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Who’s a Grouch?

I guess it is about time to remind youfolks of how I got my nickname.

Every so often a person will come into the store and ask if there is a Christian Book Store in town. At the mention of the word ‘Christian’ I begin to see red. My wife and I are both Christians and, yes, we have a Christian Book Store. What do I look like, a Jew, or Moslem, maybe a Buddhist, or a devil worshiper? If they are looking for Religious Material why don’t they say so?

That word has been bandied around so much with Christian schools, book stores, and ad nauseam, that I wonder if people really know what it means. I know what they are looking for but their comment is an insult to me and should be to anyone unless they are one of the aforementioned. Every public school in the nation can be assumed to be a Christian school because I am assuming we are basically a Christian nation. Private schools could be Christian, Jewish, Moslem or whatever faith is supporting it.

Now about the books. Yes, some of the authors are not Christian, but Jewish, or whatever. The same goes for the publishers. I know what the problem is and a lot of it is the material contained in many of the books. Sex is rampant in most of the books published today but that DOES NOT make them un-Christian. It merely means that most of the publishers have no taste. You will notice I did not mention authors. Most of the authors would prefer not to write that stuff but I understand the publishers insist on it because it sells more books.

Sex is a natural function of a body modeled after God’s. The Bible makes that quite plain. In fact, there is no place in the Bible that I know of that forbids the discussion of sex. Yes it gives many sexual rules but to my knowledge none on discussion. If I’m wrong I’m sure there is someone in my audience who will set me straight.

There is one thing in that book, however that many people have overlooked – judge not lest ye be so judged – or words to that effect.

OK, that’s my speech for today. And that’s how I got to be a grouch – but a Christian grouch.

How to Jump a Fence

I was talking on the telephone the other day to a very nice lady. Mrs. Rosamond Lalonde is a former neighbor when we lived on our depression-type stump ranch northeast of Snohomish, Washington. She is now 93 years old and has just suffered a heart attack this last winter. I called to see how she was getting along. She isn’t popping wheelies in her wheelchair yet but I expect to hear of her trying it before long.

That phone call conjured up some old memories.

During the 1930’s they had a small dairy herd on their farm not far from our place. I was home from the CCC’s on this particular weekend and my sister, Margaret, and I were visiting them. Mr. Lalonde’s favorite cow had just had a calf and he wanted to show it off. He was standing on one side of a chest-high rail fence and I was on the other. Casually, I placed my hand on the top rail and from a standing start, I vaulted easily over the fence.

Now, fifty years later and about a hundred pounds heavier, I would probably have trouble crawling under the bottom rail.

Speaking of fences, however, brings to mind another fence story. Our son, John, after his return from a hitch in the Army during the Viet Nam era, purchased a twenty acre parcel on a mountain top up in Ferry County, Washington. His mountain top was so close to Canada that his back line was the international border and it was only three strands of rusty barbed wire.

Rosella is a rock picker and we had been exploring John’s domain this particular day when she spotted a pretty rock on the other side of the fence. She crawled through, retrieved the rock and then asked me if I’d hold the wire for her.

“Not on your life,” I replied, haughtily, “This is the border and how do I know you’re not an undesirable alien?”

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A Scam at Carl’s

Carl’s Jr., a local fast food chain, have a drink in most of the restaurants. This is where you pay for your first drink and the refills are free. Wouldn’t you know the teenagers have worked out a way to milk the system?

The scam is quite simple and I’m sorry I didn’t think of it first. Their gimmick? Well, a group of kids descend on the establishment and one of them buys a cup. You guessed it, they then pass the cup around until everyone has had a drink. Neat, huh?

Are Great-Grandparents Old

The week of March 1st saw Rosella and I passing another milestone when we became great-grandparents. Rosemary’s oldest daughter gave birth to a little girl, Tari Lee. Believe me, it is an event to make you set up and take notice of things. This summer the Grouch was seventy and I am still looking at the world through the same eyes I viewed it with when I was twenty. I still look at girls the same way but can’t seem to remember why.

I always greet customers at THE BOOK TRADER as though they were old friends and many of them are getting to be. I don’t refer to them as ‘old’ because in this town of basically senior citizens some of them might take offense at being referred to as old. I know I do.

When they return my greeting with the usual, “How are ya?” my answer is nearly always the same… “I’m ahead of the sheriff and the undertaker and you can’t beat that.”

Indirectly, that leads me to another old saying – “The easiest way to handle a wild bull is to keep him on the end of a tight chain.” Of course, how you keep the chain tight might be a bit of a problem.

The Mythical Twenty

It is interesting to watch the various things that go on in THE BOOK TRADER. Several weeks ago there were two young ladies looking over the romance section and muttering between themselves. Finally, one girl spoke up and said, “Of course I want to get married some day but I’m getting awfully tired of kissing frogs.” So much for Prince Charming.

Last week a couple came up to the counter with several books and when I told them what the price was the lady turned to her husband.

“Have you got a couple of dollars, dear? All I have is a twenty.” she pleaded.

The man reached for his wallet and while he was getting it out he turned to me and winked.

“Funny thing about that twenty,” he stated, “She been carrying it for years and says the same thing. But don’t worry she’ll wear it out someday.”

Anyone for Television?

That isn’t really a good lead-in for this discussion but will have to do for now. I tuned in to a very good movie several nights ago and they announced there would be a minimum of interruptions during the show. They stood by their remark, too, but the unhappy part of it was that those interruptions lasted from five to seven minutes each. By the time they were through with the interruptions I had forgotten what the movie was about.

Speaking of commercials reminds me… have you seen the latest, or one of the latest, Coor’s commercials? You know the one I mean… the one where those Saturday afternoon jocks are playing different sports in the rain. Yeah, that one. Well, that just leads me to the conclusion that people who drink Coor’s don’t have brains enough to come in out of the rain.

You’ve got to be on your toes all the time if you’re going to keep up with things. Case in point. Do you know what kind of music the Pilgrims enjoyed? The answer, of course, has to be Plymouth Rock.

Is Writing an Art?

Now that the Macon confab is over I would like to report on something that was told to me in Salt Lake City in 1987. This person, the inevitable reliable source who shall remain nameless, told me in strictest confidence.

“I once got ten dollars a word.”

“That’s pretty steep,” I replied, “How did you do that?”

“Quite simple… I talked back to a judge.”

And that brings to mind another item about writing. This was overheard in THE BOOK TRADER not long ago. These two gentlemen were arguing about the merits of a certain book. Finally, one of them, himself an author, said to the other.

“No, John, you can’t appreciate it. You never wrote a book yourself.”

“No,” retorted John, “and I’ve never laid an egg but I’m a better judge of an omelette than any hen.”

And then there was the guy, or was it a gal, who had written something that any magazine would be pleased to accept… a check for his, or her subscription.

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Growls from the Grouch

I heard a discussion on TV the other day (that’s a mythical period of time when you don’t remember it happening) about self-determination. That’s when I was reminded of a little quip I heard… the other day, of course, in which the writer stated…

“Show me a man who stands on his own two feet and I’ll show you a man whose car has been dispossessed.”

* * * *

Arise all you left-handers. The cook at CeeTees Restaurant, next door to THE BOOK TRADER, has a cup that says it all for us. In fact, the message on the side is one of the first true declarations of southpaws. It says, “Everyone is born right-handed… only the best of us can overcome it!!”

* * * *

About the same time I was reading in an old Reader’s Digest where the author was telling how right-handers work off the left side of the brain and left-handers work on the right side of the brain which could lead us to the conclusion that left-handers are the only ones in their right mind.

* * * *

Gradually, over the years, and that has been a day or two, I have been amassing a lot of answers to questions I raised when I was a youngster. The problem is that now I’ve forgotten what the questions were.

* * * *

Our kids had difficulty wondering why Dad was always broke. Well, I think now is the time to tell them. You see, when I was a baby my mother hired a lady to wheel me about in my carriage. I’ve been pushed for money ever since.

* * * *

Who says I don’t get enough exercise? I can list a number of actions I take each day to create exercise. Let’s see, I have to get up to go to the refrigerator, or get a cup of coffee. I also have to pick up my own dirty clothes, and, well isn’t that enough?

* * * *

Things do change, don’t they? I can remember when a pie was set on the window sill to cool… not defrost.

* * * *

The other night on TV I was watching a display of spring fashions from France and Italy. All I can say is that it’s a shame those designers appear to be women haters. Egad, I never saw such a collection of incredibly unflattering clothes and it has been going on for years.

* * * *

Someone a while back mentioned something about mispronounced words. Well, I have another. Have you got a “meer” in your home? We have and we’ve always had one. I stand before it every morning to brush my hair and my teeth.

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This is a who-dun-it. On the other hand it should be very evident who-dun-it… it has to be that dubious, doubtful duo of the heartland of California… Jack M. Hageman of Desert Hot Springs and Bill Gordon of Quartz Hill, fame. For those who might be doubtful of its authenticity, we certify this is a legitimate paper prepared for those who can read in the National Amateur Press Association done this 18th day of July, 1988.

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