Hail To The Victors


A 38 year memory was awakened by the recent death of Betty Ford, the courageous and often outspoken wife of our 38th president. During the turbulent post Watergate mid-1970s, our pharmacy serviced a local retirement home.  One charming resident, nearing the century mark, Maude Elbel, was the widow of Louis Elbel who had penned the University of Michigan fight song, “Hail to the Victors” during an interurban train ride from Chicago to South Bend, IN in 1898.  Louie had died in 1959 at the age of 82.




Twice yearly, a New York agency would mail Maude a check, usually ~ $50; royalties from the sale of the copyrighted sheet music.  She would call me to pick up the check, cash it, then return the bounty to her apartment.  My reward; two cookies, an iced tea, and a priceless insight into aging. The elevation of Gerald Ford, a proud U of M grad, into a role as the first and only unelected president, the antithesis of his predecessors, Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon, resulted in an unexpected windfall for Mrs. Elbel.


Traditionally, upon a president’s arrival, bands would play the familiar “Hail to the Chief”.  Now, the repertoire would often include “Hail to the Victors”, in honor of the UofM connection, and that had every band director scrambling for the sheet music.  Now checks were arriving monthly, often for $100 or more.  Well…..you might imagine…..Maude thought Gerald Ford was the very best president ever, at least since the Civil War.


A year later as she approached her 100th birthday,  I wrote the white house, recalled the story, and asked if they might be kind enough to send her a birthday card….mind you, this was long before Willard Scott, the Today Show, and old folks photos on the Schmucker jars.  Frankly I expected no response, but for the cost of a 13¢ stamp, no harm would be done and I quickly forgot.   A week later, to my astonishment, Betty Ford’s secretary called the pharmacy and asked me to go to Mrs. Elbel’s apartment within the next ten minutes.  How was I to say ‘wait a second’ to the first lady ?


Betty Ford (nee, Bloomer) in 1936



I rushed over, sat down, and Maude’s first question, “did you bring me more money ?”

“No, but I am expecting your phone to ring”, I responded.

“Why ?  No one ever calls here.”

The phone rang.     I answered.

“Hello Charles, this is Betty Ford, your note was very thoughtful, may I speak with Mrs. Elbel?”

‘Maude it’s for you’.

From my wallflower position, the conversation went something like this:

Mrs. F- hello Mrs. Elbel, this is Betty Ford and I’d like to wish you a happy birthday

Mrs. E- Betty who ? I don’t know any Betty aside from Betty Crocker and  Betty Grable,  Who are you and why are you calling while my druggist is visiting?

Mrs. F- I apologize for interrupting, this is Betty Ford, my husband is president of the United States, he’s right here, and would like to talk to you, do you have a moment?

Mrs. E- (an audible gasp), then a  “y..e..s…ssss.”

Have you ever, ever, seen a 100 year old woman walk on air ?

Maude and Gerry chatted for several minutes, small talk about the song, her respect for him as president, her mother’s admiration of Abraham Lincoln, and recounting how much she missed her husband and how she looked forward to being with him again someday.  The president promised to send her a real card, not just a phone call (he did, a week later, on White House stationery).

Starting at center, U of M, 1933, Gerald Ford


Sadly, Gerald Ford, in an unselfish act of political suicide, had to do the unconscionable but necessary pardon of the scoundrel Nixon, thus assuring a victory for Jimmy Carter.  The Fords, although not politically polished, remain the classiest first couple of the 20th century….always the country before themselves.

Guess what I think about every time I sit down for two Archway cookies and a Lipton tea ?


Maude Elbel, born in 1875, died in 1981, at the age of 106.







You may be entitled to compensation


Preamble to Jack’s Blog

When revealed that a popular, inspirational blog, supposedly written by a Syria-based lesbian, was actually the work of a male graduate student in Scotland, the Gay Girl in Damascus was exposed as a myth.  The media began admonishing the public about the ease of internet duping, where it is said no one knows whether you are a Syrian, a lesbian, a Scot, or a dog who has failed a breathalyzer test.  Again.

Thus, prior to being insulted by reading on, please review Jack’s Disclaimer, and consider checking this box, ❑ I Agree

Welcome back to my Facebark page, twelve steppers, et. al.

Those threadbare values of people, who thrive on bogus exoticism, may take comfort that I, a dog, am not currying rapport with readers, as everything I write is fiction and that which is not, is simply not true, so today’s theme naturally turns to my area of expertise, the practice of law.

Believe me, I am just as astonished as you, having failed the LSAT’s twice, especially when I came across this (delete) Law Firm, location unknown, specializing in dog bites.

The earthy among you may consider this a misspelling, it is not, but the more astute and academic (Wheel of Fortune watchers, you know who you are) will recognize that the letters, rearranged, spell the phrase, “Swim U Flark”.  So you have an option; dig, swim, or buy a consonant.

A streaming modern overhead sign alerts victims, that aside from death, dismemberment, infection, loss of a loved one, and the risk of permanent cosmetic changes in appearance, you, yes, you may be entitled to compensation (and an income tax deduction on Schedule E, line 47 (a) of 27% of line 12 if you are married and filing jointly, thanks to the inspirational IRS code).  You will only be charged a fee if we win a settlement from the spineless insurance industry whose motto is “no backbone, you’re not alone”.

Personal injury law is solely responsible for an infectious, nationwide outbreak in billboards.  Ad media representatives report that Adult Superstores have fallen to #2, and McD’s® a distant 4th place.  Vasectomy reversals by Houston urologists; tubally ligated from the top ten.  The point being, the attorneys pictured must appear in dark suits, stern, unsmiling, possessing a noticeable adversarial posture, and a complete set of what might be referred to as, ‘male components’.  And recently styled hair.

Home alone, I dogged onto google, searching 1-800-dogbite*.  In 0.1 second, an astonishing 1,360,000 hits, which if extrapolated over ten minutes would mean everyone in the USA may have suffered a dog bite.  Twice.

Being the target of a half billion plaintiffs is depressing, like shoveling sand against the tide, making it difficult for me to remain sober and clean.  Currently in re-hab, I have refocused on a future as an advice columnist and also, the lead in a bluegrass band.

Coming soon to a county fair near you, please welcome the hot, new, bluegrass sensation, Petunia, Dogbite, and Jack

And my advice for today:

Bite an attorney  (which, incidentally, would make a terrific song title)

* this is an actual number, which when dialed will be answered tersely by a woman with a question, “have you been injured” ?  If you respond, “yes, my feelings have been hurt”, she abruptly and rudely, hangs up.  Try it.



Hidden in Plain View

Dateline: Plainview, MN , pop. 3408,

The Heart of the Greenwood Prairie

Saturday, June 25, 2011
Country Breakfast on the Farm
Location: Little Valley Dairy
Donny & Holly Thompson, owners

Rochester is in the rear view mirror as we drift eastward through bucolic Olmsted County, a county without a lake, not a single one, in a state with the motto: Land of 10,000 Lakes.   Planning to neither fish nor swim today, as investigative journalists our objective is a 5 dollar pancake, cheese, sausage breakfast, on a “reported” dairy farm, with “supposedly” 182 Holsteins☀, 1 crossbred, and 1 Brown Swiss who are “speculated” to produce 27,000 pounds of milk a year.

This is an obvious undercover scam, because we all know milk comes from a refrigerated wall at Trader Joe’s®, produced in plastic milk cartons, free of rBST, @ $1.99/half gallon, between the 2% Greek yogurt to the left and the organic brown eggs on the right.

However, we arrive at the Little Valley Dairy on CR 10 NE, nearly 4 miles south of Plainview, along with 100’s of families who have been duped by this sign:

Time: 6:30 am – 11:30 a.m.
Details:  Enjoy a pancake breakfast.
Sponsor: Rochester Ag Committee, Olmsted County Farm Bureau Federation

Do these people look like someone you might trust ?

Tents, tables, vintage tractors, modern combines, milk parlor, barns, hay, more hay, cows, more cows, and celebrities;

“Victor”, the suspicious official mascot of the Minnesota Vikings attempting a ‘field goal’.  Behind the facade of this uniform, the now retired Brett Favre, who, has at last found a real job.  He still knows how to make a “pass”.

L- Mutant corn on the cob; R-Undercover agent

Donny Thompson in profile, Hollywood material for “Survivor-Dairy Farm”, a series coming to you soon

In spite of all the misconception, the people watching and the breakfast were both delicious.  Armed with a full tummy we learned that:

and except for a Dairy Queen, no one can consume 7 gallons of ice cream in a single day.

The sights, sounds, and the aroma combine to make this the most memorable Saturday morning ever.

Thank heavens for holsteins, John Deere, and little girls

¤Holstein- a black and white milk producing hybrid between a buffalo and a dalmatian, with four, very large, ice cream dispensers.

We came away, convinced, that the photo below is true, that milk subsidies are essential, calcium builds strong bones, and running a 970 acre dairy farm is fun, demanding, and at times, very dangerous, and the debt we owe Donny and Holly Thompson defies translation into words.


p.s. These two “tired” imps tried to convince this investigator that hamburger comes from feeder cattle and NOT McDonald’s, so I am off on a new assignment:

ooo❍❍❍OOO are you really Chris Hansen from Dateline NBC ???