Having a bad day? Just Ask Alice.

We live in a small area, with small, family-owned grocery stores and weekly community newspapers. I’ve been reading the small community paper where my husband now works since I was a child. Actually, I also wrote for the newspaper in my senior year and then later after I graduated college.

The Rocket-Courier comes out once a week, every Thursday, and it’s one of the most avidly read newspapers in the region, not only because it’s chocked full of local news, but because it features news and cozy, fun, small town features like Just Ask Alice (a fictional advice column where questions are answered by a somewhat sad, somewhat grumpy-looking old lady) and Jester Hill, a fictional town with hilarious fictional characters. Once upon a time it also offered some pretty interesting views and stories from the editor/publisher in a column called The Way I See It, but he’s retired the column as he prepares to retire as well.

The newspaper has been owned by the same family for about 150 years. In this day and age, full of negativity and meanness and selfishness, it is refreshing to read Jester Hill and Just Ask Alice, which I have found myself gravitating toward every Thursday when I pull the newspaper out of the mailbox.

This is Alice, by the way:

Her photo appears on the masthead of her column and also on coffee mugs and t-shirts. Who really writes her column? Well, Alice, of course. Who else?

I thought I’d offer a couple of excerpts from the two columns to my blog readers, since most of you probably won’t read it anywhere else and probably wouldn’t subscribe to the newspaper unless you have a personal interest in the area.

From Jester Hill this week:

Sunday Services at Jester Hill Community Church were no open to the public but were available to view online thanks to the effort of Justin Floop, who is president of the Jester Hill High School Audio Visual Club.
Halfway through Reverand Thaddeus Bump's sermon, the feed accidentally switched to the movie, "Bikini Chain Gang." Five minutes of the film ran before Justin realized what was happening and corrected the situation.
Bump was embarrassed by the incident until he found out that the online collection plate broke an all-time record.
New week's sermon will including a showing preview of "Bikini Royale."

***

Able Davis was picking up a prescription at this drug store Friday when he noticed a man going down an aisle with a shopping cart filled to the brim with toilet paper, sanitizers and bread.
Incensed at the thought of all the hoarding going on, able proceeded to dress the man down, calling him selfish and inconsiderate of the elderly and other people who need those items.
"If you're done," the man responded. "I have to get back to stocking the shelves."

***

Madame Elesha, a Binghamton fortune teller, was the entertainment at Saturday’s annual Jester Hill Grange banquet.
After her stint, Madame Elesha was talking to Fred Sturzenegger over coffee.
She asked Fred if he ever had premonitions.
Fred replied that he never had, but his grandfather knew the exact year, month, day and time of his death five years before it happened.
“That’s impressive,” Elesha observed.
“Not really,” Fred said. “The judge told him.”
***
Omar Dwight has long resisted going to a chiropractor, thinking one wouldn’t help him with the numerous aches and pains.
Finally, he decided to give one a try after dealing with a sore back for a month.
After just one treatment, he felt 100 percent better.
After the appointment, he was telling the gang at Bierney’s Tavern about it.
Sam Stedge, the proprietor, who had heard Omar comment for years about his lack of faith in chiropractors, asked him if he had changed his tune.
“I stand corrected,” Omar said.

Alice answers a variety of questions, some related to the virus everyone is talking about and a couple about the government in general.

DEAR ALICE: You may have been asked this question before, but can you tell me why it takes our federal government so long to accomplish anything? — WAITING IN WYSOX

DEAR WAITING: It takes government so long to make things happen because they have to carefully deliberate every decision to make certain that if it’s the wrong decision, the other party will get blamed for it. — Alice.

***

DEAR ALICE: Have you found any other benefits from social distancing other than it helps curb the spread of the Coronavirus?

—HEALTHY IN HERRICK

DEAR HEAL: Yes, it’s a great excuse for not spending time with people and at places that I don’t care for.

—ALICE

***

DEAR ALICE: Is there anything we can do to improve cell phone service at our house? We only have a signal strength of one signal bar, and we have to go outside to make or receive calls.

—NO CELL, NEW ALBANY

DEAR NO: You probably wouldn’t want to do this, but my niece Stephanie says that ever since she had that metal ring stuck through her eyebrow and a gold pin in her nose she can talk on her cell phone in places where others have no service at all.

—ALICE

***

DEAR ALICE: I can’t get married to the man I love because there is a law against it. But I hate not being his wife. What should I do? (I’m enclosing a picture of my man so you can see why I love him so much).

—SINGLE IN SYLVANIA

DEAR SING: You shouldn’t have sent the photo, and pardon me for saying this, but the Halloween pumpkin I had on my porch last October had more teeth than your uncle. Get a life, get a job and get out of the relationship with a blood relative.

—ALICE

How about you? Do you have any funny columns or features in your hometown paper? Or are you in a larger city with larger newspapers? Let me know in the comments (if you want).

Written by Lisa R. Howeler

As a writer, photographer and former journalist, Lisa R. Howeler writes a little bit about everything on her blog Boondock Ramblings. She self-published her first novel, A Story to Tell, in September 2019 on Amazon. She's a wife and a mother and enjoys a good John Wayne movie and a cozy Jan Karon book. She's also a freelance writer and photographer who is a contributor to various stock agencies, including Lightstock and Alamy. Her photography work focuses on documentary and photojournalism.

9 comments

  1. I needed a good laugh, thank you Lisa. I remember reading Dear Abbey when I was a kid, I love that. I especially miss the funny pages. After we were done reading them we would save them for wrapping paper. My grandfather learned how to speak English by reading the funny pages when he came to the states, he was originally from Sweden.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish we had an Alice! We used to have a man named Morris who had a column every week. Everybody always looked forward to his columns and more than half the people subscribed to the paper just to read his article. He passed away last year and the local paper went downhill fast.

    By the way – the church article cracked me up!!

    Like

  3. Thanks for providing a little bright spot of levity with those excerpts from your local paper. I can see why everyone enjoys reading it! Even though we live in the country outside of our small town, we do have a daily newspaper (every day but Sunday. But because of the covid-19 crisis and the fact that the paper gets its newsprint from Canada (that’s not happening right now), it is only being published in print 3 days/week; online every day. We surely don’t have the folksy news you have, just local news, local sports, obits, some community & church briefs, occasionally a local editorial and/or letters to the editor and then the rest is filled with a ton of AP wire stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our local papers who I used to work for have done the same thing. And they never provided those folksy features. It was beneath them, I suppose, but there is a part of the population in our more rural area who appreciates it. Honestly our local papers didn’t have much news before they started printing only a couple of days. We know about the newsprint because when Trump put tariffs on imports from Canada a few years back our publisher raised prices on all his customers out of necessity. My husband’s paper has had to reduce its’ size, ad revenue is down and we are hoping he still has a job for us to pay for this house we just bought.

      Like

  4. I’m behind in my blog reading! 🙂 But these made me smile so I will get to the other ones later, lol. However, in regard to the hoarding one…while extremely amusing, I had something like this happen to me when I went to the grocery store. My cart was full and the man behind me was like, Oh, buying lots of extras huh? (Not said in a nice voice) So I just turned to him with a smile and said very nicely, “I have seven children, this is a normal shopping trip for me.” Thankfully that made him stop, but seriously. Not everyone is hoarding. Did I buy a couple of extra items? Yes, only because I want to stay out of the stores as much as possible. Anyways, I appreciated the humor of that story 😉 God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

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