Little-known facts

I don’t know if this is such a little-known fact, but the famous 60s LSD guru, Owsley Stanley, died in a car crash in Australia a week ago.  He was a “counterculture” hero for all the pure acid he made.  There’s a really good story about him in the NY Times online edition.  What they didn’t say in there, though, was that he drove off the road to avoid the 6 foot tall bunny rabbit that he saw in the middle of the road.  I feel kinda bad to be making light of his tragic end to a good life.  I am a child of the 60s and attended liberal arts colleges in the 70s, for crying out loud.  What I found hilarious in the Times story was that the Grateful Dead, that he helped with sound, and supplied acid and money for, etc, eventually dumped him, because, among other things, he insisted that they only eat meat.  That’s right, nothing but meat.  He attributed his survival of throat cancer to his all-meat diet, and blamed his heart attack on, of all things, his mother forcing him to eat broccoli when he was a child! 

Lesser-known fact:  Shortly after the Germans finally surrendered in World War II, an uncle of mine came home, and, on the train ride back to the Dakotas, stopped off in a small town in Indiana to eat supper.  A local couple insisted that he and his buddy sit down to eat with them and let them pay for the servicemen’s supper.  They told my uncle and his buddy about the town and about the diner where they were eating.  The couple that ran it were truly an “odd couple”:  he was 6 foot 6 and skinny as a rail, a chain-smoker whose only apparent function was to mind the till, act as a host by “grunting and pointing” to a table, if the diner was someone who didn’t have a regular table, and maybe put himself out by refilling people’s coffee once in a while.  He, of course, was called “Stringbean.”  His wife was 5 foot 3, about 280 pounds, and very well-endowed.  She had a heart of gold, was firm but fair with all the help, and was a tireless worker, the chief cook, and always in good spirits.  She was known by all the locals as “Tits”, and didn’t seem to mind the nickname.  Perhaps because of her work ethic and Stringbean’s lack of any, perhaps it was genetics, who knows?–but it was Stringbean who had the high blood pressure and resultant bad temper.  He made it very clear to all the help and the regular customers that any problems with food, service, or the help were not his problems, they were to be reported to Tits. 

On the night that my uncle was there, the place was packed with locals, servicemen passing through, and some vacationers, now that the gas restrictions were about to ease up.  Stringbean’s blood pressure must have been really high, because he was being short with everyone.  It all came to a head as my uncle was eating dessert; a new waitress came rushing up to Stringbean and breathlessly told him:  “Stringbean, Stringbean, one of the dishwashers tripped and bumped into the stove and dumped a pot of boiling water on his leg and Tits is out back with Mary because Mary thinks she might be pregnant and Tits is consoling her and what do we do, Stringbean?!!!”  That was the last straw for Stringbean; he slammed his hand on the counter, and boomed at the poor young woman: “Dammit, girl, if I’ve told you girls once, I’ve told you a thousand times: if there’s a problem in the kitchen, don’t come running to me about it.  Unless the cash register’s broken, it’s not my problem!  Anything that goes wrong in the kitchen, you don’t tell Stringbean–you let Tits know, let Tits know, let Tits know!!  Well, it just so happened that one of the diners that night was lyricist Sammy Cahn, and that’s how the immortal Christmas song “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” was born.

Even lesser-known fact: 

In 1972 I was vacationing in Jamaica (never mind how a poor farm family afforded sending me there-that’s not important to the story).  I made friends with an American singer, Johnny Nash, and his girlfriend Laraine (who was about as big around as “Tits”, except that she was about 10 inches taller, taller even than Johnny).  We were lounging on the beach, “feeling our oats” with some good rum and even better ganga, when she got up to use the ladies room.  Johnny pipes up with, “Wow man, I can see the beach and the water clearly now that Laraine is gone.”  We both yukked it up for a couple minutes, then we both got quiet, and he said “I suppose that’s not nice.”  I replied, “yeah but it has a ring to it, sort of.”  A couple minutes passed, then Johhny goes, “The rain.”  I say, “huh,” and he starts singing “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,” which became a huge hit for him later that year and skyrocketed his career. 

I hope you’re not too sorry you started reading this one.  Have a nice day.

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4 Responses to Little-known facts

  1. PL Holden says:

    That was well worth the read, man.

  2. gregoryno6 says:

    My skeptisicm meter is twitching, but those are good stories all the same.
    I knew a bloke who used to sing along to Johnny Nash with “I can see Deidre now Lorraine has gone…” he didn’t know how close he was to the truth.

    • When I first thought of that stupid pun (Let Tits know) a couple years ago, the story was going to be that my great-grandfather was working at a cafe in a mining town in Colorado in the 1800s, but then I read that the song was written on a hot July day in 1945 in Los Angeles, so I had to “change my tune.”

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