Attack of the mammoth penguins

Every year we rise up and stream through the streets in exultation, mammoth penguins swearing in tongues. Tomorrow is the 78th Waddling of the Totems. And crying: Not dead yet!

Some documents of the day. Some reflections on the 78 cohort. And on living longer than the generation before you.

The fun stuff. Sweet penguins by mail, from Bonnie and Ed Campbell:


Open the card, and a pair of penguins pop up! Seen here in front of an appropriately Antarctic background:

(#2) Designed by lovepop in Boston — — and made in Vietnam

So much for totem animal #1. On to #2. Not specifically intended as a birthday present, but nevertheless a piece of excellent news from the far reaches of my country. From Chris Waigl, this story on the KTVA Alaska site on 8/31/18, “Woolly mammoth tusk found in Denali” by Angela Krenzlen:


Recently, during an archeological study in Denali National Park, a technician discovered the tusk of a woolly mammoth — the only one ever found in the park.

The tech was walking along a gravel bar when she made the discovery, according to a Park Service Facebook post. At first she thought it was a downed tree, but it looked a little bit different. The team excavated the nearly 4-foot-long tusk so it wouldn’t wash away.

A mammoth molar and several bones that look to be from the extinct Steppe Bison were also found. The team will test all the artifacts for age and evidence of human modification.

Before this discovery, the only other woolly mammoth remains found in Denali was a tooth that a visitor found in the 1960s.

Mammoths. We Are Everywhere.

The 78 cohort. Born within a year of this date 78 years ago. Two friends of mine with recent birthdays that most of my readers will not know: Ellen Sulkis James, once my Reading Eagle comrade; and my soc.motss brother Ken Rudolph. The musical performance wing of our cohort recently lost one of its greatest, Aretha Franklin. Another, Joan Baez, is on her farewell concert tour. John is, sadly, long gone, but Ringo endures. As do Judy Collins and Bob Dylan. Not a shabby group.

Outliving the previous generation. My father died not long after his 78th birthday, so, with luck, I will soon have outlived him. (My mother died about 20 years before that.) Both my first father-in-law, Keene Daingerfield, and my father-in-law-equivalent, Bill Transue, lived into their 80s, so I have a ways to go to outlive them.

I think my dad would have been pleased. Many modern parents hope that their children will surpass them in any number of ways. Certainly my dad did. In late middle life, he confessed that as a young man, he’d wanted to be a writer. Not even a remotely imaginable ambition for him. But I achieved what was in his eyes the equivalent, or even better, and he was absurdly proud of me. (German-Swiss people and their American descendants are not given to public displays of emotion, but in that context he was passionate.) No doubt he hoped I would also live longer than he did. (And Elizabeth longer still.)


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