Ernest Cassara

Reader’s Question

Last week, I wrote of the creator of the great "Rumpole of Bailey" series, and  John Mortimer’s autobiography, Clinging to the Wreckage. A reader has asked the significance of the title.  Mortimer begins the book by telling of a person who sails his yacht in the English Channel.  Asked whether this is not dangerous, his reply is that it is not, as long as one does not learn to swim. If the boat gets into trouble and one attempts to swim, he will drown.  If he “clings to the wreckage,” the coast guard will come to the rescue!

Pat Ourselves on the Back

I must point out to my fellow contributors to the HSC, that we are the Time magazine “Persons of the Year.”  Why? Because we are involved in the latest craze, diving into cyberspace.  I understand the cover of the magazine has a mirror on it!

In the Tent or Outside?

Doris Kearns Goodwin, discussing her book on the Lincoln administration, Team of Rivals, with Stephen Colbert (12/13/06), pointed out that Abe appointed a group to his cabinet that had run for the presidency themselves.  They were the most able, and, although the saying did not originate until the time of Lyndon B, Johnson, it was apt in Lincoln’s day: It is better to have someone in the tent, pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in!

A Bit of Humor for the Holidays

“Why does it take a million sperms to fertilize one egg?”
“They won’t ask directions.”

“Why were the Jews lost in the desert for 40 years?”
“Moses wouldn’t stop to ask directions.”

(Thanks to syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman for the above.)

This reminds Ye Olde Observer of the couple driving in Maine, the husband resisting his wife’s sensible request that he stop to inquire where they were.  He resisted, until they came to a place where the road they were on branched in three directions. The wife urged her husband to stop at the general store, located just before the forks in the road.  Steaming with indignation, he finally agreed.  He exited the car, slamming the door.

The store owner was not the type to waste words. 

The driver asked, “If I take the right fork, where do I come out?
“Mooselookmeguntic,” was the reply.

“If I go straight ahead, where do I come out?”

“If I take the left fork, where do I come out?”

Steaming more than ever, the man left the store, slamming the door.  He got into the car, again slamming the door.

“Well, what did you find out?” asked his wife?

“Not a goddamned thing.  That guy in there can’t speak a word of English!”

(For the confused, I should explain that the general store keeper was just giving the man directions to three of the Rangeley Lakes in Maine, obviously ones with Indian names.)

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Harvard Square Commentary, December 25, 2006