These and Those, This and That

So I must get you caught up on what followed some of my previous columns. This will relieve the stress on about three of you, and might provoke one or two of the rest to go back to the previous columns to find out what I’m talking about.

If you noted my remarks to whoever decided to donate a horn to the Book Fair, I am no closer to identifying this object. I have had horns before: a pre-war Boy Scout bugle, a facsimile krumhorn, a phonograph horn, and something shaped like a hunting horn which I believe was meant as a wall decoration. This particular horn, however, came from an animal, and, as noted, I really need to know WHAT animal before I continue. If it comes from some protected animal, like a bald eagle, I can’t sell it, no matter what a collector might pay for a genuine bald eagle horn. I had thought of calling it a unicorn horn and defying someone to prove it wasn’t, when a spoilsport suggested, “Maybe it’s not a horn. Maybe it’s a tooth.”

So I am checking into wild board tusks and the like, and will let you know. I assume, if it’s a tusk, that it was sent in by some reader from Alabama, where, as Groucho Marx pointed out, the tuscaloosa. (Yes, this is one of those jokes that is funnier said aloud than written down, but it’s Friday: give me a break.)

That author who is being switched from fiction to literature this year, partly because two people have sent in large collections of his works, some of which are well nigh unclassifiable, is Paul Gallico. No one guessed this, so I am awarding the gift certificate to myself, because I have two neckties which look exactly alike. (You know the rule: “in case of prizes, duplicate ties will be awarded”. Hey, get off my back: I told you it was Friday, didn’t I?)

The books of the late Governor Ogilvie have been turning up more and more political autographs: I now have Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Nixon, William Westmoreland, Nelson Rockefeller, and Ron Nessen. I am especially impressed by Ron Nessen, as I have two copies of the same book: he inscribed one to Governor Ogilvie, and the other to a political science professor from the University of Chicago. If you have forgotten, Ron Nessen was press secretary to Gerald Ford. Upon research, I find that he has lived this down and is now popular as a writer of mysteries. By the way, copies of his mysteries, if autographed, sell for more than his autobiography, which is what I have.

And I have the autograph of someone whose autograph is worth more than most of those people, because her contribution to western civilization is greater than most of them. Ruth Wakefield was the flustered chef who accidentally invented the chocolate chip cookie. (She was out of cocoa powder for the chocolate cookies she served at the Toll House Inn, and quickly chopped up a chunk of baking chocolate, assuming it would melt. It didn’t, and the world has not been the same since.) This is the umpteenth reprint of her cookbook, so it now mentions Semi-Sweet Morsels, but the important matter is the autograph. (I understand you can swap it for ten or eleven Ron Nessens.)

I have not yet decided what to do with the jar of stoneground mustard somebody sent over. (I suppose I should open it: that might answer a bunch of questions.) The batch of naughty nudie slides from the 50s has finally sold, and the boxful of opera performance slides is still sitting around. The children’s science book which provoked so much raucous humor around the Book Fair playroom has been priced and packed away. See, it had a kit for making a model of the solar system, but a planet was missing. If you can guess which planet it was, you will know why it had to be put away so we could all get some work done. If not, don’t worry about it. I’m not awarding any prizes for that.

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