The Bulletin
July 6, 2003
Browse The Bulletin archive index

Home About Archive Recipes Stories Galleries Who's Who Where

The Pudding Pack

A Short Story
By Doug and Dorothy

Editor's Note: The following is a story with two narrators. When the writing is in normal prose style, it is the Mother speaking. When it is written in journal entry form, it is the Son who is speaking.

One of the authors enjoys the "Big Lake."

Chapter Seven
On a Clear Day You Can See Alcatraz Forever

6/28/76: Boy, did my old Polaroid get a workout today! The lighting at ... uh, Marineland ... was perfect for fantastic pictures! I got a whole bunch of good shots of the Killer whale show. I wonder if they ever have trouble with the Killer whales eating the dolphins? I learned that dolphins aren't always that nice, either, at least when they are playing in groups. They have saved swimmer's lives, though. What a cool animal. They look like aliens when they are standing up in the water!

2nd Entry: Mom said she thought she saw Alcatraz, but everybody knows that's in San Francisco. You sure could see a long way from that lookout point, though. Maybe that was Alcatraz...?

6/29/76: We went to the beach again today, and got to spend more time in the water this time. I was hoping we would see some surfers, but Aunt Doris said most of them go to Doheny or Paradise Cove. Maybe I will try surfing someday. Who am I kidding? I couldn't even handle the Matterhorn!

2nd Entry: The ocean sure is neat. I don't think I will ever forget the feeling of being in a lake this big. When you move, an entire ocean moves with you, and you can feel it, sort of...

3rd Entry: I was hoping that Junior would play his guitar before we leave. I am trying to learn on this guitar Donnie bought at an auction; maybe my Uncle could give me some pointers...? More later.

It is the last day of June and since the big day things have been less hectic, not to say less active just less hectic!. The trip to Marineland went beautifully, too. We didn't all go along, but those who did enjoyed it.

This tall aquarium has viewing all the way for several stories of inside halls that face onto the windows. The divers feeding the fish were visible through the window viewing areas. There was interesting information on the fish -- sea animal -- kingdom and its inhabitants.

Probably the most fun were the shows put on in the pool area. A show was put on by trained seals -- and killer whales and their trainers.

Another part of the activities of the day I enjoyed was the view from a special observatory area at the top of the building. You can see a long way out into the ocean. I got to wondering if the dark spot I see way out in the distance could be Alcatraz -- I am almost sure that it is out in the bay -- I decided I would have to ask the kids what they thought.

I spent several minutes (and dollars) in their tourist shop. I was intrigued by the blown glass miniatures of tropical fish and little figurines of the performing killer whales. I bought several different ones. I plan to use them on small shelves of the shadow box that Cleo gave me for my birthday. I want to have it on the wall of the dining room in our new home (can hardly wait).

We took a souvenir home to Stevie -- and then the rest of the gang made sure he had some fun time with them in the park after yet another wonderfully delicious California type dinner!

We did another day at the beach. This time we all came home with added color -- some brown, some pink (me), some red and various shades in between. We had bought a bunch of munchies and snacked and sunbathed, and a few daring younger members of our group went swimming and tried riding the surf on their rubber flotations -- with varying degrees of success -- but lots of fun!

Hi Dorothy,

I've been silent too long, just too busy to do any writing. I sure enjoy reading every bulletin. I feel like I'm getting to know a lot of folks much better by reading what they write. Keep up the great work!

The following is something I started on some time ago, found time to finish it during last week's rainy weather. True story, but I'm not telling whether I was a participant or an onlooker!

Beaver's Chemistry Experiment
By Beaver

When I was in high school, we were often left unsupervised in the lab during chemistry class. Our teacher was also the school superintendent, and sometimes needed to leave the classroom. Nowadays I suppose an aide would be called in to monitor the class, but there were no aides back then. We generally did pretty well, no big fires or serious injuries, but we did occasionally get a little wet.

By a process of experimentation, we learned that if the squeeze bulb was removed from an eyedropper and the glass part inserted in a rubber hose, with the opposite end of the rubber tube connected to a water faucet, an excellent mini water cannon resulted. The range was phenomenal, all the way across the lab and more.

One day we noticed that there was a new coil of rubber hose in the supply cabinet, probably twenty feet long. Our lab adjoined a large room used as a study hall, with a locked door between. The door had a big keyhole of the type that could be opened with a large skeleton key. The hose would reach from the faucet at the front desk to the door.

The study hall teacher was a nervous sort who often paced forth and back across the front of the study hall, like a sentry making his rounds. The study hall had several cut-ups who were always getting in trouble for one thing or another. We could clearly hear the teacher chewing on these miscreants at times, after which he would resume his nervous pacing.

The plan took shape the first time we were unattended. We knew we had some time because we had watched out the window as our teacher left the school to go downtown, as he often did. We unrolled the new hose, inserted our best eyedropper in the end, connected the other end to the faucet, and we were ready. One scholar manned the faucet while the other slid the eyedropper into the keyhole, angled to make the stream go as high as possible.

When the teacher/ sentry crossed on the other side of the door, made his turn, and started away, the faucet man opened the faucet at a signal from the nozzle man. The nozzle man counted paces, and signaled for shut-off just before the sentry made his turn at the far side of the room. After a couple of repetitions, uproar broke out in the back of the study hall, where the stream had landed on several of the sort of students who usually sit in the back of study halls.

We put our equipment away, and clustered by the door to listen. The teacher was at the back of the room, demanding to know who had the squirt gun, as several students were soaking wet. He wasn’t getting very far. When the bedlam lessened, we could hear several students protesting that the water had come through the keyhole from the chemistry lab. The teacher wasn’t buying it.

Just before the bell rang, we heard him say, "Don’t give me this baloney that it came from the chemistry lab; those are serious students in there with better things to do than spray water on people. I just wish you cut-ups would behave as well as they do."

Thanks, Beaver, and lest you think my title incriminating -- when you get your next copy of the Bulletin -- I wish you to note it is the title you used in the subject line of this reply sheet that was on YOUR own letter! It looks bad for you if there should be an investigation into this episode --Your Mother-in-law, the editor

Updates -

Saturday, from the Johnson farm.
by Donna

Wyatt arrived with Rylie this a.m. and we got the fun of taking her along with us, to visit the resort near Frazee, Birchmere, where Lori, Aaron and Caity were camping.

As we approached Detroit Lakes, I could see a dark cloud over where I figured their campgrounds to be. Lori called and said they'd just meet us in Detroit Lakes, as it was raining there. They were going to pack up first. I stopped with the two little ones and used the facilities at Perkins.

Then Lori called again (nice to have those cell phones :-) and said it had stopped. They were going to risk us eating there, as they had all sorts of food in their cooler that needed to be used. Lucky for me -- they served shrimp and asparagus, done on the grill (using her new insert for smaller items). NUMMMMMM! Beats what I would have ordered at Perkins!

It was a nice little campground, with a pretty little lake; they both said it will qualify for a repeat performance. They were close by the playground (at their request) and we were able to watch the children play. Aaron put Rylie in the baby swing and Caity pushed her for a while, then I got her out. (Not her idea, but she didn't fuss.)

The whole time there, we were lucky to have light clouds scudding across above us and sunshine! Lori, Aaron and Jayce went fishing, much to Jayce's delight; he even got to reel in a fish and have his picture taken! Caity changed her mind about fishing when she ran into a new little friend she'd made and found out Amanda was going swimming.

Rylie and I watched Caity swimming and we sang songs, counted and got to know each other much better. That was tons of fun! She had a good time ... the only time she fussed was when it was time to leave! Bless her little heart, she did really great! She's got the cutest smile and her eyes look like the "wheels" are turning constantly.

She did say, "Lori," "Caity" and "cookie" (all on her own, would not do it with coaxing). She jabbered with Jayce on the way down, but the return trip was REALLY quiet as all three fell asleep within a short distance.

What a beautiful day it turned out to be! We got more rain just before getting home. Becky had called from Fargo and said it was storming, with large hail there ... so very fortunate the day turned out as nicely as it did for swimming and boating. It was the perfect weather for me (little more wind than necessary, but nothing to complain about), so the day at the beach was a hit for all.

When I got home, drove in to find Wyatt had CUT OUR GRASS, or I should say waist high weeds! What a WONDERFUL surprise! I was thrilled ... it had gotten so bad I was afraid I'd lose a daycare kid in it. :-) He mowed while the "mud" was drying on the wall that he fixed in our bedroom, the reason he'd come in the first place. Beaver had written and begged him to help us. (He should have never let on he knew how to do that kind of work. :-)

Thank you WYATT for all your help!

Also, Thank you Lori and Aaron for showing Caity a wonderful camping experience! (in spite of her attitude problems!!) And, feeding the rest of us and taking Jayce fishing. We all loved it!

Memory Lane

Read, then re-read your California Dreamin' segment. Thought I would add a few lines. Those were the days! :-) They say that traveling always broadens a person's outlook. It would be true if visiting California -- an experience of extremes.

I think I remember Dorothy mentioning the traffic on the freeways, as well as the trash littering the edges. But California is best known for its beautiful weather. It was summer, and the days were pleasant and sunny -- no mosquitos. Was that the trip that Don discovered Baker's Square and their delicious cream pies? Boy, were they good -- he would treat us often with dessert!

At first, the kids were a little bashful, then got acquainted and had fun. I remember skateboards, bikes, and trips to our local park three blocks away. There is a creek that runs through that park. Did Doug and Lisa catch pollywogs? Seems I remember trying to find a jar for them...

Wall-to-wall sleeping bags -- and sometimes a waiting line for the bathroom? :-) Our company seemed to enjoy our California cookin', whether BBQ or hot dishes. Sightseeing, here and there. Elaine and Melinda joined the group. If I'm not mistaken, we all celebrated 4th of July at our Regional Park with a big fireworks show -- what a bang! When it was time for all to go, it was so quiet and we were a little sad. We all missed the company, laughter, and hubbub. But memories live on... It was such a fun time together! Doris

Editor's Comments: Today we are publishing the 50th edition of The Bulletin. It was nice that there were those of you who noticed this. I take this opportunity to share the mail generated by that event!

From: Donna

My good friend Barb Dewey sent this to me. I'd like to dedicate it to my Mother, as a recognition of her 50th bulletin! Way to go Mom, we LOVE it! Thanks for all your time and hard work making it happen. I would also like to present this in memory of her dear sister, Blanche Miller. She lives on in us...


The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is this the long way?" she asked. And the guide said: "Yes, and the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."

But the young mother was happy, and she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, and gathered flowers for them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and the sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."

Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, "Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and the children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary. But at all times she said to the children, "A little patience and we are there." So the children climbed, and when they reached the top they said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you." And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up at the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today, I have given them strength."

And the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said: "Look up. Lift your eyes to the light." And the children looked and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the darkness. And that night the Mother said, "This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God."

And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and the years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent. But her children were tall and strong, and walked with courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her, for she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill, and beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, and their children after them."

And the children said, "You will always walk with us, Mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her, but she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She is a living presence."

Your Mother is always with you. She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street; she's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks; she's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well. Your Mother lives inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every teardrop. She's the place you came from, your first home; and she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love and your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can separate you. Not time, not space ... not even death.

Some Messages of Congratulations

from Elaine

Dorothy....Thanks for another good bulletin!!! Its amazing how much comes through that when all contribute a bit, and you get it all together! I cannot believe you are working on number 50 already. Seems I have only gotten a few as time goes so fast we don't realize... Keep up the good work. It's very much needed for family togetherness.!!!


from Lori

Congratulations on approaching your 50th edition of the bulletin!! It's amazing how it has evolved and become such an important part of all our lives. I love that I can keep up with everyone's activities and hear about past, present and future happenings. Thank you so much for working so hard on this for us!

Love, Lori

by Donna

I have a new question, to any of you that feel like sharing ... (If you receive this bulletin, you are an eligible contributor; please don't feel like you are just a wallflower or onlooker!)

I so enjoyed Doug's Father's Day writing, it made me wonder,

What is the earliest memory you have?

Early Memories
by Elaine

I have often wondered how old a child is before they have any memory? The earliest I remember was from when I must have been 4 or 5 years old. Donald and Elwood were in school; I yearned to go, as they would bring home things from school they had made and give to me. The one I particularly remember was one they colored ... black and white outfitted pilgrim boy with a big buckle on his hat and belt, holding a black Bible edged in red. I thought that must be so much fun to go to school and color.

Anyone else remember that artwork? The idea was used year after year and they were tacked up along the top edge of the blackboards or sometimes stuck with a bit of paste to the windows. Maybe I even used it when I was teaching, years later, in country schools.This happened nearly 70 years ago. so I think I have a bit of memory left yet!

Thanks for sharing! That was fun. Yes, it must have been tough to wait for school, when it looked like so much fun. I remember the Pilgrims, but we had a boy and girl to do, no bible in hand.


Thanks Everybody!

I see the editor has done a superb job again ... (no. 48) and thanks to those who contributed ... but I wonder if she will eliminate our name from the subscribers if we don't do our part in contributing to it???? We would never want that to happen!!!! Elaine

Hello Mom,

Another fine edition! (no. 48) I especially enjoyed the "Travelogue" from your young visitors. What a funny bunch!

Dad's column was light and enjoyable. How can he possibly remember so much about cars from so long ago?


From Texas -- about an earlier Bulletin --

Patricia said "I enjoy reminiscing with the stories in your Mom's Bulletin"

Thanks, yet again, for a successful, fun, entertaining and informative bulletin. I appreciate seeing so many contributors! Thanks, ya'll! Enjoyed your story and the recipe section. Great job. dmj

From Donna
Thought you'd enjoy Barb's comments:

Hi D, thanks for the Bulletin again. What a nice thing for a mom to do ... to keep the family connected with everyone's lives. And being a friend of yours, Donna, I like to hear about your family and figure out who is who (so I know who you are talking about) and try to keep track of everyone. Knowing Wyatt, Weston, and Ben growing up, it's fun to hear what they are doing, too. So thanks for sending it on ... I enjoy it. Way more fun than a soap opera or a novel ... like "reality TV" ... of a family's lives.

Doug's comment on Bulletin #49:

Wow! I think this Bulletin had more updates than any recent issue! Nice to see people contributing! Let's hope it keeps up. Those grandkids of yours are pretty clever, which makes for fun reading!

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY: Anyone can win, unless there happens to be a second entry. --by George Ade