Column: Don’t take for granted the little things in life

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

We take things for granted.

I think we can take it for granted that we take things for granted.

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We gathered at a wake in a small town recently. A person known well by all of us had died.

Old friends gathered in the shade of a tree outside the funeral home and reminisced. We’d known each other forever. We’d been friends since we were wedgies waiting to happen. We don’t see each other often anymore. We are men now, but we’re still as country as cornflakes.

We talked about our shared exploits &045; most of them enhanced by time and fuzzy memories. We talked about people we had known and places that had been. The old song had it right when it said,

&8220;You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.&8221;

Sweet memories.

We miss people &045; friends and loved ones who have departed, but we likewise miss things and places.

We blink, and they are gone.

I got to thinking about what we had that we no longer have. Things and places that I wish we could have again. I could count the things I miss on one hand &045; as long as it was holding a calculator.

Pasture baseball. A cow pie for first base and a thistle for third.

I miss those sinfully good fried rolls made by Vivian Johnson who ran Vivian’s in Hartland for many years.

Having tastebuds that found green apples and green gooseberries to be delicious.

I miss my brother’s hardware store &045; Hartland Farm & Equipment.

The simple joy of climbing trees or sitting in a tire swing.

Sibilrud’s Grocery. It existed during a time when all small towns had their own grocery store. Good paved roads and dependable vehicles have taken away many of these.

The grade school in Hartland. It had three teachers, six grades and a great cook.

I miss the old WCCO Radio, back when it really was &8220;The Good Neighbor.&8221;

Tom’s Barbershop &045; &8220;a tonsorial parlor that provided education and enlightenment.&8221;

Having only four channels on TV. We had more in common then.

Burma-Shave signs and 3-D movies.

That crummy bubblegum that came with baseball cards.

Finding the entire world in the hayloft of an old barn.

The Bookmobile. It brought books to small towns.

What do you miss? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know at


The diaphragm is the flat muscle that forms the floor of the chest cavity that helps the lungs expand and relax. This is where the jerking comes from that we call hiccups. A case of brain-rattling hiccups starts with an irritation of your respiratory or digestive system that eventually aggravates your diaphragm. This can come from eating or drinking too quickly, improper swallowing, indigestion, stress, excessive alcohol, smoking, prolonged laughing, exercising too soon after eating, pregnancy, some diseases, or thinking about eating lutefisk.

Your irritated diaphragm goes into spasms, causing you to inhale suddenly, then your vocal cords snap closed. Soon you’re hiccupping, which stimulates the people around you to begin making suggestions about how to get rid of them.

The secret to stopping a hiccup attack is stopping the diaphragm spasms. A doctor (OK, he was a doctor of veterinary medicine, but he’s still a doctor) told me that there is no true cure for hiccups. He said that breathing into a paper bag or holding your breath is fairly reliable. None of the cures I am recording here are medically approved. They include drinking water, swallowing crushed ice, or placing an ice bag on the area of your diaphragm or on the back of your neck.

Most hiccups go away on their own when the system becomes fatigued. The longest hiccup attack on record is held by a man from Iowa, who hiccupped for 68 years. It caused him some problems &045; his false teeth kept falling out.

Everyone has likely tried the supposed cure where we bend over at the waist and drink from the wrong side of the glass, the part farthest from us. Another alleged cure is eating a spoonful of sugar. One more is pressing the thumb of your right hand between the little finger and ring finger of your left hand.

My Uncle Bill would give me a dollar if I could keep hiccupping for two minutes. I never got the dollar. Greed always cured me.

A good scare is supposed to cure hiccups. I remember a time when just thinking of taking an algebra test would do the trick.

I found that spraypainting my shoes pink while singing &8220;Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head&8221; did not work.

Do you have a surefire cure? Please let me know at

(Al Batt hiccups on Wednesdays and Sundays in the Albert Lea Tribune.)