The next day was Funeral Day, and those have their own rituals, rooms through which everyone moves. The visititation, the ceremony, the post-funeral meal, the internment. The population drops off from room to room.

I wasn’t going to make the burial, because I had to get back to the Cities, but I went to the cemetery early in the morning. It’s where my parents are buried, and where a large section of the ground has stones for the LILEKS clan. Drove up the old roads, past the fields, over the bridge, and there was Maple Sheyenne church, the old steeple standing high over the fields. The boneyard in the back is ancient, but it’s not as populated as it should be, given the age of the church. It’s been there for over a hundred years. There should be a crowd back here.

I was alone, except for someone tending the lawn of the new veterans cemetery next door. Paused at my parents’ headstone, which my brother-in-law noted had been pushed off its base by lawn maintenance. The church had said this would be fixed soon. It was disconcerting to see that the top part of the headstone was attached to the part anchored in the earth by beads of glue, but in a sense it seemed right; something that ephemeral and tenuous is what binds us all to the earth, in a way. A line of adhesive whose bonding power is severed in an instance when some great force backs into it by accident.

  At the end of the road: tent and chairs and coffin and headstone, waiting. I said hello to my aunts, and had to smile: they certainly got Hazel for all eternity.

Walked through the rest of the graveyard, seeing names on the stone I hadn’t thought about in a while. They all seemed familiar. Names my parents said. Paused at my grandparents’ stone, and toted up the years: good run. Of course, Grandpa went first, at 80 or so; as we said, it was the cigarettes that did him in. He was going downstairs to get his Old Golds and fell down the stairs. Grandma outlived him by nine.

I spend a lot of time at the gravesites apologizing. I was never bad or mean, cruel or wayward, but it’s an overwhelming need. It never works, either. It probably shouldn’t.

Drove back, declined the interstate back to Fargo, decided I’d take University. It was closed for construction. Well, we’ll take Broadway. Closed for construction. It was like a video game where you can see the streets but get an error sound when you try to go down them, or a slight grunting sound when you try to jump over the boxes. Okay, highway. It dumped me off in my old neighborhood. I ate an Egg McMuffin in my car, then drove past my old house.

Same sense of sadness and guilt, same memories of coming home in college and performing the act of Returning Son dodging worry and faintly abated judgment, same leaden accumulation of childhood draped around my shoulder when I walked in the house, same sense of nothing having changed, at all, except for an absence which was precisely my shape, but could not be filled by my return. That will never change.

What makes it all okay in the end is the hours I spent with my dad talking late into the night over gin & tonics, finally wiring a new relationship.

Saw cousins I haven’t seen since Dad died. Looked at the old photos of their father, long gone, and was struck by how one looked like him, and the other had her mother’s cast, her grandmother’s face. All these echoes that take decades to bounce off the canyon wall. Good speech from the pastor - nice set-pieces punctuated by Elvis and Mario Lanza, and at the end the recessional music was Jerry Lee Lewis. Tells you a bit about Bootsie, that.

Hit the road. Back on Ten. Stopped at DL to get a cup of coffee at the McD’s where we had stopped to get water for Daughter’s sore throat after Holiday Inn pool-water ingestion in, what, 2007? It’ll always be that to me. Listened to old radio, made good time, stopped at Staples for the fill-up and the coffee refill, and reminded myself not to take Ten past Elk River. Hellacious jam due to construction. So after St. Cloud I juked south to pick up 94 at Clearwater, and this . . . this was a mistake.

I have anxiety issues with highways that have no shoulders, and have walls of barriers and barrels. It goes back a long way. I feel trapped. My chest tightens. When I had the severe panic disorder this exploded a few times into tachycardia, and it’s always there. I pulled off after a few miles and decided to come into the Cities from a other angle. Mind you, 94 was bumper-to-bumper, 70 MPH, no shoulder, a cartoon nightmare. State Eight was serene. A winding road through the farmland. I felt myself dissolve into driving bliss, and rode the curves and hills with a light heart.

All these years here, and I had never taken this road. And now here I was. Every mile a mystery. But it would take me home nonetheless.




It’s 1936, a golden age for newspaper design. None better than the LA Times.

This might not be the best example, but it’s what I have for today.

You know this would be a big story. I’m surprised they didn’t play it up more.

Again with the CLEWS. It’s one of those words, like DROUT, that makes you wonder how and when the spelling shifted.

FIEND at work, which suggested she had been. . . outraged.

It became known as the “Moonlight Madness Murder.” I found a paper that said “Donald Hazzell, the ‘Gorilla Man’” confessed. He said he suffered from spells. The head of the state insane asylum scoffed, saying Hazzell would confess to anything.

In 1937, the SacBee reported that Charles Harvey, 26, known as Adam Windbush, a “crooner for a Tijuana radio station,” would be questioned in the case after his arrest for brutally beating a housewife.”

In 1955 William Friend, a prevert with a record of sex offenses, phoned a reporter of the San Diego Union, and confessed. “I’m tired of living,” he said, “You got to do me a favor. You get me the gas chamber.”

I can’t find anything to indicate he got his wish.



Louses, all of 'em:

The Black Legion was a white supremacist terrorist organization active in the Midwestern United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It split off from the Ku Klux Klan. According to historian Rick Perlstein, the FBI estimated its membership "at 135,000, including a large number of public officials, possibly including Detroit’s police chief."



In 1936 the group was suspected of having killed as many as 50 people, according to the Associated Press, including Charles Poole, an organizer for the federal Works Progress Administration.

At the time of Poole's murder, the Associated Press described the organization as "A group of loosely federated night-riding bands operating in several States without central discipline or common purpose beyond the enforcement by lash and pistol of individual leaders' notions of 'Americanism'.

I wonder if he wrote more, and they just snipped to fit. If so, poor Cobb.

He was, you may recall, known as a humorist.  Here’s your fun fact for the day:

Yap is part of the Federated States of Micronesia, associated with the US.

Yap is known for its stone money, known as Rai, or Fei: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of (usually) calcite, up to 12 ft in diameter (most are much smaller). The smallest can be as little as 1.4 in in diameter. Many of them were brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most came in ancient times from Palau. Their value is based on both the stone's size and its history. Historically the Yapese valued the disks because the material looks like quartz, and these were the shiniest objects available. Eventually the stones became legal tender and were even mandatory in some payments.

The value of the stones was kept high due to the difficulty and hazards involved in obtaining them. To quarry the stones, Yapese adventurers had to sail to distant islands and deal with local inhabitants who were sometimes hostile. Once quarried, the disks had to be transported back to Yap on rafts towed behind sail-driven canoes. The scarcity of the disks, and the effort and peril required to get them, made them valuable to the Yapese.

As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed.The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. Their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) make them very difficult to move around. Although today the United States dollar is the currency used for everyday transactions in Yap, the stone disks are still used for more traditional or ceremonial exchange. The stone disks may change ownership during marriages, transfers of land title, or as compensation for damages suffered by an aggrieved party.

I had no idea.


I wonder if this happened . . .

. . . and if not, why not, and if so, when it stopped. I mean, they still paint them, but not for time limits, right?


The last line indicates it may have been the last of its kind.

You have to applaud its defiance.

They were quite proud of the new look:

Startlingly modern! And easy to read. You wonder how many people switched to a paper that had serifs, because this newfangled design looked cold and somehow intellectually vacant.


  That will do. Fifties clothing ads today, with a real chic lass to end the allotment. See you around.





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