The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 9

March 4, 2017


  • Barbara Wear reminisces about her childhood
  • Betty Audet writes about the satisfaction of volunteering
  • Mike Yeager blogs about his first time at a movie without parents
  • Tom Telfer tells a funny retirement story
  • A senior writes about things we learn as we age
  • Marilyn Magid tells about a man's impatience
  • Gerrit deLeeuw's story is about a child's confusion
  • Burke Dykes tells about the blind men and an elephant
  • Sites are suggested by Carol Hansen, Gerrit deLeeuw, Irene Harvalias, Shirley Coutts, and Tom Telfer

Barbara Wear reminisces about


When I was a child, I lived on Grant Street in Beverly, Massachusetts. The street was filled with duplexes and three-decker homes. It was a lively place to live and lots of children were being brought up in those dwellings.  

It was a semi-poor neighborhood in the 1940s and we didn’t have the luxuries that children have today. Our fun on hot summer evenings was playing in the streets … those were wonderful times. We played hopscotch and hide and seek and other outside games. Our parents never worried about us because we always hung out in groups.

Our curfew was always governed by the street lights. When they came on, it was our cue to head for home. On nights when it was too hot to sleep, we sat on our front porch with our parents and siblings, trying to get a breath of fresh air. We didn’t even own a fan.

In those early school years, we had to walk almost two miles to school. From the first grade to the eighth grade we walked that distance four times a day. We never took a lunch as most moms didn’t work and we walked home for our meal. We had to be to school by 8:00 a.m. and at 11:30 we were released to go home and have lunch. We had to be back to school by 1:00 p.m. and school ended at 3:30.

We had to go right home and first do our homework, so it would be finished by the time Daddy came home and we could sit down as a family for dinner.

There was no TV and our entertainment came through the radio. After dinner, Daddy would read the newspaper, and then the radio was turned on and we listened to it for several hours.  Mom would sit in her rocking chair, perhaps darning socks or fixing a hem on a dress. Girls did not wear slacks in those days. I would play with dolls or stuffed animals, or perhaps cut out paper dolls.    In the winter we would go skating or sledding. It was great entertainment for us. We really had some good blizzards back in the 1940s and I still have pictures of the snow piled so high that we could dig tunnels and pretend to be Eskimos living in the snow.

World War II was raging in Europe and in the Pacific. Our brothers and uncles and a lot of daddies were over in those foreign countries fighting for our freedom. I can still remember the air-raid warnings and crawling under the dining room table after we pulled down all the shades in the house. I also remember the day the war ended and the church bells were all ringing.

Those of us who were children of that era have a lot of memories, and perhaps as you read this you thought of your own. Maybe you would be willing to share some stories of what you remember as a child in the 1940s. I sure would love to hear them.


Betty Audet writes: I am so glad that you wrote about volunteering. It gave us great satisfaction in our senior years. After I broke my hip at the age of seventy, I had some limitation on what I could do, but I have always managed to find things that I can do.

My husband was a wonderful volunteer, with scouting, with senior clubs, with the Victorian Order of Nurses, and with individuals. VON appreciated the multiple tasks he did for them so much that they gave him the gold medal for the whole of Canada when he was 92.

Now, as he is almost 104, he has little opportunity to help more than me, but in the retirement home where we live, for which he has been for many years a volunteer, he still gets asked to hand out serviettes and collect garbage when drinks have been served after a concert.

My chief volunteer job is to run the screen programme for an exercise class three times a week, but I still get to do small things outside, mostly for the older women in my church.

Mike Yeager posted this on his blog:


In 1958 my dad drove me and my friend Paul to the Savoy Theatre in downtown Ferguson. We were both ten, and this was the first time our parents let us attend a movie without adult supervision. Dad let us off in front, making sure we knew when and where he would pick us up. 

The movie was “The Blob,” and according to friends, it is was “really good” and “really scary.” It was the first show of the evening and a long line of kids stood waiting outside to buy tickets.  Paul and I went to the end of the line. Most of the other kids towered over us. Some girls standing next to us talked with each other excitedly and Paul and I noticed they smelled like perfume. Some of the boys up ahead looked dangerous, with hair greased back, short sleeves rolled up, shirt fronts partly unbuttoned, and collars flipped up in the back. They were smoking cigarettes, talking loudly, and pushing each other around.

The line in the lobby for snacks was long too, but we had plenty of time before the movie started. We bought candy, soda, and shared a popcorn. I don’t remember what kind of candy Paul got, but I bought a big chunk of fudge, not the best choice for this particular movie. By the time we made it to our seats, the theater was nearly full and filled with the sounds of talking and laughter. A theater custodian patrolled up and down the aisles. As soon as he disappeared through the curtains and into the lobby, the air was filled with flying popcorn and crumpled candy wrappers. The concrete floor under our feet was sticky from spilled soda, and under the arms of the seats were petrified wads of chewing gum.

The movie opens with a young couple necking in a convertible. It was Steve McQueen’s first movie role and he received $3,000 for his performance. The girl was Anita Corsaut, who would several years later play Helen Crump, Opie’s teacher and Andy’s girlfriend on the Andy Griffith Show. The couple notices a meteor cross the night sky and crash to earth. They take off in Steve’s powder blue 1952 Plymouth, to try to find it. But an old man, who lives in a cabin nearby, finds it first. The old man pokes the small meteor with a stick and it opens to reveal a small, round, reddish blob. He then pokes the blob and lifts it up to examine it. It now looks yellowish and oozy like a big disgusting glob of snot. When it jumps from the stick onto the old man’s hand, a collective gasp ripples across the theater. The old man tries to shake it off, but can’t. He stumbles out onto the highway and Steve and Miss Crump nearly run him over.

I watched parts of the movie on YouTube in order to write this blog-post, and compared to today’s horror films, it’s terrible. It’s poorly written, the actors definitely would not win any awards, and most importantly, to today’s kids, it would not be the least bit scary. In the '50s “cheap teen movies” were made for the drive-in movie market. “The Blob” was released as a double feature along with “I Married a Monster from Outer Space.” But in 1958, the entire audience of kids, even the “cool” rowdy kids, were transfixed by the suspense, many hiding their eyes and scrunching down in their seats.

Paul and I voraciously ate the popcorn and drank the soda, and I was working on my big hunk of fudge right when the blob oozed through the ventilation grates and into the on screen movie theater. I had to leave my seat, run up the aisle and out the exit to upchuck by the side of the theater. But I didn’t want to miss any of the action, so I ran back in and continued watching.

No one could figure out how to stop the blob until a fire broke out and some of the fire extinguisher fluid accidentally sprayed it. When it recoiled, our hero, Steve, remembered it recoiling earlier from an open freezer door and put two and two together. Steve's teenage friends and the cops grabbed all the fire extinguishers they could find and were able to temporarily freeze it. In its frozen state, the blob was airlifted by an Air Force heavy lift cargo plane to the Arctic and sent parachuting down onto the ice. In the final dialogue of the movie, Policeman Dave says something like, “The blob is not dead, but at least it has been stopped.” To which Steve replies, "Yeah, as long as the Arctic stays cold." And if you’ve been listening to the news lately you’d know that the Arctic ice is melting at an unparalleled rate.

Paul and I survived our first unsupervised outing at the Savoy. On the way out we noticed "Hercules" was coming next week. We could hardly wait.

The last film I remember seeing at the Savoy was “A Thousand Clowns” with Jason Robards. It was the summer after I graduated from McCluer High School and my last date with Marley before entering the Army.

The Savoy Theatre opened on Christmas day 1936. In 1966 it was purchased by the Wehrenberg chain of theatres. The inside was completely gutted and remodeled to become the Crown Theatre and ran newly-released films. In 1993 the Crown closed and the building became the Savoy Banquet Center. 

ED NOTE: To check out Mike's blog, click on

Tom Telfer tells this


A friend of mine is a retired school principal.

Someone had decided that every retiring principal should receive a print depicting a boy pushing a wheelbarrow full of vegetables. The thought was it portrayed the results of one’s labours.

My friend made it very clear that he did not want the picture. He told the committee to just give him the plaque that would have been attached to the bottom of the picture.

The plaque had the usual wording: “Presented to .... for many years of dedicated service, etc.”

At the time of his retirement, he decided to purchase a new Cadillac. His son thought it would be fun to place the plaque in the back window.

One evening, several top officials approached the principal and made it very clear that the plaque should be removed. They thought that taxpayers would be incensed that a car had been given as a retirement gift.

The principal and his family had a good laugh!


We often let the little frustrations of each day stop us from appreciating life in the present moment. But as we grow older, we learn to detach ourselves from the drama and the chaos we once engaged in. As we age, we become more humble about life and are less willing to spend our time on vain things. Now that I'm in my fifties, here are some important life lessons that I have learned:

1. Day-to-day frustrations are inevitable. Very rarely do we have full control of all situations. And as stressful as it may be, what's bothering us so much today won't matter a month from now. Let go of the nonsense, stay positive, and move forward with your life.

2. How perfect everything ought to be: There's a big difference between reasonable striving and perfectionism. Perfectionism causes you unnecessary stress and anxiety, created by the superficial need to get it right. But getting lost in striving to achieve perfection prevents you from getting anything worthwhile done.

3. The intricacies of what's in it for you: With age, you learn that you keep nothing in this life until you give it away first. This can be applied to knowledge, forgiveness, service, love, tolerance, acceptance, and so on. It's easy to forget that giving opens us up to grace. Give, in order to receive.

4. The pressure of acting immediately: While getting things done hurriedly may seem better when we are younger, in time we come to realize the importance of slow and steady work. In addition, we often believe that the big things are what will make a difference but overlook the fact that a simple smile can brighten somebody else's day. 

5. Wanting expensive physical possessions: Later in life we learn to pay less attention to physical possessions that used to seem so vital. The things you really want cannot be bought.

6. Winning approval from others: The strength of your conviction is what determines your level of personal success in the long run, not the number of people who agree with the things you do. Follow the path that promises your heart genuine peace.

7. The selfish things others say and do: If we had to take everything personally, we would be offended for the rest of our days. When you detach yourself from other people's antics you feel free. The way people treat you is their problem. How you react is yours. 

8. Judging others for their shortcomings: We all have days where we are not our best. But the older we get, the more we come to realize how vital it is to give others the break that they deserve, and hope that they too will do the same on our own bad days. Truth be told, we never really know what someone has been through, or what they're going through today. Be kind, generous, and respectful, then be on your way.

9. Blaming others: A happy person never evades responsibility or blames and points fingers at others, making excuses for their unsatisfying life. Happiness is a byproduct of your own thinking, beliefs, attitudes, character, and behaviour. You alone are responsible for how your life will unfold.

10. The shallow relationships that make you feel more popular: While acquaintances are nice to have, and friendliness is a good quality, dedicate your time to those who matter most. Your time is limited. Sooner or later you want to be around the few people who make you smile for the right reasons.

11. Distant future possibilities: As we age, it becomes inevitably clear that we have more time behind us and less in front of us. As a result, the distant future gradually has less value to us on a personal level. The secret to happiness and peace is letting this moment be what it is, instead of what you think it should be. Then make the best of it. Some people wait all day for 5:00 p.m., all week for Friday, all year for the holidays, and all their lives for happiness. Don't allow yourself to become one of these people.

12. Society's obsession with outer beauty: As we get older, what we look like on the outside becomes less of an issue. The primary point of interest lies on who we've become on the inside. Eventually we come to realize that beauty has almost nothing to do with looks. Beauty lies in how we make others feel about themselves and how we feel about ourselves. 

- Author unknown


Marilyn Magid shares this joke about


A man was riding on a full bus minding his own business when the gorgeous woman next to him started to breast-feed her baby.

The baby wouldn't take it so she said, "Come on, sweetie, eat it all up or I'll have to give it to this nice man next to us."

Five minutes later the baby was still not feeding, so she said, "Come on, honey. Take it, or I'll give it to this nice man here."

A few minutes later the anxious man blurted out, "Come on, kid. Make up your mind! I was supposed to get off four stops ago!" 

Gerrit deLeeuw forwards this story:


A little boy got on the bus, sat next to a man reading a book, and noticed he had his collar on backwards.

The little boy asked why he wore his collar that way.

The man, who was a priest, said, " I am a Father."

The little boy replied, "My daddy doesn't wear his collar like that."

The priest looked up from his book and answered, "I am the Father of many."

The boy said, "My dad has four boys, four girls, and two grandchildren, and he doesn't wear his collar that way.”

The priest, getting impatient, said, "I am the Father of hundreds,” and went back to reading his book.

The little boy sat quietly thinking for a while, then leaned over and said, "Maybe you should wear your pants backwards instead of your collar."

Burke Dykes forwards the story of


A long time ago in the valley of the Brahmaputra River in India there lived six men who were much inclined to boast of their wit and lore. Though they were no longer young and had all been blind since birth, they would compete with each other to see who could tell the tallest story.

One day, however, they fell to arguing. The object of their dispute was the elephant. Now, since each was blind, none had ever seen that mighty beast of whom so many tales are told. So, to satisfy their minds and settle the dispute, they decided to go and seek out an elephant.

Having hired a young guide, Dookiram by name, they set out early one morning in single file along the forest track, each placing his hands on the back of the man in front. It was not long before they came to a forest clearing where a huge bull elephant, quite tame, was standing contemplating his menu for the day.

The six blind men became quite excited; at last they would satisfy their minds. Thus it was that the men took turns to investigate the elephant’s shape and form.

As all six men were blind, none of them could see the whole elephant, and approached the elephant from different directions. After encountering the elephant, each man proclaimed in turn:

“O my brothers,” the first man at once cried out, “it is as sure as I am wise that this elephant is like a great mud wall baked hard in the sun.”

“Now, my brothers,” the second man exclaimed with a cry of dawning recognition, “I can tell you what shape this elephant is - he is exactly like a spear.”

The others smiled in disbelief.

“Why, dear brothers, do you not see,” said the third man, “this elephant is very much like a rope,” he shouted.

“Ha, I thought as much,” the fourth man declared excitedly, “this elephant much resembles a serpent.”

The others snorted their contempt.

“Good gracious, brothers,” the fifth man called out, “even a blind man can see what shape the elephant resembles most. Why he’s mightily like a fan.”

At last, it was the turn of the sixth old fellow and he proclaimed, “This sturdy pillar, brothers, feels exactly like the trunk of a great areca palm tree.”

Of course, no one believed him.

Their curiosity satisfied, they all linked hands and followed the guide, Dookiram, back to the village. Once there, seated beneath a waving palm, the six blind men began disputing loud and long. Each now had his own opinion, firmly based on his own experience, of what an elephant is really like. For after all, each had felt the elephant for himself and knew that he was right!

And so indeed he was. For depending on how the elephant is seen, each blind man was partly right, though all were in the wrong.


Carol Hansen forwards the URL for an experimental project in an art gallery in which one painting interacts with another, with amusing results:

Gerrit deLeeuw shares this link to a video of Ray Bethell flying three kites at once to music "romancing the wind:"

Irene Harvalias sends this link to a video of Marcelito Pomoy performing an amazing rendition of "The Prayer" in dual voice, of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli:

Shirley Coutts suggests you try to solve these riddles:

Shirley also sends this link to a video of Martin Molin playing a machine that uses 2000 marbles to create beautiful music, which he also composed:

Tom Telfer forwards the URL for this video which is a treat to watch, and for every viewing, Purina will donate a pound of dog food to a shelter:

Tom also sends this link to a video of a flash mob in Kaohsiung Airport where Hsueh Shun-yu  successfully proposes to his flight attendant girlfriend:

In this TED talk, Grady Booch says we do not have to be afraid of an all-powerful, unfeeling artificial intelligence because we can teach it human values:

This video introduces Damanhur, a new-age commune located in the Alps of Italy. Members of the community discuss its structure and their aspirations to live harmoniously together:

American Pie (1971) is an allegorical song by Don McLean that starts with the death of Buddy Holly in an airplane crash on February 3rd, 1959, the day the music died:


Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

- H. L. Mencken

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