11 June 1986

Hey, there, Udo!–

If you have been following the weather conditions in the principal cities of the world, you know already that yesterday we set a new record in Sacramento for high temperature in Sacramento on 10 June: 106 comfortable degrees. The day before it reached 102, but that was not a record for the date. At least we can take off our sweaters. But there is a story behind the story, as there usually is when records are set in any field.

As you know, Death Valley prides itself on being the hottest place in California, if not on earth. Pride is a dangerous emotion. It leads to backbiting, sneering, and other ugenerous behavior on the part of the prideful. Every year, when Sacramento reaches its normal, comfortable summer temperatures, the Chief Ranger in Death Valley gets totally browned off (gebraunt weg), but not from sunshine. The Chamber of Commerce in Death Valley depends heavily on those articles you read about the lizards panting and the vultures eating tire recaps that stripped off in the heat and water boiling in the refrigerator–so on. But not only the Chamber of Commerce. Death Valley is run by the National Park Service and, like all civil service organizations, job grade depends on number of lower-level employees supervised by incumbent. The Chief Ranger is exasperated because if people stop going to Death Valley on account of the heat (an attraction), and go to Sacramento instead–where the heat is a way of life instead of being touted as some kind of special curiosity–the Chief Ranger’s job grade will be lowered. He won’t need as many sub-rangers to drive around during the day and put wet towers on the heads of impressionable tourists, who stopped to take pictures and keeled over. The only ones who keel over around here in the heat are the politicians who have too many drinks while they are being bribed at expensive lunches by lobbyists. Everybody else just gets on with it. What the Chief Ranger wants is a stop to the weather reports from here. They make Death Valley look bad. But it’s a standoff. The National Weather Service is of course also civil service, and they’re not about to close down their local office and take drops in grade, either. We’re safe.

And that’s the Story Behind The Story in The Big Tomato. (More next week.)

You are probably right that Ray Powell was not the administrator of Jette’s division. Whatever division it was, Powell was replaced by Ed Doty when he (Powell) went to Sandia. I see from the 40th Reunion catalog that Doty now lives in a place called Orchard Park, New York. Where’s that? Never heard of it, and I thought I knew every town in New York except Gowanus.

Please do not stick pins in Reagan’s effigy. Let me explain.

I may have mentioned that I’m a Monarchist. (That’s why I really can’t support Ray Powell, as much as I would like to.) The Monarchist movement is not large, but it is growing. Right now there may be as many as six of us, nationally.

Now, here’s my plan. Reagan is possibly the only president in a long time who would listen to the idea that this country should be returned to its original rulers. He likes Margaret Thacher for starters. He also fed the Queen at The White House. (California wines, British port.) What I would propose is that we do this in easy stages. First we go for dominion status. To make it more palatable, we urge the Canadians to go back to dominion status at the same time, the way they used to be. A package deal. Then we would simply take the next step and return to colonial status.

I offer you a quid pro quo: when we are once again a colony, I would expect to receive and earldom or baronetcy–possibly a duketom, but that’s a tossup. If you will stop sticking pins in Reagan’s effigy, I will guarantee that Thomas will be entered at Eaton or Harrow, followed by Oxford or Cambridge–whatever you choose. And the tuition will be free!

Think it over. All you have to do is throw away your pins.

I still have five cartons to deal with. I look forward to being titled and having the lower orders do all of this grubby unpacking. Being a Monarchist can have its rewarding side.

I now put this out for the mailman (in the shade).

Regards to your wife and Thomas (soon to be an Old Estonian).

(Fred C. (“is bleedin’ Wednesdays!”) Dobbs)

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