Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Random Thoughts

I haven’t been sledding since my early teens. But I have a friend who is terrified of anything new, especially if it involves letting go – which sledding does, big time. Once you allow gravity to start you on that slide down the hill, there isn’t a great deal you can do to stop. It took her five trips down to let loose a loud cheer, but she did it. It did wonders for her self-confidence. And I rediscovered the old truth that the slide down is fast and fun but the hike back up is tedious and tiresome. Fortunately, we were using a big old inner tube encased in a thin canvas shell, very lightweight to haul around. Nice to discover I can still do it, and that I still find it’s fun, even if the climb back up goes a little slower than it once did.

If I’m slower at climbing hills, I’m wilier at playing poker. We held out annual New Year’s Eve Poker Party and since the players were all good friends, I found it easier to catch what the professional players call "tells." Those are the subtle changes of expression or pose or voice that tell the watchful what kind of hand the player has drawn. The most obvious one is a larger raise than normal. The bluffer will smile and shove money in enthusiastically, while the player who has just drawn that third ace will feign reluctance. (If he really hesitates, looking around the table at everyone else’s face, he has two pairs and isn’t sure that’s good enough.) Professional players will give themselves away by the widening of their pupils – that’s an involuntary reaction and a reason why so many pros wear sunglasses at the table. We play once a year for pennies and are hardly professional. Besides, most of us are old enough now not to be able to see the pupils of the eyes of the player across from us.

Did you know there were 400,000 prisoners of war in the United States during World War II? 380,000 were German. Four hundred of them were up in Cass County in Minnesota. Research is so interesting! I’ve run into one problem already, however: The book is to be called Buttons and Bones, and a skeleton wrapped in the rags of a German POW is found in a root cellar. I thought they stayed in uniform and as soon as the Nazi insignia were noticed on the buttons, they’d quickly figure out what they had. But looking at old photographs, it appears they were put into denim trousers, chambray shirts, and short jackets of some dark material, all held closed by plain buttons. The fact that PW was painted or stamped on the clothing is small comfort. But stay tuned, there is a small exhibit in St. Paul that has, I’ve been told, some examples of the clothing worn. Maybe . . . well, we’ll see.


Camille Minichino said...

I don't know which impresses me more, Monica, all that excellent research, or that you went sledding!

Monica Ferris said...

Me, neither. LOL

Deahna said...

Monica, I don't know if it helps but take a look at This side is in German and in English and I've seen witness reports from (German) PoWs in the States.