Front Cover

How Deluxe Can You Get?
by Fred Liddle

The last issue of this paper was my first attempt at producing a 24 page journal. I found it to be a long, drawn-out procedure. Setting of the first few pages of type commenced in early March, 1975 and the folding, collating and stapling weren’t completed until late August. I can’t explain why I had to publish such a large journal anymore than a mountain climber can explain his strange hobby.

But I do know this: no previous paper of mine elicited so much favorable comment. And frankly, I enjoy being patted on the back.

Trouble is, how can I publish a 24 page issue and then revert to the 12 pagers which have been the norm for Rhatt Race? Like it or not, I’ll have to produce a 24 pager every time or be labeled a “has-been.”

Page 1

As I have previously complained, the trouble with producing large issues is that the publisher mush spend so darn much time soliciting copy… time I, for one, would rather spend at the case and press. Although I began writing letters to prospective contributors in early autumn, I’m still a long way from having 24 pages worth of copy on the hook. There are several articles promised as I get ready to begin setting type but the only manuscript on hand as a direct result of my canvassing is Ann Vrooman’s fiction piece which follows. Other than a few pages of my own nonsense, the only other material ready to set is a couple of short – and unsolicited – poems by Max S. Barker.

It is my fond hope to have RR20 ready in time for the July AAPA and LCB bundles… if I get to the NAPA Centennial in Philadelphia next July, I’d like to bring completed copies with me. In the meantime, I’ll just set type, pump the press handle and hope more copy materializes.

In RR19 I wondered aloud what was the particular significance of 24 page journals for the ajays of a generation ago. Several readers have subsequently informed me that postal regulations prevailing at the time allowed journals of 24 or more pages to be mailed at a special reduced rate. It was actually cheaper to mail such papers privately than to ship a package of them to the Mailer for bundle distribution.

While most folks were scurrying around doing their last minute Christmas shopping or wrapping presents already purchased, the publisher handset these first three pages. The dates: December 22 & 23. Bah, humbug!

Page 2 and 3

The Old Hoofer
by Ann Vrooman

Because I was adjusting my hearing aid, the young doctor asked: “Are you sure you heard all I said, Mr. McDougall?” The nerve!

“Listen, young fellow, there are things I hear, and things I don’t. I never missed a cue for a curtain… and I danced longer than you pedaled pills.” When his phone rang I felt ashamed. He gave it to me straight over the rocks… the headstones. Like I asked.

After he promised not to tell my daughter, Jenny, I took the bus home and began thinking about other things… especially Jenny’s PTA program. Fact is, I was more excited than she, when they asked her to be chairlady. Jenny had felt unneeded after the twins went off to college. She’d always been active in school things. Then she asked for my help. “The teachers would love a little parody or school song. I used to write lyrics for congressmen running; things like that. Well, I was thinking about “I’m in love with Phoebe,” to the tune of “I’m in love with Amy.”

Jenny said Phoebe Hearst was the Founder, and it was a Founders’ Day program, when I almost missed my stop. It started to drizzle when I got off the bus, so I hurried the two blocks past the boarded-up houses. Then I noticed Whipple’s house boarded up. And old Whipple never said a word the other day, and him hollering loudest about nobody would put a freeway through his front door. I felt empty.

Jenny had apple pie ready. “Want some coffee? How’d the tests go?”

Page 4 and 5

“Fine,” I said. “Doc gave me medicine for this bloody cough and charged me ten bucks for this piece of paper.”

Jenny took the paper. “Did the doctor tell you to stop smoking?”

“Yeah.” I changed the subject. “Did you know Whipple sold out?”

She sipped her coffee and I got the feeling she had something to say that wasn’t getting out.

“What’s up, Jenny?”

“Well… Joe and I… we signed off too. We heard the price was going down fast for state property. Whipple got eight hundred less than his offer six months back.”

“You didn’t! You mean Joe let the state freeze him out? I helped him build this place twenty years back.”

“You can’t stop the freeway, Dad. Joe didn’t want you worrying ahead. He did it for all of us. With the twins away this house is too big and it’s hard to heat. You would cough less in cozy quarters.”

There was nothing for me to say. I told Jenny I wanted to take a nap and I was tired. I didn’t awaken until I heard Joe’s voice in the kitchen: “You didn’t tell him all of it, Jenny? We’re taking him out, cold?” I didn’t hear Jenny’s answer. I headed for the kitchen.

“Well, I hear you sold the old place? Guess it had to happen.”

I saw Joe swallow hard. “Glad you understand. I know you love the place; we all did. Jenny says you’ll miss the park.”

Jenny added: “We’re going to dinner, Dad. We want you to see the new place. It’s a nice neighborhood and there’s a bus out front goes to the downtown park.”

I got a nip in the gut. “Jenny… you don’t mean it’s a different school district? We won’t be doing the Founders’ Program?”

“Oh sure, Dad. That’s only three weeks away. We won’t move for two months.”

Page 6 and 7

I breathed again.

We drove up in front of a large building with four front doors. “It’s a fourplex Dad,” Jenny explained.

“What’s that?”

“Four families share a building but each home is separate.” There was something else. Jenny gives things away in her voice.

“You don’t mean I have a separate fourth, Jenny?”

“No.” She looked at Joe.

“There’s more to show you first,” he said. He drove a few blocks. We stopped in front of a sign that said: “Welcome Inn Mobile Court.” He drove up a narrow drive. Trailers were so close supper smells were mixing up. I inhaled and started coughing. Joe stopped in front of a small trailer… bright orange and white, and new.

“We taking a trip?”

He handed me a key. “Here, open the door.”

My hand fumbled and my cough was getting harder. Jenny propelled me inside after unlocking the door. The interior was bright after Joe put on the lights. “See, this divan pulls into a bed,” Jenny said. “And here’s your own little range, and an electric refrigerator… and nice sink.” Even the sink was orange. I felt dizzy and sat on a small orange chair.

Joe plumped on the bed he’d pulled down. “Try it,” he said. I got up to oblige, numbly, but my cough started again. I headed for the toilet; shut the door behind me, and lifted the seat. Thank God it was white. Slowly a red ring spread over the water.

“You okey?” Joe yelled through the door.

“We’ll get that prescription filled before we eat,” Jenny said.

When I came back out, I said as eagerly as I could: “Well, let’s eat. And this time on me. I cashed my Social Security check today. By the way, Joe, you didn’t pay for the trailer yet, did you?”

Page 8 and 9

“No, just fifty down. They’ll wait until we get the check from the state for the old place. But you keep the key.”

That’s what helped get me through dinner. They hadn’t paid yet. I wouldn’t have to say anything and who knew… I might not have three months. After assuring Jenny that I liked the trailer, I got to the point. “I’ve been thinking about your PTA program all day. How long a show do we have?”

“If you want out now, say so, Dad. I’m trying to talk Jenny out of it. There’ll be lots to do moving.”

“Oh no… I don’t want out,” I said.

“Me either,” said Jenny. “But Dad, you aren’t planning too much? Remember, the teachers have a chorus. And four women are doing a ‘Can-Can.’ They just need a little filler.”

Joe nudged me. “Maybe Dad and I will both be in the audience watching that ‘Can-Can’?”

Jenny looked worried. “Dad, promise you won’t sing. It’s too much with that cough.”

I put up my right hand. “Scout’s Honor.” But I didn’t tell either of them what I did have in mind. It hadn’t even occurred to them I could still dance a little of the old soft shoe… just because I was over seventy. I’d show ‘em. I’d rent me some tails, white gloves and a tall hat. I already had a cane. Shucks, I do things with a cane that Ted Lewis never tried. If we were opening with someone doing the ‘Can-Can,” I’d do the “Cakewalk” out. What the devil! It would beat going out in a small orange trailer any day. Any day!

Page 10 and 11

Psychology of Mind
by Max S. Barker

Trail of a jet in cirrus clouds,
Blast of a horn in quiet woods,
Stench of rot in fragrant spring,
Gag of a curdle in foamy milk,
Sting of a pin in velvet silk.

Conversion Woes
by Fred Liddle

My employer, the Tampa Tribune-Times, recently converted to the Letterflex plate-making system. The paper is now printed from photomechanically produced plastic plates instead of the conventional stereotype casting. So far the conversion has been something less than an overwhelming success.

The lightweight plastic plates just don’t transfer ink to paper as efficiently as the old metal plate did. To compensate for this, a thinner ink is used, which, when combined with the lighter newsprint on which the paper is now printed, causes an unsightly show-through.

The pressmen are not yet completely familiar with the rebuilt presses which have been modified to accept the new plates. Frequent web breaks wreak havoc with our deadlines. My fellow platemakers and I are still learning how to operate our new equipment and the plates we have been producing are evidence of our lack of experience. On some days the paper is barely legible.

Advertisers and subscribers are up in arms. I find myself avoiding friends and neighbors who know I work at the paper. I was recently introduced to the new couple who bought the house across the street. After some preliminary conversation, the husband asked me what I did for a living.

“I play the piano at Fifi’s Massage Parlor,” I replied.

There was no point in letting him know I’m a platemaker at the Tampa Tribune-Times. For some reason or other, our Production Manager didn’t laugh at this story.

Page 12 and 13

Snowbirds are Coming
by Mary Floyd

So you think Florida living is all orange wine and green turtle steaks. Well you’re wrong… it’s no green turtle steaks at all and precious little orange wine. Everybody else should start feeling sorry for us at once.

Just so you’ll know what life in the Sunshine State is really like, you can listen in on a conversation we had recently with two winter visitors. During the winter, as you know, Florida is heavily populated by visitors from colder climates. As hosts we, of course, try to be polite, sometimes against heavy odds.

Home: Welcome to Florida! I hope you’re enjoying your visit.

Visitors: We have a pretty good time at home, too.

Home: That’s nice. Have you gotten out on the beach yet?

Visitors: No, we spent all our time in the emergency room at the hospital. She forgot to pack her prescription and we had to wait for an hour to get service.

Home: That’s too bad. There’s always a little wait but I guess it’s worse in the winter. So many visitors, you know…

Visitors: That’s just it, all these people jammed in here. You can hardly get through the traffic. And what for?

Home: A lot of people enjoy the beach, I guess.

Visitors: (enthusiastically) At home, we’re having really bracing weather. It’s snowed several times this year.

Page 14 and 15

Home: I guess you’re getting a little homesick.

Visitors: (indignantly) Homesick? Indeed not! We just appreciate a little variety in the weather, that’s all. How do you people stand this weather? Just one day after another, the same thing.

Home: (apologetically) Yeah, you’re right. Nothing but sunshine, day after day.

Visitors: Now, at home, we have four distinct seasons of the year. When it’s spring, the earth bursts with new life. In summer, the days are long, warm, idyllic. In fall, the crops are brought in, the bounty of nature is evident, and the leaves begin to turn red. When winter comes, you know it’s winter. There’s snow up to the windowsills and you can see your breath on the air if you can get out. Now that’s a climate!

Home: (admiringly) It certainly is. Of course, nature is pretty bountiful around here, too. Crops are brought in all through the year.

Visitors: (furiously) Crops! Yes, but what crops? Nothing but summer crops! We have potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbages. Around here they don’t grow anything but lettuce and tomatoes! In the ground, out of the ground, nothing to that!

Home: Well, we do have an orange tree and a lemon tree in the back yard, and a key lime and a grapefruit on the side…

Visitors: That’s just what we’re telling you! No variety! One sunshiny day after another, tropical plants… all this over-ripe stuff like hibiscus and bougainvillea, sybaritic, heavy-smelling stuff. No lilacs, no primroses, no snow, no variety. It must be terribly boring to live here.

Home: (capitulating) Well, you’re right in a way. I do hope, for the sake of the grass, that it rains soon.

Visitors: What? And ruin our vacation?

Final Score:

Visitors 1
Home 0

Page 16 and 17

Ptomaine Tavern News
by Fred Liddle

According to recent inspections conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, 90 percent of the country’s restaurants may be unsanitary. FDA agents, at the request of the General Accounting Office, carried out inspections in 185 restaurants in nine cities: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Norfolk, San Francisco and Tucson. They arrived at the 90 percent figure on the basis of this random sampling… which sounds something like those television viewing surveys.

The FDA inspectors found such violations as roaches and beetles crawling on food, mouse droppings on the shelves, rat infestations, dirty meat-cutting blocks, food stored in open containers in dirty refrigerators, rotting meat in freezers, insecticides and cleaning compounds stored with food, improper temperatures for storing food, inadequate facilities for washing equipment and utensils and use of dirty ice in beverages.

That last revelation is really serious.

Page 18 and 19

Happily for the proprietors of the offending establishments, neither the restaurants nor the cities in which they are located were identified in the report which the GAO presented to Congress. The UPI reporter covering the story presumed New York was the city where none of the eateries checked met minimum sanitary standards. Personally, I’m sure New York is the city where inspectors report they were offered bribes on three separate occasions.

Due to the aforementioned anonymity, several questions regarding the places I usually frequent haven’t been answered satisfactorily. Does Ronald McDonald have dirty fingernails? Do Colonel Sander’s chickens have filthy feathers? Have rodents turned up their noses at the mozzarella pizza from Shakey’s?

The whole thing is almost enough to make me start eating home again. I did say almost. I’m not saying I like the idea of eating in an unsanitary restaurant, but it’s a problem I can live with. After all, when the FDA tried to inspect my kitchen at home, they were driven off by the rats.

Things aren’t exactly unsanitary at 404 Erie Avenue, but… out oven walls are so coated with grease that we can only cook one hamburger at a time; we can’t fit any more in. I don’t like TV dinners served on a stick like a popsicle, so move over rats and roaches, we’re eating out tonight. Damn the FDA report!

Page 20 and 21

Nor Gloom of Night
by Harrison L. Church

Among the dirty jokes making the rounds has been a one-liner that goes, “The mail moves the country and Zip Code moves the mail.” In view of what Jack Anderson has said about headquarters, we may wonder about our country grinding to a halt altogether. Anderson hasn’t been alone; he just has the greatest visibility. Playboy magazine, which takes up causes periodically, zeroed in on the post office several years ago, but nothing seems to have come of it.

Anderson spends his words berating the postmaster general for installing fancy, $500 wood doors at the entrance to his office, and even more for packing his staff with $35,000 to $50,000 a-year cronies from his old days in private enterprise. While I don’t condone the apparent loss of the higher figures cited by Anderson, I don’t really care about the doors. And if the cronies can somehow make the postal service work, then I don’t mind them, either.

But the far more critical point is that Anderson is doing what is popular – taking pot shots at the head man, instead of surveying the admitted problem at the post office. The trouble lies not in Washington, this time, but in the cities of the country, where, in the words of former postmaster general E. T. Klassen, these offices have been for generations, “A vast political dumping ground” for people who can’t hold productive jobs but who have voted right.

Page 22 and 23

Surely, almost every medium-sized city in America has a post office that annually wastes much more than $50,000. An example I could name would be an office where that figure would cover the salaries of about ten percent of the staff, and that office would benefit, not suffer, if ten percent of the personnel were cut. Lest I take on Jack Anderson’s own flair for the negative, let me hasten to point out that, “it ain’t necessarily so,” and in my own drive for better postal service, I have been in the remarkable position of being able to point out from experience that the excuses of errant postmasters are false, for I know best of all post offices out here in Lebanon and know that postmasters really can be diligent, capable, and pillars of the community. And the postal staff in Lebanon seems generally directed to moving the mail instead of stopping it. In fact, it surely must be offices like these that save the system from immediate failure.

But the plain fact is that the postal system has broken down, even if we no longer hear the tales of woe about miles and miles of railroad cars of Christmas mail standing on sidings in Chicago awaiting sorting. The examples are legion: I guess I don’t even have to go into the Associated Press test mailing or the race staged between the U.S. Mail and a “pony express” rider. Can you guess who won?

Editor’s Note: The preceding is a partial reprint of an article which originally appeared in the Lebanon (IL) Advertiser, a weekly newspaper published by the Church family.

Page 24

French Sequence
by Max S. Barker

Chateau eyes
See bikini by the sea,
Mono, bit, and free…

Rhatt Race is published in the interests of amateur journalism by Fred Liddle of Tampa, Florida 33606. April 8, 1976.

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