Why does God look after fools, drunkards and the United States? Somebody has to

Walter Stewart September 6 1976

Why does God look after fools, drunkards and the United States? Somebody has to

Walter Stewart September 6 1976

Why does God look after fools, drunkards and the United States? Somebody has to

Walter Stewart

A year of residence in Washington has left me with a clutter of items that seem at least as reflective of American life as the high-powered stuff that gets into the magazine. Herewith, then, one year’s leavings from life in the United States:

Thank God That’s Safe Note: The Federal Reserve Board, the American answer to the Bank of Canada, has stockpiled a specially constructed vault outside the town of Culpeper, Virginia. The new bills, the world’s largest stockpile, would be used to replenish the nation’s supply in case of nuclear attack, and the cache is protected to withstand both an atomic blast and radiation, in space that might otherwise be frittered away on people. American values will not be beaten, not even by the end of the world.

Legal Note: The Senate of Texas recently passed a law prohibiting Brazilian killer bees, said to be headed north, from crossing the Mexican border into Texas. Cultural Note: Students at Indiana University have started a new craze—edible underpants. The panties are made of candy-type stuff by a Chicago outfit, come in one size, may be worn by either men or women, and cannot be washed. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, students aren’t the only ones buying the pants. The assistant manager of a Bloomington, Ind., store reports that “most of the buyers have been between 35 and 60.” As part, no doubt, of the rich exchange of cultural values between nations, the panties are now available in a Victoria, BC, store.

Let Them Eat Cake: The Ohio Bakers Association convention in Cincinnati reported that the era of the good old birthday cake with a flower and a HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the icing is gone. Kids now want car-

toons out of Sesame Street or to hell with it. Bakers also oblige more adult tastes, and one cookie bender said: “Every baker has a cake baked up which shows a woman lying on a bed. Of course, you don’t usually put those cakes right out front because you might offend somebody.” That’s nothing; you should see the tarts in Washington. Stuffed Shirts And All That Jazz: In New Orleans, the latest bar game is the Wet Shirt contest. The ingredients required are: a braless girl, a T-shirt, a bucket of water and a roomful of boozers. The object is to pour the water into the shirt and keep it there long enough for the crowd to judge between contestants. There are both mini and maxi categories. And they say American civilization is slipping.

Meanwhile, Up North...: In Montgomery County, just across the Maryland border from Washington, the locals have also invented a game, called “mailbox polo.” Equipment required: one car, one baseball bat and one road or lane lined with mailboxes. The object is to knock as many mailboxes as possible off their posts, and aficionados report that a station wagon is the best car to use because “you have more room to swing.” Each successful strike is called a “bingo”; most bingos wins. A teen-ager caught in the act explained: “It’s just something to do on a night when you have nothing to do.” After all, too much TV is bad for you.

You’re Not Going To Believe This, Honey, Dept.: A Chicago hotel, celebrating the completion of a new building program, sent out letters to 4,000 frequent customers. Unfortunately, the job of mailing was turned over to a computer group and it used the wrong tape, so 4,000 people got Dear-Mr.-and-Mrs.-Smith-I-hope-you-enjoyed-your-stay letters to' explain to their spouses. At least one divorce was helped on the way by a misdirected letter, and a number of lawsuits are in the works. The Great Undies Hang-up: There is quite a stir in Reston, Virginia, a planned community just outside the national capital. Seems the folks have taken to doing their washing at home, without benefit of dryer, and hanging the results out on a clothesline to air. Management is sore as a boil. Clotheslines are not allowed, except “when protected from view by screening or fencing” approved by a review board. The whole thing is expected to end up in court, because two defiant clothes-hangers say they will stick to their clothespins, to save energy.

What Has Eight Legs, Government Protection, And Wants To Be Left Alone? In

Seattle, federal biologist Bill High, who works for the National Marine Fisheries Service, is mad. When he has nothing else to do, High gets dolled up in his diving suit and goes out and wrestles octopuses. Octopi. Whatever. He was the world champion octopus wrestler of 1963. The State of Washington, alarmed that human intruders will keep the octopi from reproducing, have made it a punishable offense to molest the shy creatures. High thinks the law goes too far. He obviously has divers reasons for wanting to wrestle, but I think the state is on firm ground. Water. Whatever. It Flies Through The Air With The Greatest Of Ease, And The Fellow Who Threw It Earns Several Degrees: Students at the University of Iowa can earn college credits throwing a Frisbee. There is even a textbook that includes a chapter on the physics of Frisbee flight. And you thought kids waste their time in school.

Author! Author! Dept.: Peter Clyne, a Texas tax lawyer and the author of the book How Not To Pay Your Debts, was recently convicted on charges of preparing false income tax documents.

Shall We Join The Ladies? The release of new FBI statistics has set off a spate of crime reporting here. What turns up as the latest trends are robberies in churches and robberies by women. Whole congregations are being made to line up and cough up their valuables after the sermon. It apparently beats the old collection system hollow. On the distaff side, robberies by women are up 168% in the last decade:

The hand that rocked the cradle once And knit the infant sock Is knitting masks for gun molls now And cradling the rock.