Ted Kalvitis - Far Muse

I’ve been noticing that red hats proclaiming “Make America Great Again” are as often as not worn by people who were likely born in the mid/late l990s.

Those years were prosperous for me as I had among my regular clientele a few high-ranking government officials — all Democrats.

I guess this would defeat the purpose of the MAGA thing in my case.

As a regular purveyor of mild nostalgia, I must remind younger readers that this powerful drug is for recreational use only and in strict moderation. It is now meant to be taken to heart or to be sought after in the realm of reality. A political movement that uses nostalgia to trigger the desired response in the mind of the prospective voter is actually letting this person’s mind do all the heavy lifting of the campaign. This, I think, anyway is just a little unfair.

I generally don’t watch television, but on visits and hotel stays I do catch a little. A few years ago, I caught a Make America Great Again advertisement; The ad — cleverly shot in black and white — promised that we would once again produce the steel of old prosperity, citing New York’s Empire State Building as an example.

I’m sure that there’s the best quality of steel in that building. I hoard good old Yankee steel whenever I come across it for my own projects.

The Empire State Building was dedicated in l93l. In that year, we were at the height of the Great Depression, children were suffocating in the Dust Bowl and, in Germany, National Socialism was taking its first baby goose steps. German millionaires threw their support behind Hitler and his 800,000 followers.

So, was America great in l93l! Of course we were, but we had our hands full. Times change. In my personal MAGA fantasy, instead of the land being paved over with “development,” we would still be farming the fertile New Jersey countryside, the aquifer would still be within reach of windmill-powered shallow-well pumps (windmills pumped water for free — is that even legal?).

The uncles would be perpetually returning from Europe and the Pacific, building sensible houses and buying new Plymouths. In other words, don’t hold your breath.

“Make America Great Again?” To my knowledge, “America” has never stopped being great. I’m assuming that by “America” the folks in the red hats are referring to is The United States of America.

States, united but still diverse. Each state having its own laws, economic situation, climate and attitude. I never abbreviate the states when addressing an envelope or even in a text; they deserve that kind of respect.

In addition to each state having its unique character, they also sport a variety of dialects and local terminology.

For example, in Iowa, we had to get used to there being no left or right.

Approaching a “T” intersection on one of the Hawkeye State’s many gravel (or “rock”) roads, I asked my passenger — a local — whether our destination lay to the right or left. “North” came the reply. East and West are easy to determine if the sun is shining.

However to find North and South, one must often depend on the basic physical tenet that it’s impossible to be wrong more than 90 percent of the time.

I knew several people in Connecticut who had P.S./D.S. I never counted myself among them having never pierced my ears. Similarly, early in my occupation in a West Virginia tractor dealership I was asked to fetch a set of E.T./B.T. wrenches. I scanned the shop’s tool inventory looking for a pouch or case marked E.T./B.T.

My foreman soon appeared, somewhat exasperated and said “Them itty-bitty wrenches are right in front of you.” But don’t even get me started on New Jersey — too late.

Did you know that “onnawaytaddashore” is a recognized geographical feature of the Garden State? It refers to highways east of the Freehold Circle, on the way to the seashore. So — what’s the typical response by a mischievous Jersey urchin to a new “f’salesine?” Well, he shoots this “for sale” sign “widatwennytooshell.” As he ejects the spent .22-caliber shell, the sign’s owner might yell; “Haywattsamattawitches.”

How do you determine that a certain individual is from New Jersey? Ask him or her to say “Hey, I’m just walking my dog.” If the results are inconclusive, have him call out “Hey, Tony, come here.”

I can demonstrate this principle with an affected though authentic Jersey accent by reversing my personal evolution by a few decades. Like any true Shiboleth, it never rings true in print.

Ever had a real Georgia mint julep? Me neither. Who can drink crème de menthe in that heat? (I welcome any bartender to try and change my perspective on this matter.)

Brother-in-law Larry built an enormous “garage mahal” on his property in South Carolina, just above the Georgia line. He spends much of his time at his cluttered metal desk at his computer moving high-end building materials to jobsites around the country. The shop is otherwise full of machine shop projects and custom motorcycles.

The desk is against the west wall at exactly l/2 the shop’s depth. It faces a very large open bay door and looks up the short driveway to the tar-and-chip country road and the hayfield beyond. Anyone can wander in and occupy a seat in front of his desk – and often, they do.

Five years ago, when construction of this monster building began, Larry had trouble organizing the many and varied local tradesmen. He eventually hired one individual who was as much an interpreter as a contractor.

This fellow still stops by. He greets Larry with “Hey, boss man.” After that, it’s anyone’s guess what he’s talking about; “Mitz gin up frizzen pop summity.” The quintessential Boomhauer. “What did he say?” I later ask Larry.

“I dunno.” The universal answer.

Larry, born in Germany, raised in the Midwest and with enough time in New Jersey to pick up some Yiddish slang confesses that he has no idea what this fellow is saying. Yet this has been going on almost weekly for 5 years.

So — what can we do to make America great again? What can we do for, say, New Hampshire? It’s part of America, after all. Probably zip. We could send some “R’s” to Massachusetts and Connecticut as their dialect is sorely lacking that letter.

How about Idaho? Eat a potato. However, I’ve personally done much to help Wisconsin — especially Milwaukee — retain its fame.

Since we’re here anyway, what can we do for West Virginia now that doesn’t cost anything? Pick up litter. About a month ago, I found Julie Shipley and Joan Sowers cleaning up A.A. Rogers Road.

I used to walk this road daily and kept it clean. Since we moved, it has begun to resemble a landfill. Though I’m grateful for these ladies’ efforts, not everyone is in a position to make this large a contribution. So pick up 1 or 2 pieces of trash. Very few people litter.

By seeing you pick up trash, others will be encouraged to do the same – seeing that they are not alone and that the litter situation isn’t hopeless.

People who litter might look on and think, well, nothing. Their reptilian brains can only process physical stimulus.

Make your community and state “great” and “America” will take care of itself. You can even wear a red hat.

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