Of course, I don’t know what the weather for the Memorial Day weekend was like where you live. But here in Oak Park, Illinois, it was glorious from Friday evening right through the last rays of sunlight on Monday eve.

Yes, it did rain a bit. You might call it torrential, but that would make you an alarmist. Unbecoming. Took in a bit of water in the cellar here at 327. More water, honestly, than I’ve ever seen in that basement in our nine years on the block. It started slow. A trace of dampness with a fruity essence. Then it built nicely to the point where the dresser from Grandma’s house had to be shoved upstream and, well, it was touch-and-go for a while there for the resale shop couch.

The hot water heater went first, with a poof. Why it sits right near the floor drain, its pilot light easy prey for the rampaging — well, rapidly rising — tide is a question for homeowners smarter than myself.

I tried to bail the water. One man and a bucket. Bail is a word that reflects defeat. By the time you’re bailing, face it, you’ve lost. Has anyone ever successfully bailed? Not me on Sunday. I was bailing water into the sink in the basement. It wasn’t draining fast enough so I poured some Drano down the chute. Ah, bubbles. Progress. Salvation. Soon I can get ahead of this. Victory for the lowly bailer. But then! Drat. The same bubbles are coming up through the floor drain. What? Can it be? The water never goes down because it keeps coming back up.

The circle of life. It was beautiful, in its own horrifying way.

One of the U-Haul boxes that have been sitting in the basement these past nine years since the move was a casualty. Baby clothes. No, not the baby clothes! By the time I got to them they smelled worse than when they were in use as baby clothes. But they can be washed. And the process of looking at the onesies and the baseball caps and the teeny little blankets will make it almost worth the bother.

The rain finally receded by afternoon and after several hours the waves in the basement calmed, too.

Monday dawned warm and bright. A perfect day for a parade.

Wednesday Journal, of course, was ready. Our search for the perfect giveaway continued. River Foresters in recent years had begun to look up their noses at miniature Tootsie Rolls. Seed packets were “green” but not popular with the 8-year-old target audience. Coupons for half-off on a classified ad brought hoots of derision. So the R&D Department here at Wednesday Journal Plaza has been working overtime and they nailed it.


Who knew? Grownups are wild for Twizzlers. It makes them cheer for Wednesday Journal. It makes them knock over their kids reaching out to grab one. It was like Halloween at my house with 40-year-olds holding open a Jewel-Osco bag and collecting candy for their baby niece back in Poughkeepsie.

In an epiphany, my partner Andy Johnston decided we could double circulation — and save the newspaper industry — by inserting a Twizzler in every issue. But the R&D boys, drawing double time for working a holiday, tested it and concluded it would be too gooey. Instead they’ve proposed, and I’ve just signed off on it, that starting next week we print the Journal on Twizzler scented newsprint. Genius.

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