Bob, like DiMaggio, keeps string alive

Bob, like DiMaggio, keeps string alive by Bob Karolevitz This is my 1,021st consecutive weekly column without a duplication and without a single miss.

Somehow the 1,000th one got by me, and I was going to use it as an excuse for something to write about.

I was going to say that I�ve kept the string alive during a couple of stays in the hospital, a trip or two and an occasional time when I didn�t feel up to it.

I�m sort of like Joe DiMaggio with his famous batting streak. Somehow I�ve kept the series going, and I guess I don�t want to stop now.

The columns have resulted in a few awards and two books: Tears in My Horseradish and Toulouse the Goose and Other Ridiculous Stories. I�ve been going to do a third, but I haven�t gotten around to it.

Actually this is a close as I�ve come to repeating myself because in 1996 I wrote about my 700th column. I told how it all started when Bernie Hunhoff, now co-publisher with his wife of South Dakota Magazine, invited me to lunch at the Black Steer in Yankton and asked � in his Teddy Bear fashion � if I�d write a column for the Missouri Valley Observer which he owned at the time.

�Sure,� I said, thinking then that I�d probably do two or three, and that would be the end of it. That was more than 19 years ago, and I�m still cranking them out.

I�ve got to admit, though, that it�s getting harder to come up with a subject I haven�t already written about.

For instance, I�ll think of an idea and have the lead sentence already fashioned in my mind. Then, just to be sure, I�ll go to my file, only to discover that I�d done it before � and the words I intended to use were the same as those I penned back in 1987 or 1994.

As Yogi Berra was reputed to say: �That�s deja vu all over again.�

I�ve written about septic tanks, barbed wire, hospital gowns, outdoor johns, yo-yos, skull caps, angleworms and even about SPAM. Of course I got lots of mileage out of Phyllis�s sheep � when she had them � but now her miniature horses are grist for my literary mill.

Topics which seem to have spurred the most interest have included crystal sets, water-witching, rubber guns, marbles and memories of the Dirty Thirties and World War II. That should give you some idea of my readership.

No, and I don�t use a computer!

I�ve worn out a couple of electric typewriters in the process, not to mention a few hundred ballpoint pens. I�m at least that modern. I backed myself into a corner with several anti-computer columns, and now I don�t know how to get out of it. You can�t unring a bell, I guess.

The column has resulted in correspondence with the late Erma Bombeck, and I cherish her flattering comments. I can�t say the same for Mike Royko, the Chicago Tribune crumudgeon who is also long since dead.

Playfully, I had mentioned his fictional character, Slats Grobnik, in a column I wrote tongue-in-cheek about a convention of Polish sausage-stuffers in St. Wenceslaus, CA. I made the mistake of sending a copy to Royko, who fired back a one-sentence note, chastising me for stealing his stuff.

Shucks, and I had given him full credit and even told him I enjoyed his work. As Abraham Lincoln said: �You can�t please all of the people all of the time.�

Whoops, there I go borrowing some more words from somebody else. Now I�ll probably get a letter from A. Lincoln telling me not to use his material.

Oh, and I once got raked over the coals by a feminist for calling a ship a she and by bird-fanciers for referring to English sparrows as eaves-droppers. But despite those few negatives, it�s been a positive trip all the way. And fun, too!

I wonder what I�ll write about for column No. 1,022?

� 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz

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