Bulletin Board, excerpt

Appeared in (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, February 18 & 21, 2002

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Writes Poet X of PDX: "In my formative years, our family took an annual vacation, usually in early January, which Dad figured was the best answer to North Dakota winters. We'd go to Arizona or New Mexico (Texas once or twice), turn around and come back in the course of a week, sometimes two. Did that shape my attitude that Midwest winters are something to escape from? I suppose so. The idea was that, after returning from vacation, the worst of the winter was over. It was a false hope many years, I assure you.

"You'd think from those many long car trips, I'd have more amusing memories than I do. The only lasting memory is of trying to keep the dog quiet while Mom or Dad checked in to a hotel that had the customary 'No Pets' sign on the building that served as an office.

"And the Story of Dad and the Oranges! I wasn't yet high-school age, I don't think, the winter we stopped at a motel in Arizona somewhere. The motel property included an orange tree with what Dad thought were some tasty treats. Under cover of darkness, he picked enough for what should have been a breakfast surprise. The surprise came when he peeled the first one. They were inedible; the tree was an ornamental kind of orange grown for show only. After that lesson, Dad didn't pick any more oranges at night."


Writes Poet X of PDX: "My story of Dad and the Oranges reminded my Mom and Sis, separately, of a story I'd forgotten. For the sake of equality, I'd better tell the story of Mom and the Pans.

"The same motels that had 'No Pets' signs usually had 'No Cooking' signs. Mom had a suitcase just for a couple electric pans that accompanied us on our winter trips south. Well, this particular motel had weak enough wiring or fuses that when Mom plugged in the third (I'm guessing) appliance, the lights went out... for half of the motel.

"I do remember trying to get the smell of food out of the room, knowing the supers could be coming around. Probably had to hide the dog, too."