Sunday, March 28, 2010

W.E.B. DuBois Quote

"The two parties have combined against us to nullify our power by a ‘gentleman's agreement' of non-recognition, no matter how we vote ... May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting our trust in either the Republican or the Democratic Parties." -- W.E.B. DuBois (1922)

Saturday, March 27, 2010


There's a cool 'Friday Magazine' feature this week on Jake and the guys, Find it here:

Ain't too proud to polka: The really cool people are dusting off their accordions and having a wunnerful, wunnerful time

Thursday, March 25, 2010

“Roundtable, Reconsidered”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

The morning was busy at McDonald’s on Water Street in Chardon.

I arrived before eight o’clock, filled with anticipation. It was time for the monthly gathering of our Geauga Writers’ Roundtable.

In attendance would be every noted scribe from the county. I felt a tingle of excitement while enjoying my first cup of coffee. Notepads were strewn over the tabletop. We chatted briefly about our Facebook accounts and cell-phone plans.

Then, the meeting commenced.

Carrie Hamglaze, a local celebrity and former public servant, was already at our table with a cup of Mocha Cappuccino. She glowed with fashion confidence, dressed in Irish green and Hilltopper red.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she began. “Allow me to bring this event to order!”

All heads bowed around the table.

“This month is when we consider passage of President Obama’s healthcare initiative,” she continued. “Did any of you attend Mr. Obama’s recent visit to Strongsville?”

Martha Ann Reale of the Newbury Siren-Monitor answered cheerfully.

“Yes.” she nodded. “It was a spirited event. I want to offer a personal view of the rally, tied together with my grandfather’s recollections of seeing John F. Kennedy when he visited Ohio in 1960.”

“So, how are the rest of you covering this story in your local papers?” Carrie asked.

Mack Prindl of the Parkman Register was quick to respond.

“I wrote about his courage as a Chief Executive,” he said. “Like Ben Roethlisburger with the Pittsburgh Steelers!”

Martha snorted audibly.

“C’mon Mack,” she insisted. “Big Ben hardly compares to Mr. O.”

I held my coffee for a moment. “That’s reaching for a story, I reckon…”

Ezekiel Byler-Gregg of the Burton Daily Bugle agreed.

“Think local,” he grunted. “You’re just mad because the Stillers didn’t make it to the Superbowl.”

Mack frowned. “Sounds like jealousy to me! Your Browns are a mess.”

“The political process is a mess,” Martha hissed.

Carrie gestured for attention. “Please! Let’s stick to the topic of discussion.”

I sipped coffee as the meeting continued.

Carrie gestured with her pen. “What about the ‘Tea Party’ movement? How is that playing out in Geauga County?”

I flipped through my notebook. “There has been a lot of activity here, especially since the fairgrounds event sponsored by G.O.O.O.H. last fall.”

Martha wrinkled her nose. “Goo? That’s an odd name!”

“It stands for Get Out Of Our House,” Ezekiel said.

“Right,” I continued. “It was founded by Tim Cox, of Texas. He wants to evict every current member of the U. S. House of Representatives.”

Mack laughed out loud. “Sure, that’ll happen!”

“Locally, the Geauga Constitutional Council was involved in last year’s event,” I explained. “Their supporters include State Senator Tim Grendell.”

Carrie pondered for a moment.

“How does this political phenomenon play out in November?” she asked.

Martha shuddered. “I don’t think they are a legitimate force. More like babies throwing a tantrum.”

I smiled. “That’s the mainstream media perception.”

Ezekiel scratched his beard. “Some people may be surprised!”

“Maybe,” I said. “Increased voter participation seems likely. Beyond that… anything can happen.”

Mack pounded the table. “Republicans are hoping for a repeat of 1994. But they would still have to face Mr. Obama across the line of scrimmage.”

Martha grinned. “And Barack is a better signal caller than your buddy Big Ben!”

“Stay on the subject!” Carrie pleaded.

I shrugged my shoulders. “The G.O.P. seems content to let ‘tea’ sentiments percolate. But I note that their operatives are trying to downplay any third-party activities. That kind of genuine citizen uprising appears to frighten them.”

“Both sides want to preserve the game as it is,” Ezekiel observed. “They fear having a new franchise in the league.”

“Okay,” Carrie sputtered. “Since we keep turning back to football metaphors… what do your readers think about the Cleveland Browns reorganization?”

Mack groaned. “Who cares? My team has six Superbowl rings.”

Martha was irritated. “Be quiet, Pringle!”

“That’s Prindl!” he shouted.

“Most people seem optimistic about Mike Holmgren’s leadership,” I said. “Of course we have generally felt that way about everyone the Lerner family has brought to Cleveland. But in this case, the team has someone with a lot of genuine NFL experience.”

Ezekiel was upbeat. “If the Saints can win a Superbowl, anybody can do it.”

Mack raised an eyebrow. “Having Brett Favre and Peyton Manning throwing interceptions didn’t hurt, either.”

“True,” I agreed. “But football is still a game of shared sacrifice and dedication. I think Holmgren will promote that kind of thinking.”

Carrie folded her notebook. “So what about the Maple Festival? Any surprises this year?”

“My favorite event is the ‘Battle of the Bands’ on Thursday,” I said.

Ezekiel brightened. “I remember seeing the Trolls in 1965. They won the very first ‘battle’ ever held.”

Martha cackled. “Really?”

“Don’t get him started,” Mack stammered. “We’ll have to listen to his reminiscences of playing fiddle with the Geauga Corncobbers…”

My coffee was empty. “I like those stories. But first, let me get a refill.”

“Nooooooooo!” Mack whined.

“The Corncobbers were Geauga’s first Amish-hippie music experiment,” Ezekiel reflected. “It was a product of the era. We were trying to build bridges between one culture and the next…to create a climate of mutual respect.”

“What I respect is Big Ben’s Superbowl rings,” Mack squealed.

Martha looked at her coffee. It had gone completely cold. With defiance, she dumped it over her Steeler-loving comrade’s head.

“What was that??” Mack gargled. His hair dripped Colombian brew and cream.

“I think she called an audible!” Ezekiel laughed.

Carrie lifted her pen.

“Shall we consider this meeting adjourned?” she said.

Hands were raised in unison.

“Very good,” she concluded. “See you all next month!”

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


In recent months, I wrote at least two fictional columns about reopening the long-deserted Thompson Center Market on Route 528.

Amazingly, I learned last week that someone actually did just that - revived this store after many decades of neglect.

I paid a brief visit to this resurrected emporium and learned that it was originally established in 1880. Old photographs of the store were hung over the front register.

Stay tuned for more details...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

“Bologna Beginnings”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was around midnight in the Icehouse home office.

Liz, my wife, had promised to call from Wisconsin. But the late hour made me suspect that she had become too overwhelmed with her distant routine to remember that I was waiting in Ohio.

I kept busy by working on my next newspaper feature. It was a whimsical recipe roundup, centered on uses for bologna as a meal foundation.

Quigley and Riley were lazily sleeping on the floor. Our Pomeranian and Labrador Retriever seemed to have little interest in my writing project.

With ‘Coast To Coast AM’ echoing from the radio, I read through old cookbooks from the family collection.

Then, the telephone rang.

“Hello?” I answered.

Static filled my ear. Then, a familiar voice.

“Rodney?” it whispered. “Still awake, are you?”

“Of course,” I replied.

“Don’t you ever sleep?” Liz complained.

“No need for that,” I observed. “You aren’t here to make me go to bed.”

“Poo!” she hissed. “You’ve got to take care of yourself!”

I took a deep breath. “Sure, no problem. So… when are you coming home?”

“Things are still difficult here,” she explained. “I can’t just leave my family.”

My stomach churned. “I understand. How are the girls?”

“Leigh and Soccer Fairy are good,” she said. “How about you?”

“Working on a new column here,” I said. “A composition about cooking with bologna…”

“What??” she shouted.

“Bologna,” I repeated.

“Yuck!” Liz protested. “What a weird idea!”

“Not at all,” I disagreed. “Think of it as promoting alternative cuisine.”

“Who would want to read about that?” she whined.

“Anyone with a desire for dietary liberation,” I said. “It isn’t just a matter of food. The real point is to exercise your freedom…”

My wife shuddered. “Can’t you write something normal for a change?”

“Boring!” I groaned.

She sighed loudly. “Okay… whatever.”

“Just listen,” I continued. “This is great stuff!”

“Sure…” she hissed.

The manuscript was already on my computer screen. I began to read out loud:

“Bologna - the original, all-purpose meat. But wait – it’s not just for a sandwich anymore! Enjoy it chilled and cheese-filled or sliced wide and Dixie-fried!”

“You actually wrote that?” Liz sputtered.

My concentration was undeterred. “Just listen to these easy recipes…”

With a sense of drama, I continued:

1. BOLOGNA PIZZA – Prepare a traditional, thin-crust pepperoni pie; add diced green pepper, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and bologna strips. Bake according to directions.

2. BOLOGNA BAGEL – Fry two eggs, and a thick slice of bologna. Toast a bagel, and make a sandwich with the eggs, meat, and slices of American cheese. Let the creation melt gently before eating.

3. BOLOGNA FAJITAS – Slice bologna into long strips. Sauté in pan with seasoning mix, onions, and peppers. Serve in tortillas with salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

4. BOLOGNA LASAGNA – Alternate layers of bologna, Velveeta cheese, cooked noodles, and marinara sauce. Garnish dish with crushed red peppers.

5. BOLOGNA SOUP – Cook sliced bologna in a beef bouillon base; add sliced potatoes, onions, corn, cut green beans, and carrots. Season as desired.

6. BOLOGNA GRAVY – Fry up diced bologna; add flour and water to create gravy mixture. Season to taste. Serve over biscuits.

7. BOLOGNA RAMEN SURPRISE – Cook noodles according to directions. Add sliced bologna, soy sauce, and an egg.

8. BOLOGNA HASH – Fry cubed hash brown potatoes with chopped onions and diced bologna. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

9. BOLOGNA SALAD – Toss a lettuce salad of green onions, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and bologna strips. Top with pork rinds instead of croutons.

10. BOLOGNA MELT – Toast rye bread; make a sandwich with bologna, cheese slices, and Vidalia onion. Fry with butter in skillet until browned on both sides.

11. BOLOGNA GYRO – Shaved bologna, oil, diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and Greek dressing, in a pita.

12. BOLOGNA ROAST – Place an entire one-pound package of bologna with sliced potatoes, carrots, and halved onions in long pan or dish. Season with stew spices. Bake until golden brown.

“You are crazy,” she said.

“C’mon,” I protested. “You don’t think that was cool?”

“Rodney,” she said with irritation. “It sounds like you’ve gone even more wild since we’ve been away. That wasn’t the idea, you know? I expected things to calm down in our absence.”

My amusement couldn’t be hidden.

“Right,” I laughed. “Well, so much for that plan!”

Liz growled like a cat. “Do you really want us to come home after this is over?”

A wordless void filled the distance between us, for a long moment.

“Yes,” I said at last.

“Then why don’t you write a column about spring gardening? Or home decorating?” she suggested. “Something fun for people to read!”

I felt a stone form in the pit of my stomach.

“People must be tired of UFOs and bologna,” she proclaimed. “You need a change of pace!”

I doubled over in pain. Stressful emotions were taking hold.

“My mother thinks you should write about making crafts,” she said.

Now, the room was spinning. I grabbed a corner of my desk.

“Mom also thinks you need a new name for your column,” she confessed.

I covered my mouth. Disbelief made me even more dizzy.

“You might sell more papers with a fresh start!” she cheered.

The air grew stale. “But I’ve used ‘Thoughts At Large’ for twelve years…”

“There you go,” she chirped. “Isn’t that long enough?”

“What did you say?” I coughed. My legs were wobbly. “Hey, there’s too much static on the line. Better try to call when conditions improve…”

“Huh?” she said with surprise.

“Can’t hear… what? You… cutting… in and out…” I sputtered. “Bad connection…bad…”

Liz yowled forcefully. “Rodney! Are you still there?”

I knocked my phone off the desk while trying to remain upright. The battery flew into a pile of old magazines.

Quigley and Riley went running for cover. I landed on the floor.

My head cleared after a silent pause.

“Good night, Liz…” I whispered. “We love you.”

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

“Mailbag, Revisited”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: Every columnist seems to eventually use their spot in the newspaper to answer reader mail. It is a journalistic tradition handed down from antiquity. Modern disciplines have provided new forms of communication through texts, e-mail, and instant messaging that have all but eclipsed genuine letters. Still, imagination makes it possible to frame such questions and comments in an old-fashioned context. So what follows here is a fictional overview of the ‘Thoughts At Large’ mailbag, as it could have been:

Dale Hooper, Troy – “My brother says you went to school with him at Chardon High. Could that be true?”

Dale, I moved to the county about twenty-six years ago. I am originally from Columbus but finished high school in New York.

Rhonda Reale, Chesterland – “Rodney, you often write about the medium of radio in your columns. Were you ever a disc jockey or an on-air personality?”

Rhonda, I’ve had a keen interest in broadcasting since childhood. My father had a brief, morning devotional on a Virginia AM station called WBRG in the early 1970’s. I used to tag along when he would visit the studio. This inspired me to yearn for a career in the field as a teenager. Sadly, it never happened.

Mitch Golonardi, Montville – “Rumor has it that you are a regular patron of our Montville Country Store. Is that true?”

Yes. I love that place!

Reuben Strehk, Middlefield – “Rod, how long have you written ‘Thoughts At Large?’ My wife thinks that your column started appearing sometime in 1998. I think it was a few years later.”

Reuben, your spouse is correct. TAL started in February, twelve years ago.

Sandy Vaughan, Parkman – “I know you are a writer. But what was your most unusual job along the way?”

Sandy, I’ve been a department store janitor, video technician, newspaper sports editor, farm hand, book binder, TV show host, and professional musician.

Margie DeSoto, Hambden – “Rod, you haven’t mentioned local citizens like Chris Hrapko or Mary Bramstedt in a long time. Can you update us on their progress?”

Margie, it happens that I just saw Chris, last week. Her work with the group ‘Feed My People’ is continuing, thanks to help from new businesses like Sheetz. Chardon United Methodist Church is now ‘home base’ for the organization, which provides needed foodstuffs and supplies to poor residents across Geauga County. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

George Carleski, Newbury – “Rod, I can’t figure out if you are a Republican or a Democrat by reading your articles. Which one is correct?”

George, I take that as a compliment. My honest answer would be ‘none of the above.’

Carol Specht, Huntsburg – “Did your Pomeranian pooch really visit Midge at the Geauga County Sheriff’s Department? I seem to remember seeing a picture of them together, in the Maple Leaf.”

Carol, You have a good memory. That was in 2007. We were invited for a tour by Sheriff McClelland and brought Quigley along for the afternoon.

Fred Depka, Auburn – “I’ve read that your brother is a truck driver. What made you want to become a newspaper columnist?”

Fred, your question makes me smile. Most children hope to become a firefighter, doctor, teacher, or artist. But I was always intrigued with the prolific work of Mike Royko, Erma Bombeck, and Jack Anderson. Later, Dave Barry joined that group of heroes-in-print. For whatever reason, their inspiration eventually motivated me to begin this series.

Connie Mune, Thompson – “I was amused by your stories about re-opening the old grocery store in my township. But why would you write about something like that?”

Connie, as you know, I spent many years as a manager in the retail food industry. Along the way, I’ve had several friends and relatives suggest that I ought to run a store like the closed Thompson Center Market. So it seemed tempting to consider the idea in print. In real terms though, starting any small business requires a ready reserve of available cash. So the notion will have to remain nothing more than a writing exercise, for now.

Phoebe Neff, Claridon – “What about ‘Soul of the Rose?’ Was that another fictional creation like Agent X and Ezekiel Byler-Gregg?”

Phoebe, I can honestly say – no, not at all. ‘Soul of the Rose’ was created by my friends Christy and Mark Hoefler. They have a real love for the history and culture of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Because of my own affinity for that kind of music, cooperation between us was a natural idea.

Cheb Necker, Chardon – “Do you think that journalism has been ruined by the Internet?”

Actually, I think that cyberspace has liberated the flow of information. Even a few years ago, the ability to prepare and disperse news stories was concentrated in the hands of a few, privileged individuals. Now, technology has made that process much more democratic. We have reached a period in history where faceless corporate interests and government appointees can no longer control the data stream. That is something to be celebrated.

Stan Klop, Aquilla – “So, did you make up the UFO incident with Olden Moore in 1957?”

Stan, the Geauga UFO story is completely genuine. A friend named Denny Burdick told me about it for years. I was finally able to confirm the story with help from our county archives. Moore’s encounter was documented on the Geauga Times Leader’s front page. Many years later, the tale continues to circulate. It can be found on websites from all over the world.

Nick Festoon, Burton – “Where do we go to find back issues of your columns?”

Nick, I published a TAL collection in 2007 that ran to 663 pages. It comprised a ‘best of’ the first decade. This volume is still available at a number of local stores, or through Icehouse Books. For information, write us at: P.O. Box 365, Chardon, Ohio.

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to:
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This message arrived today from the Chardon Polka Band. I was particularly excited to read about their benefit event at Thompson Elementary. See the group and experience polkadelic music as you've never heard it before:

"Greetings polka-fans and friends,

It’s March now and we’ve got a great line up of shows and events for you this month!

Just Anounced: We will be playing a fish fry this Friday, March 12, at Berkshire Hills Country Club in Chesterland. The meal is 9 bucks. The Country Club is located at 9760 Mayfield Road, Chesterland

We will be doing a fun polka party on ST. PATRICK’S DAY (March 17) at the REDDSTONE EATERY & WATERING HOLE in Cleveland! The event runs from 4-7pm! The REDDSTONE EATERY is located at 261 West 76th Street, Cleveland. Come join us for some awesome eats and Irish themed polka festivities!

On March18th, we’ll be returning to host another Polka Dance at JEWEL’S DANCE HALL is Austinburg. That event runs from 6:30-10pm. Jewels has great drinks and food! (cost is 5 dollars)

Our monthly POLKA BRUNCH AT THE BEACHLAND BALLROOM is going to be March 21st. The event, which runs from 11-3pm, includes food, live music from the Chardon Polka Band, and a dance lesson by world dance champion Valerie Salstrom from Hep Cat Swing! Tickets are twelve dollars at the door ( $5 for music only) or can be purchased online at (Next month’s POLKA BRUNCH will be on APRIL 18th)

On March 26th, we'll be returning to the Berkshire Hills Country Club to play another fish fry from 5:30-7:30.

On March 27th, we will be playing in Thompson, Ohio at Ledgemont Elementary. A dear friend’s mother has been battling cancer and this event is a benefit for her. The event features not only the Chardon Polka Band, but a spaghetti dinner, auction, and raffle. Tickets are only five bucks! The event runs from 5-7:30. Ledgemont Elementary is located at 16200 Burrows Rd, Thompson.

We hope you can make it to one of this Month’s fun events! Thanks for the support!

Thursday, March 04, 2010


c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

I was just about to begin my first pot of coffee in the Icehouse home office.

Morning had been kind, despite beginning with a power outage just before daybreak. The interruption in service allowed things to become unusually cold while I was asleep. Still, this unexpected mishap meant that I started the day at an earlier hour than usual.

It offered a chance to get caught up on writing projects for the Maple Leaf.

My thoughts coalesced around a feature called ‘Checking In’ as the coffee was percolating. It would be a review of community work by local citizens like Carol Brazis, Chris Hrapko, Mary Bramstedt, and Robin Cooper.

Anticipation tingled in my veins. But the telephone rang before I could continue.

“Hello?” I said, reluctantly.

“Rodney!” the caller laughed. “How are you today?”

It was my friend Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, of the Burton Daily Bugle.

The desk clock read 6:30 a.m. - my eyes would barely focus.

“Hi, Zeke,” I replied. “Let me guess…”

“Guess what?” he exclaimed.

“At this hour of the morning, you need a favor?” I groaned.

My journalistic cohort was amused.

“I want to do a favor for you!” he said with enthusiasm.

“Of course,” I agreed.

Ezekiel snorted. “Hey, I’ve got a news tip here…”

“News?” I said with disbelief. “You want to give away a story?”

“I have something that would be more appropriate for your county-wide publication than my township paper,” he confessed.

I reached for a notebook. “Okay, keep talking!”

“A new online service is about to launch, from Chardon,” he explained. “They call it G-Tube.”

I took a deep breath. “G-Tube?”

“That’s right,” he said. “Founded by Rich O’ Laughlin from Huntsburg and Nev Greene from Bainbridge.”

“Like G-TV?” I asked.

“No, not at all,” Ezekiel protested. “This isn’t television. This is citizen participation in the making.”

“Then, like You Tube?” I wondered out loud.

“Yes, except that it will be completely local,” he continued. “Local servers, with local access.”

“Won’t they get sued for a name so close to You Tube?” I said, quizzically.

“I doubt it,” he stammered impatiently.

“Are you sure?” I said, still wondering.

“They have a law firm working on their behalf,” he grunted. “They’ll sort out the legal issues.”

“Couldn’t people just sign up for YouTube?” I pondered.

“Stop with You Tube already!” he shouted.

“Zeke, it’s early,” I sighed. “No yelling before seven o’clock.”

“Sorry,” he apologized. “Anyway, this website will feature all kinds of original content, including full-length programs produced right here at home. Video podcasts, they are called.”

“So, it really is like television!” I cheered.

“Fine, I suppose it is in a way,” Ezekiel muttered. “Except everything will be available on demand. ”

“Like You Tube!” I repeated.

My friend swore profusely. “Yes, okay! Yes! But even more ambitious.”

A silent pause elapsed.

“Very impressive, Zeke,” I said at last. “You are more up-to-date than I ever imagined.”

“Don’t give me the credit,” he disagreed. “It’s their idea.”

“G-Tube sounds like a new age version of Public Access TV,” I reflected. “During my years studying in New York, I was able to experience some of that… it was very useful as a means for citizen expression.”

“Exactly!” he agreed. “Television in general is controlled by a few, privileged people. Even community broadcasting. But the Internet has changed everything. Now, G-Tube will bring that level of democracy to Geauga.”

“Democracy is good,” I agreed.

“A revolution for the airwaves!” he said loudly. “Or… cyberwaves. Whatever!”

I tried to collect my thoughts. “So…this is a venture of O’ Laughlin and Greene from MapleNet?”

“That’s right,” Ezekiel said. “They’ve provided Internet access since the 90’s.”

I rubbed my eyes. “So how does this new company make money?”

My friend sounded like a used car salesman. “Their plan is to combine MapleNet with G-Tube and support it with local advertising. Involvement is the key. If enough residents participate, the online business will support itself.”

“So,” I mused. “You are passing the ball to me… instead of breaking this story in the Daily Bugle?”

“I run a Burton newspaper,” he observed. “This story is bigger than that.”

“Really?” I said. “You’d let me get the scoop, and walk away with nothing?”

Another wordless moment transpired.

“Actually, you could do me one favor,” he said.

“Aha!” I roared. Here’s the catch! Go ahead, Zeke.”

My compadre was embarrassed. “I could use any information you have on the 1957 UFO encounter of Olden Moore.”

“What??” I fumbled.

“You got access to the county archives,” he said. “I need to know the story behind the story… what were you afraid to say in print? My paper has taken a real hit from the economic recession. I need a blockbuster headline, Rodney!”

I was entertained by his bravado. “I get it… you are trying to ‘trade up’ on articles. But wouldn’t that be a county-wide subject, too?”

“Moore had friends in Burton,” he recalled. “I could get some mileage out of a good alien-encounter feature! Maybe a multi-week series!”

“Zeke, get hold of yourself,” I said with disbelief.

“Help me, friend,” he begged.

“There was nothing in the archives beyond that newspaper story,” I reported. “The Geauga Times Leader ran it on their front page. But there was no follow-up. Just like with the crash in Roswell, New Mexico, the incident got buried.”

“C’mon, Rodney!” he pleaded.

My attitude remained firm. “I got nothing. If there had been more, it would have appeared in my columns.”

“You wouldn’t hold out on me?” he said, pitifully.

“We’ve been friends forever,” I observed. “If there was more, you’d have it. But… no.”

“Nothing?” Ezekiel groaned.

“Nothing,” I repeated. “I know times are tough. Hang in there.”

“Just keep me in mind,” he demanded.

“Of course,” I promised. “We’re all in this together.”

“Yes, we are!” he thundered.

The phone line went dead. Once more, I was alone with my thoughts.

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