The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 12

March 25, 2017


  • From HeroicStories, a son comes to appreciate his father's work
  • Tom Telfer writes about a fire in the next-door apartment building
  • Robert Fargher sends these reasons to live in different provinces
  • Burke Dkyes forwards the story of a brutal overseer
  • Marilyn Magid believes her life is better now
  • Betty Audet forwards this article about lost words
  • Pat Moore reminds us of these bizarre ads
  • Sites are suggested by Barbara Wear and Tom Telfer

Millard J. Driscoll of South Carolina tells this story:


Growing up on Long Island, I never paid much attention to my father's profession. To me, he was just a high school English teacher who didn't talk about work very much.

He was always there when I needed him, so like most children, I took him for granted. After retiring, my father and mother moved from New York to South Carolina, where Dad took another job teaching high school English.

At age 65, Dad was forced to retire again from the profession he loved. He and my mother lived quietly. We often visited and talked about my job. But we seldom discussed teaching, except regarding my wife, an elementary school teacher. When Dad took ill, we hoped for a recovery, but he went quietly in his sleep at age 75, having lived a full life. Even at the end, I didn't talk with him about his career.

At the funeral home I greeted my parents' friends as they entered the room. At 50 years old I was one of the youngest people there. Dad's friends told me of things they had done together, and what my father had meant to them. They made their condolences to my mother and chatted quietly with each other.

Then I noticed six or seven young African-American men and women lined up to sign the guest registry. Honestly, my first thought was that these people, all in their mid 20's, had come to the wrong funeral. I went out and politely explained that this was the wake for Frank Driscoll. One young woman said yes, they'd seen his obituary in the local newspaper and decided to come. They had been his students 10 years earlier and wanted to pay their respects.

She told me that more of his students would come as soon as they got off work. I was amazed. I welcomed them into the wake and introduced them to my mother. They told me how my father had influenced their lives.

One man said he was coasting on his athletic ability. Dad convinced him to get a better education as a fallback. He did, and was glad later when his athletic career didn't turn out as he expected. One woman told me how my dad helped her love the works of William Shakespeare by having students relate the plays to their lives and culture.

Another woman told me how she reads to her children every night because my father taught her to take joy in reading. These kind young men and women had remembered my dad and taken time from their busy lives to pay their respects at his passing.

I was almost brought to tears hearing how my dad had influenced these fine people. I had always taken him for granted, but now saw him in a new light. I will never again think of my father as "just a teacher." He touched the lives of countless young men and women and, in his quiet way, changed their lives.

ED. NOTE: To comment on this story, or to get your own free subscription to Heroic Stories, go to


Anne Rahamut writes: This is my first submission, but I’ve been a faithful reader even before you published your first newsletter. I don’t recall the details, but you aired your intentions somewhere, and I promptly signed up. One time, you came to Toronto, and another newsletter faithful got all the Toronto readers together for lunch. So you and I have met! Thank you for decades of collected goodies.

Here’s my submission:

When I was young, my family spent summer holidays at a cottage on a small lake surrounded by pleasant forests. I had a friend with me, my mom had her books, and my dad had an annual goal: to get out on the lake, find a good fishing spot, and return with a catch. He never had any luck.

One year he went off on his usual hopeful fishing expedition, the boat disappearing down the lake. Alas, once again, no catch.   That night, Frannie and I were saying our prayers beside our big old double bed. Apparently my parents could hear our chats with God, but it was not until about twenty years later that Mom told me what the two of us had talked about that night.

Apparently, after my usuals were over, I added, “Please, God, let daddy catch a fish.” And for her after-thoughts, Frannie added, “And please, God, make it a pickerel.”

Tom Telfer tells this story about


We live on the fifth floor of a high-rise with six floors. Our kitchen window looks out on the parking lot, facing another high-rise.

Last week, during dinner, five fire trucks arrived  to much excitement. Folks stood at their windows to stare at all the flashing red lights.

A lady had made a cake, turned off the oven, and started to prepare dinner. Then she took her pyjamas out of her dryer. They were still damp, so rather than turn the dryer back on, she placed them in the warm oven. After dinner she decided to bake some cookies. So she turned on the oven, forgetting to remove the pyjamas.

The smoke set off the alarm, and then came the sirens!

I guess her face was redder than the trucks.

ED. NOTE: At least you knew the cause of all the excitement. On a recent Sunday evening, Jay and I were sharing a Chinese take-out dinner, and Jay looked out of my third-floor apartment window to see if the delivery man was coming. Instead, he saw seven police cars taking up all the parking spaces on the street. The owner of our building was talking to one of the cops, pointing to the next apartment block, whereupon they all went running up the street. They were there for ages, and finally an ambulance screamed up the street. 

And you know what? We never did find out what all the excitement was, though we looked through the papers, and Jay looked at the New Westminster police department webpage, but there was no mention of it. How frustrating!

Robert Fargher posted these


Top reasons to live in British Columbia

* It isn't Ontario.
* You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations
* The local hero is a pot-smoking snowboarder

Top reasons to live in Alberta

* There's a big rock between you and British Columbia.
* You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of.
* You can attempt to murder your rich oil tycoon husband and get away with it.

Top reasons to live in Saskatchewan

* You never run out of wheat.
* Cruise control takes on a whole new meaning.
* Your province is really easy to draw.
* It takes you two weeks to walk to your neighbour's house.

Top reasons to live in Manitoba

* The only province to violently rebel against the federal government.
* You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood.
* Because of your license plate, you are still "friendly" even when you cut someone off.

Top reasons to live in Ontario

* You live in the center of the universe.
* Your grandparents sold booze to the States during Prohibition.
* Your $400,000 home in Toronto is actually a dump.

Top reasons to live in Quebec

* The only province to ever kidnap federal politicians.
* More beautiful women - and men - on one Montreal steet corner than in the whole of Toronto.
* NON-smokers are the outcasts.

Top reasons to live in New Brunswick

* You're poor, but not as poor as the Newfies.
* You have French people, but they don't want to kill you.
* Everybody has a grandfather who runs a lighthouse.
* Just as charming as Maine, but with more unemployed fishermen.

Top reasons to live in Nova Scotia

* If someone asks if you're a Newfie, you are allowed to kick his head in.
* You are the reason Anne Murray makes money.
* You can pretend you have Scottish heritage as an excuse to wear a kilt.
* Even though it smells like dead sea animals, Halifax is considered Canada's most beautiful city.

Top reasons to live on Prince Edward Island

* Even though more people live on Vancouver Island, you still got the jumbo bridge.
* You can walk across the province in half an hour.
* You were probably once an extra on "Road to Avonlea."
* Tourists arrive, see the "Anne of Green Gables" house, then promptly leave.

Top reasons to live in Newfoundland

* If Quebec separates, you will float off to sea.
* You understand the meaning of Great Big Sea's lyrics.
* You have a wicked sense of humour.
* It is socially acceptable to wear your hip waders on your wedding day.

Burke Dykes forwards this story:


During Nelson Mandela's 19 years imprisoned on Robben Island, one particular commanding officer was the most brutal of them all.

"A few days before Badenhorst's departure, I was called to the main office. General Steyn was visiting the island and wanted to know if we had any complaints. Badenhorst was there as I went through a list of demands. When I had finished, Badenhorst spoke to me directly.

He told me he would be leaving the island and added: "I just want to wish you people good luck." I do not know if I looked dumbfounded, but I was amazed. He spoke these words like a human being, and showed a side of himself we had never seen before. I thanked him for his good wishes and wished him luck in his endeavours.

I thought about this moment for a long time afterwards. Badenhorst had perhaps been the most callous and barbaric commanding officer we had had on Robben Island. But that day in the office, he had revealed that that there was another side to his nature, a side that had been obscured but still existed.

It was a useful reminder that all men, even the most seemingly cold-blooded, have a core of decency, and that, if their hearts are touched, they are capable of changing. Ultimately, Badenhorst was not evil; his inhumanity had been foisted upon him by an inhumane system. He behaved like a brute because he was rewarded for brutish behaviour.

Marilyn Magid sends this:


I changed my car horn to gunshot sounds. People get out of the way much faster now.

Gone are the days when girls used to cook like their mothers. Now they drink like their fathers.

You know that tingly little feeling you get when you really like someone? That's common sense leaving your body.

I didn't make it to the gym today. That makes five years in a row.

I decided to stop calling the bathroom the "john" and renamed it the "jim." I feel so much better saying I went to the jim this morning.

Old age is coming at a really bad time.

When I was a child I thought nap time was a punishment. Now, as a grownup, it feels like a small vacation.

The biggest lie I tell myself is,"I don't need to write that down; I'll remember it."

I don't have gray hair; I have "wisdom highlights." I'm just very wise.

Teach your daughter how to shoot, because a restraining order is just a piece of paper.

If God wanted me to touch my toes, He would've put them on my knees.

Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven't met yet.

Why do I have to press one for English when you're just going to transfer me to someone I can't understand anyway?

Of course I talk to myself; sometimes I need expert advice.

At my age "getting lucky" means walking into a room and remembering what I came in there for.

I am a seenager (senior teenager) I have everything that I wanted as a teenager, only 60 years later, I don't have to go to school or work. I get an allowance every month. I have my own pad. I don't have a curfew. I have a driver's license and my own car. I have ID that gets me into bars and the whisky store. The people I hang around with are not scared of getting pregnant. And I don't have acne.

Life is great.

Betty Audet forwards this article by Richard Lederer


The other day, a not-so-elderly (65) lady said something to her son about driving a jalopy, and he looked at her quizzically and said, "What the heck is a jalopy?" OMG (new phrase!) - he had never heard of the word jalopy! She knew she was old, but not that old/

About a month ago, I illuminated some old expressions that have become obsolete because of the inexorable march of technology.These phrases included, "Don't touch that dial," "Carbon copy," "You sound like abroken record," and"Hung out to dry."

Back in the olden days we had a lot of moxie. We'd put on our best biband tucker to straighten up and fly right - Heavens to Betsy! Gee whillikers! Jumping Jehoshaphat! Holy moley! We were in like Flynn and living the life of Riley, and even a regular guy couldn't accuse us of being a knucklehead, a nincompoop, or a pill. Not for all the tea in China!

Back in the olden days, life used to be swell, but when's the last time anything was swell? Swell has gone the way of beehives, pageboys, spats, knickers, fedoras, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and pedal pushers. Oh, my aching back.

Kilroy was here, but he isn't anymore.

We wake up from what surely has been just a short nap, and before we can say, Well I'll be a monkey's uncle! This is a fine kettle of fish! - we discover that the words we grew up with, the words that seemed omnipresent as oxygen, have vanished with scarcely a notice from our tongues and our pens and our keyboards.

Poof go the words of our youth, the words we've left behind. We blink, and they're gone. Where have all those phrases gone?

Long gone: Pshaw! The milkman did it! Hey! It's your nickel. Don'tforget to pull the chain. Knee-high to a grasshopper. Well, fiddlesticks! Going like sixty. I'll see you in the funny papers. Don't take anywooden nickels. Heavens to Murgatroyd!

It turns out there are more of these lost words and expressions than Carter has liver pills.This can be disturbing stuff. We of a certain age have been blessed to live in changeful times. For a child, each new word is like a shiny toy, a toy that has no age. We at the other end of the chronological arc have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist, and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more, except in our collective memory. It's one of the advantages of aging.

See ya later, alligator!

Pat Moore sends these


Mixing bowl set designed to please a cook with round bottom for efficient beating.

Semi-Annual After-Christmas Sale.

And now, the Superstore - unequalled in size, unmatched in variety, unrivalled inconvenience.

We will oil your sewing machine and adjust tension in your home for $1.00.

Girl wanted to assist magician in cutting-off-head illusion. Blue Cross and salary.

For Sale: Three canaries of undermined sex.

Get rid of aunts: Zap does the job in 24 hours.

Christmas sale. Handmade gifts for the hard-to-find person.


Barbara Wear forwards the URL for a video of the construction of a wind turbine, a step toward a green future:

Tom Telfer sends this link to a compilation of funny animals - cats, dogs, parrots, guinea pigs, raccoons, llamas, and more:

Tom also sends this video of a Jack Russell that goes crazy with excitement at the Crufts dog show:

For people who have MS, or know someone who does, this article tells of a UBC study that says it has debunked a controversial MS procedure:

Here are seven tips on how to make a secure password:

A Canadian woman has won a global teaching prize worth $1 million US for her work in Salluit, an Inuit community in northern Quebec:

A rookie secret agent has a problem when a curious pigeon gets inside a nuclear briefcase:

In this TED talk, Casey Gerald urges us all to question our beliefs, to embrace doubt, and to find the courage to believe in something new:


If a football field were a timeline of cosmic history, cavemen to now spans the thickness of a blade of grass in the end zone.

- Neil deGrasse Tyson

The following from The Free Dictionary

Word of the Day

Article of the Day

This Day in History

Today's Birthday

In the News

Quote of the Day

Match Up
Match each word in the left column with its synonym on the right. When finished, click Answer to see the results. Good luck!



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