A Surprise Wedding
ALISON STEWART, host:
Thanks so much for listening to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. I'm Alison Stewart along with Rachel Martin.
RACHEL MARTIN, host:
STEWART: And you know sometimes on the holidays it's slow news time.
MARTIN: It is. We're not going to lie to you.
STEWART: (unintelligible) But one thing that we have discovered by the amount of peaches we have this morning, the sort of odd, offbeat stories never take a holiday.
MARTIN: They're always around.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MARTIN: They're always around.
STEWART: Let's start The Ramble.
(Soundbite of music)
MARTIN: I'm up first and I - this story comes with a warning. If you are about to make your favorite special Jimmy Dean sausage for Christmas morning, maybe you should stop or don't listen or something. A North Dakota farmer - I can't get through this - forecast the weather using pig's spleens. That's right, pig spleens. He uses them to tell what the weather is going to be like.
STEWART: It's apparently, sort of, a folklore tradition though. He's not out there by himself.
MARTIN: I guess.
STEWART: I'm sure someone will agree.
MARTIN: On the prairie, he's out there. He needs to know if it's going to be lighting, stormy. He throws the brown, glistening foot-long organs on the kitchen counter and examines them as one - is want to do. If a spleen is wide where it attaches to the pig's stomach and then narrows, winter will come early with a mild spring. A spleen that goes narrow to wide means a harsh spring. And when Weather Service forecasters predict a normal wind in North Dakota, which agrees with the spleen readings, I guess that's a good day when they correlate. It's a bizarre kind of tradition, I guess.
STEWART: North Dakota, do they do that a lot?
MARTIN: I don't know. Apparently, the spleens are 85 percent correct as good as weathermen according to the sky.
STEWART: Hey, you know what, a whole lot of people gather around the place in Pennsylvania and watch (unintelligible) groundhog comes in and out - have escaped so I don't think we should experiment …
MARTIN: It's true.
STEWART: …with a spleen, frankly.
MARTIN: It's true. It's true.
Here's an interesting story. Ice skating…
MARTIN: …dates back 4,000 years to the frozen lake of Finland but - usual skates are obviously not metal blades. Apparently, they were made of bones.
MARTIN: And they believe horse bones. It's in a new study in Linnean Society of London's Biological Journal. Early skaters stood on two horse bones and then they propel themselves along with a stick. So it sounded like it was a little bit of a cross between cross-country skiing and ice skating. Now the team that did the study got to give them props because they actually tried it.
STEWART: Wow. Good to know.
MARTIN: They described it as quite good fun.
MARTIN: Quite good fun.
MARTIN: Researchers know how to have a good time apparently. Just give them some horse bones and an icy pond, and they go wild.
STEWART: This is a really sweet story that our executive producer Sharon Hoffman dug up. It's the sweet story. Last night, Ida, I think the name is. Ilda Ruth Southey had her second Christmas Eve surprise wedding. Now stay with me here. The first time she had a surprised wedding was in 1942 when her husband, Francis, was awaiting orders to ship out to Europe in World War II. Ruth thought she was just going to spend Christmas with him at his military base in Texas but when she got there, Francis - tricky guy that he was - had a surprised ceremony all arranged.
STEWART: I know. Now 65 years later, she lives at the Waterford Senior Living facility in Wisconsin and the staff there arranged a surprise wedding for the couple's anniversary…
MARTIN: Oh, double oh.
STEWART: I know. They renewed their vows with family and friends were there to support them. Very sweet.
MARTIN: That's a very nice Christmas Eve story. Here's one for the little guy. A guy named Arthur Salus of Duluth Travel, small travel agency, small business, just through dogged determination and his refusal to accept the government's many miles of red tape. Well, Arthur Salus of Duluth Travel got a three-year contract to handle all the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' travel.
STEWART: It's a good day. It's a good day for Arthur.
MARTIN: Can you imagine he quadrupled his company's earnings. Isn't that amazing?
STEWART: Oh, my gosh.
MARTIN: He's a service-disabled Vietnam vet himself. He's been fighting for years for this contract. He just knew it would make a difference, he said. One thing, he said, the (unintelligible) was interesting, he learned he erased the word no from his vocabulary. Every time he heard the word no, he heard not now or maybe.
MARTIN: And that's how he (unintelligible) the deal. Of course, no means no in terms of sexual harassment and other things…
STEWART: Of course, it does.
MARTIN: …but it terms of trying to achieve your goal and get to your accomplishments…
STEWART: It does not exist.
MARTIN: …worked for him. He's now working with the VA to start a program helping other veterans seeking business with the U.S. government.
STEWART: Another nice story, kind of a feel-good Christmas paying it forward…
STEWART: …except for the bones and the spleens.
(Soundbite of laughter)
STEWART: You can find these stories and other BPP specials at our Web site npr.org/bryantpark.