By Adam Granger

         In early June of 1974, two momentous things were happening: the “preview issue” of the St. Anthony Park Bugle was being distributed in St. Paul, and I was moving to Minnesota.

         My wife and I had clown-carred ourselves, our three cats and everything we owned into a 1965 VW camper in Norman, Oklahoma, and pointed it north, aiming for the family cabin on Big Sandy Lake.

We fell victim to the summer-of-’74 gas shortage and spent the night of June 8 out of gas halfway up the North Branch exit. (I’d say that that’s another story, but that’s the whole story.)

         I am willing to concede the unlikelihood that there is a connection—cosmic or otherwise—between my arrival in the Twin Cities and the birth of the finest neighborhood paper in the world, and so will reluctantly abandon that snippet of hubris in favor of its having been sheer coincidence.

         Truth be told, neither the Bugle nor I knew the other existed until I moved to St Anthony Park in 1988, and I didn’t first write for the Bugle until 2006.

         In the early 70’s, I had been torn between moving to New York to write for a fledgling National Lampoon, which I had already been doing long distance from Oklahoma, or to Minnesota, because I had roots here, had spent most summers here, had a cabin here and had always loved it here (and still do).

A hippie-flavored existential decision was made and we moved to Minneapolis and settled eventually at 1092 18th St SE. I went to work first at the Guthrie Theater and then writing for and playing in the house band for the just-born A Prairie Home Companion.

First Bugle contributions

         My first contributions to the Bugle were at the request of then-editor Dave Healy, who asked me to write two pages of April Fool’s content in 2006, 2007 and 2008. I don’t know that all of the following snippets actually saw print, but what follows are some of my favorite submissions from those years.

         I had some fun with SAP’s exploding house prices, photographing and listing a decrepit tree house for $499,000: “an opportunity to live above the trees and under the stars.  And, because you’re in a tree and not on the ground, there are no property taxes to pay—only a $350 monthly tree rental fee.” And, I took a picture of a decrepit single-car garage and advertised it as “a cozy, affordable, loft-up car-down bachelor bungalow” for $600,000.

         I wrote a Helpful Hints column which was filled with the overwhelmingly apparent: “When you open that two-liter bottle of pop, save the cap! You can put it back on the bottle so the remaining contents won’t go flat.”  That column elicited a letter to Editor Healy complaining that, while she enjoyed the April issue as a whole, everything in the advice column was SO OBVIOUS (caps hers).

         From the April 2007 issue came an ad—with pics—for houses made of snow (“seasonal housing”) from a company called Snow-on and Snow Fort.

         I wrote about a local resident, Shirley U. Jest, who got tired of people looking at her “stuff” in her yard as they walked by her house, so she developed a privacy hedge from a hybrid of buck thorn, poison ivy and kudzu.  And another short piece about a new local ordinance prohibiting the gathering of more than four didgeridoo players in one place.

         There was an advertisement for Specialty Animal Services: “No Job Too Big or Small.” Services provided included: Worms Turned, Goats Gotten, Cats Cradled, Woodchucks   Chucked, Llamas Dollied, Bulls De-China-Shopped, Ferrets Outed, Rats Smelled and Camels Needle-Eyed. SPECIAL THIS WEEK:  Dead Lambs Tails Shaken—2 for 1

         We printed a financial advice column by Carey D Balance (CPA, MBA, HAH), to whom AG of St Anthony Park wrote:

         Dear Carey,

                  Lately, my high-end high-yield no-fee low-load inventory commodities look more like junk bond threshold deposit loss-leaders than the bearish venture-capital trickle-down windfall accounts they’re supposed to be.  What gives?

Carey responded:

         Dear AG,

                  Call me at my office, and we’ll give your aggregate deposit balance subsidiary portfolio a thorough going-over. If we can’t jumpstart a supply-side tax-incremented balloon-driven capital-spending upswing, then perhaps another professional like one of Equity Receivership     Refinancing Consultants’ Malleable Market Management Specialists can initiate a little venture-capital blowback incentive-deposit aggregate-increment commodities acceleration.  Either way, you’re in good shape.

         I covered plans to re-route light rail through the Park, including a “Knapp Avenue El” over SAP Elementary School, and I was the first reporter to break the news that the city planned to fill College Park with water and open a marina.

         Then there was the buy-sell-trade Swappe Shoppe with offers like:

–Albino Ferret Pelt (pet: died from natural causes) WILL TRADE

for Bombo Rivera bobblehead doll in good shape.

–Complete set of Whoopie John recordingsin 8-track cassette format—84 tapes total WILL TRADE for intake manifold gasket for 1955 Willys Jeep.

–Two ecru Nehru jackets and a Tickle Me Elmo WILL BARTER for mazurka lessons.

And this ad:

GRAND OPENING/GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE

Henry’s Gewgaws and Gimcracks

“We Specialize in Things You Don’t Need”

50% off on Knickknacks, Baubles, Trinkets, Doodads and Bijous

80% off on Whatnots, Trifles and Whimsies

Up to 75% off on Mere Bagatelles

90% off on all Frippery and Flummery

Bulk Frou-Frou–$2 per pound

         From April, 2007 came this advertisement which, in the current climate, would probably not see print, but which is one of my favorites:

Canine Psychiatric Services

Second stint writing for the Bugle

My second writing stint for the Bugle came under the editorship of Kristal Leebrick, who offered me six columns a year on any topic I wanted.

       For the next 10 years, I wrote observational, experiential, generally gently humorous 850-word essays for the Bugle on a galaxy of topics: empty nesting, my 70th birthday, dog ownership, writing for National Lampoon, being in the Prairie Home Companion movie, Christmas, lying, writing for Recycled Greeting cards, apologizing, old folks, old letters, tools, gifting, left-handedness, alleys, stage fright, being a musician on the road, collecting, love, delivering newspapers, panhandlers.

The Bugle only published two letters criticizing columns I had written. (Neither letter writer had read my original words carefully enough and, disappointingly, neither responded to reach-outs from me explaining same.)

         With a new editor comes change. It’s to be expected, and it’s one of the things we want, really.  I had extraordinary leeway under Kristal Leebrick and, as I told current editor Scott Carlson when he came aboard, I didn’t expect an extension of that privilege.

But, without regularity, there is a loss of recognizability and momentum that would send my already unusual topics even farther into non sequitur land.  Besides, a strong case can be made that people have heard quite enough from me.

         I do wish for more levity in the Bugle but, as a longtime writer of humor, I’m liable to say that about any publication. There’s not enough humor in a world that’s getting unfunnier by the day.

I’m happy and proud to have made my contributions to—ending with the descriptor I started with—the finest neighborhood paper in the world. Here is a PDF of some of my contributions.

Adam Granger, a St. Anthony Park resident, has been a frequent columnist and contributor to the Park Bugle for decades. His writing focuses on humor and wry observations about life.

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