HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

January 14, 1989

Hey, they’re, Udo!–

One of the three options in the salutation above is right.  If you choose either of the two wrong options, you will receive a lifetime subscription to The Sacramento Bee.

The enclosed color photo goes a long way in explaining why we live in The Big Tomato.  Where else could you have a view like this and have The Bee delivered to your door every morning, without fale? (Fael?)

I’m happy to hear that my explanation of the spelling in The Bee has been of use to Thomas.  Perhaps the latest skirmish will be useful to him, too.

A reader raised a question about the possessive case spelling of “his.”  The Bee’s Style Manual recommends “his’s” in preference to “hisn” or “his’n.”  A university professor wrote a mean-spirited letter asserting that none of those is the correct spelling.  The Bee answered on the editorial page that university professors in they’re ivory towars should get down into the trentches with hard-nuckled reporters and meet a few press deadlines before they sound off about something they don’t undarstand.  The professor refused to back down.  An Impartial Board of Journalists, all employed by The Bee, reviewed the dispute.  They concluded that the possessive case spelling of “his” was simply another fellow’s point of view.  The Board recommended that The Bee’s Style Manual add another optional spelling to “his’s,” “hisn” and “his’n.”  Reporters can now spell it “hi’s” if they want to.  This should work out comfortably because most of them spell it that way already.

The IGA, Yesterday & Today:  When I was a lad growing up in Palenville, the principal market was an IGA, which stands for “Independent Grocer’s Alliance.”  Small, independent grocers could buy foodstuffs from a central distributer, just like the A&P, Safeway, Grand Union, etc.  Most villages in the Catskills had IGA markets.  Great changes must have taken place if you don’t see those three letters on a market anymore.  But I am pleased to report that California and other western states are dotted with IGA stores, and some of them are not mom-and-pop scale.  In addition to black powder, calico, horseshoe nails and asafetida bags, they sell health foods, lottery tickets and The National Enquirer.  If you ask the manager of your Grand Union, he may burst into tears and sob, “My first job was in an IGA!”  While he’s blinded with tears, you can lift a few sacks of flour.  There’s more than one way to turn regional history to contemporary advantage.

XMAS AT TAHOE was something less than a delight because of the weather: drove up in a blizzard, remained housebound on account of the continuing blizzard, drove down in an intermittent blizzard.  Chains all the way.  Next year we remain firesided on Stewart Road if weather signals are the same as this year.

The way CalTrans (the highway department) handles it is to just stop all the cars and tell them to put on chains or they won’t be able to get over Donner Pass.  If you don’t have chains, and you are in the middle of 1½ miles of blocked cars, three lanes wide, you just sit for two hours.  Eventually you get to the checkpoint, where you are turned back.  We had chains, but if we hadn’t had them we would not have been able to turn around without wasting all that time.

The way to go is to own one of those “Broncho”-type vehicles, with four-wheel drive and snow tires.  I drove one while we were up there–a Nissan–and it seemed to be able to go anywhere no matter how deep the snow was.  It had all the features of a family sedan: AM/FM radio, cassette player, four-wheel-drive shift inside with the gearshift handle, plush upholstery, front and rear wipers, and copies of The Bee to read if traffic is halted by CalTrans.  $17,000.  The manager of your Grand Union may be driving one right now.

COMMUNITY THEATRE IN SANTA FE:  Did Howard tell you about the meager attendance at “The Man Who…”?  It seems that the three or four community theatres in Santa Fe all scheduled new productions for the Xmas holiday season.  He says there are about 5000 theatregoers in SF, and their devotion to community theatre seems to be limited to one visit per “season.”  So attendance at “The Man..” was skimpy.  He mentioned something you may know about: Santa Fe used to have a Threatre Guild, which attempted to avoid overlapping productions that siphoned off attendees who might have gone to each company’s play if a month had elapsed during which they could recover from an earlier play.  The Guild is apparently dead of languishing.  Why don’t you write to your influential friends in Santa Fe and propose Howard for the presidency of a renewed Guild?  This could be the kid’s big chance, Udo.  He could send you front-row tickets to a revival of “Getting Gertie’s Garter,” in which he will play to the bellboy (unless he takes the elevator operator’s role).

It has been cold in The Big Tomato, overnight lows in the thirties.  I know that’s not cold in Stamford, but your summers aren’t 115°, either.  Tahoe has been reporting 3° overnight lows, which is about what it was when we were there.  On the basis of all this, I refuse to support the Greenhouse Effect, no matter what the editor of The Bee thinks.

Fred C. (“Can Spring Be Far Behind?”) Dobbs

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