Journal: 2002

The Frisian Problem

Some early Christmas mail included a small package from Amsterdam, which I assumed to be from my Dutch friend, Rina. (See Dutch in Three Weeks) When I first looked at the letter, a wave of disappointment swept me, as it was in Dutch, and while I was enormously flattered, Rina knows very well that my Dutch isn’t really up to a long letter. And then, as I looked at it more closely, a wave of despair swept me, and I realized that I sure had forgot a lot of my Dutch since last May.

But then, when I concentrated on that first sentence with all those words I didn’t remember, I suddenly realized that I could understand it even though most of the words were spelled differently than I remembered. And then it occurred to me that maybe Rina was using the Dutch spellings from before the reforms (not that I knew what they were), but why would she do this?

Then I looked a bit more closely at the second sheet of paper that was in the package, which was typeset, and saw handwritten at the bottom the English words “website of frisian literature.” Back to the first page. Yes, it was not, after all, in Dutch. It was, in fact, my very first Frisian letter, from someone named Lysbeth.

Then I played the cassette tape that was in the package. It started with a bunch of talking in what I assume to be Frisian, as it sounds sort of Dutch but not really. Then Rina came on in English, but she said nothing about this Lysbeth person, so I realized that I was definitely going to have to translate the letter to figure out what’s going on. Rina would have found the letter tedious to read, if she even tried, so this explains why she made no mention of it on the cassette. Obviously, our mutual friend Robert, who somehow knows Lysbeth, merely passed the letter on to Rina. Hmmm. The plot thickens.

To make the problem worse, the letter was handwritten, and reading Europeans’ handwriting is always a bit tricky at first until you figure out which letter each one of those little squiggles is supposed to represent in a particular national script. Thus, my usual approach to decoding, guessing at whole words and then extrapolating from that the individual letters that I can’t read, doesn’t work nearly as well as it does in English.

I can just glance at the first page and see things like “myn hûs” and know without even looking elsewhere that this is in Dutch “mijn huis” and in English “my house.” But this is an instance in which the individual letters are clear to me. (As an aside, I just flashed on this single shred of evidence suggesting that Frisian, like the other European languages, failed to participate in the Great Vowel Shift (although it does look like Dutch might have experienced a Small Vowel Drift). For those who have not been following the GVS, it was not a recent event, having occurred at 4:53 PM on a sunny Thursday afternoon in October of 1493.)

I would expect Lysbeth to have been taught Dutch script even though she may have been in a bilingual Frisian/Dutch school. As I understand it, at least part of the curriculum is now being taught in Frisian in selected schools in the Dutch part of Friesland. This is a relatively new practice, and I’d be surprised if it went back more than fifteen years or so. Certainly when I was in graduate school, Frisian was described as moribund. Since Frisians have not been sufficiently powerful to control schools for centuries, instruction would have been provided by the Dutch school system, which would have taught the standard Dutch letter forms. I find it hard to imagine that anyone would have dug up examples of Frisian handwriting from centuries back and then taught this script to the kids. Besides, it looks like Dutch handwriting to me even though I’m hardly an expert.

At any rate, it is clear that Frisian is a lot closer to Dutch than English. Not of course that my Dutch is good enough to make that statement with any confidence, since it is barely sufficient to conduct the most ordinary social and business transactions, while my Frisian ability is that gained by a bit of Internet surfing and by studying the introductory material in my Frysk-Engels dictionary and a few of the dictionary entries themselves.

It’s been only the past couple of days that I’ve been seriously working on the letter, and this industry was provoked by my realizing that I would be lunching today with a group of former colleagues including one who is a brilliant linguist completing a doctorate at UC Berkeley and to whom I had sent a scanned copy of the letter. Fear that she’d probably have it completely translated by now has been an effective goad. The only thing that might have slowed her down is that she doesn’t know Dutch. On the other hand, she does know Old English and Icelandic, and since her main focus is on dead languages and she thus spends a lot of time with dusty old manuscripts, she is a whiz at reading strange handwriting.

The letter is, as best I can tell, in rather bad Frisian…or at least in highly Duchified Frisian. I suppose it’s a supreme arrogance for me to say that, but People’s Exhibit A is a list of words from the letter that even I know in Dutch but are not found in my Frisian dictionary.

It’s also full of words that exist in no language that I am familiar with. Words like “roastfrystaal,” which obviously means “stainless steel” but of which only the final element is correctly spelled in Frisian, English, Dutch, or German. “Staal” is the Dutch word for “steel.” The first two elements are not correct in any of these languages. Grrr.

But wait, before I accuse Lysbeth of writing bad Frisian, I must take into consideration that Frisian, as we would expect from a language that for all practical purposes has barely existed as a written language for several centuries, is distinguished by its abundance of dialects. Lysbeth’s dialect is probably just not covered in my dictionary.

Anyhow, the linguist and I, by putting our notes together, were able to translate almost the entire letter. I haven’t had so much fun in ages.

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My friend Jim read about this technique called Babysign in which you teach children to use a simplified sign language so that they can communicate with you before they have developed the physical and mental ability to speak. If nothing else, Jim thought, it will cut out a lot of that crying if they can let you know what’s bothering them or what they want. So he learned the sign language and taught it to his twin granddaughters and his wife, who is pretty much raising the girls, and of course the kids started speaking many months (a year?) before they were supposed to and are now learning everything so incredibly fast because they had this head start, etc. etc.

I got to thinking, if I had had a grandfather like him to give me that kind of head start, I might have made something of myself. As it was, when I was five years old I could count and had the alphabet down, but Mother refused, yes refused, to teach me how to read and I wasn’t smart enough to teach myself like Milton did sitting there in front of his father while his father read from the Bible. Owing to his seating location, he could read only upside down, but we assume that sometime before he went blind he made the transition to the missionary position.

At that point in her life my mother was an ex-schoolteacher. She took it up again in 1948 when I was about to start the second grade and we moved to an oil camp out from Notrees, where she discovered that 1) life as a housewife “out from Notrees” was terminally boring and that 2) the schools out there paid the highest salaries in the state.

For persons unfamiliar with west Texas oilfields, when you are “out from Notrees” you are in utter desolation – a camp of four oil company houses huddled about five miles out on a caliche road that hits the paved highway between Notrees and Kermit right off the caprock a couple of miles west of Notrees. Notrees is about halfway between Odessa and Kermit, a distance of about 55 miles, and was given its name in an exuberance of oilfield irony…or in this case inverted irony, the proper name for which I seem to have forgot. How about “truth”? The fauna were cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, coyotes, horny toads, rattlesnakes, and the occasional gila monster. Oh yeah, and some birds, by far the most interesting of which being the scissor-tailed swallow. The flora were mesquite bushes, yuccas, prickly pear cactus, goathead stickers, and occasional tufts of some grass-like stuff. The horizons were distant.

In the late forties, Kermit was thriving and Notrees was on the way up to its peak in the mid-fifties when it and Goldsmith both had small elementary schools educating the oil camp kids although these schools were not opened until after we left Notrees, so mother drove us kids into Kermit where we went to school and she taught.

There were two incidents of excitement and one memorable moment during the year we lived in Notrees. The first exciting incident was the time when, displaying great bravery and savagery I slew my first rattlesnake, only to have my father point out the absence of rattles and fangs, “Those are just ‘is teeth,” when I displayed the corpse even though it sure had seemed like a rattlesnake when it was moving.

The memorable moment occurred one afternoon when I got home from school and was poking around in the garage and saw something new, a box about three feet by two feet by one foot high composed of a frame of one by two inch wooden slats covered with chicken wire. At one end there was this counterweighted cylindrical device that would move up and down to cover and uncover a hole to the outside if you turned the box over, which I did repeatedly, trying to figure out its purpose. It was years later that it dawned on me why Mother was able to serve quail fairly often that winter. All I knew at the time was that Daddy sure didn’t want me talking about this thing to anybody. Trapping quail was illegal in Texas in those days although many country folk did it to put meat on the table. I figure by now his sordid history of quail trapping is covered by the statue of limitations. Besides, he’s been dead for thirty years, so go fetch him, copper.

The second exciting incident was the car catching fire on the way to school one morning. I happened to look down at the floorboard and notice flames licking up through the hole where the brake pedal went through. Yes, kids, in the ’47 Ford, the connecting rods for clutch, brake, and accelerator just went through open holes in the floorboard. I immediately brought the fire to Mother’s attention, and she stopped the car, hustled Becky and me a good many yards away, went back to discover that there was too much fire for her to get her fingers under the hood to get to the release lever so that she then could scoop sand onto the fire.

So she left us sitting under a mesquite bush with strict instructions not to go back to the car while she trotted off down the road to the highway and flagged down the first car, whose driver brought her back to us where we sat in enormous disappointment that the car had not blown up in her absence nor even become a modest pillar of fire. Once the car had stopped, the fire went out before it had involved more than the carburetor, the wiring, and the exterior engine oil. Even so, when the Samaritan arrived the car was, although still intact and cooling, inoperable, and he gave us a ride into Kermit. At which point the story became dull enough that I remember nothing else except that the garage that had fixed the car the previous day quickly agreed to fix it again, free.

But I digress. Mother refused to teach me to read when I was five because she didn’t want me to be bored with school and also because she wanted me to be a “normal” kid. How could she have known so early? More importantly, since she obviously knew I wasn’t normal when I was five years old, why the hell didn’t she realize that I needed every bit of help I could get and that having a head start in reading might have made all the difference? Then again, I’d probably have been insufferable. OK, more insufferable.

And to be fair, when I was seven, she bought the brand new 1948 edition of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, which declared its purpose on the frontispiece: “To inspire ambition, to stimulate the imagination, to provide the inquiring mind with accurate information told in an interesting style, and thus lead into broader fields of knowledge, such is the purpose of this work.”

I guess it did all of that, except maybe for the ambition part. At any rate, I began devouring it immediately, focusing mostly on the pictures for the first couple of years but somewhere along there realizing that the text was more interesting…at least when I wasn’t killing rattlesnakes.

I look back at killing those snakes with shame, not that I killed all that many of them. In those days, folks felt that the indiscriminate slaughter of any animal we deemed dangerous or undesirable was justified. True, had one of the snakes bitten me, I’d almost certainly have died. This was before the antivenin was developed, and I was a small child. But still, I’d feel much better about it if only I’d killed them for food.

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Harmon Towel Boy

Yesterday I got a note from one of my Susans, who dilated upon my running around making charitable donations last Tuesday, mentioning that she had a profound medical need for a hot tub/sauna combination equipped with a muscle-bound towel boy named Osvaldo.

Her mention of the towel boy reminded me that in the summer of 1973 I took the intensive Spanish program at UC Berkeley and lived a few blocks off campus in a fifties-motel-like apartment building owned by the rapacious uncle of a friend I would not meet for another six years. In the intensive language programs, you’re in class all morning, in the language lab all afternoon, and at home in the evenings doing your homework for the next morning’s class. So you’re pretty busy. But you’re also young and full of energy and freshly out, so some of the afternoon time that should have been spent in the language lab was instead spent in the spectacular outdoor pool at Harmon Gymnasium, swimming laps to keep that rippled swimmer’s build, this being before gay men discovered the benefits of weightlifting. After the laps, the only logical thing to do was to spend an hour or so poolside, crispening your tan line and discreetly observing the fauna, many of whom were discreetly observing back. Actually some of them were not all that discreet, as Harmon Gym was pretty cruisy in those days, the early seventies being when great numbers of us were crawling out from under rocks nationwide and wriggling to the coasts. To get your towel and suit (optional for suntanning, but I never understood why anyone would suntan except to get a tanline), you passed by a window and handed your reg (rhymes with “dredge”) card to the towel boy, who was certainly muscle-bound and indeed a looker albeit very professional in demeanor. So professional that after you’d been there a couple of times, he knew the suit size you wanted. He also knew that there were two brands of suits, one totally shapeless and baggy and the other…well, becoming. Now it would take a bolder man than most of us to ask for one of the good suits that displayed your assets so fetchingly, but somehow, his professionalism extended to this additional sensitive service, and for those of us who needed one of the good suits, when his hand emerged from what looked like a random draw from the bin, it always held the right stuff.

It was some weeks into the term that I learned that his professionalism went even further, and farther, too, as one Saturday night when I’d gone into the City as usual, I paid my only visit to the Ritch Street Baths, at that time San Francisco’s premier gay bath house. When I got my towel, it was all I could do to keep a straight face (always a plus in any bathhouse). Yes, it was he, moonlighting, a man who early on found his vocation.

P.S. By the end of summer school, I had grown so fond of those swim suits that I wanted one, badly enough to check around and discover that the company sold only to institutions. No retail. Sigh, so I had no choice. Using a devious route not visible from the towel boy’s vantage, I crept to my locker and deposited the suit. Then, when I went to reclaim my reg card from him, I lied, telling him that the suit had been swiped while I was in the shower. So I paid only the institutional price, but hey, it was a used suit. I of course still have it. By now, the elastic in the waist has given out, but then, so has mine.

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St. Leonhardskirche

I went to organ concerts in St. Leonhardskirche down by the riverside on Alte Mainzer Gasse in Frankfurt when I was quite new to Germany in ’64. There was a concert the first Sunday of every month, and organists from all over Europe came there to play. The most famous that I heard was Germani.

That the church had been built a century before Columbus sailed was particularly impressive to a man reared in west Texas, which had for all practical purposes been settled by Americans (OK, Europeans) only after the final solution to the Comanche Problem in the 1870’s.

Leaving a more lasting impression, though, were the pews, which were clearly designed to inflict maximum pain upon the corporeal portions of the worshipers. They were fashioned of a particularly obdurate corrugated oak and were only eight or nine inches deep. They had resolutely vertical backs about ten inches high, the leading edge of which had been sharpened to dig viciously into the spine of anyone so foolish as to lean back.

The only compensation, I realized, was that modern Germans had got a bit soft, too, so we all sat there squirming in misery as our souls were lofted to heaven by the music.

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The Columbarium

When you’re in San Francisco, you really should visit the Neptune Society Columbarium. On tiny Lorraine Court off Anza behind the Coronet Theater, it’s mentioned in the better tourist guides, but you don’t have to worry about crowds, as it lacks the lowest-common-denominator appeal of Fisherman’s Wharf. It had fallen into disrepair, but was acquired by the Neptune Society and gradually restored during the late seventies and early eighties. A strange and wonderful building, it is quite interesting architecturally and extremelyinteresting sociologically. The interior is utterly surreal and was the scene of the most astonished moment of my life.

About ’81 or ’82, I had a former repeat trick become casual friend named Lou who I didn’t see very often any more but knew had taken up with a really ditzy young lover I had barely met. One day, though, I got a phone call from him telling me that Lou had died of a heart attack after his fiftieth birthday party, the attack having been at least partly provoked by some post-party recreational refreshments. There was to be a memorial service at the Neptune Society Columbarium next week, and the lover was going through Lou’s address book notifying potential mourners. So I went.

As the mourners were gathering before the service and regaling each other with tales of how we had first had Lou, I turned a corner and found myself face to face with him. He was looking quite good under the circumstances, since he was walking toward me! And then he spoke, crossly, “What are you looking at me like that for?!”

I sensed immediately that this was a test. Unfortunately, like all too many of the others, one for which I was not well prepared and which, worse yet, was not multiple choice.

Gasping, I made a full, if a bit blunt, confession. Luckily, Lou Ryan had a sense of humor, and kindly let me know that the service was for LouJones, another former trick of about the same age who also happened to have recently acquired a ditzy young lover whom I didn’t know.

The service itself was anticlimactic.

But why, aside from the architectural interest, should you visit the Columbarium? Examine the contents of the crypts, noting the sex of the deceased and their dates as you ascend to, say, the third floor. You see detailed the progress of an epidemic.

And richly detailed in many cases since large numbers of the crypts contain the urns of a gay couple and are decorated with gay themes.

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I had a friend in Frankfurt back in the sixties who had been in his youth a member of the Hitlerjugend. Hey, he was fourteen! Give him a break. Near the end of the war, they were incorporated into the army, and soon afterwards when the Americans ripped through his area, he found himself uncaptured but a couple hundred kilometers from home. So he hid in the woods with the idea of traveling by night and resting, hidden, during the day.

This didn’t work. Food became an issue. To put it bluntly, he was starving. So he cautiously observed a farm house for a number of hours until he was reassured that it wasn’t infested with Americans and then went to the house for food. The woman there fed him, but was no more interested in his remaining there than he was, so after a brief negotiation, he exchanged his uniform and gear for a set of her son’s clothes, which came real close to fitting. She couldn’t give him much food since she had so little herself, but at least he would now be able to travel by day.

And so, taking an unobtrusive route on country lanes, he set out for home, seventeen but desperately trying to look fifteen and out for a fresh air hike in his own neighborhood.

He had not got very far at all before he was spotted by a couple of American soldiers discreetly watching the little path he was on. He was practically on them before he saw them, but he immediately noticed that they were pointing their rifles at him. One spoke in English.

Hans-Joachim had studied English in school but decided this would be a good time not to understand. Unfortunately, the Americans knew sign language, and one used the universal beckoning forefinger to indicate that he was to approach more closely.

He did so with alacrity and was taken to a local building where there was an American who spoke some German, not perfect German by any means, but sufficiently good to explain to Hans-Joachim that German soldiers whose uniforms and weapons had been stolen by bandits were nevertheless accepted as prisoners of war upon their giving their names, ranks, and serial numbers. After which, they were fed and housed and that sort of thing. German spies, on the other hand, were just taken off behind the building and shot.

Hans-Joachim was able to recall his military data almost immediately.

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The Fruit Factory

The Fruit Factory is on the highway to Tracy just a couple of miles on the left beyond the cutoff to I-5 South. It’s open only July-October (more or less) and is, in spite of its name, mostly a bean farm (most particularly beans that you can rarely buy fresh in the Bay Area – butterbeans, cranberry beans, black-eyed peas, and pintos) although they also have good tomatoes, okra, etc. Pick ’em yourself for the best bargain.

The first time I went there early one Saturday morning about ten years ago, I stood in stark contrast with all the other customers. None of the other customers was anywhere near my age. They were all either a lot older or a lot younger. And they were all black. And then I realized, who would be seeking fresh black-eyed peas and butterbeans and okra? Maybe somebody who grew up eating this stuff? And can’t find it in decent quality at the grocery store? And is retired and taking the grandkids “out to the farm” to harvest some of the good stuff?

So I went there every fall for several years, mainly to pick up crates of fresh pintos and cranberry beans. I brought them home, shelled them out, and blanched and froze them. It was a lot of work, but then for the following year I could serve them to deserving dinner guests. Then I discovered that the Iacopis at the San Mateo Farmers Market had superb Romanos and cranberry beans and Italian butter beans. And then I learned that the Iacopis were at both the Ferry Plaza and Justin Herman Plaza farmers markets right here in San Francisco.

So I stopped making my trips to The Fruit Factory, even though I do miss their wonderful tamales and that peach cobbler they served in their tiny little kitchen.

Note: In August 2002 I received their annual postcard listing available items. Apparently missing people like me, they’re trying to broaden their customer base, as in addition to the old favorites they now selltuvor, guar, papadi, and valor papadi. Mother didn’t feed me none of them.

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“Auntie” Revisited

I wrote “Auntie,” (in Journal 1986) to describe an incident in 1985 in which my aunt, while her sister stood there watching, handed over to me for delivery to my sister a crystal bowl that her sister coveted.  At the time, I assumed that her only motive was to spite her sister.

Three or four years after that incident, my aunt became less and less capable of living alone, and her daughter’s visits became more frequent. One of these visits overlapped one of mine, and I told the daughter about the incident. She mentioned that she had been very fond of the bowl herself but then immediately observed that, well, she hadn’t noticed its absence. Somehow, over the subsequent years I fixated on the idea that my cousin deserved the bowl more than my sister because of the circumstances under which my aunt had given away the bowl, and I brought this concept up to Becky on, I’m sure, many occasions.

Then, last December when I had developed a medical problem that I thought signaled my imminent demise and was trying to atone for as many wrongs as possible, I wrote Becky and wasted my deathbed wish by saying that she really must give that bowl to its rightful owners…the descendants of our aunt. She got back to me and told me that she had started feeling guilty about this herself a while back and had just been too busy to do anything about it. Damn, I should have asked her to stop smoking.

So I immediately called my cousin and got a recording: “This number is no longer in service.” Oh dear, I thought, she’s fourteen years older than me and I haven’t called her in eight or nine years and I’ve let her die on me. I knew she had two daughters but didn’t remember their names…their first names, much less their new last names.

Then I wrote to my cousin’s last known address in Denton. The letter didn’t come back, but I didn’t hear anything either. So about a month ago, I Googled around and discovered that she was on a committee of the First Christian Church in Denton. But there was no church directory that listed the phone numbers or addresses of the membership. There was, however, a Membership Committee for whom email addresses were listed, so I found a member of the committee my cousin was on who was also on the Membership Committee, and wrote her an email telling the story of how my sister got the bowl and explaining that after these many years my sister had agreed that it should go to our cousin or one of her daughters and asking this woman if she could please contact my cousin, if she were still alive, and ask her to contact me or my sister.

The woman kindly emailed me back the next day saying that she barely knew my cousin but that she was good friends with one of her daughters and would pass the message on to the daughter. After what was to me an agonizing delay, my cousin wrote Becky with some additional information of which I had been unaware.

She pointed out, as a minor aside, that it was more like ten years before my uncle’s death that he had given the bowl to his sister rather than “shortly” as I had said. More importantly, my cousin disclosed that he had been her mother’s favorite and that when he died, her mother had transferred all her affection to my father. (In those huge families, there was nowhere near enough affection to go around). My cousin also said that she had never seen her mother as upset and grieving as she was when my father died back in 1969. And finally, my cousin revealed that when she was going through her mother’s things after her mother’s death, she found a handful of letters from herself and selected others but a fat bundle of letters from Becky. Apparently my aunt had saved every single card or note Becky had ever sent her.

All this put quite a different spin on things. My aunt’s transfer of the bowl to Becky had not been, as I had assumed, purely to spite her sister. Rather, spiting her sister was just an additional pleasure since she had had other reasons for wanting to give the bowl to Becky. My cousin also suspected, quite rightly, that the bowl was the only heirloom Becky had from that side of the family.

So my cousin had written that she felt Becky should keep the bowl. Becky then confessed to me that she really, really did just love the bowl, which she has prominently displayed atop a china cabinet that was our maternal grandmother’s. And furthermore, her partner could not help observing that in the same room there was art from some of the better minor artists in this country but that everyone who entered that room ran immediately to a point directly in front of The Bowl and stood there ooohing and aaahing.

What I learned from this was that what I had to atone for was not my role in transferring the bowl to Becky but rather for assuming that my aunt had acted purely out of spite. That and a ten-year campaign to convince Becky that she ought to give the damn thing up. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to generalize from this lesson and cut more folks more slack.

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Peanut Butter

I am the salt king of San Francisco. I shop for the sourest grapefruit so I can salt it; I eat cantaloupe with salt and pepper; I have made concerned friends wince as they saw me wielding the salt shaker at dinner. And yet, I like my peanut butter unsalted. So naturally, my favorite peanut butter, Laura Scudder’s Old Fashioned, is available in San Francisco only salted. As a compromise, I have taken to cutting my salted Laura Scudder’s with the unsalted Adams 100% Natural. I’m sure this is causing many of you to wonder how it is possible that a gourmet as discriminating as myself is able to stomach a peanut butter other than Laura Scudder’s, even when mixed half and half with the good stuff.

Well actually, I had kind of wondered about this myself. How could it be, I thought, that Adams’ tastes just as good as Laura Scudder’s? Could I have somehow failed to include Adams when I was doing my extensive comparison tastings a few years ago?

And then, this morning, it came to me. As I was preparing to mix a couple of jars, I noticed that both Laura and Mrs. Adams were members of the J. M. Smucker team – the Orrville, Ohio, Smuckers. They had both joined the Smuckers upon learning of the cost reductions they could enjoy if they used the same jars and just paid for separate paper labels to distinguish their products. Well of course, quantity discounts for all that glassware.

In the old days, truckers with their loads of freshly harvested peanuts headed toward Orrville until they reached the outskirts of town, where the road forked and there was a big sign with an arrow pointing left for Mrs. Adams and right for Laura Scudder. The guys knew which fork to take.

Later, Laura and the Adamses moved their plants to new locations side by side on the Interstate loop around town and the truckers went around to the back of the appropriate building to unload, depending on whether they were carrying the 100% Natural or the Old Fashioned.

Then, back in the eighties, the accountants figured out that Laura and the Adamses could save a bundle by consolidating their receiving docks and separating the 100% Naturals from the Old Fashioneds in house.

In the nineties, an employee dropped a note in the Suggestions box that had far-reaching consequences. A radical proposal, actually, but one which was implemented after it was understood that the savings it offered could be utilized to amplify the Executive Bonus Program.

The implementation was straightforward. The wall between the two buildings was knocked out and the processing lines were combined, thus creating a huge pile of extra parts which were sold when the scrap metal market was at its peak. With only one processing line, the companies were able to achieve significant cost reductions by out-processing many of the processors, including the suggester, who had not thought through all the consequences and had had other expectations for his reward.

So now, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the line processes the 100% Natural peanuts and the Adams label is pasted onto the jars. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, it’s Old Fashioned time, and the Laura Scudder labels are used. The entire processing line is steam cleaned at the end of each day to prevent any possible cross contamination.

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Cherry Scoop

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to the Justin Herman Plaza Farmers Market. I haven’t been there in a while, as I don’t usually go unless I’ve missed the Ferry Plaza on Saturday. However, I’m definitely going in the morning because on Saturday I got word from Juan that the Hamadas will be scooping the other vendors this Tuesday at the Justin Herman Plaza market by bringing the first cherries. Juan thinks there is a chance they’ll scoop everyone at the Ferry Plaza next Saturday also. 

I was delighted to learn that while the vendors give the appearance of placing all their focus on the care and upbringing of their own products, they are also all spying on each other. I can just picture a pickup pulling up to the ridgeline with a very large pair of binoculars sticking out the window. “They look ripe yet, Jake?” 

I don’t know how widely word has spread about the cherries, but San Francisco is in some ways a small town and news travels rapidly. I’m planning to drive down the hill to the Castro and park, taking the F Market streetcar down to the plaza so that I won’t have to try to find parking nearby. I do this fairly often anyhow because I can park so much closer to the Castro F Market stop than I can to Justin Herman Plaza. Besides, if they run out of cherries too early and the riot starts before I can get away, there’ll be burning cars and stuff blocking the streets and I won’t be able to drive the car back anyhow, even assuming that my car is not one of those burning. The underground Muni line, on the other hand, remained on schedule even during the White Night riots, plowing serenely through the tear gas. 

It’s good to know the terrain.

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