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Bits and Pieces for May 3
After missing two Bits & Pieces columns and being out of town for a few days for what was another of those Fred’s Big Adventures, the return was pitiful.

There have been huge winds, rain, snow and more rain. It could have been worse, my sister’s yard in Eagle River was covered in snow and, of course, we are aware of the loss of life and property damage due to storms across the South.


One Bits was missed as I prepared to be gone — doing those 50 and 75 Years Ago columns ahead takes some time. And the second was missing, because I was in a Rhinelander hospital room getting a new knee. 

Now I’m home and trying to get that knee working for the busy decades to come.


On advice from several friends, who seem to have had success with their new knees, I selected Dr. James Dyreby and Northland Orthopedics of Rhinelander to do the job.

Everything went according to schedule including my release from the hospital at noon on Saturday and the start of rehab the following Monday.

But friends with experience and I agreed upon my return that this is major surgery and it will take a spell to get things working the way they were designed.


There have been a few very positive elements working with me during and after the surgery.

One of them is the employees at the Journal, which is a workplace not set up to have empty desks and idle people. We run a very tight show, and that’s why the Antigo Daily Journal works in an era when so many newspapers appear to be struggling or even worse.

They are very good people.


I made friends at the St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander, where the men and women on the care and rehabilitation staff did their jobs exceptionally well.

During this three-night process, I had a good time with the staff. Since I had some trouble sleeping, there was always people to visit with, share stories with and enjoy.

I cannot downplay the importance of that lighter and friendly approach to care I will not soon forget.

One of the night nurses, I think her name was Sally, absolutely loved a pink hydrangea I received from a family of friends here in Antigo.


People must have felt sorry for me. I got flowers, a stunning arrangement from my fellow Journal workers, maple syrup, cheese and cards by the dozens. Friends from Florida even sent well wishes along — how in the world did that message get spread around like that?

The cards were meant to spread cheer in what was obviously a difficult situation.

I’ll just mention a few.

One came from a local couple carrying what was reported as an old saying. “Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.”

Another says, “All Fixed Up Now? Heard a ‘factory recall’ brought you in for repairs and now the ‘head mechanic’ is all smiles because, in your condition, given normal wear and are good for another hundred thousand miles.”

There also was, “I heard your whatchamacallit got all out of whack and discombobulated.

“It’s a good thing they have these thingamabobs to fix your doohickey.”

One of the cards closed with a note, “Love ya like our luggage...”

What do you suppose that means?


Just before leaving for Rhinelander and the surgery date, the Associated Press circulated a national story on knee and hip transplants.

It seems that I wasn’t alone on this adventure.

As we lead longer and more active lives, people discover they need these new joints. On the grand scheme of things — compared to brains and hearts — they are far easier to replace.

That AP article reported that Dr. Daniel Berry, chairman of orthopedic surgery at Mayo Clinic, said that roughly seven million people are living in the United States with total knee or hip replacements.

That figures out to about two in every 100 people in the U.S.

More than 600,000 knees and about 400,000 hips are replaced in the U.S. each year.

The reasons vary, from not being willing to put up with painful joints, as was my case, to arthritis and wear and tear of the general population. People in the ages 45 to 65 are big in the replacement business.

The article suggests the cost of the surgery is $20,000, which is a pretty good deal.

I have that entire article in my desk. Stop in if you want a copy.


After the stint in the hospital, there has been a lot of time invested in my home reading and watching television. It’s a good thing I know how to read.

An ad has caught my eye, and I judge it as terrible. It is for a new line of Little Friskies cat food and shows an ultra close-up of a cat licking its chops. It’s gross, and convinced me I’m not a cat lover.

Another is from a story that was repeated on all of the news channels ad naueumseam. It was about the characters behind this Los Angeles Clippers racial mess. There certainly is nothing funny about the case, but when you dissect things, the owner of the club, the filthy-rich racist, is Donald Sterling, and the commissioner of the National Basketball Association is Adam Silver.

Mix the names up a little and you have Sterling Silver.

Perhaps I’ve been home a little too long.


While I was stirring things up at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander, a joke came floating in with a touch of a hospital theme. Here it is:

Doug Smith is on his deathbed and knows the end is near.

His nurse, his wife, his daughter and two sons, are with him.

So, he says to them:

“Bernie, I want you to take the Avenue Road houses.’’

“Sybil, take the apartments over in Rosedale.’’

“Jamie, I want you to take the offices over in the City Center Mall.’’

“Sarah, my dear wife, please take all the residential buildings on the banks of the Don Valley Ravine.

The nurse is just blown away by all this, and as Doug slips away, she says, “Mrs. Smith, your husband must have been such a hard-working man to have accumulated all this property.’’

Sarah replies, “Property?... He had a paper route!’’

See, it closes with a little newspaper mix, too.

An all around story to close Bits for this week.

2016 space
612 Superior Street
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

612 Superior Street,
Antigo, WI 54409
Phone: 715-623-4191
Fax: 715-623-4193
Mail to: Fred Berner
MapOnUs Location: (local)

*Member WNA & NNA

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