The Tale Spinner

Vol. XXIII, No. 19

May 13, 2017


  • This Heroic Story is about a young man who helped locked-out shoppers
  • The editor enjoys another lunch with her former library assistants
  • Kate Brookfield and Norma Patterson recommend books
  • Shirley Conlon forwards a story about a worried mother
  • Tom Telfer writes about golf and money
  • Tom Williamson warns against a delivery scam
  • This biology student made one bad mistake
  • Ernest Blaschke sent this info for people worried about their weight
  • Sites are suggested by Tom Telfer

This Heroic Story comes from Amy K. Brown of Everett, Wash.:


My husband and I and our then two-year-old son had just come out of our local grocery store late one evening in November 1998. The cart was full, it was pouring freezing rain, and we desperately wanted nothing more than to get baby and groceries home and dry.

To our horror, we found our keys locked in the car. We had no spare, and we didn't have the money to call a locksmith after our monthly shopping. I tried calling a local friend for help at a pay phone while my poor husband attempted to unlock the car with a coat hanger for nearly 45 minutes.

A young man came out of the store in a hurry, and I quickly asked him if he knew anything about car locks. After I explained the problem, he rushed over to help my husband while I watched his things and tried to keep our baby warm. Finally he returned, cell phone in hand, and called the local police station for assistance, telling me they couldn't open the door, but that the police used to help people in this situation.

The police dispatcher told him they weren't legally allowed to do that anymore, and to just call a tow truck. He angrily hung up and told us the bad news, then sincerely apologized as he told us he had to leave. We thanked him for his attempts to help, and kept trying to open the car ourselves.

Right as we were about to give up, I saw a tow truck parked at a nearby restaurant, and quickly asked my husband to go flag him down. The truck came over to us and the driver said as he easily opened the lock, "It must be your lucky day!"

We put our baby and food in the car, then asked him how much we owed him, all the while dreading his answer as our funds were short. To our surprise he said with a big smile, "Not a thing. This guy flagged me down over there and asked how much it cost to open a locked car. I said $20. He handed me a $20 and told me where to find you."

I was so shocked and thankful that all I could do was stand there in the rain and cry.

We hear tales of good Samaritans helping others in need, but I never thought it would happen to us. The tow truck driver had been just as surprised, but very happy to help, and as my family drove home, we lamented not knowing the man's name to thank him for his incredible kindness.

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The editor recalls 46 years of lunches and dinners with her


I was 49 when I left the printing trade and became a school librarian. Between the two were three years of university, supplemented by working as a sub at Pacific Press in Vancouver. It's hard to believe that I started with a salary of $600 a month, when today I pay $800 a month rent for a one-bedroom apartment!

When I started working in the library, I asked for volunteers, and many young mothers worked with me over the next 16 years. We celebrated the end of the first year with a dinner at a fancy restaurant in West Vancouver. I don't remember how many were there, but I recall it being a happy occasion.

Over the years until I retired at 65, and ever since then, we had lunches and dinners at various restaurants in North Vancouver, where the library was located, and West Vancouver and Vancouver. I used to drive from wherever I was living - never in North Vancouver - and we would get together for a happy and congenial meal. We especially celebrated the end of each school year and the prospect of a two-month holiday.

After I retired, we started meeting three times a year - September, January, and June - with a varying number of volunteers. When I stopped driving at 85, the "girls" came to New Westminster on the ferry from North Vancouver and the Skytrain from Vancouver. One of them had moved to Cultus Lake near Chilliwack, and another to Summerland, in the southern Okanagan, and both of them used to drive to our lunches. Ann Kemp in Summerland has not been able to come for some time, but Anna Erho from Cultus Lake was with us again this week.

We did not meet in January this year, when we usually celebrate three birthdays, because the weather was so bad we couldn't risk the slipping and sliding to get to and from the ferry, and the long drive on the freeway for Anna. We waited until the weather was reasonably warm, and here it is May and still only between 12 and 16 degrees. We were lucky that the day we met was slightly sunny and not raining.

We meet at the Old Spaghetti Factory because it is just downstairs from one of the stops of the Skytrain.

It is always a pleasure to be with them again, and we talk and laugh about everything under the sun. As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate the younger friends I made during my teaching years, because they are still active and don't mind travelling to get to our reunions. Norma Patterson does the arranging by phoning the girls and making sure they all get on the same ferry. All I have to do is to help decide on the dates and phone Anna in Cultus Lake.

“Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other's gold.”


Kate Brookfield wrote this when she was starting off on their spring holiday:

I am reading "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion. Hilarious! Really makes a change from all the sad stories chosen by my book club. Recommend it for laugh out loud reading! Not just laughing out loud, snorting out loud laughter! As usual, behind the extreme laughter is a deep sadness too! A tragically sad but loveable character whose reactions to life experience is hilarious. No more spoilers, read the book.

Norma Patterson recommends


by Amor Towles. My library has this to say about the book:

In all ways a great novel, a non-stop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight.this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles' stylish debut, "Rules of Civility." - Kirkus Reviews (starred) From the New York Times bestselling author of "Rules of Civility" - a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.

With his breakout debut novel, "Rules of Civility," Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted. As NPR commented, "Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change."

"A Gentleman in Moscow" immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery. Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count's endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose."

Norma also recommends


by Colson Whitehead. The review:

From prize-winning, best-selling author Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood - where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned - Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor - engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar's first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city's placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of Gulliver's Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey - hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. "The Underground Railroad" is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage, and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

Shirley Conlon forwards this story about


A mother was concerned about her kindergarten son walking to school. He didn't want his mother to walk with him. She wanted to give him the feeling that he had some independence, but yet know that he was safe.

So she asked a neighbour if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, so he probably wouldn't notice her. The neighbour said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.

The next school day, the neighbour and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with a neighbour girl he knew. She did this for the whole week.

As the two kids walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy's little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week. Finally she said to Timmy, "Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week? Do you know her?"

Timmy nonchalantly replied, "Yeah, I know who she is."

The little girl said, "Well, who is she?"

"That's just Shirley Goodnest," Timmy replied, "and her daughter Marcy."

"Shirley Goodnest? Who is she, and why is she following us?"

"Well," Timmy explained, "every night my Mum makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, 'cuz she worries about me so much. And in the Psalm, it says, 'Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life,' so I guess I'll just have to get used to it!"

Tom Telfer writes about


It is amazing to watch folks hitting little white balls and spending millions in the process. The right golf clubs, the right gloves, and the right shoes are just parts of the puzzle to a low score.

Money comes into play in a big way with the new media centre at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia. $60 million was spent to establish a state-of-the-art centre for sports reporters. Two hundred reporters sit in front of their personal computers, each with one eye gazing out a window that is 30 feet high. All food and drinks are free.

Every comfort is available so that the story of the Master's Tournament can be told around the world.

Now here is the shocking part: it is only used for one week in the year! This luxurious palace is dark for 51 weeks.

Heads must get sore from a lot of scratching!

Tom Williamson forwards this warning of a scam:


The following is a recounting of the incident from a victim:

Wednesday a week ago, I had a phone call from someone saying that he was from some outfit called "Express Couriers." (The name could be any courier company.) He asked if I was going to be home because there was a package for me that required a signature. The caller said that the delivery would arrive at my home in roughly an hour. Sure enough, about an hour later, a uniformed delivery man turned up with a beautiful basket of flowers and a bottle of wine. I was very surprised, since there was no special occasion or holiday, and I certainly didn't expect anything like it. Intrigued, I inquired as to who the sender was.

The courier replied, "I don't know, I'm only delivering the package." Apparently, a card was being sent separately (the card has never arrived). There was also a consignment note with the gift. He then went on to explain that because the gift contained alcohol, there was a $3.50 "delivery/verification charge," providing proof that he had actually delivered the package to an adult of legal drinking age, and not just left it on the doorstep where it could be stolen or taken by anyone, especially a minor.

This sounded logical and I offered to pay him cash. He then said that the delivery company required payment to be by credit or debit card only, so that everything is properly accounted for, and this would help in keeping a legal record of the transaction. He added couriers don't carry cash to avoid loss or likely targets for robbery.

My husband, who by this time was standing beside me, pulled out his credit card, and "John," the "delivery man," asked him to swipe the card on a small mobile card machine with a small screen and keypad. Frank, my husband, was asked to enter his PIN number, and a receipt was printed out. He was given a copy of the transaction. The guy said that everything was in order, and wished us a good day.

To our horrible surprise, between Thursday and the following Monday, $4,000 had been charged or withdrawn from our credit/debit account at various ATM machines. Apparently, the "mobile credit card machine" which the deliveryman carried now had all the info necessary to create a "dummy" card with all our card details, including the PIN number.

Upon finding out about the illegal transactions on our card, we immediately notified the bank, which issued us a new card, and our credit/debit account was closed. We also personally went to the police, where it was confirmed that it is definitely a scam because several households had been similarly hit.

WARNING: Be wary of accepting any surprise gift or package which you neither expected nor personally ordered, especially if it involves any kind of payment as a condition of receiving it. Also, never accept anything if you do not personally know the sender, or if there is no proper identification of who the sender is. Above all, the only time you should give out any personal credit/debit card information is when you, yourself, initiated the purchase!

From the Sunday Family Humour comes this story of


There was a biology student who was studying equilibrium in sea birds, with a specific focus on terns. He proposed that giving measured doses of THC (from, of course, marijuana) and observing their flight patterns would give some insight to the problems of equilibrium in three-dimensional space.

This proposal being given in a more liberal era, the student got the funding. He filled out mountains of forms, set up a lab with a ready supply of terns, and proceeded on his way. After a year of diligent work, groveling monthly before the review committee to get his stipend, and living with drugged terns, he completed his study. With trembling hands, he delivered his 247-page report, complete with charts and graphs, to the review committee.

The august body perused his study, asking penetrating questions and reducing our student to jell-o. Finally, the department head rose. The light reflected off her steel-rimmed glasses as she stared down at the student. "There is a lot of good work here," she said, "but we can't accept this report. You have detailed marvelously the effects of THC on terns, but you forgot one essential step: you have no control group."

Our student turned pale and said, "You don't mean...."

"Yes. I'm afraid so. You left no tern unstoned."

Ernest  Blaschke sent this unexpected discovery:


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1.  The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2.  The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3.  The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4.  The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5.  The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.


Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.


Tom Telfer forwards this link to a story of a crowd holding onto a suicidal man until help arrives:

Tom also sends the URL for a story that tells about the partial emancipation of women in Saudi Arabia:

This site tells the story of Molly, a dog that has been trained to find lost cats:

Here Dr. Michio Kaku's predicts what the world will look like in 2030:

Facebook followers may find this report interesting, as it claims that the use of social media doubles the risk of social isolation feelings in young adults:

In this TED talk, Sangu Delie tells of the difficulty men have in admitting that they have mental health problems and need help:

This site dispels some of the myths about space:

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If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

- Cicero

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