---- — This week we begin with one more of our favorite column items from 1984 concerning Winter Carnival which didn’t go exactly as planned. We wrote:
“We have decided, after a great deal of thought, to mention the Winter Carnival. Margaret and the rest of the gang expect it, are prepared for it and would undoubtedly be crushed if it didn’t happen. Needless to say, this is not the first time the weather has played havoc with the well made plans. In fact, long-time Cooperstown resident, Mac Preston, says that even back in the days when the Knox School was at the Otesaga, the weather seldom cooperated with the school’s Winter Carnival plans. She can remember more than once standing, feet freezing, on the tennis courts, which had been flooded and frozen into an ice rink, watching the carnival king perched on his throne of ice, which was melting merrily away. Obviously history repeats itself.
“But what we really can’t understand is that if the date of the Winter Carnival is indeed such a good determent to winter weather, why isn’t the carnival scheduled to run from January first right through the end of March or perhaps the middle of April.”
Twice in January of 1984, we gave our ‘You Never Can Tell Award.’ We introduced the award in our very first column when we wrote:
“We would like to introduce the ‘You Never Can Tell Award’ to be bestowed upon deserving individuals from time to time as the appropriate situation arises. Our first recipient is Barb LaCava who, on the morning of Dec. 14, called to ask if Jerry could substitute at the high school. She explained that the other subs she had called were going to the Women’s Club Christmas tea that day. Guess what, Barb, you never can tell. Jerry was a delightful Santa at the tea, although we really don’t think it is true that Santa has been coming to Mabel Atwell’s house for almost a hundred years.”
Later in the month, we were able to make this award again when we wrote:
“This week we would like to present it to the Badger, who proclaimed to the world that he has, heaven forbid, thrown away, as in discarded, his National Geographics, the ‘You Never Can Tell’ award.
“We too emptied our attic of Geographics. We struggled them down two flights of stairs, dragged them through the kitchen and deposited them outside near the back door, hoping against hope that no one would notice. We tried to pretend they were just ordinary, everyday garbage. But alas, we couldn’t fool the garbage men.
“The truck backed into the driveway, and magically, two pairs of eyes were riveted to, you guessed it, the boxes and boxes of shiny, yellow, heavier than lead magazines. Instantly the boxes were swooped up and saved. ‘These are too good to throw away,’ we were told. So, dear Badger, you may think you have done away with Gilbert Howy Grosvenor’s handiwork, but you never can tell. Somewhere, somehow, someone will manage to save them.”
We learned in 1984 that some topics seem to develop lives of their own. Included in this category were our discussions of the 1,000 steps, chipped beef and garnish. All of these topics started out innocently enough before taking hold. In fact, we had absolutely no idea just what we were doing when we wrote:
“There is an old adage, ‘You can dress them up, but you can’t take them out.’ One of us attended a recent Oneonta dinner meeting. We had even worn a coat, tie and longer pants than is our habit. During a dinner consisting of ubiquitous prime rib and baked potato, we ate the spiced apple garish which accompanied our beef. For this act we were chastised roundly.
We must confess that we have always eaten our garnish and so were a bit taken aback when told this was a faux pas. We did however consult Miss Manners and her ‘Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior’ and she tends to agree with us. However, almost all at the table expressed shock and embarrassment so we probably will not be asked again, thereby proving you can dress them up, but ...”
Of course, the Christmas column of 1984 was the first of many Cooperstown Christmas carols. That year we wrote:
“On the twelfth day of Christmas, we’d like to send to you ...
Twelve bus loads of tourists,
Eleven parking places,
Ten more opinions,
Nine dogs running loose,
Eight pigeons roosting,
Seven bed and breakfasts,
Six full-time policemen,
Five more potholes,
Four new fire-women,
Three school budgets,
Two gymnasium sites,
And a sandwich board for your sidewalk.
Of course, as to be expected, that first year of writing the column was not without its problems. But then it is probably safe to say that each year we have written this column has not been without its problems. In September of that first year we wrote:
“When it comes to last week’s column what can we say? There are misspellings. There are misunderstandings. There are mistakes. And then there is last week’s column. Tempting as it is in this modern technology to blame glaring errors on computer foul up, we refuse to use that excuse. Instead we will openly admit that somewhere, someone goofed. Names are being withheld not to protect the innocent, but because after misspelling Kristen Trembley’s name last week, we don’t trust ourselves to get anyone’s name right.”
And in November we wrote:
“Once again we are sorry for still another glaring error we made in the column and we apologize to Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Chase of Lakeland Shores. We know they do not have a son named Stephen Smith. They have a son named Stephen Chase. Mr. and Mrs. Roger Smith have a son named Stephen Smith. Mr. and Mrs. G. B. Ellsworth do not have a son named Stephen Smith either, but they do have a son named Christopher Smith. We hope that we have now eliminated any confusion.”
We must say we have enjoyed revisiting 1984. But had we known then that in 2014 we would still be writing a weekly column, we might not have been so willing to have taken up writing every other word back then. But we will admit that writing every word has its advantages, as well as some very big drawbacks.
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