Tag Archives: Christmas

The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, Christmas Edition

Looking at the pages of the Tuesday edition of The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, managing editor, Isabella Frost knew it was going to be a long night.  Ever since she was a young, bright-eyed copy editor, ignoring the clock on the wall had been a tradition. There was a lot to do and she had a “to-do” list a mile long to prove it.

After nearly 40 years in the newsroom, that was one thing that never changed. Isabella was used to working late. To be honest, she enjoyed the time it took and the excitement of putting out a newspaper, especially during the holiday season. She liked seeing all of the brilliant colors of pictures and the heart-warming stories of the town coming together splashed all over the pages.  After all these years, they always filled her heart with joy.

Isabella closed her eyes, took a deep breath and remembered she needed to make room for the full-page ad that would accompany the feature for Dexter Dolby’s new movie, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer. She also needed to include milk to her list of things to pick up on her way home before she continued gazing at the words and pictures intermingling across tomorrow’s layout.  She was content with her life and the work she had done.  Then something peculiar caught her attention—she couldn’t look away.

Every story seemed to be in a “Top 10 List” format. As she clicked through each section, there were lists after lists scattered all throughout the pages. In the age of social media, Isabella knows that lists are a quick and effective way to tell a story. She, herself, has used them and keeps countless lists stored in her phone: “to-do” lists, lists for potential articles she wants to write, even her grocery list on her refrigerator is synced to her phone so even if she forgets to write milk to her shopping list, it’s not a big deal. Isabella can just send the list that is on her refrigerator to her phone and call it a day.

There is “Top 10”lists for everything nowadays. Every newspaper, magazine and media outlet around the globe seems to gravitate towards using them, not as just an element to a story, but as the primary way to relay information to the masses.

And Isabella saw that The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle is definitely keeping up with current trends. The headlines staring back at her were: Top 10 Best Christmas Gifts for Chefs, The 10 Best Christmas Yodeling Albums of 2017, Merry Duggins’ List of the 10 Best Christmas Movies to name just a few.

Thankfully, the piece on Dexter’s new movie premiere would add an element of tradition to the paper. He was a longtime friend of Isabella’s and a beloved movie legend of Letongaloosa. His premiere film, Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey, lead him to head to job at a film production company on the Pacific Coast. He was home for the holidays to showcase his sophomore film, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer.  It was only fitting that Dexter come back to where his first began and it was only right that Isabella conduct his homecoming interview.

Excited, seeing Dexter and writing about his newest movie was an article that Isabella had looked forward to writing. Dexter was a student at Letongaloosa Community College where Isabella taught a writing course. She supervised his internship here at the paper and had been following his career ever since. She made sure Dexter’s story would be front and center highlight of the Lifestyle section.

After giving the Tuesday edition a final glance, she checked some final things off of her “to-do” list and headed off to the grocery store. It had been a long day. She was happy to go home, close her eyes and relax.

 

As Isabella woke the next morning, she reached for her phone to check her schedule for the day. It was going to be another long day. Making her way to into the newsroom, she grabbed a paper and flipped to the Lifestyle section and saw Dexter Dolby’s big smile, sparkling eyes and his “Top 10 Favorite Scifi Movies” staring back at her. She was filled with joy!!

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Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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10 suggestions Poet James Russell Lowell

 

The Poet asked:  “Oh what is so rare as a day in June?”

1.     The flame created by the burning of your paid-off home mortgage.

2.     The look on the face of a three-year-old child who hears her dad’s car coming up the driveway.

3.     A wife seeing her husband of 55 years pain-free after recuperating from back surgery.

4.     Your dog’s tail when someone brings him his dinner.

5.     Grandpa’s joy at finding where Grandma hid the cookies after she left to play Mahjongg with her friends all afternoon.

6.     Grandma’s joy when Grandpa finally agrees to get a haircut.

7.     Parking the car in a rainstorm thinking you left the umbrella at home— and then seeing it lying in the back seat.

8.     The happiness of a boy who sees his homing pigeon land in its coop after being missing for a week.

9.     Ten Lords a-leaping.

10. And a partridge in a pear tree.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Hunting For St. Joseph ©

My wife Emmaline is one no nonsense, “just give me the facts,
please,” kind of woman. You won’t find Emmaline running on the
gerbil wheel of fad or fashion, much less giving heed to folklore
traditions. So it was with some consternation that I found myself in the
car (with Emmaline at the wheel as usual) driving to the city to buy a
statue of St. Joseph
We had decided to put our house on the market with an eye to
moving to something smaller, with fewer stairs. Before we signed a
sales contract and way before the for sale signs went up, Emmaline
got word from her good friend Rosalie that if we were serious about
selling our house we had better seek the divine assistance of St.
Joseph.
“You have to bury a small statue of St. Joseph upside down in the
front yard,” said Rosalie. “If you do that, your house will sell fast.”
Rosalie had told Emmaline to try We Believe Books, a Christian
store on the outskirts of the city. We drove around awhile and then
spotted “We Believe,” in a strip mall.
“Hi folks,” said the man behind the counter. “It’s a blessed
day.”
“Indeed it is,” said Emmaline. “Especially if you have a statue of
St. Joseph.”
“A statue?” the man asked.
“Well, actually small figurine of St. Joseph.”
“We don’t carry figurines,” he said.” Would a book mark do?”
We have some nice St. Joseph bookmarks.”
“No. It has to be a figurine.”
“Then I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
“Is there another religious store close by?”
“You could try Light and Knowledge over on Linden Tree Road.”
Emmaline asked how to get there and the man gave her detailed
directions. After driving around for half an hour we found ourselves in
a in a rough neighborhood. Emmaline pulled up to a rundown
convenience store.
“See if the clerk knows where to find Light and Knowledge,” she
said.
The clerk was in his early twenties. He had a silver nose ring and
a nickel-sized ivory plug in each ear lobe.
“I’m looking for Light and Knowledge,” I said.
The clerk straightened up. His right hand moved slowly out of
sight under the counter.
“I’m all out,” he said.
“What?”
“I’m all out, man. Come back later.”
My confusion turned to insight. I felt a chill.
“Oh yeah, right. Okay, man,” I said. I backed toward the door.
“Did the clerk know anything?” asked Emmaline.
“No,” I said
Twenty minutes later we were in a less stressed part of town. We
passed a church. Six or seven women and a pastor were chatting on
the front steps. Emmaline pulled to the curb.
“Ask if they know where it is,” she said. “Hi, folks,” I said. “We’re
looking for the Light and Knowledge bookstore on Linden Tree
Road.” The pastor came to the car.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have no idea. But Salvation Now
Bookshop is up the street three blocks.
The woman behind the counter at Salvation Now was tall and
angular.
“We’d like to buy a small figurine of St. Joseph, “said Emmaline.
“You don’t want Salvation Now, you want Light and
Knowledge,” said the woman.
“Right,” I said, “on Linden Tree Road.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Is it far?”
“About twenty blocks. My sister Ginger owns it. My name is
Sheila.” Sheila handed me a sheet of paper with a map showing
how to get from Salvation Now to Light and Knowledge.
“You must have lots of requests for St. Joseph figurines, why
don’t you stock them?” I asked.
“Ginger and I both wanted to stock St. Joseph figurines, but we
decided to do “rocks, scissors, papers” and let the winner have an
exclusive on them,” she said. “Ginger won. I got exclusive rights to St.
Redondo figurines.”
“What does St. Redondo do for people?” I asked.
“He brings customers to yard and garage sales,” she said. “You
hide him carefully in the worst, most useless, item you have. I’ve
heard of St. Redondo yard and garage sales that have nothing left
less than half an hour after they began.”
We thanked Sheila, and followed her map to the Light and
Knowledge Book Store. The St. Joseph figurine came in a little box
that had instructions on how and where to bury him to insure a quick
sale.
We haven’t sold our house yet, but Emmaline says St. Joseph is
working on it every day. Meantime she’s planning another trip to the
city. Emmaline wants to buy a St. Redondo figurine to use in the
garage sale we’re going to have before we move.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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It’s So Cold…

Colder than a witches’  up here.  Clear blue sky, not a cloud.  Cold enough to freeze Ginger’s pee as soon as it hits the grass (well not quite).   

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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A Christmas Luau in Letongaloosa©

From Garrison Storm’s earliest memories, Christmastime in Letongaloosa meant
sledding and snowball fights in down at Ol’ Man Connelly’s farm, hot cider and
skating with the Duggins kids, and sampling the cookies that he and his Mom
baked for Santa on Christmas Eve. Garrison has countless wonderfully, nostalgic,
childhood memories, but his most memorable holiday memory happened last
year when he and Clara Vidente, Letongaloosa’s resident psychic, saved
Christmas.
Typical days at MEGA-TV are an odd mix of terribly busy, and nothing much to
do. Everyone works in ebbs and flows. Some days are calm. Others are frantic.
Holidays are just plain crazy.
Garrison, the station’s lead meteorologist, was in the middle of a frantic stretch
which meant he would be working over the weekend to get forecasts ready for
Christmas. By Sunday, despite the lure and distraction of the yuletide activities in
town, Garrison had had a productive day. He had managed to deliver the
forecast for the upcoming week. He tweaked the layouts of the night’s
weathercast and even made time to go online to order a shiny, snow racer sled
for his nephew, Parker. He then walked across the street to eat at the diner
where he struck up a conversation with his psychic friend, Clara.
Clara had lived in Letongaloosa for years. She had a shop on Main Street that
lured passersby to come in to have their futures told. Garrison always walked by
on his way to go sledding with Paul and Tommy Duggins. She’d wave at him
through the bright yellow and green neon sign hanging in her store window.
That afternoon, as he waited for his roasted turkey sandwich and potato salad,
Clara told him she was concerned about the weather. It had been a bit
blustery, but after pouring over the radar all weekend Garrison saw nothing out
of the ordinary. Weather conditions were normal for that time of year, cold and
snowy. In other words, perfect weather for warm cider, cookies and sledding.
“I’ve been consulting my crystal ball and I don’t see snow at all,” Clara told
Garrison.
Garrison could tell she really believed in what she had “seen”, so he just sat and
listened. He had known this sweet lady his whole life.
“Go on,” he said.
“I see flowers blooming, children eating the snow, instead of throwing it. This is
going to be unlike any Christmas Letongaloosa has ever seen. We’ve got to do
something!”
“Tell you what,” Garrison said. “I’m going back to my office and I will check
every forecast again. I promise to issue a special weather bulletin if anything
other than snow happens on Christmas day.”
After lunch, Garrison took a short walk down Main Street to stretch his legs. It felt
good after the frantic pace he’d been on. He looked down at the snow on the
ground, took a deep breath, and thought about what Clara had said.
Garrison didn’t consider himself a haruspex. He couldn’t predict the weather.
And all of his data and experience as a meteorologist told him that everything
would be normal.
Walking back to the station, Garrison met Merry Duggins. She’s Paul and
Tommy’s mother who volunteers at the courthouse as a guardian ad-Litem.
Merry always had a kind word, a smile, and a pat on the back for kids in need.
Merry was as level-headed as Clara was psychically inclined. As they chatted,
Merry told Garrison that the winter festival would have a bit of a twist. He
promised he’d be there. He thought she had given him a peculiar smile as she
continued down Main Street.
Weeks later, Garrison walked into the courthouse meeting hall. He couldn’t
believe his eyes. Tropical flowers were everywhere. The good folks of
Letongaloosa had donned Hawaiian shirts. Their kids were chomping snow
cones. Garrison had walked into a Christmas Luau.
Clara’s crystal ball predictions had come true. He glanced around the room
taking it all in. Then he spotted her.
“You were right!”
“I can get used to this. It’s nice.”
“Merry Christmas, Clara! Now let’s go sledding.”
-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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Jus’ Wonderin’

Hey look, we don’t call  The Fourth of July  “Firecracker Day,”   We do call Christmas (out of laziness we write  Xmas, but we don’t call it “get lots of loot day.”  We don’t call Groundhog Day  “Brown Rodent Day.”  We don’t call Valentines Day
“I Heart You,” Day.  We don’t call May Day “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies,” Day.  So why, pray tell, do we call Thanksgiving  “Turkey Day”?
Jus’wonderin’

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Bound For Buenos Aires

Hello!!

This is a true story. It chronicles one of my many adventures as a foreign correspondent. I was a young 27-year old writer back then and throughout the years, life has taken us on quite the journey!! My wife and I just celebrated 58 years of wedded bliss. Enjoy!!

Chris and I got married in mid December (1960) and in early February were scheduled to take a freighter from New Orleans, bound for Buenos Aires. We were supposed to sail at noon. Chris gets really seasick so she took two Dramamine tablets. Then, when we got to the dock, the ship was still being loaded. The Purser said it would be a three hours before we could board. he suggested we go to a movie at a theater near the dock. We went. Chris fell asleep before the movie started, and was still asleep when it ended. I had to practically lug her back to the ship. We boarded and got to our cabin. There were six other passengers. We ate with the captain and the crew. Chris was encouraged by my father, who had sailed to fight in WWI by way of the Caribbean. He said, “The Caribbean is a smooth as glass.”
We sailed that afternoon. As we got out of the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean the sea got rough. The Caribbean wasn’t as “smooth as glass,” as my Dad had experienced. It was rolling and pitching. The captain said, “I’ve never seen this part of the Caribbean so rough. Chris said, “That’s because I’m on board.
Passengers ate in the dining room with the crew. There were eight passengers on our freighter: Chris and me—the young marrieds; a mother and her late teen daughter; a Brazilian couple bound for their home in Santos; a pair of American Catholic priests, bound for Rio de Janeiro to spend the rest of their lives in in church service in Brazil. One priest was in his fifties, the other in his late twenties. The younger one, like Chris, didn’t have “sea legs.” He said that he belonged to the “Railroad Irish,” who didn’t respond well to travel on water. The young priest and Chris didn’t come up on deck much during that Caribbean crossing, and neither came to meals in the dining room. The captain told me to tell Chris to limit liquid intake and to eat hard rolls. I took hard rolls to our cabin for Chris after every meal. Somewhere off the northwest coast of South America the sea became calmer and both Chris and the young priest got feeling better.
Ships continued to steam into Santos Bay until at the height of the dock strike and port congestion there were 26 ships waiting to be serviced. It was a week before the dispute was settled and the port authority authorized ships to dock and let passengers debark. The port authority took the ships in order of their arrival—virtually all ships were cargo vessels. A few, like ours, had passengers as well as cargo. Those were allowed to land first. So Chris and I and the passengers got to the dock and into Santos. The ship was going to be two days in port unloading and taking on supplies. Passengers were allowed to stay onboard but were encouraged to go into town, and, if they wished, take public transportation up the steep coastal mountain to Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo then, as now, was one of the most populous cities in the Western Hemisphere.
Before we left the U.S. Chris and I had contacted a member of the LDS Church who was a friend of a friend. Gary Neeleman had been a Salt Lake City broadcaster and reporter. He spoke fluent Portuguese because he had served a two-and-a-half-year mission for the LDS Church in Brazil. He returned to Brazil with his wife and two-year-old at Sao Paulo bureau chief of the United Press International. Chris and I had contact information for the Neelemans so we got in touch by phone. Gary was at work but, when apprised of our circumstances—that we had to be in Santos/Sao Paulo for two days, she invited us to come stay over night. The Neelemans took us out to dinner and gave us a very welcome bed for the night. The next morning we were awakened , early, by the Neeleman’s little boy who came into our room and said good morning. That boy, a toddler at the time, grew up to be the founder and owner of the international airline Jet Blue.
Meeting Gary and Rose Neeleman was to be a crucial and vital part of our time in Argentina.
After rounding up our hand luggage, we debarked at the docks of Buenos Aires, wishing a kind farewell to the crew and remaining passengers. We got a taxi into town and checked in the Fulbright Commission, then part of the United States Information Agency (later subsumed into the U.S. State Department) that was a contact entity for U.S. citizens. I was on a private, not government fellowship (with the Inter American Press Association) but the staff at the Fulbright Commission was very helpful. They suggested we check in at a new hotel down near Rivadavia (a major thorough fare that runs across much of Buenos Aires). We had gotten some dollars changed into Pesos at an commercial money exchange. Inflation was high in Argentina and the government was keeping tight control on transactions in which dollars and pesos were exchanged. The official rate, as I recall, was three pesos for a dollar. But there was a demand for dollars ( a solid currency) Argentines who wanted to travel abroad or buy goods abroad, so there was thriving black market in pesos. People approached us in the streets (our clothing and especially our American shoes gave us away as foreigners—not our skin or hair color. Seventy percent of the Argentine population was directly from Italians or came directly from Italy. The dollar seekers offered to take us to money exchange houses that were paying much more than three pesos for a dollar. We got a good price for initial exchange of dollars, and with pesos in pocket took a cab to the Hotel. We were greeted warmly by the hotel (I’ll ask Chris if she remembers the name of the hotel—years later I went back and stayed there during one of my assignments) for we were among the first guests to check in.
After rounding up our hand luggage, we debarked at the docks of Buenos Aires, wishing a kind farewell to the crew and remaining passengers. We got a taxi into town and checked in the Fulbright Commission, then part of the United States Information Agency (later subsumed into the U.S. State Department) that was a contact entity for U.S. citizens. I was on a private, not government fellowship (with the Inter American Press Association) I was later to receive (over the decades) a three USIA fellowships. The staff at the Fulbright Commission was very helpful. They suggested we check in at a new hotel down near Rivadavia (a major thorough fare that runs across much of Buenos Aires). We had gotten some dollars changed into Pesos at an commercial money exchange. Inflation was high in Argentina and the government was keeping tight control on transactions in which dollars and pesos were exchanged. The official rate, as I recall, was three pesos for a dollar. But there was a demand for dollars ( a solid currency) Argentines who wanted to travel abroad or buy goods abroad, so there was thriving black market in pesos. People approached us in the streets (our clothing and especially our American shoes gave us away as foreigners—not our skin or hair color. Seventy percent of the Argentine population was directly from Italians or came directly from Italy. The dollar seekers offered to take us to money exchange houses that were paying much more than the government set price three pesos for a dollar. Technically it was against the law to exchange dollars anywhere but at the government exchange. But everyone did it. We got a good price for initial exchange of dollars, and with pesos in pocket took a cab to the Hotel. We were greeted warmly by the hotel (I’ll ask Chris if she remembers the name of the hotel—years later I went back and stayed there during one of my assignments years later when the hotel was no longer new) for we were among the first guests to check in to the new hotel.

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