Opinions

Thu
17
Oct

Toned-down Columbus Day celebrated Monday

Monday morning’s U.S. post office mail was nonexistent to those living along the path around the Falls, and even email contact had been cut off from some regular early morning conversationalists. None of this had to do with the federal government shutdown, even though one might suspect that to be the case. The more apparent sparks for the communication breakdown had to do with the observance of Columbus Day.

Oct. 12 was the day Christopher Columbus made landfall on his first journey to the New World back in 1492. Since 1971, rather than celebrating on the 12th, the observance was moved to the second Monday in October, providing one of several three-day weekends for many government employees, along with a number of private-sector employees. Bank employees used to count themselves in that group, but as competition got more intense in the finance industry, paying tribute to Chris became a lower priority.

Fri
11
Oct

Smokey Bear endures for generations

“Grandpa, what’s Smokey’s middle name?”

“I don’t know, Ella, what is Smokey’s middle name?”

“It’s THE, silly! You know, Grandpa, Smokey the Bear!”

Uproarious giggling comes from 5-year-old Ella. She’s 13 now and probably doesn’t remember her joy at making me laugh way back then.

A couple of years ago, I started writing a column about Smokey the Bear, but never finished it. Then a few weeks ago, one of my readers (maybe my only one?), Heidi Freeby, emailed: “We were up in Marinette County this weekend and going through Oconto… made me think of you.

Fri
11
Oct

Friendly gesture lost on critics of academic standards

Monday morning’s commute to work along the path around the Falls wasn’t quite like getting hit with a ton of bricks but it did confirm that things are changing. Commuting to work is a part of life for just about every worker, except for people living and working only on the family farm, and those people are just about as rare as albino whitetail deer.

Commuters who work the same schedules will notice traffic patterns. Certain times of the trip may involve seeing a vehicle day after day at almost the same spot on the daily commute. Of course this is a lot easier if the commute is along two-lane blacktop rather than on the four-lane, divided highway.

Wed
02
Oct

Some common things, from aglet to zarf

How many times have you had to resort to calling something a whatjamacallit or a thingamajig because you didn’t know the name for some everyday item that we should know the word for, or were once told what it was but have since forgotten?

Well, today, I’m going to give you some real (albeit unusual) names for some common things and/or conditions.

I started thinking about this subject when I broke the little plastic thingamabob that holds the end of the shoelaces together. Well, believe it or not, that thingamajig has a name: it’s an aglet. Remember that because there’s going to be quiz afterward!

You know the dusty remnants at the bottom of cereal boxes? They’re called fines, and I think they’re particularly delicious in the more sugary brands, don’t you?

Wed
02
Oct

Great weather makes for good bye week

The last weekend in September on the path around the Falls was a winner, even if there were no Green Bay Packers to watch. Each year the NFL teams have a bye week to allow for some regrouping and family time. We are not sure about the need for family time, but many would agree that regrouping is a priority, but we will leave that conversation to the sports page editors.

It was dumb luck rather than visionary planning, but the dates picked for Falls Fun Fest coincided with the Packers bye weekend. Most of the Fun Fest activities took place with the rummage sales on Friday and other events on Saturday. However, the youth football tournament concluded on Sunday and with no Packers game conflict, things were a little more relaxed.

Wed
25
Sep

Cheering unified the '57 Panthers

Our granddaughter Melanie, a seventh-grader, is a member of a national championship cheering team! But cheering today is nothing like it was back in my high school days.

Back then, cheerleaders like Lorraine Kobs, Betty Magill and Sally Wusterbarth, members of the great Class of ’57, would actually lead cheers! They taught us, the fans, a number of cheers at pep rallies in the gym the day before a game, and then they’d lead us in those cheers at the game. By the end of a season, we’d know a bunch of cheers, and the cheerleaders could get us yelling in unison to cheer on our beloved Panthers.

They’d also lead us in the Alma Mater and the fight song. Come on, sing along: “Hail to thee, Oconto Falls. Hail the Orange and Black. We are with you one and all; spirit we’ll not lack. Ever upward, ever onward, honor ours will be. Hail to thee, Oconto Falls. Hail, oh hail to thee!” Or, “On you Panthers, on you Panthers” sung to the tune of “On Wisconsin.”

Wed
25
Sep

Sister school visit has far-reaching impact

People in Wisconsin pride themselves on extending a warm welcome to visitors, but that became a bit of a challenge on the path around the Falls earlier this week.

The sister school delegation from Tomiura Junior High School arrived late Friday. On Sunday and Monday morning, Mother Nature blessed many local spots with a heavy layer of frost, so the personal warmth that is generated with the visit had to be turned up a notch. That turned out not to be a problem.

The schedule for the weeklong visit includes a variety of activities, well beyond just spending time in classrooms. For the two adults and the eight students, this truly is an opportunity to learn about Wisconsin and the American way of life. The first full day is spent with host families for a little bonding and jet-lag recovery. There was a deeper connection with five of the Japanese students, since they had hosted our students when the Washington Middle School delegation traveled there last spring.

Wed
18
Sep

Exhaustive research leaves me plumb tuckered out

I guess I’m gradually turning into my dad. The other day, after an exhausting day working on my deck in the 85-degree weather, I said to Marilyn, “I’m plumb tuckered out!” Now, why in the world would I say that?

I haven’t heard that expression in probably 60 years. But my dad used to say it, and suddenly there it was coming out of my mouth.

Dad was a hard-working guy, and by evening he was usually bushed (Wow! There’s another one!). “Plumb tuckered out” was one of his favorite ways of expressing his fatigue. He had a number of other idioms to characterize his exhaustion: too pooped to pop, played out, drained, wiped out, dragged through a knot hole. If he’d spent a lot of time on his feet, he’d often say “My dogs are really barking!”

Wed
18
Sep

Economic downturn marks 5-year milestone

Even though the calendar indicates fall officially returns Sunday to the path around the Falls, frost was observed on a few roofs and cars on Monday morning’s commute to work.

Fall is a favorite time of year for many who make their homes in the area, but an early frost and the end to the growing season is not something people look forward to. This year that is particularly true for this observer, as a good portion of a great, green tomato crop is still on the vines.

The crop this year was late in ripening, but once the tomatoes started coming, they looked really good. There is more soup to make. This year’s production should easily surpass the hundred-quart mark. A normal schedule for the first killing frost could double that benchmark. We’ve heard from a few other gardeners that they also are seeing bumper tomato crops. This is a positive sign that things are looking up for the home-canning industry and that we will be able to survive a cold winter.

Thu
12
Sep

Sounding off on the golf course

I admit it: I talk to my golf ball. But I’m not the only one; lots of the guys I play with talk to their golf balls. Some of them even to talk to other players’ golf balls.

I’m a reasonably quiet golfer, but I sometimes yell at a drive or whisper to a chip shot. When Marilyn plays with me, she’ll say something like, “Who are you talking to? The ball can’t hear you.” (She says the same thing when I yell at the referees in the Packers games on TV.)

But I don’t think that’s right. Talking to your golf ball is one of the most important nuances of the game. You have to talk to the ball, because if you never do it, it will never listen to you. But if you always talk to it, it will occasionally listen.

Sometimes when you yell, “Come back!” at a ball which is slicing out of bounds, it’ll hit a tree and come back! Sometimes when you whisper “Get legs, get there,” to a putt, it’ll roll up and leak into the cup.

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