Tag Archives: Connecticut

January 15th in Time! (Not space, just time.)

15 Jan

January 15, 2014

In my continuing, failing effort to bring a sense of perspective to America, I present the historical events that shaped our country, all of which took place today, January 15th.

1- New Connecticut (Vermont) declares independence, 1777 Yup, how’d that work out for ya? Didn’t keep that “New Connecticut” name long, huh? That name needed a serious rethink. But I think it ended up OK. When I think of Vermont, I think of Maple syrup and the Green Mountain Boys. When I think of Connecticut I think of traffic around Hartford.

3-Molasses floods Boston streets, 1919 This is true and it is one of my favorite historical events. A gigantic vat of molasses collapsed and (slowly) flooded the town in sticky goo. Buildings were knocked down, people got trapped and drowned, and the smell lingered for ages. This really happened.


2- Ford Foundation is born, 1936 And in 1952, she changed her name to Anna Smithson. Seriously, would you like to go through life named after a philanthropic organization? Poor girl was mercilessly teased in high school, with all the teenage guys trying to give her a “donation.”

4– First appearance of the Democratic donkey, 1870 That was the first, but definitely not the last, jackass the Democrats have run for election.


My Bus Ride to… More Bus Ride Part Whatever, Here’s The End

15 Nov

from June 9, 2008

I was walking through a light rain to a burger joint I had never been to before. Really, that’s a metaphor for my life if I ever heard one. (You figure it out.) I was just a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to buy a Yale mug to match my Harvard mug. Who would ever believe that I almost sort of saw those schools without mugs? Now the Harvard mug would have no mug to trash talk up in my cupboard during the annual Harvard/Yale football game.

We crossed the street and my keen eye spotted a New Haven Welcome! place that had Yale mugs in the window. My keen eye even recognized that it was open. My dull brain didn’t get the memo and I kept walking. It was now taking orders from my stomach, which said “to Hell with the keen eyes, I want a burger.” Well Liz, ever the brains of the operation, put two and two together, managed to get four, and we went into the store and purchased Yale mugs. In all honesty, I think Harvard has the better mugs.

Harvard may have the mug advantage, but Yale has the Indiana Jones advantage.
Harvard may have had the advantage of being open when we were there, but Yale has the normal toilet and toilet paper advantage.
Harvard was where we had a hard time finding a candy bar, and Yale has the burger joint advantage.

Harvard 0, Yale 3.

I would have walked a mile through a hailstorm to avoid getting on the bus, so a couple of blocks in a small drizzle to Louie’s Lunch was nothing. After taking a wide detour around a vicious dog we were there.

Louie’s Lunch is what you might get if you took a hundred-year old tavern and converted it to serving burgers and pie. It is old and wooden and looks like it was around when John Smith first took Pocahontas to a cheap motel and became the first guy to write “John Smith” in a hotel register in Jamestown. They seem to be famous for their burgers.

A Louie’s Lunch burger is made right in front of you. They take ground meat (beef, I assume) and whack it into patties. They then chop up onions and whack it into the beef and mix it all up. Don’t like onions? You may not have a choice. It goes sideways into some sort of burger cage and the cage is put, still sideways, into some kind of countertop brass thing that seems as old as the rest of the place and may at one time have been used to heat horseshoes. While that’s going on, a couple of plain and ordinary pieces of white bread are prepared. One has semi-melted “cheese” spread on it while the other has a piece of lettuce dropped on it. The burgers come out of the horseshoe thing and put on the bread, and the whole thing is wrapped up in wax paper.

All four of us there, meaning that the kids were alone on the bus with the driver, and let him put up with them for awhile. I’d had enough.

While the burgers were working we also decided on four cans of Pepsi and pie, which was more of a production than you might expect. First of all, Maria asked a million and one questions, a few of them relevant and a couple of them germane. (I admit I didn’t help when, after the old guy claimed to have the second best apple pie I just had to know who had the first.) The guys behind the counter were an old guy and a young guy and they had clearly polished the act over the years. The old guy was the long-winded story-teller and the young guy rolled his eyes and smirked at the proper points. The young guy was the (so he claimed) grandson of the original Louie. The old guy was just some guy who worked there. Maria used to work at Nathan’s in Coney Island and somehow the hot dog place got mentioned. I made the mistake of saying “You’ve got a Nathan’s original right there” and pointed down at Maria, and the yakitty yak yak was on. I learned a lot about Maria’s days as a corn girl and came to the uncomfortable realization that she may have served me some hot dogs when I was young.

We were seated at what would have been the bar in the old days and was now the counter. From right to left, it went Maria, Ray, me, and Liz.

While Maria was talking she got suckered, or should I say she suckered herself, into a dice game. If Maria were in the middle of a stickup she’d be the one to call back the burglars to tell them that they forgot to take her purse. “What’s the matter? Isn’t my purse good enough? Don’t ignore me, I’m not like you people.”

For a couple of bucks (“or as much as you want to bet”) you get to roll six dice out of a Styrofoam cup. If they all match you win whatever the jackpot was at that moment. Neither of the guys was too sure what the jackpot was but they were positive it was big.

Maria put down two dollars and rolled. Two dice rolled right off the counter, where the old guy claimed it woke up the cat but I think that was just folksy bullshit. It didn’t matter since the dice on the counter didn’t match but they kindly gave her a re-roll, which she also lost. I can’t for the life of me explain why but she was going to bet again when we all just told her to stop.

The guys also ran some bullshit around the rest of us, asking Ray if he was with Maria and if Liz and I were married.

I am ashamed to say that I had no glib response for that one.

I still don’t.

I should have.

Well, by then my waders were covered up to the thighs after slogging through so much crap that we took the bags and walked back, happily, to the bus. In fact we were so happy to be out of Louie’s Lunch, I place I love but cannot stand, that it took us almost two whole blocks to realize that we never got the soda.

Ray and I walked back, mostly because we still had a long bus ride ahead of us and we would be thirsty, but also because there was a little part of us that just couldn’t stand to get back on the bus. The kids were on it, and I had spent the better part of six months sitting across the two front seats that day.

We went back in and this time the vicious dog was gone so I swaggered back in and announced “you forgot our sodas!” The old guy looked confused and told us that “the other guy must have taken the wrong bag.” I saw the other guy. He ordered one burger and nothing else and took the right bag. The wiseguy behind the counter never bagged any sodas. He figured we’d be on the bus and back in New York before we realized that he gypped us out of two sodas and would have been spending our $4 on God-knows-what and laughing all the while. Well he didn’t fool me and I got the sodas. I’m a New Yorker. I’m more afraid of Bommarito than I am of some New Haven burger-flipper.

We got. Back. On the bus. Again. And since it was humid I told the driver to put on the air. (“You got it!” I didn’t rate a “baby.” It had something to do with my biological plumbing.) We had our food, the kids had their food, no one was in danger of eating a student, and we were off to Brooklyn.

The burgers were very, very good.

We drove through the rain and darkness and some movie played on the DVD but when it ended we just left it dark. Counting colleges had turned into counting billboards. The driver took the long way home, and didn’t I just appreciate that? I sat in the front passenger side seat with, alternately, my legs over the barrier or my upper body hanging over the barrier. Either way, if Driver Ray stopped short I was through the front window and home faster than the rest. I have no conscious memory of what we talked about. We laughed the way people do when they’re very tired and everything seems funny, even the imminent end of the world and cannibalism.

We got back to Lafayette. I found that I had aged a month and Liz missed about fifty calls from her father, which made her happy. Ray left to go home and start packing his things because he’s moving, and Maria felt sick and Liz drove her home.

The kids were gone, Liz was no longer on my left, and I went home to a familiar bed and slept.

The next Saturday we took the kids to Great Adventure and had a blast, despite two kids passing out and Liz and I having to yell at some kids who, intelligently, started a food fight. My personal high point came when I was sure that I had lost my hat but I had actually been sitting on it the entire time.

Next week is a trip to Washington and I am not on that one. This will be the first weekend in three weeks I haven’t spent with Liz, and draw your own conclusions. I have been replaced by some Tom guy. A word to the Washington-bound: You will not get a single funny blog out of that trip, and if you come back and tell me that you had more fun with Tom than you did with me, I will know that you are only trying to make me jealous.

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