Par Tube

My father was a pretty good golfer.  He played on weekends and in weekday 9 hole leagues.

Back in the day, golf grips were leather-wound. The constant abrasion of tossing in and pulling out the different clubs would cause grips to unravel. And thus – one would have to pay to have clubs re-gripped every couple years (or try to play while squeezing the unraveled pieces).  

Around 1950, my father had an idea. He bought some paper tubes to put in his golf bag. Each club had its own tube — to slide in and out. And – voila! – no more abrasion!  And thereby – no need to have grips reattached!  Within weeks, friends and strangers would ask where he got the tubes in his bag.  So my dad went out and bought 2000 paper tubes – and a rubber stamp that said “Par Tube.”  He hand-stamped each tube with the red ink logo and offered a local sporting goods store the new “golf tubes.” The owner said he would take the tubes on consignment but if they didn’t sell – he said my father would have to eat them.   

Within weeks, the sporting goods store called and needed more tubes. And the PAR TUBE was born.  A distributor began selling them to other sporting goods stores.  And my father began to moonlight.  Tannery by day – Par Tube by night. . . . .  

In the mid-1950’s, the owner of Chicago Paper Tube & Can Company at 137 South Albany (the tube maker) called my father.  The owner – Mr. Lyons – wanted to retire and he offered to sell the company to my father.  And my Dad – who had twenty years service at Chicago Rawhide – made a switch – and invested every penny he had – to buy and run a business he knew nothing about.  And he made it grow.  And he made it glow. . . .    

Swing Thoughts

I like to golf. I’m okay at it. Not great.  I play two or three times a week – and I have a 17 index that’s moving down.   My attitude on any given day can affect my game.  The reason is that golf is 65% mental. And 35% mental. . . . .

Upon addressing the ball (“hello ball“), I employ an instructive word I learned from a John Jacobs Golf School in Litchfield Park, Arizona.  The word is “GASP.”  GASP stands for “grip” “aim” “stance” and “posture.”  These are not swing thoughts.   These are the preliminary steps that you take to get ready – to strike the ball. 

It is once I have my grip, aim, stance and posture lined up and ready – that a mantra from Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s miraculous landing on the Hudson River comes to mind.   As the plane begins its descent to the river, the flight attendants are calling over the intercom “HEAD DOWN – STAY DOWN.” 

And that – is my single swing thought.   If I can remember it. . . . .

The Great Hash Brown Cook Off

[A tasty repeat from September 10, 2013]  Donna and I spent a long weekend in Park City, Utah, with some good friends. One evening, we planned to make dinner and dine in. Soooooo I volunteered to make my world-famous hash brown potatoes. No big thing. Well, my friend Jack said “I make hash browns too. Why don’t we have a cook off?”  I thought hmmmm . . .  a cookoff.  With that, the gloves were down, the aprons on and the skillets ready. We went to Fresh Market where I bought some large (ideally organic) yellow potatoes (I used 8) and two large yellow onions. I was stoked.  Jack bought similar ingredients. We went back and fired up the stove.

I halved, then thinly-sliced the onions.  I washed the potatoes and pitted any “eyes” or rough spots (gotta be perfect).  Then cut into small chunks.  I put the onions and potatoes into a large fry pan with olive oil then covered on low heat.  The object – to cook the potatoes slowly by steaming them with the onions.  I stirred frequently.  This is a slow process – taking 45 minutes or more.  Gradually the potatoes softened and the onions began to darken.  I added garlic powder, pepper, salt and a little Italian seasoning.  Then I tossed in a large spoon of butter.  Mmmmmmm . . . . When the potatoes were ready, I turned up the heat and took off the top to do a little pan roasting for perhaps six or seven minutes.  At this point, well done chopped bacon is an option. 

The result was wonderful.  Jack’s offering was a counterpoint to mine.  He first boiled the potatoes and chopped them small and tossed in with finely-chopped onions.  He used butter only.  His were more traditional flat hash browns with the delicious buttery taste.  Mine were chunky and more of a roasted potato dish.  The gathering happily devoured both.  No winner was declared.  It was a toss up!  🙂   


You will have people saying “how in the world did you do that?”

Let’s say you are sitting with some friends.  Or better yet, children or grandchildren.  You volunteer to predict a four digit number. And you write it down on a card and turn it over.

You ask someone to write down three single-digit numbers without repeating a number. Then have them reverse the numbers and subtract the smaller from the larger.

You take that number, reverse it and add the two numbers together. The total will be “1089” — the number you wrote down on the card. 

The good news is that – whatever the first three numbers are, the end result is always “1089.”   And no – I don’t know how it works.   Unless I take off my socks and shoes.   And even then. . . . . .

My Psychiatrist

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a haunting fear that someone was under my bed at night.   Sooooo, I went to a shrink. 

I told him “I’ve got a problem. Every time I go to bed I think there’s somebody under it. I’m scared. I think I’m going crazy.”                   The psychiatrist steepled his fingers just put yourself in my hands for one year.  Come talk to me three times a week, and we should be able to get rid of those fears.
How much do you charge?” I asked.
Eighty dollars per visit,” replied the doctor.
I’ll sleep on it,” I said.

Six months later, the doctor saw me on the street.

Why didn’t you come to see me about those fears you were having?” he asked.
Well, eighty bucks a visit, three times a week, for a year, is
$12,480.00. A bartender cured me for ten bucks.  I was so happy to have saved all that money that I went and bought me a new pickup truck.”
Is that so?” He offered – with a bit of an attitude – “and how, may I ask, did a bartender cure you?”
He told me to cut the legs off the bed.  Ain’t nobody under there now.”

It pays to get a second opinion. . . . .

The Tree

There is a tree in the front yard of my house. An elm. An old elm. Frankly, it is the patriarch (or matriarch) of the neighborhood. Maybe the town. Or state.  Every other year we pay to have it injected with a Dutch Elm vaccination.  I’ve always wanted to know how old it is – without cutting it down and counting the rings. . . . 

I did some research on the subject.   There is a metric one can use to determine the age of these magnificent gifts of God.   

At a height of around four feet, measure the circumference in inches and divide by pi (3.14).  This gives the diameter.   For an elm – multiply the diameter by 4.0 and that will give you the approximate age.   For other tree species, the multiples are as follows:

x 2.0 – Aspen or Cottonwood;  x 3.0 – Silver Maple, Pin Oak or Linden;  x 3.5 – River Birch;   x 4.0 – Elm or Red Oak;   x 4.5 – Walnut or Red Maple; x 5.0 – Sugar Maple, White Birch, White Oak or Cherry;  x 7.0 Dogwood, Ironwood or Redbud

In the case of our grand elm, the circumference is 140 inches (I used a long string to wrap around the trunk – and then did the measurement).  Divided by pi equals a diameter of 44.5 inches.  Multiply by 4.0 = 178.  That’s 178 years.   Our tree was born in or around 1842.   I hope it will be around for years to come. . . . .   


3 Star Hennessy

My father’s parents were both gone before I was born.  My mother’s father died when I was 3 years old.  While I have some old photos, I have only one memory of him — sitting on the floor with me as I played with toy cars.  Fortunately, I got to know my mom’s mother – Ruth.   A sweet lady who would save stamps and coins for my collections.  

My dad had an aunt and uncle from Denmark – Anna and Axel Larsen – who had no children. From an early age, for me they were “Grandma” and “Grandpa” Larsen.   They were happy with these monikers.   Grandpa Larsen passed away when I was I was in college and Grandma Larsen went into the Danish “Old People’s Home.” 

One day – while in college – I went to visit her.  We talked and as I was leaving she asked if the next time I came to visit – if I would bring her a little 3 Star Hennessy cognac.    I said “sure” and left.   I got in the car and thought . . .  and then drove to a liquor store where I bought a half pint of 3 Star Hennessy.  And drove back to the Home.  Now – I couldn’t tell which made her happier – my return visit or the half pint of 3 Star.  Either way, I resolved to pay a visit whenever I could.   And I did.  And each time brought a pint bottle of 3 Star Hennessy.    

When Grandma Larsen passed, I’m sure she licked her lips.  And smiled. . . . .

The Ushers

[A repeat from July 9 2017] When I was growing up, I attended St. Mark Lutheran Church in Mt. Prospect, IL. It was a big church offering three services on Sunday morning: 8:00; 9:30; and 11:00. The 8:00 a.m. service was relatively new. And as you might imagine, it was sometimes a challenge to staff the early service with ushers.

The head of the ushering program – Mr. Wendt – would often attend all three services – filling in as needed.  Finally, perhaps in desperation, he approached the head of the church’s youth program — and asked if there were some high school boys who could “help out” with the early service.  The answer?  “Sure.”  So Chuck, Wayne, Randy, Dave and I — were tapped to usher the 8:00 a.m. service — every Sunday.    

On the first Sunday, the five of us showed up early.  Suits.  Ties.  We each donned a white carnation and got an ushering lesson from Mr. Wendt.  He guided us through the service offering a running commentary (“smile”greet people by name if you can” “when collecting the offering, walk backwards – never turn your back on the altar“).  After a few weeks of this, the five of us had the protocol down pat.  And  a few weeks later, Mr. Wendt said “keep up the good work, boys” and he never showed up again. . . . .  

Your Daughter is a Police Officer – and. . . .

Your daughter is a 5 year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. She’s a good person. A compassionate person. And one who wants to be a good police office.  She and her colleagues deal with confrontation from time to time.   So you tell me. – what should she do if Ole Svensson – a nasty character from Sweden. . . .

Grabs a skateboard and hits her over the head – and when she falls, hits her again.   

Has a firebomb that he is about to throw into a Target store? Has a firebomb that he is about to throw into a small home where 6 children live?

Is pulled over for doing 75 in a 30 zone. When your daughter asks for his driver’s license – he says @%&*$ you – and drives off.  Or fights her when she asks him to get out of the car.

She is standing on the corner when Ole walks up and splashes her with a plastic glass full of urine. 

She is standing with other police protecting a small 7/11 store owned by an immigrant family.  Ole is trying to get through to break the windows and grab some loot.  He pushes her.  And hits her.  

Just stands on the street corner – swearing at her.  Yelling at her.  Encouraging others to do the same.  Taking videos.  And laughing. 

She is in a small convenience store when Ole enters with a gun – and points it at the clerk.  She is armed.  

These are questions we’ve been hearing about.  Reading about.  What’s the answer?  What would you do?  What would you have your daughter do?  



Seat Belts

Do you wear a seat belt when you’re in a car?  Do you put your children or grandchildren in a car seat and strap them in when they ride with you?  Why?   Remember – you have freedom.   To do anything you darn please.  And nobody should be able tell you what to do.  Even if it’s going to save your life.  Or someone else’s. 

I like to smoke my Cohiba Spetre cigars in restaurants.  Can you believe I’ve been told I can’t?  So what if someone doesn’t like eating their filet and mashed potatoes while I’m puffing on my stogie at the next table.   If they don’t like it – they can leave.  Right?  And who do they think they are not letting me in when I’m barefoot – wearing only my Speedo?

In Illinois, seat belts became mandatory on July 1, 1985.  That date coincides with most of the seat belt laws around the country.   Smoking in restaurants ended on January 1, 2008.  Oh – and then there is the policy of “no shoes, no shirt, no service.”   

Of course I am being facetious (which happens to be one of only three words in the English language with the vowels in the correct order).   There are rules we all follow – of courtesy, civility and health.  

Seat belts, I understand.  Same with cigars and bare feet in restaurants.  But lately, masks too.  What I do not understand is why some folks believe it is their right to not wear a mask – when wandering into public places.  As our health care providers have told us – masks prevent you from spreading the Coronavirus to others.  So why do some people feel entitled to ignore the rules?    When I hear these people on the news pontificating about how they have “freedom” to not wear a mask, I wonder — didn’t they ever learn to have respect for other people?  Or are they just knuckleheads?   Probably both. . . . .