October 13, 2013

Dipping in the mailbag


---- — Loose ends — I have many since penning the first Small Talk column in 1997. Each elicits responses via email, Facebook, telephone, in restaurants and store aisles. I feel blessed. Every now and then, I dip into the old mailbag and acknowledge some of those comments and column suggestions. It’s time.

Les Bradford, who illustrated my last children’s book, writes far more entertaining emails than I, and someday, perhaps he’ll give me permission to publish all of those daily missives. I just grabbed one from Aug. 18. It begins, “Did you ever look at yourself in a spoon? As I drove on the Northway, heading home from camp this evening, Helga asked me that question. You never know what Helga might ask. She was sitting there looking at the reflection of her face in the potato salad spoon. She then launched into how she was upside down on one side of the spoon, but right side up on the other. The pure scientific revelation of it was amazing.” 

Of course, I had to grab a spoon from the silverware drawer and test it out. Helga deserves the Nobel Prize for spoon science.

A column about an itinerant poet named Herbert H. Dewey from Cadyville brought responses from all who remembered him, including family members, along with others who enjoyed reading about him. One note from Jane Dewey Marshall, who said she is the “baby” of the family, recalled, “I can remember when my dad first started writing and we were so surprised, as he said the thoughts just came to him, especially at night.”

Kathy Baughn, daughter of 89-year-old Merlyn Dewey, who is the son of Herb Dewey, said her father is a chip off the old block and loves to “tell funny stories of the old days back on the farm.” She added, “Of their family of six, two of his sisters besides Dad are still surviving. The sisters, Jane and Joyce, live in Pennsylvania and Florida, respectively.”

Peru historian Carol Allen wrote, “Your mention of the French dialect brought back some delightful memories.” She explained that her husband’s uncle was in the old-time minstrel shows, telling jokes in that familiar dialect. One of his jokes has survived. It’s about a man complaining to Woolworths about some bad paint. The last line is, “But how can house be nice and neat if paint don’ dry on toilet seat?”

Many readers have memories — some not so fond — of the late George Abbey, who worked tirelessly to preserve the downtown Plattsburgh pigeon population by sneaking in and feeding them at night. Retired City Police officers, for example, remember how the good doctor countered all their efforts to eradicate pigeons and their odoriferous poop from our fair city.

The responses to the, “We are the last generation to ...” column were numerous. My brother Jim wanted to send me an extended list. I respectfully declined. Ann Wilke mentioned the Burma Shave signs and listed a few. One of them was, “Don’t stick your elbow out so far. It may go home in another car. Burma Shave.”

Canadian friend Norm Stotland contributed several, including the following: “... head down to Brodi’s, Filion’s, The Union Hotel and the Cumberland to schmooze with the American girls and drink that cheap, watery American beer.”

Former radio “Quiz Kid,” Cynthia Newgarden, now of Plattsburgh, added: “... jump rope and play sidewalk games such as hopscotch and wear saddle shoes.”

Many responded to my mention of Linda Ronstadt’s early recording having a prominent connection with my radio career and that marvelous voice now lost to illness. I also heard from Mary McCaffrey, originally from our Northern Tier, whose hit record “What are You Doing Sunday” was worn thin from being played over and over on my studio turntables back in the day. Mary now lives elsewhere and wondered about the weather back here, responding to my daily posts on Facebook.

That ties up some of the loose ends, and I thank all of you for caring. Have a great day and please, drive carefully.

Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the “Our Little Corner” television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at