That water-jug generosity flows

Dan Rodricks

February 08, 1991|By Dan Rodricks

Pieces of column too short to use . . .

Dan Rather, on the CBS Evening News, Jan. 16: "Someone once said the truth is rarely pure and never simple. It's never truer, that saying, than it is in the early stages of war. Truth is frequently the first casualty of any war, and it will be in this one. It's inevitable."

Dan Rather, during prime-time coverage, Jan. 17: "Now the evidence, Bill [Plante], is that the Israelis are, as we speak, in the process of retaliating against the Iraqis for the six, at least six, Scuds that hit Israel. . . . We'll try to keep you up to date on this story with the most accurate information possible."

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George Bush says the high-tech weapons being used in Operation Desert Storm are actually "saving lives," including Iraqi lives. Who's writing these speeches, G. Orwell?

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Maryland Political Corruption Trivia Quiz: Who were Charles Neiswinder and Walter Weickers? (See answers below; no cheating).

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You might have heard about Dick Fessler's efforts to support the families of troops assigned to Operation Desert Storm. He's a Vietnam veteran who runs the Plaza Deli, at St. Paul and Saratoga.

About three weeks ago, he put a five-gallon water jug on the

floor and hung a sign that asked for donations to the USO. By last week, the jug was three-quarters full with nickels, dimes, quarters and bills ranging from Washingtons to Jacksons. Plaza Deli contributed a dime for every cup of coffee and every sandwich it sold. Fessler figures there were a few thousands dollars in the jug when a thief walked off with it.

That happened last Thursday evening. The deli was open at the time. It's a mystery how someone walked out of the Plaza Deli with a five-gallon jug three-quarters full of money. Fessler made a report to police. He was bummed out. But he snapped out of the funk fast and alerted his suppliers -- the bread man, the pickle guy, the meat man, etc. Within a day or so, 12 of them had come up with about $1,000 for the USO. Fessler got a new jug, anchored it to a table and his customers reached into their pockets. "It's three-quarters full again," he said.

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Margie and Shirley, the Jones sisters, got up early Saturday morning and drove to Memorial Stadium. They haven't missed Opening Day of the baseball season in nine years, so, when tickets for the Orioles' first game of 1991 went on sale, they wanted to be among the first in line. And they were. They arrived at the stadium at 6 a.m. Ticket windows opened at 10. The Jones sisters bought six tickets and were back home in Dundalk by 10:30. They left the tickets in an envelope on the dining room table. Near a stack of outgoing mail. Dear old dad, Bernard Jones, gathered the mail -- and the tickets -- and took them down the street and dropped them in a mailbox! This happened about 3 p.m. Margie and Shirley discovered the blunder about 5 o'clock and went into a mild panic. Dad felt terrible. The sisters heard recorded messages when they telephoned the local post office. When they reached a postal employee at the main office, they received little encouragement that the tickets would be found. "Good luck," is what they heard. But, Monday, the manager of the Dundalk branch, Tom Davis, called and said the tickets had been recovered. Margie and Shirley were thrilled. I'm sure dear old Dad felt a whole lot better, too.

Sweet & Sour: Friends recently went to dinner at a midtown Chinese restaurant. Their 2-year-old boy toddled along. Sensing trouble (unwarranted, in my estimation) from the 2-year-old, the host seated our happy little family far from the center of the dining room, at a table in a remote corner adjoining another room. Soon after their soup was served, my friends discovered that a meeting was under way in the next room. Doctors were discussing bowel disease, and the discussion was quite audible. In fact, as my friends dug into the shrimp Hunan and the lo mein with shredded chicken, they heard many medical terms, such as "appendix," "tumor," "intestinal gas," and "succumb." The 2-year-old loved the lo mein.

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(Answer to MPCT Quiz: Both Neiswinder and Weickers were involved in attempts to fix the votes of jurors in the first trial of former Gov. Marvin Mandel in 1976. When the fix attempts were reported in the press, the jury heard the reports, and a mistrial was declared.)

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