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Aunt Clara - 3. page

Aunt Clara’s 2 Cents

A cure for Large Bowl Perspective Impairment

by Aunt Clara –

Burt had a problem with perspective in life as well as in kitchen dishware.

When Burt would prepare his cereal in the morning he would always reach for a mixing bowl rather than a cereal bowl. Why he would put one small cup of cereal in a much larger quart bowl was beyond Aunt Clara’s comprehension. In all his cereal eating years, Burt was never known to eat more than that small amount of breakfast cereal but he would always use a huge bowl. Aunt Clara would even set out a 250cc size bowl that was more than adequate for one cup of cereal. But Burt would move right by the proper bowl and go for the biggest most monstrous bowl he could find. How ridiculous that little man looked sitting at the table eating out of a huge mixing bowl.

Being a married man, Burt suffered from typical morning deafness that so many married men seem to suffer from. No matter how Aunt Clara tried to explain the error of his ways, Burt would just keep eating his Maypo while reading The Grafton News.

The battle of the bowls became unpleasant when Aunt Clara, in a stroke of genius, hid all the large bowls into the back pantry, leaving only proper sized cereal dishware in the cupboard.
Burt came down the stairs in his favorite sleep shirt with that silly morning grin on his face and opened the cupboard. A confused look washed over his face. He rubbed his eyes, scratched his head and opened the next cupboard over. “Aunt Clara,” where are all the bowls?” It was now Aunt Clara’s turn to feign morning deafness.

Burt continued to search, even looking in the linen closet, but being a man he was not a good looker. There was no way he was finding those bowls. After standing there hemming and hawing Burt did the unthinkable. He grabbed a huge cooking pot, put in a small amount of cereal, poured his milk and began eating. It was after this that Aunt Clara tried to find professional help. Burt clearly suffered from Large Bowl Perspective Impairment or LBPI.

In those days not much was known about LBPI. Aunt Clara had to interview psychologists, study medical books at the library and even visit the Betty Crocker Institute in order to better understand.

Most treatments were experimental and none were accepted by the American Medical Association. Locking Burt in a room for many hours with only one small bowl, a box of cereal and milk only caused him to become more anxious. Removing all the large bowls from the home did not work as Burt would run to the neighbors looking for dishware. There was no way Aunt Clara was going to allow him to run over to the Widow Kelly’s house every morning.
The Pavlov system did work. This was a large bracelet that was locked on Burt’s wrist and with which Aunt Clara could deliver a shock whenever he reached for a larger bowl than was necessary. The problem was that it caused Burt to break out in large hives which itched and bled. Burt was such a mess that he could not even go to work.

After much discussion with Burt’s psychiatrist it was decided he would seek help on an outpatient basis and with Aunt Clara’s wisdom and compassion, his LBPI could be managed. It would not be easy and there would be periods of remission and exacerbation. However, Aunt Clara had married Burt for better or worse, in sickness and health, through good times and bad. She was not about to give up on this feeble man she had taken as her husband.

Aunt Clara did get the last laugh years later when she buried Burt in a coffin that was neither too large nor too small. Burt was destined to spend eternity in a space that fit him just perfectly.

And that was how he was finally cured of his LBPI.


Rules of the Road according to Aunt Clara

by Aunt Clara –

Aunt Clara has been driving for more years than she cares to tell. Of course many boys with their fancy cars tried to take Aunt Clara for rides and thought the way to her heart was an automatic transmission and built in heater. Those things were nice and it was on more than one occasion the citizens of Grafton could see Aunt Clara riding in Ernie Shliebs brand new Daimler 15 or with Bob Brusso in his Delage D6 with a 3045 cc engine he was very proud of.

Cars were different back then, with V-8, V-12 and even V-16 engines. Gas was 10 cents a gallon and there was plenty of it so big engines and huge heavy bodies were all the rage. While cars were different, people were the same. There was old Jim Corbett who was always speeding down North Street and racing by Graftonites who were sitting on the Common. Old Jim would swerve around kids and cows nearly clipping one or the other. He was forgiven his driving transgressions when it was finally found out that he always had to reach his destination quickly before he forgot where he was going.

Old Jim’s driving did not really irritate Aunt Clara, as she was quick on her feet and always looked both ways twice before crossing the street. What is bothersome is these drivers who do not know the rules of the road. We are in the 21st century, have access to the “world of wide webs,” so everyone should be familiar with good driving etiquette.

It would behoove all of Grafton to adhere to a few rules that will make driving in town better for everyone. If Aunt Clara is attempting to pull out into traffic do not stop for her if there are no cars behind you. It is quicker if you just drive on by and Aunt Clara will pull out when you pass. Not only do you slow the whole driving process down you also expect Aunt Clara to give you a thank you wave for your kind consideration. Now that is irritating.

Aunt Clara’s eyes are not what they used to be so she may tailgate a little to better see the vehicle in front of her. Do not pull over and wave to Aunt Clara that she can pass you. That seems to be something people are now doing to make themselves seems superior to other drivers. If you do this, Aunt Clara might just pull right up behind you and give you a piece of her mind.

As for turn signals, please familiarize yourselves with Massachusetts general law, chapter 90, section 14b. Do not put your turn signal on a mile before you are going to turn. This makes Aunt Clara very upset. Also, for you middle aged yahoos who love to speed up to the turn, then slam on the brakes and place your blinker on 30 feet before you turn—stop it. You are on notice.

Last, when going through a yellow light make your decision well before you arrive. Do not slow down, think about it and then speed through like a race car driver. Once you have slowed like that Aunt Clara has come to a rolling stop and now she can gets stuck at the red light. We could both whiz through if one of us had any common sense.

Remember this one rule: anyone driving slower than Aunt Clara is a slow-poke and anyone driving faster is a maniac. If everyone does as Aunt Clara does we would have safer roads and a much better driving experience for all.


A loose history of Howard Johnson

by Aunt Clara –

Aunt Clara loves history. It tells us where we have been, where we are going and then lets us relive it all over again. About 10,000 years ago a cave man named Howard went out of his cave, snared a huge buffalo and brought it back to the tribe. Howard was essentially the first takeout delivery man. Early humans had no way of storing food. The only way to feed a whole group of people was to bring the food back home, alive if one could, so all the Cro Magnums could enjoy a fresh home delivered meal.

The problem was that the food kept on moving to different areas, so Howard and his group of cave dwellers would have to pack up all their things, and wander around until they found more food. Nobody was happy with this, least of all Howard, as he had to do the packing up and then the hunting once they settled into a new place.

One day, when Howard was out, he ran across a group of sheep. The sheep stayed together, did not bite, and tended to be content to graze and sleep. So Howard put a fence around the sheep herd and moved the family next door. Now Howard could hang out all day and when his wife, Norma, asked him to rustle up some food, he just walked over to the sheep, grabbed one and got it cooking on the fire. Howard had invented ranching and his life got a whole lot easier. He then added goats to the mix and found he was even able to get drinkable milk from the goats. Howard had tried milking the sheep one summer but was never able to get the spigots going. With goats it was much easier.

Some of Howard’s friends did not like the sheep and goats and so they made better farmers than ranchers. They made a deal with Howard. If he gave them some roast lamb or goat legs they would give him potatoes and corn. Thus a whole world of bartering opened up and society flourished. As did Howard. It might be important to know Howard’s full name: Howard Johnson.

For thousands of years after this, food was cooked and eaten at home. This worked well until the 1920s. Then a direct descendant of the original Howard Johnson, who owned a drugstore in Quincy, discovered that his soda fountain was his most profitable item, so he eventually started selling other edibles. Johnson used a recipe his mother had given him to make ice cream and soon expanded onto beaches along the Massachusetts coast line. He also sold hot dogs and soda pop to tourists.

Many other entrepreneurs copied Johnson but with a twist — curb side service. This made it easy for dads to stop at the new restaurant chain opened by the McDonald brothers and bring home supper to the family. But as Americans grew lazier the need to find a new way for food to come to us was created — the Chinese food delivery method. Oyster boxes were small, disposable cardboard containers used to deliver fresh oysters to restaurants. Hearing the American cry for takeout food, the Chinese took these boxes, filled them up with menu items such as General Gau chicken and fried rice, then delivered them right to our homes.

So, while 10,000 years ago a cave man named Howard was able to bring takeout food right to the cave, Americans had come full circle and were again waiting for someone to deliver their food right to their homes.



by Aunt Clara –

Charles Dickens the esteemed writer loved sweets. When he was a young man walking the streets of London he would always be seen writing in his journal and sucking on what was referred to as a “lolly”. Back in London the term lolly meant tongue or mouth.

These sugary treats commonly called lollies were readily available in London and as everything else about England was so very miserable in that place and time it is understandable that people might want a moment of pure sugary joy.

As one might imagine, dental hygiene being in its infancy, this constant chewing on lollies caused extreme tooth decay. Since there was no such thing as an official dentist, the role of tooth care in small towns and rural communities fell to the local blacksmith. He already had tools such as forceps, and creative smiths were able to forge a “key.” This “key” looked like a door key but could grip a tooth when rotated. The blacksmith was also strong as an ox, so he could hold the patient with one arm while gripping his forceps or key with the other as he extracted the tooth.

Now, when the infected tooth was ripped from the mouth, it was an imprecise business and usually gum and bone would come with it creating a distinct popping noise. When someone was addicted to chewing on lollies they would most likely get to eventually hear the “pop” of their teeth being extracted.

Charles Dickens had heard that horrible pop when he had to have several of his own teeth forcibly removed, and he coined the term “Lollipop” to represent this sugary treat that led to tooth decay. Now you can imagine that Dickens was always writing and always had a pencil in his hand. Dickens had the habit of sticking his lollipop on the end of his pencil and sucking on it whilst he wrote. Dickens had always been a proponent of childhood education and he realized this lollipop pencil might be a great way to get children to learn. He figured that he could suck on a sweet treat while performing their writing and arithmetic, which would cause them to spend more time with pencil and paper. This of course made the local blacksmith happy as his business increased as the lollipops gained popularity. Some local parents pined that Dickens was in cahoots with the blacksmiths and that he was getting a kickback for every tooth pulled!

In larger towns and cities barbers were the ones who performed dentistry and we have all heard the stories of the barber pole being red and white because of the bloody rags that were hung outside after pulling some poor saps teeth out of his mouth. The barber pole was red and white on dentist days and that symbol for barbershops is still in existence. On days when the barber had his bloody bandages on the pole many people would leave town so they did not have to hear the horrible screams coming from that establishment!

Later in life Charles Dickens would lament his role in creating the “lollipop” and would often admonish young children that if they kept sucking on lollipops they would end up in horrible pain at the dentist / barber / blacksmith. He had to chuckle when one young man told him that he sucked on ten lollipops every day and had not had one cavity or one tooth pulled in over eight years. Intrigued Dickens said “how can that be? How can you be sucking on those sugar sticks every day and not get any cavities, that is impossible?” the young man then gave him a huge toothless smile, “it’s easy sir, I just don’t have any teeth”!


Eggs in Purgatory

by Aunt Clara –

Aunt Clara has many neighbors on her street but only one named William. Now William whose last name shall remain a mystery (but who readers may know as Bill) is a typical middle aged man who keeps his lawn mowed and his hedges trimmed. That is all one can ask of a neighbor in these trying times.

William will wave to me as he goes off to work in the morning and will typically support the girl scouts by buying their overpriced cookies, so in many ways he is a man of good character. At least that is what Aunt Clara thought until Easter Sunday. Why Aunt Clara, you might ask, whatever happened this past Easter Sunday that brought “Bills” character into question? Read on dear reader and all will be revealed.

Aunt Clara had just finished her breakfast of “Eggs in Purgatory,” which is the only day of the year that these eggs are ingested and which I have had every Easter since 1947. If done right Eggs in Purgatory are an excellent way to begin your Easter festivities.

Warm olive oil in a skillet, then add bits of garlic and cayenne pepper. Some folks just use regular pepper but if you really want your eggs to fry one must use the hottest pepper available. Then pour in fresh tomatoes with plenty of juice (I use a potato masher to squish them just right), add some basil and let the whole mixture simmer for 10 minutes. Take out the eggs that you didn’t color for Easter and crack them ever so gently over the sizzling sauce and let them quietly drop in, being careful not to break them. Make sure the mixture is simmering not boiling, and then spread some cheese onto the sauce being careful not to cover the yolks. Cover the pan and let everything cook until the whites are set but the yolk is runny. If done correctly you have Eggs in Purgatory. The eggs representing “souls” and the fiery tomato sauce surrounding them representing their suspension between Heaven and Hell!

Well, Aunt Clara had just finished eating this traditional Christian breakfast when much to her surprise a big brown truck pulled up next door and delivered a package right to William’s doorstep. Imagine! On Easter Sunday! William then opened the door, still in his red and green bathrobe, grabbed the package, and hurried back inside. Aunt Clara was so dumbstruck that she put on her shoes, threw on a shawl and marched right over to his house. It took a few moments of banging on the door, but finally William came to the door to see what the racket was about. “What exactly did you receive from the postman in the brown truck William?” Well, he stammered and stuttered but finally reached back and brought out a shoe box that housed two shiny black shoes.

“Now William, since you are still in your robe I take it you did not need these shoes to attend this mornings church services, would that be a correct statement?” “Well, no Aunt Clara,” the heathen muttered, “I was not planning on going out today.”

“May I ask what was so important about these particular shoes that you had to receive them today, on Easter Sunday?” He hemmed and hawed some more and would not look me in the eye. “Well, I, well nothing, no, I guess I did not have to get them today, it just happened”, was his weak reply.

“Hmmm, it just happened, did it? Like babies just happen, and fiscal deficits just happen, and littering just happens; is that what Aunt Clara is to believe?” William did not seem to have an answer for that and said things like ‘he did not know that they were arriving on Sunday’ and ‘he wasn’t thinking about it’, but by this time Aunt Clara had made her point and saw no reason to break the poor man into submission so I went back over to clean up the eggs.

Now Aunt Clara is full of charity and charity begins at home, so from this day forward I will be keeping a keen eye on the man for his own sake. Next Easter Sunday Mr. William will not be getting some shoes from Macy’s but some Eggs in Purgatory, compliments of Aunt Clara!

There are many different ways to get out the Easter message and Eggs in Purgatory may just be the best way to deliver that message: Aunt Clara style!