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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Uncle Mort Goes for the Gold…
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 • Posted December 3, 2008

Stories about survivors of “Black Friday” abound. You know who you are, and you know what I mean. You “bit” on the advertising lure—sinker, line and hook—that you should abandon your bed around 2 a.m. to join the chase. Everyone would be out that day after Thanksgiving to save a bundle on gifts as the Christmas shopping season officially began.

My hunch is that you perhaps saved a half-bundle, but still have more than half a list to check off ‘tween now and the big day.

Uncle Mort called the other night, labeling himself “frenzied” about gift plans for Aunt Maude. They’ve gone awry….

  • * * * *

For my uncle down in the thicket to make such an admission is big indeed. His “frenzied” would be comparable to total hysteria for the rest of us.

He hates shopping in general and long lines in particular. He figured that a gift of gold would be a grand gift for his wife of 75 years.

“Maude would have loved it,” he chirped. “But my dentist put the quietus on it. He said it wouldn’t be cost effective to remove my gold tooth.”…

  • * * * *

Mort said there is a “silver lining” in his ill-fated, “gift-on-the-cheap” scheme.

“You’ve mentioned what a great conversation-starter that gold tooth is,” the dentist reminded, “and I just don’t think a gap there would be nearly as interesting.”

The doc advised Mort to keep an eye on gold prices, and if they keep on going up, the tooth might make a nice gift for her summer birthday….

  • * * * *

Don’t expect to see Mort in the shopping lines. At least, not yet.

He’s going to suggest to Maude that they draw names this year.

That way, he’s got a 50/50 chance of drawing his own….

  • * * * *

As we approach the festive season, let us take note of two toy world giants who made their exits this year.

What are the odds that founders of companies that manufactured all-time favorite toys would expire in the same year?

In January, Richard Knerr of Hula Hoop fame, died at age 82, and in November, death claimed 90-year-old Betty James. Her company made the Slinky. Both companies have registered sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars around the globe….

  • * * * *

Though both toys quickly achieved “must have” status when unleashed on the world more than a half century ago, their origins differ greatly.

The concept for the Slinky was born when a spring from a mechanism on a World War II naval vessel bounced around the deck. The Hula Hoop (sometimes called “hoola hoop”) craze didn’t blossom until it was manufactured in plastic configuration.

Earlier, they were made of bamboo, and popular only in Australia….

  • * * * *

Ah, but pages must be turned back much further if we’re to learn when the hoops first whirled.

A song or sumthin’ mentions walking like an Egyptian. Well, I’m here to tell you that researching ABOUT Egyptians isn’t easy, either. One could go loopy poring over this stuff.

Originally, the hoops were made of twisted grapevines by Egyptian youngsters some 3,000 years ago. More specifically, it is believed that the very first ones were fashioned by young Egyptian herdsmen. Once the herds were settled for the night, the guys fought off boredom with fruit of the vine, and eventually the vine itself. It is said that the night air in those olden days was fouled by the odor of cigarettes made of grapevine….

  • * * * *

Though historical references are sketchy, it is believed that these creative herdsmen may have concocted the recipe for “Grapette,” a soft drink introduced in the 1940s.

Egyptian hieroglyphics also reveal passages that were silent across the years until “herd” in the smash Broadway/movie hit, The Color Purple. And some musicologists think they may have written several popular songs that made it big in the 20th century, including, I ‘Herd’ it through the Grapevine, Deep Purple and Flying Purple People Eater.

Enough already! Too much, in fact. All these Egyptian “facts” could be the stuff of dreams. Or maybe I’m just recalling spiels reeled off by Uncle Mort. They said he was awful bad about smoking grapevines back in the day….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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