Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Opinion

May 8, 2014

Peanut-pushers on the rise

He would  be proud indeed to know of expanded use of peanuts resulting from his research in the field almost a century ago. He’d likely shed tears, however, upon learning they’re now linked to allergies, obliterated in fields by rampant wild hogs and plagued by nematodes that are up to no good.

I fully believe, though, that the late Dr. George Washington Carver — the only child to reach adulthood of a dozen born to a slave couple — would smile about advertising efforts in New York City’s Times Square and by a newspaper guy in Dublin, Texas. Both give legumes their due.

In recent days, previously unknown statistical data about peanuts came along and were understandable. This seems unlikely, since my lifelong understanding of mathematics at all levels has been foggy. “Pi-r-squared” had me going in circles, and formulaic encounters with statistics during doctoral study were near-death experiences.

Meaningful stats, I suppose, are in the minds of the beholder. Decades ago, when researchers compiled numbers that alcohol sales were up and freight loadings were down, the comparison was evident.

“More people are getting loaded than boxcars,” I surmised.

At the recent meeting of members of the North and East Texas Press Association, Mac B. McKinnon, a 50-year-newspaper veteran who’s been back in his hometown turning out the weekly Dublin Citizen for a couple of decades, was an attendee. He stands for “all things Dublin,” and was handing out miniature PayDay candy bars. He bragged that every peanut in every PayDay is roasted in Dublin. “I mean 100 percent of ‘em,” he yammered.

The stat lodged in my brain? “100 percent.” Almost nothing anymore is 100 percent anything.

A few hours after munching one of Mac’s candy bars at the Tyler meeting, my wife and I were in New York City.

While I was perusing a small sign in the window of a Times Square watering hole (Patrons Who Are Drinking to Forget, Please Pay in Advance), my wife screamed, “LOOK!”

When she  screams “look” — even in small letters and without an exclamation point — she has my attention. But, when she’s pointing toward a huge electronic sign in one of the world’s most exciting cities, it is undivided.

At first, I didn’t understand. I beheld a simple message, heavy on color, pushing M&M’S.

Then, like sunrise, it dawned on me. In smaller type, it read, “Only one in every 100 peanuts is lucky enough to be an M&M peanut.”

This kind  of comparison I can understand. McKinnon bubbles about how inclusive Payday people are. In NYC, the message suggests how exclusive the M&M folks are. Or maybe it is a random thing, with every 100th peanut falling into a chocolate vat, destined to adorn a colorful shell, with the other 99 going straight to peanut butter.

Enough about stats. They cause me to remember a ne’er-do-well who said, “When I work, I work hard. When I sit, I sit loose. And when I think, I fall asleep.”

Our visits to NYC are rare. Each, though, offers intrigues, sometimes with historical perspectives.

An example is the Hotel Pennsylvania, in continuous operation since 1919 across the street from the Madison Square Garden. With Statler Hotel operatives in the early decades, the hotel no doubt was once opulent. (Its rates, like NYC hostelry in general, have escalated since Statler hotels started with offers of “a room and a bath for a dollar and a half.” Now they’re roughly 150 times higher — and more — in the Big Apple.)

But, I digress. My greatest intrigue concerned the “valet doors,” still in use for all 1,700+ rooms, though not fully. They bulge, seeming to be a better “fit” for Fort Knox. Here’s why: Each formerly had a “door within a door.” Guests opened the inner door on their side to deposit their laundry. Maids extracted it from the hallway side, returning hours later to hang the washed and ironed garments inside the now-sealed inner door’s cavity. Perhaps this system was most used when the Harlem Globetrotters packed Madison Square Garden. The ‘Trotters didn’t work up a sweat, but the fans did. Alas, the team’s notoriety has dimmed on stages of the world. “Wash and wear,” however, has not.

    —————

Dr. Don Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. He may be reached by email at newbury@speakerdoc.com. His website is www.speakerdoc.com.

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