There was no corned beef among the sandwich meats on display.
As my eyes swept back over the assortment to recheck, the man behind the counter said, "I've got some hot dogs ready."
"Where's the corned beef?" I asked.
"How about a nice brisket sandwich?" he countered.
"Corned beef," I said.
"You're not supposed to eat corned beef. I'll fix you a hamburger made from lean meat."
"What are you, a doctor or a sandwich maven ? Where's the corned beef?"
"There ain't no corned beef, you idiot," he said, a little too loudly, I thought. "At today's prices I'd have to charge $8 a sandwich."
I had a bowl of soup. Later, I checked on the price of corned beef, which is quoted by the quarter-pound because they're ashamed to tell you how much a full pound costs. All I can say is that if the price of peanuts ever gets that high, Bill Carter will be able to pay off the bank and have enough left over to buy a million six-packs of beer.
When salaries were at half their present levels, we couldn't afford luxuries, but we ate well. Now that salaries have doubled, we still can't afford luxuries, and food has become one of the luxuries we can't afford.
CHERRY BLOSSOMS REVISITED
A letter is at hand from David M. Jenkins, general chairman of the 1979 Cherry Blossom Festival. On the letterhead of the National Conference of State Societies, he write:
"We read with amusement the column in which you excerpted Harriet K. Doyle's clever letter concerning the Cherry Blossom Festival.
"It is true that the Downtown Jaycees sponsor the parade. However, since 1974, that is the only involvement of the Jaycees of the Chamber of Commerce.
"As the organization that does sponsor the festival, the National Conference of State Societies (a volunteer and nonprofit group) attempts to coordinate all Festival Week activities."
The mailing address for the NCSS is 180 Longworth Bldg., U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. 20515. David's phone number at work (8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) is 833-8755. Most festival events will be publicized in the newspapers, but if you need information, David will try to help.
THESE MODERN TIMES
Sen. Daniel Inouye said recently that the Inter-American Development Bank pays one man $73,000 a year to sharpen pencils and fill water pitchers at conferences. Stuart Gorin of Gaithersburg wondered whether the bank is equipped with electric pencil sharpeners.
Gee, I don't know, Stuart. If it isn't, I don't think I'd care for the job.
THE TREE AGAIN
The car that was (slightly) embedded in a tree at Westmoreland Circle has now been removed, but interest in it lingers on.
After I reported that 32 people had corrected my assumption that an object embedded in a tree trunk rises as the tree grows, I received 19 additonal corrections mailed before the correction column was published. Also three leeters mailed in response to the correction column.
Halsey M. Kloak of Chevy Chase informed me that a hammock hung between two bamboo trees would indeed rise - "because bamboo is a grass, not a tree."
Mrs. Herbert W. Lamb of Silver Spring told me about a "scythe tree in Waterloo, Seneca County, N.Y." A framer called to war hung his scythe "in a lower crotch of a tree near the side door of his house. As the tree trunk grew in girth and height, it enfolded most of the scythe and carried it up and up."
Ursula Mattheisen of Falls Church wrote, "If all these people are right about a tree growing only from the top, how come the branch in front of my kitchen window rises about 6 inches every year, and by next year will have grown out of sight? Also, my former neighbor's clothesline is still tied around her tree, but it would take two persons - standing on the other's shoulders - to hang her laundry on it now."
I would like the record to show that I have nothing to say on this subject, and do not wish to be quoted as agreeing or disagreeing with anything said by any other person. How do I get into these things?