A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

Irishman Duncan O’Flanagan longed for a peaceful, quiet life. During his career as a soldier of fortune, he had seen enough violence and bloodshed and now he was ready to retire and fulfill his lifelong dream of running his own bakery. He excitedly opened Duncan’s Dough Hut in the small Irish village of Booterstown, where he baked breads, cakes, pastries and pies for pleasure and profit.

Particularly popular with his customers, were his special loaves of pre-sliced sourdough bread. The texture was refined and light and the villagers declared that Duncan’s bread was a wonder. O’Flanagan’s secret was the special slicing machine he had invented, which allowed him to uniformly slice the bread before packaging it for sale. Customers loved the neat, even slices, which were the perfect thickness for sandwiches and saved time when preparing the day’s lunches for many busy homemakers.

Word of this ‘wonder’ bread began to spread throughout Ireland, England, Europe and eventually, even across the ocean. Finally, it came to the attention of frustrated American inventor, Otto Rohwedder, who had long been puzzling over his own bread predicament:  How could he cram thick handcut slices of homemade bread into a newly marketed device called a toaster and achieve even toasting on both sides?  In each of his attempts, the unevenly sliced bread inevitably came out of the toaster un-browned on one half and charred on the other. Upon hearing of the Irish ‘wonder’ bread, Rohwedder was struck with the notion that, if he were to market the idea of pre-slicing and packaging bread before sale in the United States, he could achieve wealth and fame. He knew few would question his claim to the idea, as Ireland was much removed from the industrial revolution currently spreading through America.

After several failed attempts to recreate the success of O’Flanagan’s slicing device, including one disastrous idea where he used hat pins to hold the bread slices in place for packaging, Rohwedder finally marketed his bread slicer in 1928. The pre-sliced bread was well-received in the United States and Rohwedder did indeed receive credit for the revolutionary idea.

Although there were many in Ireland and even England who decried the American’s claim of ownership to this fantastic invention, they were largely ignored and dismissed as radicals and Irish nationalists. Thus another Irish achievement has passed into the annals of history, falsely attributed to a lesser nation …

Dachshund Chronicles:  Chapter 10

Dachshund Chronicles: Chapter 10

Harley was furious. By the time she had made her way back to her brownstone, she was in such a rage she hardly noticed the delicious aroma filling the house.

“Stupid Roper,” she growled, tossing her bag and lunch cooler onto the entry table. “I tell him I have an announcement and he prances off to a parade. It’s only the most important invention in all of history.”

Stomping loudly, she continued to gripe as she made her way through the tastefully decorated rooms, entering the kitchen to seek comfort in the form of a snack. She was brought up short by the sight of a buffalo who was not Gordy or Prescott standing in front of the stove, stirring something in a pot. Something that smelled wonderful.

“Grandma?” Harley asked in surprise. “What are you doing here? Gordy and Prescott didn’t tell me you and Grandpa were coming for a visit.”

The buffalo looked at her briefly, snuffling softly as it returned its attention to the simmering pot.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t happy to see you,” she said defensively. “I just said I didn’t know you were coming.”

More snuffling left Grandma’s snout, followed by a hump shrug.

“Well,” Harley conceded, “I am in a bit of a mood. I’m sorry, Grandma. I am glad you’re here. Where’s Grandpa?” She looked around the room but saw no sign of the other buffalo.

Grandma stopped stirring the pot, and huffing loudly, dropped the spoon on the stove top with a clatter. Wiping one hoof on her apron, she shook the other in the air while snuffling excitedly.

“Oh,” Harley said carefully. She could tell Grandma was upset and didn’t want to further agitate her. “He went to visit Allen and Chatauqua, huh? Well, it’s nice you came here. I’m sure Gordy and Prescott will be thrilled to have you stay for a while.”

She peered interestedly at the pot on the stove. “What’s that you’re cooking, Grandma? Gravy?” she asked hopefully. A hump shake and more snuffling. “Oh,” Harley said, disappointed. “Vegetable soup. Yum.”

Harley sighed. If Grandma was visiting, there wouldn’t be any meat cooked or served in the brownstone for the duration of her stay. She was very strict about that and no one dared to cross her. She had quite a temper. Or so Gordy and Prescott had always said. She was, after all, their mother, so they should know.

Harley decided not to cause trouble so soon in the visit, especially since Grandma already seemed pretty upset about Grandpa’s visit to Chatauqua and her family. Knowing that the couple always traveled together, Harley figured there was some sort of argument involved and she simply didn’t have time for family drama. She quickly bade Grandma good-bye and headed for her bedroom to brood and scheme revenge on Roper, who had ruined her day. And to find the stash of beef jerky she had squirreled away in case of emergency.

“So, Grandma,” Harley swallowed a large mouthful of vegetable soup at dinner later that evening. “Guess what happened to me today?”

Grandma looked up from her own bowl of soup and snuffled encouragingly.

“Well,” Harley began, shoveling another spoonful into her snout. “You see,” she continued, mouth full. “Roper called a council meeting and I told him I wanted to make an announcement before everyone left and then he pulled one of his ‘hee hee, I’m so sorry Harley, I forgot you wanted to say something but I really don’t care so I told everyone to leave before you could make your big announcement’ moments and sent everyone home before I could say anything about my big news.” As she spoke and chewed at the same time the vegetable soup became a gory image sloshing around in her toothy maw – coming dangerously close to slopping out of her mouth completely several times.

Grandma aimed a hard look at her, holding her gaze until Harley stopped talking completely.

“Sorry, Grandma,” Harley gulped the masticated bites of food then wiped her snout daintily with a napkin. “I didn’t mean to chew with my mouth open. It’s really tasty and I’m pretty hungry.” She took another large bite, but was careful this time to chew and swallow before continuing her story. Grandma nodded in approval at her improved table manners.

“Anyway, Roper sent everyone home before I could tell them about my new invention. Well, it’s not really my invention. I mean, it was my idea, but I got Harry to assign a Vole Technical Squad to really flesh it out, you know?” Warming to her subject, Harley looked around the table. Grandma appeared to be listening with interest, but Gordy and Prescott continued to eat, focusing intently on their large bowls of soup. Harley glared at them, but when neither acknowledged her, she continued her story.

“My idea was that it’s really hard for us dogs to get anything done because we don’t have a thumb or a finger, right?” She looked from Grandma to Gordy to Prescott. “And so I thought, well, what if we did have a thumb and a finger? We could do so much more. So I said to Harry, ‘Hey Harry, let’s talk about creating a device that dogs can wear on one or both paws that gives them the flexibility and function of a thumb and a finger.’ And Harry was all over that. And finally, just yesterday, we finished the clinical trials. We’ll be launching an Under Dome wide ad campaign and then, based on my projected numbers, we’ll be taking the “Do Claw” global by the end of the year. I even came up with a great marketing slogan – “Do more with the Do Claw!” I think it’s going to be HUGE!” Harley bounced slightly in her seat and waited for the buffaloes to heap praise on her.

Grandma smiled indulgently. Gordy looked up from his meal just long enough to snuffle a perfunctory congratulations, while Prescott simply patted Harley on the head gently with a large hoof.

“Please,” Harley muttered sarcastically, “try to contain your enthusiasm. No, stop, you’re embarrassing me.” Seeing she wasn’t going to get any more reaction from them, she glumly returned to her own soup. “You’ll see,” she grumbled. “The Do Claw is going to be huge.” She chewed thoughtfully as she imagined her impending celebrity.

Georgie Speaks

Georgie Speaks

This Easter Bunny fellow seems pretty shifty to me.  I mean, here’s a rabbit who makes his living hiding eggs from children.  Seriously … what kind of career is that?   Can you imagine how embarrassed his parents are?  And what they tell their friends and neighbors?

‘Well, yes, Steven is actually working as The Easter Bunny.  We tried to convince him to go into civil engineering or law  – or something more practical like Community Organizing.  But he insisted that he had a “higher calling” to be The Easter Bunny.  All his brothers and sisters have Master’s Degrees or PhD’s and successful careers, you know?  I guess he’s just destined to be the rogue of the family.  Maybe if his father had been around more instead of spending so much time in Farmer McGregor’s garden?  It’s hard on a boy to not have his father’s guidance.  Or maybe we shouldn’t have babied him so much when he was a kit.  He was the youngest of 26, though – and I knew he would be my last … it was hard not to coddle him.  Ah, well, we do enjoy having him still living at home with us after all these years … mostly.’

Georgie waits for The Easter Bunny
Georgie watches for “The Easter Bunny” … if that is his real name.

I mean, come on!  Even Bachmann has a better 5 year plan.  What would parents say if they knew ‘Steven the Easter Bunny’ lives in the basement of his parents’ house and spends most of the year building model forts?  They probably wouldn’t be so keen to let their little darlings accept candy, colored eggs and gifts from him, would they?  So I’m keeping an eye out for him … for the children.

Happy Easter from Beard to Beard.  Thank you for your support.