Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

June 28, 2014

The moose is loose, and it’s coming for you

So how would you like to look out your kitchen door window onto your porch and see a moose looking back at you from close range?

It wasn’t a big moose — just a baby, as my friend Marie put it — but it was big enough to make most folks in these parts say, “Holy (smoke)!”

Marie is my friend from Alaska. She grew up in Cumberland and moved north to be with her kids some years ago, but returned for a visit.

It was her kitchen door window and her porch. While we were having lunch, she showed me several photos of the moose on one of those contraptions that opens and closes like a hard-bound paper-page notebook, but you can take pictures and do computer stuff with it.

I was tempted to stick my money and the bill in it and hand it to the waitress, saying “This is good,” just to see what she’d say.

Marie said Cumberland hasn’t changed much. The people still drive like they’re crazy, particularly on Mechanic Street. Uh-huh.

She also made the mistake of trying to go up Baltimore Avenue and asked me how long it had been torn up. I said I had no idea, but it has been a while and will be a while longer.

I asked if she had traveled across the overhead bridge that takes Interstate 68 through Cumberland, and she had not. It’s being renovated, which often reduces traffic to one lane, sometimes both ways. Eastbound traffic has been backed up to the top of Haystack Mountain, and it can be even worse westbound.

This has been going on for close to two years. I looked it up, and during World War II it took less time — about a year and a half — to build a 33,000-ton, 888-foot-long Essex Class aircraft carrier. (There admittedly was a different sense of urgency back then.)

Marie and I became e-mail buddies a while back, around the time she wrote to say that she reads my column and wanted my help in finding a story about the bicentennial celebration the city had at Constitution Park in 1955.

There was a pageant called “Redskins and Redcoats,” with a cast of about 1,000 people. Marie was a student at Fort Hill and took part in it, and she said it was fun.

Yep, I know perzackly what you’re thinking.

If Cumberland tried to have a “Redskins and Redcoats” pageant today, conscience-stricken politically correct Palefaces would come war-whooping out of every seam in the woodwork, looking to take our collective scalps.

(Not all Native Americans took scalps. Those who did learned the practice from the White Eyes, who scalped Indians for purpose of collecting bounties on them. What do the people of the Indian nations think about the Redskins name? Their opinions are what matters. White men can be prone to speak with forked tongue, particularly when they are politicians.)

I don’t know if Cumberland has a patent or a trademark, but the Yankee Government probably would try to revoke it.

Maryland’s state government — a model for the progressive movement (not sure what word I’d use to describe it, but it wouldn’t be progressive; my late grandfather would be able to suggest a few) — might even try to deport Cumberland to West Virginia.

Or maybe not, considering the fact that most of Maryland’s officials usually ignore us (Comptroller Peter Franchot being a notable exception), unless they want our tax money or our votes.

When Marie called a few days ago to tell me she was in town, she didn’t have much good to say about the weather here. My recollection is that it was about 82 and mildly humid.

I took into account where she now lives and didn’t remind her that Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy have worn woolen uniforms in Gettysburg when the heat index was 100 degrees.

I observed verbally that it seems even Alaskan women wear sandals.

Marie said they actually do, and that a woman back home wears them all year long — even on one occasion when there was six inches of snow, and then she complained about being cold.

Marie and I are contemporaries, so we’re on the same frequency in many respects. What amazes me, I told her, is that when it’s cold, some of our young girls wear big bulky sweatshirts with shorts and flipflops and no hats. She said they do the same thing in Alaska.

A few years back, there was a short-lived TV show about a taxidermy shop that’s right down the street from where Marie lives. She and I both watched it and enjoyed it.

Someone who shot a bear took it to this taxidermist and asked if she would pick up the finished product and put it in the mail.

I had to ask: Was this a stuffed and mounted bear that was to be mailed, or just the hide? You think moose are big? Alaskan Brown Bears are just as big, only they are what Snuffy Smif (Smith) would call “clawhawkus.” This one weighed 1,500 pounds. Only the hide was to be mailed, and it filled an enormous box.

Marie formerly worked in the men’s clothing section of a now-defunct local store, where I bought my dress trousers for $8 or $9 instead of paying $40 or $50 for the same britches somewhere else. So our paths may have crossed, but we didn’t realize it.

A package that came a few years back puzzled me until I opened it and saw the note. It was a Smithsonian Institution book about the Civil War, and it was from Marie. Given what I do for a hobby, it has been invaluable.

When she came to Cumberland, she brought me a book called, “The Civil War State by State” and a Moose Brew glass, which displays a drawing of a bull moose with huge antlers and the words “Mountain stream brewed in ALASKA. Enjoy This Mating Call Favorite.”

Don’t know about you, but back in the day, my buddies and I drank our share of Mating Call beer ... not that it often did us much good.

I’ve developed a number of e-mail pals over the years, people I’ve never laid eyes on. Maude McDaniel was one, and when our paths did cross, I had to ask who she was.

The best thing about meeting Marie for the first time is that we already were friends.

I’m looking forward to continuing that.

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Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • They’d have fallen like Autumn leaves

    So there we were, minding our own business (at least momentarily), leaning against the cannon at Little Round Top.

    July 13, 2014

  • Better read that french fry before you eat it

    People give me otherwise-insignificant items they hope will amuse or inspire me. I appreciate this. I’m always glad for free entertainment, which as Goldy’s Rule 33 says is everywhere. All you have to do is wait and it will come to you. Also, I have been writing columns for 37 years and embrace inspiration anywhere I can find it.

    July 6, 2014

  • The moose is loose, and it’s coming for you

    So how would you like to look out your kitchen door window onto your porch and see a moose looking back at you from close range?

    June 28, 2014

  • There are some debts you can never repay

    Today’s column will be relatively short, as my columns go, for reasons that should become apparent, and I thought long and hard before writing it.

    June 21, 2014

  • It could have saved the county a lot of money

    Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.
    When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.
    Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:
    • If Bugs Bunny were an Emergency Medical Technician, would that make him a MedicHare?
    • If Daisy Duck got a job driving for United Parcel Service, would she be an UPS-a-Daisy?
    I wouldn’t blame you if you think that sounds Goofy — or Daffy.

    June 15, 2014

  • These two were part of the Not Top Ten

    Occasionally, at this time of year, I see reference to a “class orator” or a “class speaker.”

    Nothing wrong with that — people can call such things whatever they want, as far as I’m concerned — but it makes me wonder. Have “valedictorian” and “salutatorian” become politically incorrect, and I didn’t notice? It may come as a surprise to you, but I really have not kept up with what is politically correct or incorrect. That’s what people tell me, anyway. With some of them, it actually seems to be a compliment.

    June 8, 2014

  • Coming soon to a highway near you?

    People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”

    In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.

    June 1, 2014

  • This was a skill that proved very useful

    The Belmont Park stewards have decided to let California Chrome wear his nasal strip during the Run for the Carnations. Nasal strips usually are worn by people who snore and may have saved numerous marriages. It helps the Triple Crown hopeful to breathe, and some twolegged athletes wear nasal strips for the same reason. In this case, Chrome’s nasal strip may keep him from (wait for it) ... losing by a nose.

    May 25, 2014

  • He made a big splash by asking this question

    “I don’t know who you were talking to last night,” said Capt. Gary, “but you were talking and moaning in your sleep. Never heard you do that before.” Neither has anyone else, I said. Besides, I had told him not to be surprised if we had visitors. I wasn’t at the top of my game for a couple of days, and he said some of our friends asked him if I was all right. It’s not the first time for this, so now I’ll know to watch out for it. It can affect you and is not something to play around with — as our friend Cathy found out.

    May 18, 2014

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