Good ol' Max. Credit for everyone! He was a jeweler and all-around civic figure, thanks to his cheerul ads and matchbooks. M. A. K. in all of them, same grinning picture used over and over again. Here's a picture of Max at his store, on Shorpy. To my surprise, I wrote the entry.


Born in Russia, on the 6th of August, 1874, he was educated in the public schools of Kishinef, Bessarabia, which he attended until he reached the age of fifteen years. He then bade adieu to friends and native country and came with his parents to America in 1889, with Minneapolis as the destination of the family. Here he attended the public schools and thus learned to speak the English language.

He did okay. This was his home.

Keeping in mind that Minneapolis was a rather anti-Semitic city back in the day, and by "rather" I mean leading the nation in Kluxer sentiment:

He is a thirty-second degree Mason and member of Zuhrah Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He also belongs to the Elks Club and to the Oak Ridge Golf Club, the latter indicating much concerning the nature of his recreation and the employment of his leisure hours. He likewise has membership in the Civic & Commerce Association and this is indicative of the spirit which he manifests in relation to everything that has to do with public welfare and with those interests which are a matter of civic virtue and of civic pride.

Not a Jew at all really when you think about it! Right? Technically a Jew, sure, but he's 100% true blue:

He is truly American in thought and spirit and perhaps is far more appreciative of the opportunities of a republic than those who have never been denied the chances offered through this form of government.

There's something in that paragraph, I think. Something pointed.

Max died on Dec. 8th 1947, at the Swedish Hospital. Services at Temple Israel. The obit said "The Masonic Order will be in charge and Rabbi Albert G. Minda will offer the prayers. Burial will be at the Montefiore cemetery."

It was the Jewish cemetery. I drive by once a week. I never knew he was there. One of these days I'll find him.

You might think we were done with this whole trip thing, but we’re not. I saved this for today. First of all, this is the worst Christmas Eve ever. It’s usually my favorite day of the year, because - well, it’s Christmas Eve. So many traditions and rituals and little details and things I’ve done forever, and none of those things will be happening. Daughter, who was an only child and pined for a big boisterous family - just as, perhaps, kids from big contentious broods may have pined occasionally for something that wasn’t so raucous - is in Brazil with a big boisterous family having Christmas in a hotel on a beach, and it lasts for a week, so I’m feeling two things: A) great for her, couldn’t be happier, and B) sure puts everything I ever tried to do to shame, consigned to the bin in the back of the head, because life begins when you go away.

Merry Merry, eh? Crimney.

Well, that’s just the cranky part of me talking. I’m glad she’s there, and there isn’t any Christmas at home, because a stark break like that lets you know the score, and also gives you something to look forward to next year. But the other part is that my wife left for AZ yesterday to be with her parents, because they are old, and I’m heading up to Fargo because mine is older. So I’m alone on Christmas Eve, which is the worst.

Well, there’s the dog.

We will have Swedish Meatballs together, as is the tradition. But i won't watch any movies, or wrap presents, or anything else.

I avoided it all in Florida, because there were so few trappings of Christmas. The carols would tinkle from speakers in the elevator lobby of the hotel, the volume so low you had to strain to make out the particular song, and it was - to borrow from what I wrote in a column - like hearing some alternate dimension leaking into the one I was occupying. There were a few outward signs.


An odd thing to see when it’s 72 at 10 PM. The hotel lobby:

It meant nothing. The voluptuous mannikins in the bikini store had Santa hats. It didn’t connect. I was wearing shorts and it was warm and I was cast off and I liked it. I rejected Christmas.

On the way to the airport I said to the Uber driver: don’t look forward to the cold, but at least Christmas seems like Christmas there.

He understood: he was from Brazil.

Really! My daughter’s in Brazil.


Minas Gerais, Belo Horizante.

What is she doing there?

She is a Rotary exchange student.

No! I was a Rotary exchange student! I went to Georgia for ten months. I was head of Rotary in San Paolo for years after that!

Well, blow me down. So we talked Rotary and Brazil and things all the way to the airport.

Which, I should add, is a horribly dull airport. You don’t notice so much when you arrive because hey, you’re in Florida, get your bags and off you go, but man, when you have a few hours to kill it’s a grind. There’s nothing there. The food is awful - oh hey a Miami Grill with a big mural that touts their new co-owner, Pitbull! I was waylaid by TSA because I didn’t take absolutely everything electrical out of my bag - what sailed through in Mpls got the hard stern interrogation this time, and that’s fine by me; hell, my bag is incredibly suspicious. Wires and battery packs and a Zippo and some metal tins, PLEASE BE CURIOUS.

I thanked them for their thoroughness and attention, and got a dull rote nod. So okay great sorry have a nice day.

Dull as the airport is, they have plans. They’re going to Improve. And so we end the Florida trip account as it began: art with cut-out figures dropped in.

Mr. Business is checking the time to make sure he is not late for his appointment at the Money Factory Palce!

Anyway, that was a long time ago.



I decided to be merry after all.

Turns out it is a choice.





A little Christmas cheer from an old friend. Like a lot of stuff from the 20s, you'll hit a big, honking wince point.

Givney, I later learned, lost control of the railroad to a slick financier, and there was, for a while, a plot. Yes, Jerry on the Job had a plot. But that's for some day to come. I'm only 10 strips into carving it up and fixing the pictures.

Another thing you won't see next year, but the year after - Sunday comic ads. They occupied the bottom of the page. No comedic value at all, with a few exceptions.

Here's an attempt to start a tradition. I do not believe it succeeded.

  I wonder if he had to lean out of the sleigh and throw up every few blocks.

Finally: a reminder that our current state is not particularly unique in recent history.

What indeed? Well, actually, a pretty good chance, some might have said then. And you could say it now. But we won't. We will wish everyone a Merry Christmas! See you Wednesday.

(If the match link doesnt work - and it's not working for me - try this.



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