowd of more than 36,000 was treated to a game for the ages.
Neither Musial nor Williams batted well in the seven games. For the regular
Season, Stan won the batting title with a .365 mark, but it was Slaughter who topped the NL with 134 RBI.
The war was over and baseball at its highest level helped heal the wounds of a recovering nation. I highly recommend Weintraub’s book to any baseball fan.
The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington
June 15 2017
Mosquitoes; Rain & Prayer
This column started off with my complaining about those pesky, bloodsucking mosquitoes. Not only are they annoying, but stinging insects can be dangerous as some 500,000 people annually end up in the emergency room each year. In addition, there are an estimated two million folks, who are allergic to insect stings. It was however, during the preparation for this article I learned some interesting facts.
First, the mosquito bite comes only from the female. Figures doesn’t it! Secondly, in addition to being bitten, she leaves saliva after she has withdrawn her fill. Great, not only do I get bit, but am spit upon or into. In researching further, I confirmed what I already knew in that their preferred breeding grounds are stagnant water. Well there you have it.
We are in the midst of a severe drought, without any water source near me, and I get eaten alive by a bunch of females and am told to use calamine lotion or preparation H. Never read so many applicants to treat itchy red bumps on my skin. Thus, despite the fact that I wear dark clothing, go outside without aftershave or deodorant; having applied duct tape around the bottoms of my pants leg and around the ends of a long sleeve shirt and even duct taped my waist band, and eat garlic, yep… still get bitten in concealed places. Complain, complain; complain, but nothing I can do about it.
Which brings me to a quote about a very real complaint attributed to Mark Twain, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Whether or not this classic originated with Mark Twain or his neighbor, good friend and collaborator, Charles Dudley Warner, in the 1800’s is really immaterial to the prolonged drought that has been on-going since the beginning of this year.
It should be noted that while weather records reflect a cool, wet May , the forecast for the month of June is “extreme dryness across the Corn Belt with the only significant rains falling in KS, KY, and southern MO. The statewide average precipitation for May was 5.22 inches, 0.62 inches above normal. The precipitation was heaviest in the central third of the state with a few drier areas around Bloomington and south of the Quad Cities. At the same time, we have had sunny skies and low humidity – a good recipe for evaporating water out of the ground and transpiring it out of vegetation. Current estimates are that we are losing about 0.2 inches of moisture per day and as Mr. Twain implied we certainly are not immune to talking about the weather, much less is that there is little we can do about it.
Take our lawn and gardens. We can certainly water them until local officials impose water restrictions. This naturally follows with prioritizing our needs versus wants. Our family happens to like tomatoes better than a green lawn. Therefore, our lawn is now somewhere between grass and straw. But the weeds are doing well! As to the garden, well, it is holding its own. The leaves are green and the plants are thriving and wouldn’t you know it, the Japanese Beetles love the basil, plus several of our trees. In a few short weeks, we will have to start deep watering our bushes and trees. Still there may be long term damage done to both.
But, there is something of much concern that my phobia with the mosquito, or the ascetics of our bushes and trees. Things that are pleasing to the eye and enhancements to the property. Our very livelihood does not depend on whether or not I have a tomato for supper or a shade tree or two to sit under as I watch the evening sun go down. No our concern ought to be focused on the entire farming community and those entities that depend of their products. One needs only to drive a short ways into the country and see up close and personal the potential damage that may happen if timely rains are not forthcoming. We can complain and there may not be much we can do about either the mosquitoes or the draught, except…..P-R-A-Y-E-R. Not for those pesky insects, because they are here for some reason, but for R-A-I-N. We can live with insects, but we cannot live without W-A-T-E-R!!
Till next time…john
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