It was 80 on Saturday. Spring's early return was foretold by Pebbles:

Absolute junk, of course. "Same Indistinguishable Taste that Vaguely Alludes to Fruit," in case you were worried they'd swapped the usual flavor for the antiseptic tang of 1940s hair tonic, I guess.

The early-emergent flowers are out, the lawns are greening, the tulips are up, and the Oak Island Water Feature has been cleaned of the slimy leaves left over from the previous year. Usually around here we call that May. And it's only Tax Day. I remember one Tax Day long, long ago: a thaw had made the ice perfect for hacking and chopping and cracking. That wonderful ice that's a bit thick on top but melted underneath, somehow, and frangible enough so one sharp blow would sunder it into chunks. Oh so very satisfying. As I said, long ago, but ever since that type of vulnerable ice defined what I could hope for on Tax Day, besides the promise of a refund.

This was the first year we could not claim Natalie as a dependent, so I'll be sitting on a cushion all day, or rather hovering above it, knees bent, hamstrings aching.

Before we had two unusual weeks - Hiatus and Cancun - I posted some pictures and asked if you knew where I was.

Small cave-in at the old nightclub, alas.

It’s the Wabasha Caves in St. Paul, where once mushrooms grew and gangsters frolicked.

Throughout history the caves have been used for a number of different activities, including growing mushrooms, storage of food and belongings, music, and dancing.

In the 1920s, the caves were used as a restaurant and nightclub venue known as the Wabasha Street Speakeasy. The speakeasy was said to have been frequented by gangsters such as John Dillinger and Ma Barker, however there is no evidence that these visits occurred; thus, these stories are considered legend.

On October 26, 1933, Josie & William Lehmann opened the Castle Royal, which was built into the side of the caves. Castle Royal was closed in the late 1930s due to the start of World War II and went back to primarily being a place to grow mushrooms. Some time in the 1970s, Castle Royal 2 was opened as a venue for Disco music.

I assure that these visits are considered to be absolute fact by the tour guides. Where’s the fun in saying there’s no evidence? One of the stories told concerned a young lady to spent an evening at the Speakeasy, and danced and drank with a gentlemanly fellow who had suave panache. AND THAT SOMEONE WAS . . . JOHN DILLINGER.

Later, I said to the tour guide: since Dillinger was in St. Paul 90 years ago, why, this could be the very anniversary of that night!

Although it probably wasn’t.

Since air fares were cheap we flew Natalie in as well, and we were all together for the first time since forever. Wife arranged a full load of Things to Do, and the Caves, with swing dance lessons after the tour, was one of them.

Dinner at an Argentinian meat joint, with lots of food - they just keep coming and coming with more meats on skewers - and that was it for the first day out.


Our new Monday feature! The Gazettes provide a look at the commercial vernacular from 90 years ago. Sometimes they look forward, and just as often as not they reach back decades for a familiar look.

Are any of these brands still around? We'll find out.

That's one fine 1934 logo.

No record of it today.



Oh, boy, a cheap-o.

Well, if I must, I must.

Ah, of course; the side of the bank of Hollywood, or the Equitable Building.

These guys just robbed a bank.

There are three of them. The movie lasts one hour and six minutes. They get stopped by the cops because the description of one of the robbers said he had highly polished nails, and that gives the whole game away.

Hey - what’s this movie about, then, if they're wiped out

Well, it turns out the cops can’t find the money. They’re looking for the car used in the robbery. A detective’s on the case, and he heads for an amusement park. Behold, Matte World:

Some guys you know from the minute they enter the screen, even if you’ve never seen them this young; you wait for them to speak so you can say “yep. That’s the man.”

I was actually surprised I recognized him before I heard him.

Anyway, it’s fast and snappy and weightless, and the hero spends the entire movie with the same rictus grin.


Like a low-rent Cagney. He looks like the reporter in Batman.

The good gal dame:


Adele Mara.

Seldom was she given the chance to capitalize on her acting talents, however, and her film career waned in the mid 1950s. Her last screen appearance would be in The Big Circus (1959) with Victor Mature. Adele subsequently moved into TV and was featured in a number of guest spots, primarily in westerns.

She eventually abandoned her career and settled down to raise her three sons from her 1952 marriage to TV mogul Roy Huggins who produced many hit shows including 77 Sunset Strip (1958) and Maverick (1957). On a rare occasion, she would appear as a guest in one of his efforts, including an episode of the TV series Cool Million (1972).

So she was able to hang around the business and enjoy the perks without having to complete with a new pool of blondes. Not a bad ending.


Oh . . . one more thing.




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