Category Archives: Hodgepodge

Roy Hodge, Columnist - Roy began his career at The Fulton Patriot in February of 1959 as a linotype operator.  During his long career, he performed every newspaper job — from paper delivery to editor and publisher. He has entertained readers with tales of his family’s antics and many interesting Fulton residents in his long-running “Hodgepodge” column. Roy retired from The Fulton Patriot in June of 2010.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Born in a Grocery Store?

When I was born, my parents lived in the house attached to the family’s Red & White Grocery Store in Syracuse’s Valley section, which is why I suppose, that during my early years I may have thought that I was born in a grocery store.

I lived there with my parents until I was almost 2.

Valley Drive is a long residential street, which was intersected one block from our store and the house where we lived, by the busy Seneca Turnpike corner.

I remember, while I was growing up, staying overnight with my grandparents at that house and being fascinated by the bright neon lights of “Club Candee,” the busy nightclub which was located a block from the family store.

When I was a little older, I earned my allowance by helping Grandpa keep the empty cardboard cartons in an orderly fashion, and by delivering small orders and advertising flyers to the neighbors.

Through the years, I got to know many of the store’s regular customers. My grandmother always insisted that even though I considered many of those customers my friends, I should always address them by Mr., Mrs. or Miss.

One of the exceptions was Fanny Chapman, who was a daily visitor to the store, and also worked there part-time through the years. I guess I thought it was OK to call her by her first name, because it made me giggle every time she walked into the store.

In a column I wrote several years ago, I was remembering those grocery store years:

“One of the stories I heard told over and over by my grandmother all the time I was growing up and much longer was that I learned to walk by picking up two glass milk bottles from the back hall of our house and carrying them into the store.

“My grandmother was also fond of sharing pictures of me when I was about six or seven wearing one of my father’s store aprons which hung down to the floor.

“One of my favorite toys from the store was a long pole with a pair of ‘grabbers’ on the end, which was used to pull items from the store’s high shelves.  Using those grabbers to knock things off the shelves and all over the store was probably how I got revenge for having to parade around in that silly looking apron.”

“Do You Have Prince Albert in a Can?

From Hodgepodge, Dec. 24, 2005:

“For several years during the time my family owned a grocery store in the Valley section of Syracuse, I was able to leave a special gift for Santa Claus each Christmas Eve.

“Every year my father brought home a tin of Prince Albert Tobacco from the store, and my brother, sister and I left the special gift for Santa along with a plate of cookies, under the Christmas tree.”

(I can still picture that special Christmas time can with Santa enjoying a pipe full of his favorite tobacco.)

“Every Christmas morning there was a plate of cookie crumbs, a note from Santa, and Prince Albert was nowhere in sight.”

Do you have Prince Albert in a can?  Well, let him out! My father said he heard that comment many times during his years at the store.

Thinking a lot about the store this week, I have recalled that the store had a “gum ball” machine. I remember it sitting on the counter at the front of the store where customers “checked out.” As you might imagine, the gum balls were small balls of gum with a thin candy coating.

I often went with my father to the store when he visited on Sunday mornings. While he went about his business, I was putting pennies in the gum ball machine.

There were one or two special gum balls in the machine; I don’t know if they were even gum. They were very colorful, which made it easy to distinguish them from the other gum balls.

Looking for a “Winner”

Those gum balls were “special” – they were known as “winners” because if one of them came out of the machine when your penny was inserted that penny would “win” five more pennies – which of course would immediately be put back into the machine.

It wasn’t long before I learned to try to outsmart that gum ball machine. I knew that the “winner” wouldn’t come out if I could still see it in the machine’s glass globe.  So I shook and I jiggled until the coveted “winner” was out of sight, hopefully ready to come out when my penny went into the slot.

I soon discovered that all the shaking and jiggling was an exercise of futility.  All I had to do was to ask my father for more pennies. But I am sure that it would have added a little more excitement to my young life if a “winner” had come out of the gum ball machine.

Those days spent long ago at the family store with my father and grandparents are among the fondest of many memories.

A Couple More Things

No matter how much you push the envelope it will still be stationery.

I got a job at a bakery because I kneaded dough.

I read a book about anti-gravity. I just can’t put it down.

And, here’s one from Henny Youngman:

“A drunk goes up to a parking meter, puts in a dime. The dial goes to 60. The drunk says, “Huh I lost a hundred pounds.”

                                        . . . Roy Hodge

HODGEPODGE: Mom’s ‘Club,’ Squirrelympics, Vintage Hodgepodge

Mom’s “Club”

“I fixed you some sandwiches. You’ll have to go upstairs early and play quietly until bedtime.”

We knew that if that was my mother’s message to us, it meant that the “club ladies” were coming.

We could have guessed that though, because since we arrived home from school we had been dusting and vacuuming and picking up all our “stuff” and putting it “where it belongs.”

We had to be reminded that the living room floor wasn’t “where it belongs.”

My father observed the same strictly outlined rules as us kids on “club night.”  He usually spent a couple of hours each evening at the dining room table doing his “homework,” which consisted of filling out orders for his bakery route.

On club nights he scrunched himself up to sit in the small chair at the small desk in our bedroom.

Our house was small and one of the problems that fact presented was that there wasn’t room for the ladies’ coats downstairs, so during gatherings when coats were necessary they were neatly spread out on my parents’ bed, so my accommodating father had to lay down with my brother or me in one of our small bunk-size beds until the ladies went home.

Most of the club members lived on Kenmore Avenue, one block from our house. At one time five club ladies lived in three houses next to each other.

To observers, it didn’t seem that the club ladies, most of whom saw each other on a daily basis, had an exciting agenda at their meetings. The ladies would entertain themselves when they got together by talking; some of them sewed while they talked.

The club’s custom was the hostess would serve “lunch” sometime around nine o’clock. The appetizing aromas of that late evening meal often caused a problem for the upstairs campers whose gulped down supper of sandwiches was a long ago memory.

There were leftovers the next day, but they didn’t seem the same without the club ladies’ lively chatter.

Not only did the club members have their evening get-togethers at each other’s homes, they gathered many times in the summer at picnics when they brought their children along.

Kids’ birthday parties were also a frequent event. So all the kids saw each other often and were, more or less, members of their own club.

The club ladies were visiting each other’s homes and enjoying their frequent parties long after their children had grown up.

As the years went by, there was a new era for the club ladies when some of the members were joined by their daughters for their social evenings.

Sometimes the memories from many years ago come back to me and I return to a living room full of my mother’s friends; to the enjoyment that those ladies received from each other and to the enduring friendships which were nurtured during those evenings with the “Club Ladies.”

Squirrelympics?

I entertain myself quite often by watching some of our neighborhood’s many squirrels flying from tree to tree around our backyard.

In an article that I wrote in 2012, I called them “The Flying Squirrellendas” (do you remember Ringling’s Flying Wallendas?) as they performed in our backyard every day:

“I am happy to say that their performance arena is right here in our backyard … One problem is that you never know when the show might begin. … As I sit here one of the performers has appeared … I can’t tell what color his performance tights might be … He is being very cautious, this is obviously just a warm-up session … and then he disappears … no show for now.”

Two years later, they are still at it, and there are times when I am at the kitchen table just in time for show time. A couple of days ago I got so excited watching the tree tops activity that I spilled my coffee all over the table.

I’m sure our neighborhood squirrels belong to some kind of a social/athletic club. Often times one or two squirrels will be chasing each other from branch to branch and soon I can count 10 or more participating in the games.

There is another large group of squirrels across the street in the park and still another smaller one further up the road. Who knows? Maybe they are participating in their own Winter “Squirrelympics”.

Squirrel watching and counting has become a winter afternoon fun activity. Squirrelympics — summer or winter, it doesn’t matter.

These athletic, bushy-tailed rodents compete during all seasons and they excite the audience (me and my coffee cup) and score points.

As I watch the neighborhood squirrels these days I wonder if they are trying to tell us something.  When they’re not chasing each other around our yards the squirrels seem to be busy storing more winter provisions.

Maybe we should be paying more attention. Perhaps the squirrels know more than the groundhogs, and even more than the television prognosticators.

And, they’re having a great time.

Vintage Hodgepodge

From The Fulton Patriot, Feb. 23, 1993:

I have been asked a lot of questions during the past couple of weeks. I have run out of answers. I am beginning to dread these questions.

  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Enough snow for you?
  • Do you think it will ever stop snowing?
  • Is it going to snow tonight?
  • Is it going to snow this afternoon?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Where are you going to put all this snow?
  • Have we got more snow than Oswego?
  • Is there school today?
  • Is there going to be school tomorrow?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?
  • Why do you live in Fulton in the winter time?
  • Where is the car?
  • What is that huge pile of snow doing in the driveway where the car used to be?
  • When are you going to shovel the snow?

… Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge, March 15: MardiGrasmas, snow, and words of wisdom

Merry MardiGrasmas!

Each year, my wife and I join son, Jeff, and my niece and her husband for our Christmas celebration.

This past year we found that impossible because of various complications.  In fact, it was the weekend before Lent when we were finally able to get together.

We christened our new holiday as “MardiGrasmas.”

There was snow on the ground, which we haven’t been able to claim on many past Christmas Days. Some of us wore festive Christmas clothing, Jeff brought a decorated tree, and the candles in our windows were brightly shining.

We exchanged gifts — the presents had been wrapped and ready for almost three months. Some of them were a surprise to the giver, as well as to the givee.

Some of our Christmas traditions might have been tweaked a little, but were still there. It wasn’t exactly the usual Christmas Day menu. The roast beef was replaced by lasagna; some of the Christmas Day delicacies were missing; egg nog was pushed aside for a cold beer.

The Christmas cookie tray was on the table and was loaded as usual, but instead of Santas, Christmas trees, bells, angels, and gingerbread men, there were cookies shaped as hot peppers, alligators, maps of the state of New Orleans and the fleur de lis.

We are the same family group that gets together at the end of June in many years to celebrate Leon Day,* and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if our recent celebration was the first of a new observance for our little family circle.

* (In case you didn’t remember, Leon is Noel spelled backwards, and Leon Day is observed each year to remind those who want  the rest of the world to remember that Christmas Day is only six months away).

Merry MardiGrasmas!

Getting Rid of All That Snow!

Last week I wrote about listening to my grandparents’ and my father’s stories of the winters they remembered, but one thing I don’t remember discussing with them was snowplows.

Looking into the history of snowplows, I discovered that there was a stretch of time in American history when getting rid of snow was no great concern.

In winter, horse-drawn carts and coaches traded in their wheels for runners — the more packed the snow the better. To keep the roads in optimal snowy condition, snow was packed and flattened with huge, horse-drawn “snow-rollers”.

The first patents for snowplows were issued in the 1840s. The earliest versions of snowplows were powered by horses, and the wedge-type blades were made of wood.

One of the first uses of snowplows on city streets was in Milwaukee in 1862.  The plow was attached to a cart pulled by a team of horses through snow-clogged streets.

One early inventor of snowplows was Carl Frink of Clayton, N.Y. His company, Frink Snowplows, was founded in 1920 and still exists today.

I suspect the wooden snow pushers that my grandfather made when my brother, sister and I were growing up in the ‘40s were inspired by those wooden plows attached to horse-drawn wagons and sleighs around the turn of the century.

Get Shoveling

The snow removal tool that most of us are most familiar with — the “Get out there and clear off the sidewalk” folks — is the   snow shovel.

More than 100 patents have been issued for snow shovel designs since the 1870s.

One of the first designs that hit upon the “scrape and scoop” combination was invented in 1889 by a woman named Lydia Fairweather – and that was her real name.  The first patent for a lighter, plastic snow shovel was granted in 1939 to Robert A. Smith.

If you want to do some shoveling and think that a snow shovel is a snow shovel — think again. There are scoopers, and pushers, metal and plastic; and shovels that both scoop and push. There are wide shovels, extra-wide shovels and narrow shovels.

There are shovels with sharp, jagged teeth, and big he-man shovels; coal shovels, barn shovels, folding shovels and car snow shovels. You can find snow shovels with wheels, rolling snow shovels and yes, electric snow shovels.

Some snow shovels come with ergonomic shafts. The shaft is the part of the shovel between the blade — which scoops or pushes — and the handle, which is where you grip the shovel.

The word ergonomic, which may be unfamiliar to you, in this use means that the shaft is strategically bent for easier lifting. If the shaft of your shovel is long and straight it is called a dog-leg shaft.

When I was searching for information on snow shovels, I discovered the Wovel. This contraption is a large, wide snow shovel/scraper which is attached to the shaft, handle and one large wheel, and may be the ultimate in the snow shoveler’s world.

This is how the Wovel works — As you push, the shovel gathers the snow, lifts it, and then throws it where you want it.  And there’s no lifting on your part — and, best of all, no backache.

There’s plenty of snow out there, and just reading all that information you just read probably won’t move a flake of it.  So go grab your shovel, whether it’s a scooper or a pusher, and get out there.

And remember, shovel frequently before the snow gets too deep and too heavy; dress warmly and bend your knees; don’t twist your back; lift small quantities and throw only as far as necessary; rest frequently and stop when you get tired.

Or better yet, let a much younger person do the shoveling, and watch from inside the window.

Meanwhile, enjoy watching it snow.

Here’s What They Said:

Groucho: “She got her good looks from her father — he’s a plastic surgeon.”  And, “Whoever named it necking was a poor judge of anatomy.”

Calvin Coolidge:  “Whenever I indulge my sense of humor, it gets me in trouble.”

Have a good week.

 

… Roy Hodge   

Hodgepodge, March 8

Tales of winters past

The older generations have always told stories of winters of their younger days to their children and grandchildren.

You know — the ones that start out, “Back when I was a kid in the winter time …”

It was likely that I had heard tales about my grandparents coping with big storms, about their trips through the deep snow to the hen house to gather eggs, and the sleigh rides of their younger days.

I do know that my grandparents both grew up on farms in the days when horses and one’s legs were the main sources of transportation.

I grew up in Syracuse and I had no difficulty thinking about the snowy winters of my youth. Winters when the snow was often up too high to get the back door open; many winters when the usually wide street in front of our house was narrowed down to a path that the cars with their tire chains didn’t dare to travel on.

It seems there was no shortage of snowy excitement from my younger days — adventures which should have kept my own children amazed by the stories of their father’s winter time activities.

Oh, my generation and I — we had our moments, OK? — but there was one problem when it came to bragging to my children about the winter time adventures of my youth.

Only one BIG problem — my kids were growing up in Fulton’s winter weather and nothing I could say about growing up in Syracuse would impress them. I’m afraid that they would have been bored from the beginning.

In Fulton the snow- banks were higher, and the houses were literally buried in snow from October to April; sometimes traces still lingered in May. It took a lot to impress them when snow stories were being told.

 

Dad’s snow tunnel

Wait a minute – I had it. When asked about my own adventures in the snow, I would cleverly switch the scene back a few years.

“Did I ever tell you about the time Grandpa (my father) was a kid?  Well, this one day there was so much snow between his house and his friend’s house across the street that they had to dig a tunnel from one to the other – and I got some pictures somewhere to prove it.”  Wow!

Well, that seemed to do it. They were impressed, and I am still searching for that picture.

 

Take a walk

I have always tried to do some walking as often as I could, just for the sake of walking and some exercise.

For years, my wife and I enjoyed frequent neighborhood walks in decent weather. Now that I am home more during the day, I try to take regular neighborhood jaunts. I find that my walks are half as long and twice as tiring these days.

When I lived in Fulton, walking was a daily ritual. We had a couple of set patterns for our walks.

As it is a common routine in Fulton to “walk the bridges,” we did that at least half of the time.

On other occasions, since we lived on the east side, we would take the “east side trek” from our house near East Side Park, up to Nestles, and then follow a rectangular course until we were close to where we started, and return home.

(I don’t live in Fulton now, but if I did I wonder how I could manage to shorten the distance between those bridges.)

If you are a walker and follow the same route every day at approximately the same time, walking can become a social event as you will meet up with at least some of the same people every day.

If you have walked for recreation for several years you will discover that you have participated in a variety of styles — moving along briskly; slowing down so your walking partner could keep up; moving slow enough to enjoy the passing scenery, and finally, “plodding along” (and slowing your walking partner down).

In your early walking days, the toot of a horn from a passing vehicle probably was a greeting from an acquaintance; now, the same thing could be considered more of a “get-out-of-the-way” blast.

And finally, a bit of wisdom from an unknown source: “Walking is a wonderful exercise that is sure to prolong your life, unless you try to cross the street.”

A question left over from last month:

Why is February the shortest month?

Well, here’s an explanation.  Back in Julius Caesar’s days, the months alternated: 31 days, 30 days, 31 days, etc., for a total of 366 days.

Julius decided he wanted a month named after him. He took the seventh month, named it July, shoved the other months down a notch with the last month dropping off the end.

That month had 30 days.  Julius thought his month should be one of the longest so he took a day from February and added it to July, giving July 31 days and February 29 days.

When Augustus came along, he wanted a month of his own. He couldn’t be ahead of Julius so he took the next month and named it August.

Like Julius, he shoved the other months down and another one dropped off the end. That month had 31 days. Augustus wouldn’t be outdone by Julius so he took another day out of poor February and added it to August.

February then had 28 days. We lost 31 and gained 30, for a new total of 365 days.

No, I haven’t been carrying all this information around with me since fifth grade; I found most of it on “Askville by Amazon.”

 

… Roy Hodge  

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Grandma’s House

Our house was one block from my grandparents’ house when I was growing up, so it seems like I split my time almost evenly between home and Grandma’s.

I knew every inch of Grandma’s house frontwards and backwards. When my brother and sister were with me at Grandma’s, we played “hide and seek” and I always had a favorite hiding place – and I don’t think that the other “hiders” and “seekers” ever discovered it.

My hiding place was inside Grandma’s “broom closet,” a narrow closet which, when the door was shut, looked like it was just another cupboard in the kitchen, filled with bottles, jars and boxes on shelves; but, as far as I was concerned, it was a neat place to hide among the brooms and dust mops.

One of my favorite spots in Grandma’s house was in the “cellar,” a place called the “coal bin.” Many older homes, including ours, as well as my grandparents’, included a space in the basement which in the not so distant past was used to store the coal which was shoveled into the nearby furnace several times each day.

When the coal bin wasn’t needed any longer to store coal it became a convenient little play space.

Another interesting place in the cellar was the nook, or was it a cranny, properly known as the fruit cellar. That little room had several shelves to store the fruits and vegetables that were put there during canning season, but was more useful to us kids as another hiding place.

Two floors and several stairs away, there was another part of my grandparents’ house which was a neat place for us kids to play in.

The attic was cleverly disguised as a closet in one of the  upstairs bedrooms, which made it a handy play room or hiding place.

And, don’t forget the cellar door.  While the cellars (or basements) of most houses were accessible by doors from inside the house there also were doors from outside the house at ground level, which lifted up to reveal stairs going down from the backyard into the house.

Those steps were necessary for grandmas and mothers to have a direct route to the clothesline in the backyard on laundry day, and, they provided another good place to hide.

Grandma’s house – it was such a great place for playing and hiding in the “good old days.”

Bargains – 1901 Style

I have been looking through some pre-Christmas issues of The Fulton Patriot from December 1901.

According to the paper’s front page, 1901 was the 65th year of publishing for The Patriot. The particular issue I was reading was the 50th of the year and was published for and distributed to Fulton and Oswego Falls, the village which occupied the west side of the bridges, across the river from Fulton.

The front page of that issue included a large picture of Santa Claus visiting and distributing gifts to two little girls on Christmas Eve.

Filling the rest of the page – the columns around and under the large photo – was an advertisement for  the J. L. Jones Store, 30 First St.,, Fulton.  The advertising was headlined “Jones’ Bulletin for Christmas” and “Our Goods Are Just As We Say They Are.”

Among items advertised were jewelry – bracelets from 15 cents to $2.50, and brooches and stick pins, from 29 cents to $3.00.

There also were sterling novelties – toothbrushes, nail files, etc.; leather goods – ladies card cases and purses, files, etc.; leather goods – ladies card cases and purses, and men’s wallets and card cases, 25 cents to $5.

Also advertised were men’s hosiery, handkerchiefs for ladies and men, gloves, neckwear, umbrellas and a full boys’ department.

Other advertisers in the Christmas issue included R. E. Phillips Drug Store, 5 S. First St., Fulton, which featured “All Nice, New, Clean Goods;” the Miller and Bogardus Grocery and Provisions Supply House, 108 Oneida St.,; and the Frank W. Lasher Store, on First Street, Fulton. They carried books and games for boys and girls, mechanical toys, fancy china and many other “Holiday Gifts.”

A Busy City

Also during that time, the city seemed to be alive with a full schedule of social events with the Maccabees, Fulton Tent, the Knights of Pythias, the Sons of Veterans, G.A.R., American Mechanics Lodge, the Lodge of Modern Woodmen, and the Grange planning events.

Lots going on, but remember, there was no television.

In the news department, the new Fulton-Oswego Falls Bridge across the Oswego River had recently been completed at a cost of $120,000.

As far as insightful information, the pages of that issue of The Fulton Patriot offered . . . “A Christmas Fact” – The future has a golden tinge; the past, too, may seem pleasant; But just about the Christmastide, There’s nothing like the present.”

Or, this . . . “Origin of Mince Pie – English plum pudding and mince pies both owe their origin, or are supposed to, to an occurrence attendant upon the birth of Christ.

“The highly seasoned ingredients refer to the offering of spices, frankincense and myrrh by the wise men of the East to the Christ Child.” – New York World.

It was a Merry Christmas, 1901 style.

. . . Roy Hodge

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

“Chick” Tallman

While recently re-reading a column that I wrote in “The Fulton Patriot,” I was reminded of a venerable Fulton character, Vernon “Chick” Tallman.

Chick had worked his way to the top of the list of well-known Fulton faces.

From that column:

“The first Fultonian I saw when I arrived in this fine city for the first time turned out to be Chick Tallman. As I approached the old Patriot building on the corner of Oneida and South Second streets on a wintry February day, Chick was in the middle of the road directing traffic.

“What a quaint uniform this city’s policemen wear, I could have thought.”

As I said in that column, I was soon to find out that if you knew anything about Fulton, you knew about Vernon “Chick” Tallman.

“Serving as a traffic cop wasn’t a strange role for Chick. I soon found out that Chick was also Fulton’s foremost ambassador.

“He was always somewhere to be found on the downtown scene. I got to know Chick well as The Fulton Patriot building served as his headquarters for at least part of every day.”

“He was responsible for seeing that every downtown merchant received a copy of each week’s Patriot, and he was always available to run errands throughout the area. Chick was often seen with a broom in his hand. He attended every baseball game in town, kept home plate swept clean, and often jumped on the bus for the away games.”

That column pointed out that Patriot employees had a lot of fun with Chick:  “One former employee remembers Chick studiously counting his papers out before delivery.

‘Two, three, four,’ Chick would say. ‘Eight, nine, 10,’ someone would say. ‘Eleven, 12, 13,’ Chick would continue. ‘Three, four, five,’ someone else would say. ‘Six, seven, eight,’ Chick would answer.”

Patriot employees also watched out for Chick. One year, after a particularly heavy first snowfall, employees made sure Chick had a sturdy new pair of winter boots.

The Patriot column detailed a special gift to commemorate Chick’s 70th birth-day. Fultonians responded to a drive spearheaded by Joe Arnold of Foster’s to raise funds to send Chick to New York City for a weekend of Yankee games.

Another Fulton native, Harold “Buck” Greene, who wrote a column each week for his hometown’s “Patriot,” through his connections with Major League Baseball, helped arrange Chick’s weekend trip.

“In his Patriot column that week, Greene said, ‘Well folks, it has happened, Chick Tallman has viewed the city of New York and most important, he saw the weekend series between the Yankees and the Twins.”

Greene continued, “What’s more, on Friday night Chick had the best seat in the house, behind home plate in a front row box. He could have called balls and strikes all night.

“Chick was presented with an autographed baseball by members of the World Champion Yankees, and before returning to Fulton he visited the World’s Fair.

“Time didn’t allow for a sweep-off of home base at Yankee Stadium, but after the action-packed weekend, with much royal treatment thrown in, Chick returned to Fulton with a new Yankees shirt along with the big Chick Tallman smile.”

Many Fultonians undoubtedly still have pleasant memories of Chick Tallman.

From “The Farmer’s Almanac”

Scanning the pages of the 2014 issue of “The Farmer’s Almanac,” I discover that I can:

*Buy “Fresh, Healthy Nuts” – (explanation required).

“Or Laundry balls, concertinas and old phonographs (or sell them).

*Find a “spiritual healer.”  Sister Cindy clears negativity and bad luck; Rev. Jackson is a voodoo healer, and Mrs. Annie, spiritualist, reunites lovers.

*There are several days listed during each month as the best days to: Have dental care, cut hair to encourage (or discourage) growth, or to can, pickle or make sauerkraut.

I also discovered that some folks are fond of puns, such as:

*A hole has been found in the wall of a nudist camp. The police are “looking into it.”

“Two silkworms had a race.  They ended up “in a tie”.

I was interested to learn about some “planting” folklore:

*To make a plant grow, spit into the hole you have dug for it.”

*Anything planted by a pregnant woman will flourish.

*Never thank a person for giving you a plant or it will die; in fact, the best way to ensure that plant slips will thrive is to steal them.

*Never plan anything on the 31st of the month.

*Never plant anything until the frogs have croaked three times, because there will be a killing frost before then.

*Anything planted on Good Friday will grow well.

Now You Know:

This year’s Farmer’s Almanac tells us:

*At the age of 60, fitness expert Jack La Lanne swam from Alcatracz to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf while handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.

*As far as the weather in our area of the country is concerned, winter was expected to be slightly milder than normal, with near-normal precipitation and below normal snowfall in most of the region.

And, finally, the Almanac wants us to know that 200 years ago, the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner” took shape on the back of a letter, scribbled there by Francis Scott Key.

                                       . . . Roy Hodge   

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

Last week we observed a big day in the sports world – at least in the American sports world.

The Super Bowl was in town – in every town in the U.S.A. Personally, I am not always a front row fan of professional football. I consider myself an avid Syracuse University sports fan and like most Syracuse-area sports fans, I cheer loudly for them.

I don’t have a lot of interest in what happens in the country’s professional football arenas. I do keep in touch with the pro teams that include former SU players on their rosters – and I have a favorite NFL team.

Brown is a favorite color

I consider myself a follower and fan of the Cleveland Browns. My association with the Browns goes back to when I played street football with my friends, the Fero boys, on Wiman Avenue.

Their father always cheered for the Browns, so the boys were Browns fans, too.

By some kind of logic, I guess that left to me the responsibility among Wiman Avenue kids to support the New York Giants. So, when we lined up on the street in front of our homes, we were the “Browns” and the “Giants.”

The Cleveland Browns were among the winningest teams in those years, when some of their best players included Otto Graham, who led the Browns to 10 championship games and was considered by some to be the best NFL quarterback ever; Lou Groza, an outstanding member of the Browns’ front line for many years; running back Marion Motley; and pass catcher Dante Lavelli.

My personal loyalty to the Browns goes back to the Jim Brown days. When Jim Brown graduated from SU and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, I became a Browns fan.

(This could become really complicated for you to follow if I told you that in addition to Jim Brown, John Brown, another SU player of that era, also played for the Cleveland Browns and that the Cleveland team was organized by, coached by, and was named after Paul Brown).

That loyalty has been passed on to my oldest son, Craig and his children. Craig and my grandson, Cam, travel to Cleveland at least once a year to attend a Browns game. I have joined Craig in Cleveland and in Buffalo for Browns’ games.

My granddaughter Courtney and her husband, Chris, are Browns fans, and in one of the pictures I have received of great-grand Colton, he is decked out in a Browns jersey.

I have a couple of Browns shirts, and somewhere in my dresser I have a Browns “crying towel,” which is appropriate for current fans of my favorite team.

And, yes, it’s true – the Cleveland Browns, along with three other NFL teams – have never been to the Super Bowl.

Clickety-clack

For Your Information:

Edward R. Murrow typed on a ’46 Royal Quiet Deluxe; Richard Nixon’s typewriter was an L.C. Smith.

Roy Rogers, in a 1950s publicity shot, was typing on a Remington Noiseless Standard, early 40s. It was black and shiny, with Bakelite keys and a spool crank.

In a 1962 photo, Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) was typing on an IBM Model B Electric. Dwight Eisenhower’s typewriter was a Royal Futura.

Walter Cronkite favored a Smith Corona ‘60s/’70s Electric Portable, and Bing Crosby had a Royal Portable (1920s).

Agatha Christie did some of her typing on a Remington Portable No. 2, and Truman Capote’s fingers pushed the keys on a Royal, Model HH.

Will Rogers was known to own a Remington Portable #3; Bette Davis used a Remington Noiseless Portable, while Joe DiMaggio typed on a flat-top maroon Corona Sterling.

I didn’t make it through the whole list of typists and their typewriters, but I didn’t find anyone listed as using an “L.C. Smith Silent,” manufactured by L.C. Smith & Corona Typewriter, Inc.

I have written about my faithful old typewriter friend and companion in this space before. Silent, but strong, L.C. guided me through many tense typing moments before his well-deserved retirement several years ago.

I should mention another high-standing relic from the same era as old “Smithy.”  A venerable Underwood typewriter stands watch on a desk top at the bottom of the basement steps.

A key is missing

When looking at old typewriters, if it is old enough – as my old L.C. Smith Silent surely is – you will notice that the key for number one is missing. It’s not because someone took it out, and it’s not because it is broken.

Here’s the explanation:

“The number one key was not implemented by design. Instead, the L key – l in lower case, was used in its lower case form as a letter or a number, because a lower case 1 looks like a one.

That allowed manufacturers to save some space in the overcrowded area where hammers were located.”

Now you know, and you won’t lose any more sleep wondering about it.

Wow!

What a fantastic SU win last Saturday – giving the team a 21-0 undefeated record.  Keep going Orange!

                                      . . . Roy Hodge   

Editor’s note: The Orangemen beat Notre Dame Monday, taking their record to 22-0. They take on Clemson Sunday, Feb. 9.

Hodgepodge, by Roy Hodge

John and Mary

Just in case you were wondering, John was the most popular male baby’s name 100 years ago, in 1914.

Also in the top 10 were William, James, Robert, Joseph, George, Charles, Edward, Frank and Walter.

One hundred years ago, Mary topped the list as the top female baby name followed by Helen, Dorothy, Margaret, Ruth, Anna, Mildred, Elizabeth, Frances and Marie.

As expected, that has changed a lot during the past 100 years. While most of those names are still around, only two remain among the most popular boys’ names.

The most popular names for baby boys 100 years later are Liam, Noah, Ethan, Mason, Arden, Elijah, David, Jacob, Jackson and Lucas. During the past 100 years, John has slipped from first to 39th, and William is now the 11th most popular boys’ name.

The most popular girls’ names in 2014 are Olivia, Emma, Ava, Sophia, Mae, Isabella, Amelia, Charlotte, Lily and Ella.  The only female baby name from 1914s top 10 included among the 2014 top 40 names is Anna at 36.

I was curious to see what names may have been popular when I was going to elementary school in the 40s. According to the Social Security website, the most popular boys’ names during that period were James, Robert and John – not too different from 1914 when those names were third, fourth and first.

Other familiar 40’s names were William, Richard, David, Charles, Thomas, Michael and Ronald.

Mary was still the most favored baby girls’ name during the 1940s, followed by Linda, Barbara, Patricia, Carol, Sandra, Nancy, Sharon, Judith and Susan.

Come to think of it, I did have girlfriends named Barbara and Patricia, and two of my girl cousins were Carol and Sandra.

My own name, LeRoy, was further down on the 40s list at number 89. It was spelled with a small r and most likely pronounced differently than my mother’s preference. The nickname I have always preferred, Roy, was at number 43.

As for the lowest of the low during the 40s: For the boys, Fredrick, Jonathan,  Kent, Wendell and Bennie were at the bottom – and on the girls’ side, Stella, Rosie, Patty, Veronica and Michele.

I discovered that some of my canine friends during those years had made the popular human names list – Jake, Fritz and Rudy. I haven’t found Bruno yet.

Or Is It a Sit-down?

I found this among a collection of columns I have written: Hodgepodge, March 4, 1980:

America has a hang-up . . . or is it a sit-down?

We seem to be hung up with, as the sophisticated French say – la derriere; or in crude Americanese – the fanny.

Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Television is full of rearview action.  Charlie’s Angels probably started it; Underalls commercials followed close behind, and how about those jeans with their famous back pocket?

Baby’s bottoms are not exempt with another popular commercial constantly pointing out which is the driest.

The rear-end exposure syndrome, known to those in the know as “mooning,” reared its behind close to home last fall as some Hannibal cheerleaders were caught in the act.  A similar problem with a busload of Buffalo area soccer players was reported recently.

Last week, a Moline, Ill. secretary sought posterity for her posterior as she attempted to take a photograph while sitting on her company’s new copying equipment. Appropriately enough, she was canned.

Sports figures are guilty, too. A great football or basketball play is often acknowledged by a teammate with a friendly pat – and not on the back.

It’s time for a change. We must all get behind the revolution. No more waiting for the bottom to drop out of the market; no more come from behind wins in sports, or betting your bottom dollar; no more rear admirals or rump roasts, and Fanny Farmer will just have to change her name.

That’s the bottom line.

It’s February

February, as the second month of the year, is the shortest – it has 28 days – 29 in leap year.

There are two accepted pronunciations of the month, which are considered standard and correct. February may be more often pronounced Febuary, as in January and Febuary, but the seemingly preferred pronunciation is Feb-ru-ary.

There are several important days worth observing, in some cases celebrating, in February.

Candlemas Day, on Feb. 2, is a feast day commemorating the presentation of Christ in the temple.  Feb. 2 is also observed as Groundhog Day.

The accepted belief is that if a groundhog emerges from his burrow on this day and sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

Feb. 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 22 is George Washington’s birthday, and Presidents Day (officially observed as Washington’s birthday, on the third Monday of the month since 1971) is popularly recognized as honoring Washington and Lincoln. The day is also sometimes observed as a celebration of the lives of all U.S. presidents.

Feb. 14 is St. Valentine’s Day – a day for the exchange of tokens of affection.

Well-known persons born in February include Lisa Marie Presley, Farrah Fawcett, Tom Smothers, Hank Aaron, Natalie Cole, Garth Brooks, Robert Griffin III, Bill Russell, Florence Henderson, Michael Jordan, Vanna White, Sidney Poitier, Charles Barkley, Steven Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor and celebrating every four years on Feb. 29 – Dinah Shore and Jimmy Dorsey.

When I was in elementary school, students thought February was a great month and that Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were our greatest presidents because we had both of their birthdays off from school during the short month of February.

Happy February.

. . . Roy Hodge