Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On This Date in 1998

I’m using a different approach in this letter. These “news reports” are written in the third person, as if I’m some unbiased observer.

Andy & Eddie Headline News 

“Missing” Son Worries Forgetful Father
Middleton resident and library director Paul Nelson returned home with his younger son Eddie late Thursday afternoon. He was puzzled to find the house dark. He expected that his older son would be home from school.

Figuring that his son was at a friend’s house, Nelson didn’t make any immediate efforts to locate his son’s whereabouts. He unloaded seven bags of groceries from the car and then proceeded to fix Eddie something to eat before the boy’s 6:15 Cub Scout meeting.

“In spite of the fact that the cupboards were replenished with food,” Nelson said in a conversation with his wife later that evening, “Eddie still settled for a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. But then I, too, fixed something I eat almost every day – a turkey-and-cheese sandwich.”

As six o’clock approached, Nelson started to become increasingly worried. His worry then started to transform itself into anger.

“Andy is going to be grounded big time,” he barked. The comment was made in Eddie’s presence but not specifically addressed to him. “If he thinks he can still have a sleepover at Tim’s house this weekend, he is sadly mistaken.”

Nelson had checked voice mail, hoping to be reassured by the sound of Andy’s voice, but there were no messages waiting to be played. The phone rang twice between quarter of six and six. Both times the slight pause after his saying “Hello” told Nelson that is was only another pesky telemarketer. He stayed on the line just in case.

“Is Miss JoAnna Marie there?” the first voice, a woman’s’, asked.

“No one here by that name,” Nelson answered sharply and slapped the phone back into its cradle.

“Is Mr. Nelson there?” asked a young man’s voice ten minutes later.

“No,” he lied and abruptly cut the connection.

The phone rang again five minutes later.

This time it better be Andy, Nelson thought.

It was.

“Andy, where are you?” his dad asked, wavering between a reprimand and a plea.

“I’m at bowling,” he answered. “I’m here with Ross Parks and we need a ride home.”

Duh, that’s right, Nelson thought. Andy bowls on Thursday afternoons after school, and usually he’s done at four-thirty or five o’clock.

“What have you been doing the past hour? Why didn’t you call me?” “I called the library. Pat said you went grocery shopping and would pick me up afterwards.”

And, of course, one of Nelson’s staff members at the library wouldn’t assume that his boss would abandon his kid at a bowling alley.

Luckily, Nelson was able to pick up Andy and Ross and drop off Eddie at his Cub Scout meeting by the 6:15 deadline.

Nelson blamed his forgetfulness on a hectic week. He had left the house on Thursday morning at an unusually early time – 6:45 – to attend a city department heads meeting with the newly hired city administrator, Mike Davis. Both boys were still asleep when he left the house.

“I was out of town on Thursday of last week and this week I was much too focused on my own Thursday schedule. I was lucky to remember to pick up Eddie at After School,” he confessed.

(Editor’s note: The following headline is a good example of the use of hyperbole, i.e., extravagant exaggeration.)

Son of Prominent Middleton Couple Involved in Schoolyard Brawl 
Eddie Nelson, Elm Lawn second grader and son of library director Paul Nelson and well-known political operative JoAnna Richard, was involved in a case of inappropriate behavior on the school playground on Thursday. According to an eyewitness account, which was verified in a letter from principle George Mavrolis, Eddie threw a hard plastic paddle mitt at another student and struck him just above the eye.

“It was an accident,” Eddie is reported to have said to his skeptical dad on the drive home from school.

“The other student suffered a cut and swelling. The paddle narrowly missed the eye itself. He came very close to needing stitches,” Marvolis said, indirectly discounting the possibility of this incident being an accident.

This is Eddie’s third infraction of the year. As a result, he will lose all of his recess privileges for an entire week.

When hearing of the news, Ms. Richard put some of the blame on herself.

“I forgot to give him his medicine this morning.”

According to school records, Eddie has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and takes methylphenidate twice daily. 

News Extra 

Former Warren Resident Gets Chuckle Out of Rep’s Math Even though he lives almost 700 miles west of here, former Warren resident Paul Nelson, son of the Rev. and Mrs. Carl Nelson, keeps in touch with Warren activities with a subscription to the Times Observer.

“My mom used to clip certain article and picture and enclose them in her letters, but now I can make sure that I don’t miss anything,” he explained.

A recent front-page article about the 75th anniversary of the Allegheny National Forest caught Nelson’s eye. After reading it, Nelson wonders if U.S. Representative John Peterson needs to take a remedial math course. The representative was quoted as saying, “As we celebrate, we need to be diligent that in 100 years, we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary.”

Nelson notes that the 100th anniversary of the Allegheny National Forest will be celebrated in 2023, or 25 year from now.

“I hope Peterson is not on the House Appropriations Committee,” Nelson quipped.

Late-breaking news briefs 

City budget proposal includes funds for Sunday hours
Last Tuesday, the City of Middleton finance committee made a final recommendation on the 1999 operating budget. The Middleton common council will vote on the budget at its December 1st meeting following a public hearing.

Included in next year’s budget are funds requested by the Middleton Public Library board to open the library on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The new service is scheduled to begin on March 7 and will be offered during the school year, from the Sunday after Labor Day through the Sunday before Memorial Day weekend.

“I won’t be surprised if these four hours turn out to be the busiest time of the week,” Library Director Paul Nelson predicted. “Participants in a series of focus group discussions the library held last year told us that Sunday hours are the number one service improvement that we could offer. I’m pleased that the city has seen fit to honor this request.”

Middleton schools close for teacher in-service 
Last week all Wisconsin public school students enjoyed a four-day weekend as a result of a two-day state teachers’ conference. This week, students in the Middleton-Cross Plains School District get a bonus: a three-day weekend. Some parents questioned the scheduling of a teacher in-service so close to the annual conference. On the other hand, some families have taken advantage of these two shortened schoolweeks to insert a fall break into their vacation schedule. Some children knew of friends who were out of school for the entire week, spending time in Florida and other warmer regions of the U.S. To add insult to injury, temperatures in Wisconsin rarely climbed above 40 degrees for the past week. Cloudy skies and windy conditions have given the air a wintry chill.

“We now return to our regularly schedule programming….”

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