Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

Page 3 of 4

New Year, New Possibilities

January 1 is the day I must observe certain rituals.

1. Eat at least two spoons filled with black-eyed peas. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is considered lucky, as in the old saying, “Eat poor on New Year’s and eat fat the rest of the year”.  Because my mother and grandmother always followed this tradition, so do I, even though the peas taste remarkably like dirt. Note that immense amounts of seasoning can disguise their flavor and make eating them almost palatable.

2. Resolve to organize, economize, and simplify. Apparently, I’m not alone. Look at the ads currently bombarding us to buy storage containers, get rid of processed foods, and bring order to our financial houses. The only thing not on my list is a fitness program. I figure by the time I’ve economized, organized, and simplified, I’ll have become sufficiently exercised, too.

3. Finally, I flip page by page through my trusty paper calendar, and record all the important dates into a new monthly calendar. That’s right. In a world where most people rely on electronic calendars thoughtfully provided on every cell phone and computer in existence, I march out the day after Christmas to pick up my bargain half-price paper calendar. The pages look inviting as a wrapped gift under the Christmas tree. Oh, the possibilities of 365 brand new days!

Using calendars isn’t a modern concept. Even the ancients needed a way to track time. Between 2004 and 2006, archaeologists discovered what may be the world’s oldest calendar in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Dating from over 10,000 years ago, a group of twelve pits appear to align with the phases of the moon, and were likely created as a way to help hunter-gatherers better follow the passage of days and changing seasons.

Image from BBC News. The ancients were far better at understanding what this means than I am. 

I understand. My own life would be pretty confusing without the reminders provided by a calendar. And browsing through a full year of events leads to my absolute favorite New Year’s Day activity.

Reading the scribbled notes is a lot like reading a journal. A map of one year in my life. Remember that surprise birthday party? What a blast. We’ve been married how many years? Wow. Our son’s and daughter’s wedding anniversaries. They’re both hard-working and happy. The birth of our first grandchild. Such joy. Our yearly family pilgrimage to Rockbridge. We discovered a fun new place to stay. Doctor appointments. Ugh, guess it’s time to schedule that check-up (yes and one for Winston and Bogey, too). A writing conference, a contract, a few contest wins.

There were some tragic events, too, marked by funerals and celebrations of life. Family members and friends who left us too soon. Yet still I realize that overall, we were blessed in 2016.

The pristine pages of my new calendar, soon to become a colorful life map.

While I transfer each important date into crisp clean new pages, hope abounds that my calendar will soon be filled with many events to make me smile when I review them on January 1, 2018.

And I wish you the same pleasant fate. Happy New Year!

What are your special January 1 traditions?

On My Wish List

There are certain stories that appeal to me so much I can read (or watch) them over and over again. Many have a Christmas theme, as I’m the type of person who totally agrees with Andy Williams. It is the most wonderful time of the year.

The movie, A Christmas Story, ranks high on my list. Set in the early 1940’s, the story features a typical family in the weeks before Christmas. There’s a curmudgeonly but lovable dad, a funny and empathetic mom, a young son named Ralphie with an obsessive Christmas wish, and Ralphie’s overdressed younger brother, Randy. The movie was based on a short story collection titled, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash. The book was published in 1966, and the stories were drawn from the author, Jean Shepherd’s, own childhood.

Parts of Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical short stories gave birth to the movie.

Yet the film almost never happened. One evening in the late 1960’s, a young director named Bob Clark heard Shepherd narrating some of his stories on a radio show. Clark wanted to make the stories into a movie, but it would take nearly 20 years and a Hollywood-style deal to get the job done.

After Clark directed a highly successful movie called Porky’s, MGM gave him the go-ahead to make A Christmas Story only if he’d commit to doing a Porky’s sequel. Clark agreed. So in 1983, on a tiny budget with next to no marketing funds, he created the film he’d been longing to make. The author, Jean Shepherd, acts as narrator and even has a cameo appearance as a disgruntled shopper in the Santa line at Higbee’s Department Store.

The movie’s limited release earned lukewarm reviews, and quickly became relegated to a shelf. In 1986, MGM sold A Christmas Story, along with a batch of other movies to Warner Brothers for use on cable television.

BOOM! As soon as a vast audience had the opportunity to see A Christmas Story, it was on its way to becoming one of the most popular Christmas movies ever made. People couldn’t get enough of watching the sometimes gentle, sometimes outrageous humor lurking within the relationships of this 1940’s era family. For some, it recalled memories of their own youth. Others looked at it from a “those were the good-old-days” perspective. But most loved it simply because it reminded them of being a kid who believes in the magic of Christmas.

No matter the reason, A Christmas Story soon became a holiday tradition. It typically runs for twenty-four straight hours starting each year on Christmas Eve, and is so beloved, it generated a business, a Broadway musical, and a museum.

Yes, it even has a leg lamp in the window.

To view a plethora of fun facts about the movie, and find gifts galore, check out this link to A Christmas Story House. Purchased by a fan and carefully restored, the house is sure to delight even the most passionate and picky movie-lover. The house is located in Cleveland, Ohio (even though the story takes place in Indiana). Fans can take a tour, view movie memorabilia, and visit the gift shop. They even have movie-themed presents for sale.

Personally, this place is on my list to someday visit. I’m simply dying to know if descendants of the Bumpus hounds still live next door, waiting to plunder and pillage the Old Man’s castle.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy seeing this wonderful film for the first or (like me) the zillionth time. You can bet your snow boots that I’ll be watching it again come Christmas Eve.

And speaking of Christmas, I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Here’s hoping you receive your own heart’s desire on Christmas Day.

Even if it’s a leg lamp.

Perfect for any decor.

 

A Nerd Meets the Man

While working on my novel manuscript, I used a number of sources to help me keep straight a complicated list of timelines, locations, and people. Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War by T. J. Stiles, figured prominently in my efforts. The book is a well-researched, scholarly work published in 2002.  It won the Ambassador Book Award and the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship.

This book has more miles on it than a Boeing 747.

This book has more miles on it than a Boeing 747.

As you can plainly see, my copy is worn, bent, and filled with place markers. If I opened it, you’d notice ink lines drawn under passages and notes in the margins. It may appear I’m nothing more than a book abuser, but I believe such signs of wear only confirm how valuable the contents are.

Any book in pristine condition obviously hasn’t had much use, so this one can only be described as a winner.

In 2010, it delighted (but did not surprise me) to discover that Mr. Stiles’ second book, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, won the 2009 National Book Award for nonfiction, and the Pulitzer Prize for biography.

Impressive? You haven’t heard anything yet.

In 2015, Mr. Stiles published Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America. This book won the Western Writers of America Golden Spur Award, the William H. Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography, and the Pulitzer Prize for history. The book was also a finalist for many other awards in 2016.

You can only imagine how much my admiration for such a talented author and historian grew. When I saw him posting about appearances he’d be making across the United States, I asked him if he’d be coming to the St. Louis area.

As a matter of fact, he would. On November 30, he planned to be in town to speak at the Civil War Round Table of St. Louis. I scrambled to find out where and when the group met, as I knew nothing about them, and a few short weeks later, writing critique partner and friend, Donna Volkenannt, and I set out to see T.J. Stiles (hereafter referred to as The Man). Like a couple of intrepid explorers, we fought our way through heavy rush hour traffic to reach Mehlville, Missouri, which is near Jefferson Barracks for those who know St. Louis.

We arrived at the Royale Orleans Banquet Center and were warmly welcomed by the members. Then on to a round of Civil War trivia, a scrumptious banquet, a raffle of Civil War books (Donna won two!), followed by The Man, who speaks as eloquently as he writes. And all without benefit of notes or a Powerpoint.

Are you a history lover? Then I’d highly recommend checking out the schedule for the Civil War Round Table of St. Louis.  The meetings are fascinating and the attendees aren’t slouches either. They really know their stuff.

The Man in action.

The Man in action.

To find out more about The Man, his credentials, and his books, take a look at his website . I think you’ll be impressed as I am.

Speaking of books, some attendees brought copies for The Man to sign. Alas, I felt too embarrassed to bring my beat up copy of Jesse, and although I’m now reading Custer’s Trials, I didn’t think to haul it along with me. No matter. Mainly I wanted to introduce myself to The Man, shake his hand, and express my thanks. At our meeting, I admit to becoming totally nerdy and asked him, “Do you mind if we’re in a picture together?” He laughed and graciously agreed to pose.

I’m the blushing groupie on The Man’s right.

The Man and The Nerd

The Man and The Nerd (Photo courtesy of Donna Volkenannt)

 

 

 

 

 

Have Yourself a Flour-Free Thanksgiving

We are now less than one week away from Thanksgiving, and I’ve been scrambling to prepare for the big day.

Menu (same as last year). Ingredients (a work in progress). Decorating (check). Housecleaning (are you kidding?) I guess you can see which of these tasks appeals to me most.

At least I won’t have to deal with costumed children banging on my door, handing out treats, or watching for unpleasant tricks.

No, I don’t have my holidays mixed up.

Around the turn of the century, Thanksgiving looked a whole lot like Halloween. Children dressed up in costumes, begging for sweet hard candy treats or scrabbling for pennies. They were called Thanksgiving maskers, and, depending on your point of view, the day was either fun…or totally annoying.

Children ready for Thanksgiving circa 1910. Bain News Services/Library of Congress

Children ready for Thanksgiving circa 1910. The second goblin from the left is truly scary. Bain News Services/Library of Congress

More Thanksgiving hobgoblins. Bain News Service/Library of Congress

More Thanksgiving hobgoblins. Bain News Service/Library of Congress

Remember that scene from the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis? The one where the kids dress up on Halloween and throw flour in people’s faces? That’s what Thanksgiving masking looked like. The little darlings would even toss confetti or flour on pedestrians who were unfortunate enough to pass them on the street. Presumably the victims did not have a pocketful of sweet treats.

Imagine having to contend with such shenanigans along with preparing the Thanksgiving turkey.

Fortunately, this strange tradition died out in favor of the idea of shopping and Santa. You can probably thank the movie, Miracle on 34th Street for that favor. You know what? I’ll take Santa in a parade on Thanksgiving any day over a face full of flour. I already do that job quite nicely all by myself while slaving over a stove beating lumps out of the gravy.

So when you’re counting your blessings this year, remember to add the joy of no Thanksgiving masking. It’s something else for which you can be thankful. You’re welcome.

From me to you and yours, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving celebration. And a nice long flour-free nap when it’s over.

Happy Thanksgiving! Bain News Service/Library of Congress

Happy Thanksgiving! Bain News Service/Library of Congress

NaNo, Uh-Oh!

It’s been my habit to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNoWriMo is a challenge where masochistic writers scramble to produce at least 50,000 words toward a novel during the 30 days of November. Since I participate every other year, 2016 meant it was time to jump on the NaNoWriMo bandwagon again, and churn out at least 1,667 words a day, ignoring housework, animals, and tons of Thanksgiving prep.

Oh no! Not NaNo!

Oh, no! Not NaNoWriMo!

However, this year I am a NaNoWriMo failure. I didn’t do my October homework, which entails research, outlining, plotting, and producing character sketches so I can dive right into the story on November 1. Needless to say, without any preparation, I looked at the blank sheet of paper and sighed. I’m a planner, not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of writer. So instead of putting words on paper, I slunk off to waste time looking up random topics on the internet.

Since word counts were on my mind, I found a few articles about what some famous authors stick to when writing. Their answers surprised me. On a chart detailing the word count of thirty-nine famous writers, two were up at the top of the list. Michael Crichton and R.F. Delderfield each claim to write 10,000 words a day. At that pace, a person would produce 300,000 words during NaNoWriMo. A very, very, very long novel.

On the other end of the spectrum were writers like Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Michael Robotham, and Shelby Foote. They each claimed a goal of 500 words a day. Greene is said to have kept so strictly to this number that when he met his quota, he stopped writing…even if word number 501 came in the middle of a sentence. At 500 words a day, these folks would only reach 15,000 words during NaNoWriMo. Not even enough for a novella.

Stephen King, a truly prolific writer, puts in 2,000 words every day. As a matter of fact, most writers on the list admitted to writing between 1,000 and 2,000 words per day. When you come to the keyboard prepared, that’s not a terribly overwhelming goal, is it?

Graham Greene, one of the world's most methodical writers. (Wikipedia photo)

Graham Greene, one of the world’s most methodical writers. (Wikipedia photo)

If you’d like to peruse the entire chart (and I recommend it), click here.

Of course, there were some writers whose names you won’t find on this chart. When I searched for the writer who has written more books than anyone else, someone I didn’t recognize came up.

Corin Tellado, a Spanish romance novelist, is credited with penning more than 4,000 novels over her sixty-three year writing career. She sold more than 400 million of her books. Born in 1927, Ms. Tellado clearly had more story ideas than there are stars in the heavens. And just in case you’re wondering, not one of them got much more than a PG rating as a result of Spain’s strict censorship.

I couldn’t find anything on how many words a day Ms Tellado wrote, but I’m betting she typed her fingers to nubs from the time she got up until the time she turned out the lights. Now THAT’S prolific.

The prolific and demure author, Corin Tellado. (Photo from Corin Tellado website)

The prolific and demure author, Corin Tellado. (Photo from Corin Tellado website)

Reading about the practice of these writers made one thing very clear to me.

It isn’t necessarily how many words a day you write. It’s the fact that you sit down and do it. Whether five hundred words or ten thousand, what matters is adopting the habit and routine of daily writing.

The concept makes sense whether your goal is to become a musician, paint a picture, be a master mechanic, or write a novel. You must make the commitment to work at your craft.

As a result, I’ve decided to forget about NaNoWriMo’s frantic deadlines. My new goal is to sit at my computer and write every single day. I won’t worry about whether I produce 500 words or 1,667. Each morning, when my brain is rested and fresh, I’ll be at my keyboard regardless of day or month.

After all, even the tiniest steps will get you where you want to go…eventually.

 

 

Over the Falls

A young woman is widowed during the American Civil War, and by 1901 she’s still struggling to support herself through the meager pay of a teacher. Upon reaching the age of sixty-two, the odds of a comfortable retirement were slim. So what’s a sweet little old lady to do?

Well, Anna Edson Taylor decided to be the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

She hit upon the idea as a way to make her fortune and become famous in the process. A definite planner, Anna had a large barrel fashioned with padding and straps. It had a rubber tube for air and a weight on the bottom to help the barrel remain upright.

Image from Messy Nessy Cabinet of Chic Cudriosities.

Image from Messy Nessy Cabinet of Chic Curiosities.

Anna did a trial run a few days before the big event. She put a cat in the barrel. When the indignant animal survived with only a few cuts, Anna decided she could make the fearsome trip over the falls. Publicity brought thousands of curious onlookers that were largely expecting to see an explosive end to Anna’s ambitions. It doesn’t appear anyone attempted to stop her.

Even the chief of police didn’t get involved. Once he’d gotten legal advice that he wouldn’t be held responsible for whatever might happen to Anna, he merely shrugged his shoulders and watched the action with the other observers.

On October 24, 1901- Anna’s sixty-third birthday – she strapped herself in. According to the New York Times report, men in rowboats towed the barrel into swift currents, and then let it go. In less than a minute the barrel swept over the falls, disappearing into white waves of water. Afterward, volunteers pulled the bobbing barrel to a rock, slipping and sliding to get it out of the water.

They opened the intact barrel, and helped Anna out. Aside from cuts, bruises, aches, and pains, she had survived the ordeal.

Sadly, although Anna achieved notoriety, she never made the fortune she had hoped to gain. Even the man who managed the event for her absconded with her infamous barrel.

Only a cut streaming blood indicates Anna's ordeal. Image from Messy Nessy.

Only a cut streaming blood indicates Anna’s ordeal. Image from Messy Nessy.

Anna was reduced to selling photos and small replicas of the barrel to make a buck. Her advice to those who asked about the trip over Niagara?

“No one ought ever do that again.”

Anna died in 1921, twenty years after her fateful plunge over the falls. She was eighty-three years old.

Whatever arguments can be made against the wisdom of her decision, we can most definitely agree on one thing. Anna Edson Taylor was the epitome of a gutsy old lady.

Anna Edson Taylor, post-falls. Image from Messy Nessy.

Anna Edson Taylor, post-falls. Image from Messy Nessy.

Her grit is even more admirable when you consider her gender, and the time during which she lived.

I’d like to be a little more like Anna. Though you won’t find me taking a trip over Niagara Falls or jumping out of an airplane, I can certainly attempt other things outside my comfort zone.

Maybe I’ll travel far away all by myself. Or volunteer to stand in front of a large group and give a major presentation. I might even do one of the most frightening things on earth – stand up and sing karaoke.

Without the nerve to take a chance, a lot of opportunities can slip away.

Confess, please. What’s something that makes you sweat when you think about it? Are you willing to try?

Cats or Dogs?

While crawling around on the floor after a stack of papers fell and scattered helter-skelter all over, Bogey took his place next to my sculpture of Mark Twain. Sphynx-like, he watched as I scrambled around picking up my mess.

The bronze bust of Twain is a work that came from a very talented local artist and friend of mine named Don Wiegand, and it has been sitting beside my desk for years.

He who is above mundane activities, and I'm not talking about Mark Twain.

He who is above mundane activities. (I’m not referring to Mark Twain).

I’ve long been an admirer of Twain, and I think most people enjoy reading his works. He created some of the literary world’s most unforgettable characters such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

What do I like about Mark Twain? For one thing, he’s a born and bred writer from my home state of Missouri. For another, unlike many authors of his era, his talent brought him a great deal of success and fame during his lifetime. That’s much more pleasant than being recognized only after you’re gone. Finally, his words had a distinctive humor, often slyly skewering the people in power who saw themselves as better than the average guy.

With Bogey posing so happily next to the sculpture, I decided to avoid a writing project and search the internet to read a few articles about Mark Twain. I discovered something I didn’t know.

Twain apparently had a lifelong love affair with cats. I’d already heard stories about Ernest Hemingway and his beloved extra-toed kitties, but had no idea Mark Twain also favored felines to the degree that he often had more than a dozen living in his residence at a time.

He respected his cats enough not to give them ordinary names. No “Fluffy” or “Puff” among them. Instead they were given impressive monikers such as Bambino, Sour Mash, Zoraster, Beelzebub, and Blatherkite.

Even when traveling, Twain preferred to keep himself in the company of cats. If he couldn’t bring along one or two kitties of his own, he’d find a nearby farm and rent kittens. I can only imagine the surprise of a nineteenth century farmer upon being asked if he’d rent kittens to Mark Twain for a few days. The farmer must have thought Mr. Twain had extreme phobias over mice.

Twain drew inspiration from cats. Not surprisingly, he wrote about them, too.

Here are a few gems by Mark Twain on the subject.

A pile of Mark Twain kittens.

A furry pile of Mark Twain kittens. (Photo by Elisha M. VanAken, 1887)

“I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.”

“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is a cat has only nine lives.”

“When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

There are some who suggest that the world is divided in two very distinct camps. There are those who love dogs, and those who love cats. If anyone asked me to pick sides, I’d be like Switzerland, with one foot in each.

I have no doubt at all where Mark Twain would pitch his tent.

How about it? On which side do you stand?

Mark Twain and friend.

Mark Twain and friend.

Chop-Chop!

Thanks to my friend, Sherry, here's the outcome from a full day canning salsa!

Here’s the outcome of a full day’s work.

With a chop-chop here and a chop-chop there, I did something I’ve never done before. Under my friend, Sherry’s, mentoring and supervision, I produced a dozen jars of homemade salsa.

Lesson number one: Salsa requires hours of cutting vegetables with a very sharp knife and it’s really, really important not to get your finger in the way.

Lesson number two: It’s not much more difficult cutting vegetables when your finger is covered with a band-aid and your hand is covered with a rubber glove because it’s bad form to bleed into the salsa.

Sherry knows her stuff, but I’m still a little worried about my execution of her directions. The salsa looks the way it’s supposed to look, and a sample tasted good. But when a jar is opened six months from now, will it be edible? Well, I’ll answer that question in six months, if I live to tell you about it.

The canning session got me to thinking about how our ancestors preserved food to tide them over during the cold shivery months of winter. After all, people still had to eat even when snow and ice covered the garden.

Not surprisingly, I found early practices were related to location.

People who lived in frigid climates froze their food. People living in tropical climates let the sun and wind dry it. Soon there were some “Aha!” moments that cultivated other methods such as the use of salt, brine, and sugar mixtures to keep food edible at a later date.

However, a pesky little problem with botulism still made eating preserved food a bit risky. It was generally assumed that exposure to air was the enemy ruining a safe culinary experience. It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century when Louis Pasteur discovered the impact of microorganisms on illness and food preservation, that canning methods started to look more like they do today. Boil, sanitize, and seal became the mantra for safe eating.

I happened to stumble across  a book that looked both interesting and a little bit frightening to an unsure canner like me. It’s called Can It! The Perils and Pleasures of Preserving Foods by Gary Allen, for those who’d like to read more on the subject. The book contains information on ancient methods of food preservation along with more modern ones. It was released in July and looks like it could be an interesting read for foodies or historical buffs.

can-it

Well, here’s hoping my salsa contains more pleasures than perils.

By the way, even though this marked my first time canning food, I have successfully used the dehydration method of food preservation. Here is my one and only “drying” recipe.

Exhibit A-Sweet potato slices

Exhibit A-Sweet potato slices

Slice a sweet potato lengthwise into one quarter inch slices. Put parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake  slices in a 250 degree oven for about three hours. Keep an eye on the slices toward the end of baking time. Less time is required for chewier texture, slightly longer for crispy. Remove from oven and cool. Keep slices stored in refrigerator.

Why, you may ask, would anyone ever want to dry sweet potato slices?

For one thing, they’re quite cheap to make, and although I have never personally tasted a dried sweet potato, I have it on good authority that not only are they nutritious, but also quite delicious.

Note my taste tester’s demonstration below.  His rating: two paws up.

Note tiny visible piece of sweet potato slice. The remainder has already been gobbled.

Sadly, tester devoured sample more quickly than I could record the moment of truth.

 

A Promise is a Promise

Valentine Tapley, in all his hirsute glory.

Valentine Tapley, in all his hirsute glory.

The political season will soon (thankfully) come to an end. Some will be thrilled by the result, and others will be appalled, but I wonder if anyone will have the kind of reaction chosen by Valentine Tapley from Pike County, Missouri.

Mr. Tapley had a passion for the Democrat party. If Republican Abe Lincoln became president, Tapley vowed he would never shave his beard again.

Not one to argue his way out of a promise, when Lincoln won in November, 1860, Tapley threw away his razor for good. And as his beard grew, so did his pride…and his fame.

Tapley cared for his whiskers like a mother would coddle a baby, wrapping them in silk and winding the length of his beard around his body or draping his whiskers around his shoulders so they wouldn’t drag untidily through the dust. For obvious reasons, Tapley never worked around a fire, but there is no record of how he kept food and drink from dirtying them. I have a strong suspicion that Tapley’s long-suffering wife, Caroline, must have often said things like, “Valentine, you’ve got potatoes stuck in your beard again.”

Hey, I’m married to someone who grows facial hair. I know how it works.

Valentine Tapley died in 1910 at the age of eighty. His beard measured over twelve feet long and his pride in it prompted him to set up extra security to keep guard over his grave. He didn’t want any robbers trying to dig up his coffin, cut off those infamous whiskers, and put them on display with a traveling sideshow.

Tapley was a man of integrity. He  stuck to his promise, no matter how hairy it got.

Oh yeah? Well, I promise not to come down from this cat condo until the political commercials all go away. They're making my ears bleed.

Oh yeah? Well, I promise not to come down from the cat condo until somebody poop-scoops political ads. They make my ears hurt.   

 

A Political Comment (Sort of)

September 23 marks seventy-two years since President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a famous speech. Why do I bring up a political speech at a time when most of us want to cover our ears over anything related to politics? Simple. The speech had to do with Fala, FDR’s beloved Scotch Terrier, easily my favorite presidential pet, and almost certainly the most famous dog in American history. Fala traveled everywhere with his master, sniffed heads of state, and received so much fan mail he needed his own secretary.

After a trip to the Aleutian Islands in August, 1944, FDR came under attack by political opponents who started a rumor that Fala had been accidentally left behind after the presidential visit. They claimed FDR dispatched a Navy battleship to bring the pup home at a cost of many millions of dollars to taxpayers.

FDR addressed this fur-flying fib at a dinner hosted by Teamsters. Check out a snippet of his response below. His deadpan delivery is priceless.

Politicians take note. If your speeches were clever as this one, I’d be more inclined to listen.

 

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 Pat Wahler

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Pinterest