Hodge-Podge Day

A glance at my calendar informs me that every day this week has been or is a National _________ Day (you fill in the blank), and I couldn’t decide which of them to write about. None of them really rang the Muse-arousing bell in my head, so I finally decided that they all deserve some mention–but only a mere mention and a brief comment.

ghost-writerThe whole week is designated (just who designates such weeks/days, anyway?) Ghost Writers Week. I’ve been a ghost writer on many projects if that means that I wrote without a byline or any recognition. But when I think ghost writer, my memory sees my four daughters sleuthing around our house in Tennessee trying to find written “clues” that their mother had hidden all over the place and (hopefully) solving the mysteries she created for them. They wore pens or pencils attached to strings around their necks (see photo) and used them to write down the clues they found. Even the neighborhood kids got into the act. The little game was a spinoff from their watching the PBS show Ghost Writer, but it didn’t involve any real ghosts–just their creative mother.

220px-peanut-butter-jelly-sandwich1March 1 was National Peanut Butter Lovers Day, and that strikes a chord with me. I’ve liked peanut butter as far back as I can remember. While all the other kids were eating peanut butter and celery, peanut butter and marshmallows, and peanut butter and jelly, I was inventing a new recipe, one that I still enjoy today (as much for the looks of disgust it brings to people’s startled faces as for the delicious taste)–peanut butter-and-mayonnaise sandwiches. When I worked with my brick-mason father, I took peanut butter and crackers in my lunch every day.

March 2 was National Read Across America Day (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss Day). I’ve already written about how I became a reader and the importance of encouraging reading, so no further comment is needed here–although I could go on and on.

rifleman-lunchboxToday, March 3, is National Cold Cuts Day. I’ve eaten almost as many cold-cut sandwiches as peanut butter sandwiches. They’re the staple of the working man’s lunch. I always had one–usually bologna (or baloney, as we country people called it) or ham, but sometimes chicken salad or pimiento cheese–from the time I took my little The Rifleman lunch box to elementary school. I still enjoy a cold-cuts sandwich jfg-sandwich-spreadoccasionally, especially if I’m in a hurry or working on a tight deadline. They’re quickly and easily prepared and eaten. Almost as disgusting to my wife as my peanut butter-and-mayo sandwiches are my JFG Sandwich Spread sandwiches. And it must be JFG–J. F. Goodson Company–made in my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. Nothing else will do.

And tomorrow is Toy Soldier Day. I spent many hours as a kid playing with toy soldiers. I amassed huge armies–World War II: American, German, Japanese; War Between the States: Blue and Gray; and American Revolution: Patriots and Redcoats.

plastic-toy-soldiersSometimes my battlefield was the pile of sand that accumulated under the truck port that was attached to the chicken house, where Daddy dumped mason’s sand that had been left over from his jobs. Among the toy soldiers there, I also found numerous doodlebugs that I would coax to come to the surface in their backwards crawl by singing to them: “Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house is on fire, fire, fire! Doodle! Doodle! Doodle!”

Sometimes the battlefield was a spot under a huge catalpa tree on the bank of my grandfather’s pond when heavy rains had caused the pond to overflow, creating a little river. Many battles were fought across that stream–when we kids weren’t chasing down and catching fish that had washed out with the overflow from the pond and then putting them back.

I think that the biggest disappointment–but perhaps the most important lesson in the principle of caveat emptor (“let the buyer beware”) was when I ordered a set of toy soldiers from a comic book advertisement. The ad pictured the two Revolutionary War armies in the set as being about 2-2 1/2 inches tall. I sent my money and waited eagerly for their delivery. When a 4x6x1-inch box arrived in the mail, I knew that it couldn’t be my soldier set–but it was. The warriors were only about half an inch tall but bigger than the cannons that were included. I never trusted a comic book ad again.

Read something (even if it’s not Dr. Seuss). Ghost write something–or look for clues that you can write down. Go play with some toy soldiers. And while you’re doing those things, enjoy some cold cuts and a peanut butter sandwich. Better yet, try a peanut butter-and-mayo sandwich or a JFG Sandwich Spread sandwich. You never know till you try!

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