A Food Truck Explodes in Lakeville, Minnesota.

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(Based on a story in the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper)

The Sixth of March in Lakeville will not soon become forgotten,

When the food truck blew up – shredding metal into cotton.

Nothing but the steering wheel remained in place that day;

Ev’ry other particle was blown to Mandalay.

 

The ev’ning had been peaceful, with most folks tucked into bed,

While visions of the Weather Channel or hockey round them sped.

Sidewalks had been shoveled, and a thaw was on its way;

The quiet bourgeois neighborhood in guiltless stupor lay.

 

But forces beyond man’s control were working late that night,

Preparing to give man and beast a brobdingnagian fright.

(Of course the ladies are included in this epic tale;

Common gender nouns in English tend to often fail.)

 

The clock had struck eleven when the detonation brought

The residents of Lakeville underneath a juggernaut

Of sound and fury so severe that many thought a rocket

Had targeted their wardrobe down to the very pocket.

 

Condiments in packets fell like sleet, and bread rolls too;

Had there been a sheep about there would be Irish stew!

But miracle of miracles, although the wreck was vast,

Not a living soul was injured in that lusty blast.

 

The angels, or the dybbuks, or whatever you may please

Protected all those innocents from looking like Swiss cheese.

But sadly not a one of them was ever heard to claim

That a higher power had preserved them from the flame.

 

The crater quickly filled with slush and ketchup, while the smoke

Of the embers glowing still the firemen did choke.

Shards of glass lay scattered round about like gemstones freed

From the hoard of misers who repented of their greed.

 

Authorities swarmed over the explosion site with care,

Examining debris under the microscope’s stern glare.

They broke for coffee often (and to have a little smoke)

And with their rods and rulers they did prod and they did poke.

 

What caused this fulmination is debated with contention;

Was it cooking gas or was it terrorist invention?

Was there sabotage by a competitor’s paid lout,

Or had there been a discontented jar of sauerkraut?

 

No one knows for certain why catastrophe made sport

Of such sober people who but rarely did cavort.

But just remember food trucks, though they serve a menu broad,

Can suddenly and noisily become the hand of God!

 

The Minnesota DNR.

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(Inspired by a story by Doug Smith)

The Minnesota DNR is like a fairy tale;

Without the magic sticker they will toss you into jail!

If you a just a peasant from another state who tows

A boat through Minnesota, they have trolls that grab your nose.

 

They will not let it go until you spin some golden yarn,

Or guess their middle name or agree to paint a barn.

Yes, the DNR has witches who do flit about the skies,

Peering down your chimney and then snitching all your pies.

 

The purpose of this sorcery ain’t hard to comprehend;

The laws are made to emulate a Kingdom of Pretend,

Where princesses and ogres caper round ten thousand lakes

And ev’ry bureaucrat leads snowmen out to find more flakes.

 

 

The Minnesota Meat Raffle.

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(Inspired by an article by John M. Glionna.)

 

Before the Ice Age swallowed up the Minnesota ground,

Cavemen hunted dinosaurs, which ambled all around.

The steaks and chops and sausages that came from such a beast

Provided all those gluttons with a never-ending feast.

 

But then the frost heaved up the earth and snow fell never-ending,

And Minnesota cavemen saw that famine was impending.

Now they gathered roots and nuts and bark from naked trees,

And danced around a fire so they wouldn’t slowly freeze.

 

Eventually the ice reversed and lo, the land revived;

The cavemen hunted ev’rything, no longer meat-deprived.

And to this day when winter takes the state in its fell grip,

Minnesotans raffle meat to recall that great hardship!

 

At War with Norway!

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Because a Minnesota judge has fined aloof Norway

A couple thousand dollars, I think war is on its way –

You can’t affront the Norskies and expect a mild reply;

For they believe the Bible – they will pluck an eye for eye!

 

The battle will be awful, full of chaos and remorse.

Those Vikings will defile our famous Les Bolstad Golf Course.

(And don’t expect the Feds to get involved in any way;

“Settle it among yourselves” is all they’ll have to say.)

 

The husmor will attack with lefse grills and lingonberries;

Dayton will respond with a move to Buenos Aires.

We’ll call out the militia, but since most of them are soft

They’ll be taken prisoner – to work upon a croft.

 

And the coup de grace will be delivered by real trolls

That will snap us all in half as easy as ski poles.

And then in our state capital Hyperboreans will sit

Where they will oppress us with a tax on aquavit.

Those Minnesota Winters . . .

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The Minnesota winter makes great heroes of us all;

Knowing we survived it gives us right to stand up tall.

The blast of arctic wind chill and the minus temp’ratures,

Along with lack of sunshine make us frostbite connoisseurs.

 

Working outside in the polar currents is a breeze.

(If you wear ten layers of thick flannel you’ll not freeze.)

Eat a hearty breakfast, drink hot choc’late by the quart,

And in the highest snowbanks you’ll play horseshoes, you’ll cavort!

 

We feel sorry for all those now stuck on tropic beaches,

Making do with coconuts and flimsy linen breeches.

It is almost shameful to be happy when outdoors,

Unless you are encased in puffy Gore-Tex under drawers.

 

The Story of Big Ike, an Icicle.

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When fuel oil was retailing for around 35-cents a gallon, back in the late Fifties, nobody cared about insulating their houses against the boisterous Minnesota winter.  Least of all my dad.

We ran out of fuel oil a few times over the years, and when mom informed dad of the disaster he told her to turn the oven on and keep the oven door open and he would attend to the matter in due course. “Due course” for my dad usually meant “i morgen” (tomorrow).  We would huddle around the oven door like Eskimos around a seal oil heater until the old man grew tired of the pinochle game he was in and go over to Olsen’s Oil Company on Larpenteur to plunk down a twenty dollar bill.

That did the trick; the greasy Olsen truck would show up, pump the green metal tank in our basement full, and soon the house was warm and toasty again.  And the snow would melt off the uninsulated roof about as quickly as it fell.

One of the consequences of this heedless fossil fuel profligacy and the general neglect my dad bestowed on our house was that the gutters, which were already choked with leaves, refused to do their duty until large icicles formed along the roof line.  They were picturesque in the extreme, and when they came crashing down they often brought patches of shingles with them.

For reasons that a climatologist might explain, but which remained a mystery to me as a boy, the southeast corner of the roof always grew the largest, thickest icicle.  It was an icicle that did not choose to plummet to the earth when all the other small fry obeyed the dictates of gravity.  It held on like an arctic limpet.  At the top it was as thick as a tree trunk, slimming down to a deadly point just beyond my eager grasp.

My mother was at pains to warn me frequently that if I threw snowballs at it, it would undoubtedly detach itself to impale my impudent body in the cruel snowdrifts underneath.  This was all the motivation I needed, and I and my pals spent many a frigid afternoon in January and February using it for target practice.  Our snowballs glanced off it with absolutely no effect.

About the middle of March there would be a warm spell when the temperature would actually climb above freezing for a few days, turning the landscape around our house into a slushy swamp.  And Big Ike, as I called the gigantic icicle, would come crashing down in the middle of the night.

The crash inevitably awoke my father and confused him.

“It’s those damn Rooskies at last!” he would yell excitedly at my mother, and then jump into his pants and run downstairs to turn on the radio, which was always tuned to WCCO, to find out when the troops from Moscow would be landing.  All he got was the mellow voice of Cedric Adams, and this would upset him even more.

“They’ve already taken over the airwaves” he’d cackle as he looked for my brother Bill’s shotgun – which my brother wisely kept hidden in the footlocker by his bed.

“Get back to bed, you tosker!” my mother would holler down the stairs at him.  “It’s just ice falling off the roof!  And don’t you sneak a drink before coming back up, neither!”

By now I was up and looking down the stairwell to see what the hullabaloo was all about.  Mom bundled me back to bed with a none-too-gentle swat on the behind.  The next morning when I went outside I would find the shattered remains of Big Ike scattered around the southeast corner of the house.

When the OPEC oil embargo hit in the early Seventies, sending fuel prices into orbit, my folks finally had insulation blown into the attic, and that put a stop to Big Ike.

But after a big snow storm I still like to amble along looking for icicles hanging off garage roofs, so I can knock them down with a stick and enjoy their tinkling death throes.  The neighbors think I’m a crank, but so what?  At least now we’re safe from the Rooskies, right?

Eulogy for Minnesota’s Joyce Lamont.

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The voice that launched a thousand nods, approving of her diction;

Listening to Joyce Lamont was almost an addiction.

Her crisp yet kindly household hints, her recipes sublime;

Somehow made the day seem bright and took away the grime.

 

Her presence on the radio bled Midwest sanity;

A welcome change from worldly cares and ceaseless vanity.

Unruffled as the prairie sage upon a dewy morn,

She never used theatrics or would stoop to chintzy scorn.

 

Indeed, her dulcet tones were cherished when I was a child,

Because I had a tendency to drive my mother wild –

But when she had chased me down and had me finally at bay,

The voice of Joyce distracted her . . .  and I could get away!