HUSAR: Remembering the insights of a longtime letter writer

Posted: Jun. 12, 2014 10:20 pm Updated: Sep. 5, 2014 9:15 am

I regret I never got to interview Tom B. Primm of Lewistown, Mo.

Mr. Primm was a prolific letter writer. Over the years, many of his observations about life appeared in The Quincy Herald-Whig. I loved his letters, and I often thought it would be fun to chat with Mr. Primm for a feature story.

Unfortunately, Mr. Primm died June 3 at age 92, so my opportunity is lost. Luckily, his letters live on. Here are a few snippets:

"In our backyard, there is a squirrel feeder with an ear of corn on it 6 feet or so above the ground. Fifteen feet away a cat is sitting on the ground with its eye on the feeder. A blue jay flies to the feeder, pecks one kernel of corn, looks at the cat, pecks a kernel of corn, looks at the cat, pecks another kernel of corn, looks at the cat -- and that is the reason it is a blue jay and not history. Even the blue jay knows the price of freedom is eternal vigilance." (February 2000)

"It is my opinion that every man should own a slide trombone...The slide trombone is a demanding instrument. It is not necessary to have the lungs of a killer whale to play one, but it is definitely a plus if you do....The notes are evasive. A cat may run across a piano and hit middle C, but that cat won't sound middle C on a slide trombone if it lives for 4,000 years." (September 1997)

"I once lived on our East Coast for almost a year...The 86th floor (of the Empire State Building) wasn't glassed in at that time. They must have done this later to keep the energetic from throwing stuff on the pedestrians below and the depressed from leaving without using the elevators or stairs." (April 1997)

"The mosquito is the most aggressive thing that flies. How anything so small can carry 50 cc's of itching, burning fluid and can penetrate whipcord, denim, heavy canvas and, some say, light sheet metal is truly one of the wonders of nature." (July 1996)

"There are many millions of men in this world who think a woman's place is in the home. If such an idea was carried out in the United States, and all the women stayed home, the country would collapse within a week." (March 1996)

"The number of people who own guitars and can play them is matched only by the number of people who own Bibles and have read them....I've owned a guitar for a dozen years and although I've never received any compliments on my playing, I have received several compliments on the way I carry it." (January 1996)

"For several years Wall Street has been dealing in moonbeams. They didn't know how to price moonbeams until one bright young Wall Streeter came up with a deal. He said what was needed was a formula. He said if you took the price of goat meat in the Middle East, plus the price of horseshoes in the Himalayas times 9.999 it would give you the going price of moonbeams. This worked well for while but moonbeams were evasive, elusive and easily lost. They soon found that lost moonbeams were as easily traded as real moonbeams since nobody could tell the difference." (November 2008)

"The worst thing about smoking is that it is fun. The best thing is that a man enjoying a pipe or cigar is not likely to be robbing a bank. Although smoking is dangerous, it's not as dangerous as driving...I would love to light up my pipe again, but I won't. At 85, I might set the house on fire." (April 2007)

"It is ice-fishing time again....The supplies needed are as follows: One plastic 5-gallon bucket, an axe or 6-inch ice auger, a pair of ice skates, a joint of 6-inch stovepipe and a tin cup. Cut or bore a hole in the ice, dip out the ice particles and save a cup of water. The skates are to use if the fishing gets slow. Place the 6-inch stovepipe over the hole and pour the cup of water around the pipe where it meets the ice. This will freeze the pipe in a rigid position...Sit on the bucket and diligently watch the top of the stovepipe. The moment a fish sticks his head out the top of the pipe -- turn the damper." (January 1995)

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