Photo: Sebastapol, California 4th of July

4th of July, Sebastapol, CAPhoto (c) 2012 Russell Johnson

If you grew up in the mid-century US as I did, a hot summer afternoon meant a Dairy Queen or Foster’s Freeze soft serve ice milk cone dipped in chocolate. The Dairy Queen across from my elementary school in Minneapolis is still there. Now, on a hot day, I fire up my GPS and go miles out of my way to get in my licks. I found this Foster’s Freeze last weekend in Sebastapol, California. The flag is for real, hanging on a 4th of July fireworks stand.

An American in Paris: Thanksgiving

Photo (c)2004 Russell Johnson

Note: We first published this story in 2004, just after Thanksgiving and a few weeks after the re-election of George W. Bush. The US dollar wasn’t worth too much then and the French found our politics puzzling, to say the least.

Thanksgiving, of course, is completely off the map of the French. My wife Pat and I spent Turkey Day with expat friends shamelessly gulping red wine, slurping oysters and savoring all manner of fats, cheeses, chocolates and filet of boeuf. All of this is good for you…if you are in France.


Looking for Santa in New York City

Christmas Tree, Rockefeller Plaza

The celebrities in Rockefeller Plaza are quite a distance away. They are next to the giant Christmas tree on the plaza, waiting for it to light up. We are stuck in a line, a block away, playing cat and mouse with New York’s finest who are half-heartedly trying to get us to move on. My wife has become quite a star herself.leading the nearby mob in a chorus of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.”

One guy yelled “shaddup! I hate dat song.”

The tree lit up, everybody cheered, we moved away with the mass into one of New York’s biggest weekends. We went in search of Santa.


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