Copyright 1994 M&I Contributors
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THE PARSONS MESSENGER AND INTELLIGENCER
28 March 1994 Parsons, Iowa, USA Volume 4 Number 1
**** Serving Nodaka County for nigh on to 3 and 3/16 years **** ——————————————————————————-
N E W S
DOG TO BE EXHUMED IN MURDER INVESTIGATION Marine Corps Reject Booked In Alleged Lethal Overdose
by Cynthia Marston Haggart, Parsons M&I Staff Gopher
Parsons, Iowa — The corpse of Bobo, a chihuahua belonging to the late Madeline Egert, is to be exhumed tomorrow in the Sheriff’s office continuing investigation into Egert’s suspicious death.
Josh Meadows, a 25-year-old survivalist recently discharged as unfit for service from the US Marines, is under investigation in the deaths of both Egert and the dog. He is free tonight on $25,000 bond from the Nodaka County Courthouse.
Lilian Butler, RN, hospice nurse from Our Lady of Infinite Plains Hospital, gave the Parsons M&I an exclusive interview on the circumstances of the deaths.
According to Butler, Meadows was a neighbor of the 98-year-old Egert, and was assisting her during treatment for a lengthy illness (pancreatic cancer). Egert was on the hospital’s hospice program and was expected to die.
As the nurse on duty on the night of March 20, Butler received a call from Meadows “in a frantic state,” reporting that Egert was having trouble breathing. Meadows requested that he be permitted to give the patient more morphine, and also requested that he be allowed to tape a small mirror under her nose to help him determine if she stopped breathing.
“I had to stifle a laugh,” Butler said. “I told him they only do that in bad movies.” Butler told Meadows she would make a home visit to see the patient, and that in the meantime he should not increase the dose of morphine.
However, a few minutes later Meadows paged Butler again, and reported that Egert had died. Butler went immediately to the Egert home on Portal Street, confirmed the death, and contacted the nearest relatives: Egert’s nephew Michael Barnes of 5th Street and his wife Gertrude.
“Gertrude came over immediately,” Butler continues. “She wanted to see the morphine records, and she asked about the dog, Bobo. That was when the kid [Meadows] told her that the dog had died the day before. She dragged me out to the front porch and told me he’d killed that dog so that he wouldn’t have to take care of it, and she’d drop dollars to donuts that he killed Madeline, too.”
First-degree murder charges were filed against Meadows soon after the reading of the will, when it was discovered that Meadows was the sole heir of Egert’s property and beneficiary of her $75,000 life insurance policy. Meadows stands to inherit the house, 120 acres in northern Nodaka County, and a 1948 Studebaker. The will also contained provisions bequeathing the vacant lot and a tangled rose garden next door to the Egert house to Bobo, and requiring Meadows to take care of the dog “for the rest of his natural life.”
When the reading was completed, Meadows immediately asked the attorney, Darcy Zieper, for legal assistance in procuring and stockpiling weapons to arm the house for the upcoming armageddon. Zieper has asked the M&I to note publicly that she has declined to represent Meadows.
Bail was posted by an unidentified individual wearing a black suit and mirrored sunglasses, using a check drawn from an Idaho bank in the name of the American Liberty, Blood and Fire Alliance.
According to Deputy Sheriff Earl Watkins, the dog Bobo is to be autopsied by the county medical examiner, and additional charges will be filed if any traces of morphine are found in the dog’s body.
Meadows, camping behind the Egert home and carrying a Chinese-made AK-47 rifle at his side, refused to make any comment on the case to the Parsons M&I.
BACK-TO-NATURE CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC UNDER INVESTIGATION
By Gregg Pruitt, Journalism Intern
Parsons, Iowa — Dr. Lacey Grandview’s Back-to-Nature Chiropractic Clinic is currently under investigation by both Federal Medicaid and several heath insurance providers for submission of false claims. Federal agents and representatives of Blue Cross/Blue Shield closed the clinic yesterday and seized all records.
Indictments are evidentially pending before Judge Madeline Quatremaine. Dr. Grandview could not be reached for comment, and was seen being cuffed by Deputy Sheriff Earl Watkins.
The investigation was triggered by reports from an unnamed source that Dr. Grandview was not a real licensed chiropractor. A private investigator, hired by the source, was able to uncover a string of aliases for Dr. Grandview in several states, and using these was able to trace her back to her roots in Bangor, ME. Dr. Grandview a/k/a Eva Larew has a degree in Physical Education and Kinesiology from the University of New Hampshire. She is wanted for similar crimes in Georgia, North Carolina, the District of Columbia and North Dakota.
Dr. Grandview has been practicing in for about 5 years and was considered a likeable and valuable asset to the community. Deputy Mayor, Lila Maud Perkins, was quoted as saying: “I trusted that woman with my spine and to think she could have just cracked it any old way and maimed me for life? Who would take care of my cats? I just don’t know what to say. Who can you trust these days anyways? And to think some people even defended her [Dr. Grandview] after the way she carried on with Tinita Allen’s husband. Sheesh!”
“BIG AS AN OLD BUICK, BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT ON TOP…” UFO Terrorizes Parsons Couple
By Gracie Orser-McBlount, special to the Parsons M&I
Parsons, Iowa — Early Thursday morning, retired farmer Ireland McFee and his wife Dottie were awakened by a commotion outside their small home in south Nodaka County.
“Well, I was just terrified,” said Dottie McFee, “Woke me right up…all that whooshing…lights…I’m still shaking!” Dottie woke her husband. He takes up the tale:
“Thought the old girl had flipped. I was really tired–been building a pen for them pigs my oldest boy Clare is getting in the spring. Anyway, she’s hollering for me to get up, and I do, thinking she’s lost her mind, don’t you know. When all of a sudden, I see this light. Right outside the window. Blue. Blue light, it was and real bright.”
Mr. McFee reported that the light seemed directly over his house. “It was steady, not blinking or anything, but I couldn’t see what it was on account of those damned awnings Dottie made me put up last year when it was so hot. Anyway, I headed for the back door, Dottie yelling for me to stay put, heaping disrespect on me for a fool, but I paid her no mind. Threw open the back door. Stupid dog damn near killed me. Scared? That old mutt is as mean as a bear in a bee-hive, but he was all over me trying to get into the house. I looked up, and there it was. Big as an old Buick, bright white light on top and blue on the bottom. It was humming. Not loud, deafening or anything, but just humming. The bushes under the kitchen window were moving a bit, and I could feel a warm breeze on my face, but nothing like what you’d expect from a helicopter like them fellows at the Air base were saying. I know a helicopter when I see one, and this thing was only twenty feet away.
“I was just looking at it. Didn’t have the sense to be afraid, I guess. Suddenly it whooshed up and across to the top of the pines at the old Gillivray property line. Them pines been there since I was a boy. Got trunks five feet around. But that thing shook them like they were last-year’s grass. What a ruckus. Then it was gone. Straight up until it looked like a star.
“Dot was still yelling. I went back in, told her to dry up and went back to bed. Didn’t hear anything about the firetrucks until the morning. End of story.”
It would have been the end of the story if several of the McFee’s neighbors had not called the Nodaka County volunteer fire brigade, thinking that the McFee house was on fire. When they arrived, a sleepy and annoyed Dottie McFee told them what had happened.
When questioned, Deputy Ederl Guest of the Iowa State Police would recount only that the CO at Ames Air Force Base denied any military craft were in the area. There have been “off the record” reports that, last Thursday, a large brightly lit craft was involved in a high speed chase with several police cruisers along Sightsbury Road to Severn Hill Creek. Deputy Guest was not forthcoming on these reports, saying he could not discuss cases currently under investigation.
Parsons Sheriff, Wilbur Thompson, would not comment on the whole matter, but was quoted as only saying, “Anything Ireland McFee said should be taken with a grain of salt and two aspirin. Hell, he smokes and leaves cigarettes on his easy chair. The fire department was out there four times last year.”*
*Editor’s note: Sheriff Thompson’s quote was taken from an overheard Police Scanner conversation and recorded by Gracie Orser-McBlount. Gracie recorded Sheriff Thompson on the radio discussing the situation with Deputy Earl Watkins, and will play it back if you ask her.
M&I EXPOSE EXCLUSIVE: TOP SECRET GOVERNMENT LAB LOCATED ON FARNEY PIG FARM
By Lara Staggemeir, Editorial Intern
It all started when Cynthia Marston Haggart (Junior Gopher and Assistant Junior Editor in Training) was given a copy of an invitation to a barbecue (to which she was not invited) by her sometime boyfriend, James Marston (who is purported to be her second cousin, three times removed on her mother’s side), who was invited (because he was dating John Farney’s pie-eyed sister, Celeste).
The text of the invitation from John Farney follows:
I regret having to tell you all that Daisy Mae, Lulubelle, and Black Joe have given their last snorts for their country. The Army is going to give them the Medal of Honor, posthumously, of course.
This means I won’t be putting Lulubelle in the county fair, and that ugly Nestor will win another ribbon, since the judges won’t have any real all-American pigs to give it to.
At the request of the Colonel W., services for the pigs will be on Saturday in a closed oven barbecue. You all are welcome to come out to the farm at #5, Rural Route 6. Go to the big willow, turn left, then turn right about a half-mile just before wetlands preserve, and then just follow your nose to the pig pens.
I hope this won’t stop any of you, but Colonel W. insists on a strip search before you get to the barn, and another one when you’re leaving. Sallie Johnson was out here last week, and she made those soldiers search her about five times, so it isn’t all bad.
The Colonel says we’re just too close now to take a chance on someone finding out about the project, but he still O.K.’ed the barbecue — so go figure.
And on a personal note: I wish you all would leave the Privates alone when they come into town to buy navy, lima, soy, castor, black, and pinto beans. They aren’t eating them, you know, we’re using them to see just how different mixes work in the pig belly afterburners, so to speak.
And we owe it all to Daisy Mae, Lulubelle, and Black Joe. Don’t you just want to put your hat on your heart and blubber at the pathos of it all? Those porkers going up, up, up into the sky on a flaming great pillar of gas, and exploding into glory all over the farm. I had the damnedest time finding enough parts for the barbecue, but there were three of them, after all, so it wasn’t too hard.
See you all on Saturday?
John Farney #5, Rural Route 6 Parsons’ Premier Pig Farm and Secret Government Research Laboratory
P.S.: And as I always say in Spring Gardening Season: “Bring your shovels, free manure for the shoveling!”
This reporter’s conclusions:
Imagine this reporter’s excitement at being provided with a copy of invitation, and at attending all the clandestine meetings with James Marston at various secret rendezvous points to spy on the Farneys with his high-powered Nikon binoculars! I have been able to confirm that not only is there a Top Secret U.S. Government Laboratory on the Farney Pig Farm (that new pole barn behind the tractor shed), but there are also five handsome young military men and an older gentleman, who greatly resembles the “deceased” Col. Brett Westland (U.S. Military Retired), Head of Westland’s Military Academy for Young Men, staying in the old chicken coop John Farney converted to a “guest barn” so he can put up all his wife’s voluminous and obnoxious relatives that come to visit him in the summer.
Following up on some more leads from various sources, I have been able to make the pieces of this seemingly odd puzzle fall into place. The first piece was a simple investigation into the career and past of Col. Westland: Col. Westland became important as a military advisor on alternative fuel sources during the Carter Administration (ca. 1977-1981) during the Energy Crisis and Oil Embargo.
His job as special military advisor to the Army took him into the less-traveled by-ways of American culture investigating the claims of people driving vans on goose droppings in Wisconsin, and other kinds of stuff that can be found in the annals or back issues of publications like _Mother Earth News_.
Col. Westland fell out of favor when the Embargo lifted, and when an experimental government laboratory near the White Down Goose Farm in Erie, PA went up in a fire ball. [The source for most of this information is simply _The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature_ and _Who’s Who in America_ for the years in question.]
Examination of the County Coroner’s report (part of the public record) on the “death” of Col. Westland also provided some interesting results: “Flesh seems kind of waxy. While preliminary examination shows blue extremities, and other external physical evidence that point to a death by hypothermia, only a complete autopsy will yield conclusive results.” However, a complete autopsy was never performed on Col. Westland at the request of his ex-wife, Beatrix, and son, Bertrand, because they claim to be Christian Scientists.
This reporter borrowed a Canon 35mm camera and telephoto lens from the Photography Dept. at Parsons Community College (thank you, Mr. Dwayne Chilton, Dept. Head) and took pictures of the older man staying in the “guest barn” at the Farney Pig Farm. After obtaining several good profile and head shots by staking out the latrine that serves as the toilet facility for the “guest barn” from behind a stand of raspberry bushes (nice touch there with the moon on the door, Mr. Farney, such quaint details only add to the “hick/hayseed mystique” we are trying to dispel), I took the photos to Col. Westland’s chief aide and acting replacement at Westland’s Military Academy for Young Men, Major Dearny O’Leary.
Upon seeing these photographs, Major O’Leary broke into tears and started exclaiming about the good old days when the Colonel was still head of the schools. (This reporter has had to refrain from recounting some of those details on the advice of the Parsons M&I legal counsel since they are pertinent and prejudicial to several legal suits brought by former students of the Academy for excessive corporal punishment.) When Major O’Leary was asked directly how sure he was that this was Colonel Westland, he replied: “I ought to know someone I worked with for nearly 15 years and served with in ‘Nam.”
This reporter’s conclusions: Col. Westland’s death was faked so he could resume an active military career, heading up a top secret military laboratory house for some unfathomable reason on the Farney Pig Farm. Given Col. Westland’s area of expertise and the deaths of Daisy Mae, Lulubelle, and Black Joe (that trio of two barrows and a gilt, who nearly dethroned Nestor as the best pig in Nodaka County), one can only conclude that Col. Westland had been called upon by the Clinton Administration and Energy Czar, V.P. Gore, to resume his investigations into alternate fuel sources for his country. This time, however, instead of concentrating on goose dung, the Colonel turned his talents toward Iowa’s pork industry and the induction of high-doped bean-laden foods to convert pig waste into high methane jet fuel for use by the experimental aircraft group at the air base in Ames.
The accident at the Farney’s can only be attributed to Col. Westland’s penchant for smoking big, black Havana cigars and for liking to do so while he works. This was the same reason given for the accident at the White Down Goose Farm in Erie, PA, and probably for the recent tragedy at involving Daisy Mae, Lulubelle, and Black Joe. One carelessly dropped cigar while the pigs were feeding and wallowing resulted in a tragic day when pigs seemed to have wings and literally flew through the air like plump, pink pigeons.
This reporter mourns the death of those noble swine along with the Farney family and Col. Westland, and promises not to reveal all the secrets she learned about the Farney family through those Nikon binoculars (unless drinks are bought for her free at the Tip-Top-Tap). Suffice it to say, Mrs. June Farney should wear clothes when she vacuums and waxes the floors and I never could make out that tattoo on her left buttock — though James Marston thinks it said “Woodstock ’69”).
*Assistant Editor’s note: The Obituary for Col. Brett Westland (U.S. Military Retired) was reported in the Parsons M&I, v2, n4 (December 13, 1991).
LOCAL COUPLE FORMS DEFENSE FUND FOR TONYA HARDING
By Dirk Butley, Journalism Intern, Parsons Community College
Parsons, IA — On Friday, Lavinia and Harvey Goode announced the formation of the Parsons chapter of the Tonya Harding Defense Society. “Tonya’s gotten a raw deal,” Lavinia declared, “and we want to show our support and collect signatures and money for her legal defense.”
Lavinia said she was convinced that Nancy Kerrigan was at the bottom of the story. “Look at this Stant character — what’s-his-face that hit her with the club. This man was trained in self defense and martial arts, and he didn’t even do any permanent damage. Nancy was plenty dramatic about it on the news, but she came out of the attack no worse for wear and went on to win a medal. Her career is much better off after the attack than it was before, and she knocked Tonya completely out of the running. I think Nancy was having an affair with Jeff Gillooly and together they framed Tonya.”
When it was pointed out that Harding has already plea bargained her way out of any further legal actions, Lavinia thought a bit, and said, “Well, then, that’s just more proof that she needs us. Her career as a skater is over, and we need to help her get through the lean times until she can decide what she’s gonna do with the rest of her life.”
“And besides,” added Harvey Goode, “she’s got a great set of hooters.”
The Goodes’ press conference ended abruptly at that point.
REVEREND FATHER RIVERS ISSUES COUPONS
Parsons, Iowa (Staff) — The Reverend Father Jordan Rivers, pastor of the Open Bible Fellowship, has announced the issuance of penance coupons. “I realize that in these hard economic times, people have fewer resources of all kinds, and they could use a discount,” the reverend said. “With all the other burdens they have to carry, perhaps only 10 Hail Marys might be sufficient to absolve a sin, rather than 15.” The coupons are available at the end of Sunday morning service or Wednesday evening prayer session.
Interested sinners can obtain a rate schedule from Brother Pastor Rivers.
The Open Bible Fellowship is open to all Christians and it borrows heavily from Unitarian and Catholic traditions to form a new synergism of religion, hope and guilt. The Open Bible fellowship meets on Wednesday from 5-9 PM in First Unitarian Church basement.
Parsons, Iowa (Staff) — The Parsons M&I issued a press release today formally apologizing for malicious, spiteful, and downright rude actions on the part of one of its reporters during a story about the distinguished Tinita (Bosely) Allen. To ease her suffering and mental anguish, a small donation has been made in her name to the general scholarship fund of Parsons Community College (go Possums!). When asked about the incident, Editor-in-Chief Gomer Gunthrie scowled and nodded his agreement. Sources on the M&I staff (hi Cynthia!) reported off the record that Mr. Gunthrie still can’t speak three consecutive words without flying off the handle and threatening poor helpless animals who through no fault of their own have no legal representation.
L E T T E R S
RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE AND RABBIT CALLING
Dear Editor Gunthrie and the People of Parsons,
Religious tolerance is the keystone which binds our great country together and that applies right down to the smallest town and hamlet. So I was shocked that this paper took no notice of the way Carl Devoner, formerly of Barker Street, was run out of town.
It is all well and good to say the paper’s policy is to toe the bottom line and keep its fingers out of religion; however, we all know it runs the church notices, free, in every issue and from time to time runs a religious tract disguised as a letter to the editor (Yes, I am referring to the Rev. Dr. Molloy’s “An urge of the spirit to cleanse the flesh,” just recently). So it seems like, whenever it is the usual hell fire and brimstone, there is a place for religion in these pages; but when poor Carl Devoner makes an innocent offer of salvation and forgiveness, and has his house stoned for it, then there is no standing up for religious tolerance.
Carl Devoner was a harmless man and deserved at least the same courtesy we normally give those Adventist ladies and the Mormon boys at our front door. In fact, Carl’s main notoriety didn’t have to do with religion at all but with his ability to attract rabbits. Everyone thinks of rabbits as pretty silent, not some geese or moose calling back and forth, but Carl could take you out on some hillside in the summer and stand out in a likely place, no one would hear a thing, but presently up would come the heads of these rabbits looking all one way, ears pointed toward Carl, and a few at the edge of the woods would begin to hop a ways toward him.
More people knew him from the rabbits than from the times he would take it in his head that he was God and let this out to a few friends and neighbors. Of course it wasn’t true. Also he put a simple sign in the front window of his house that said “Salvation!” Well, where is the harm in that? I suppose if his sign has said “Jesus Saves!” some would read it to mean calling sinners to atonement and that would have been alright, because I’ve seen a number of those signs around and those people didn’t get their house stoned. As far as such signs go, there was Mrs. B. Vogel who sold antiques from her front yard on the weekends when she suspected there might be some traffic and had this beautiful piece of pine about forty inches across and maybe fourteen wide and someone had inset pieces of colored glass in it spelling out “Jesus Saves!” Probably everyone in town has seen that sign. She told me no one ever objected except that one car that stopped and Mrs. Vogel had to explain that, no, it was the sign that was for sale.
And Carl dropped over to a few of his neighbors in the evening and made the mistake of offering them “the gift of immortality.” Does that call for violence? No it doesn’t. Why couldn’t they just say something like “Carl, do you realize what my bills would be like” and suggest he go on home to bed. Coming face to face with intolerance, the way Carl did, just stiffened his back. I blame what happened on intolerance or its opposite extreme.
The end came when Carl hired two boys to clear out all the trash from the half acre in back of his house and spoke of building a “grotto” there like ‘Little Bit of Heaven’ in Davenport. He had some notion that the Holy Spirit had ordered him to reveal himself to the multitudes and offer them peace of mind. “I must prepare a place,” is what he said.
In the weeks after he let this out, people broke all the windows in his house and finally they set fire to his tool shed and promised other mischief. Several people said children did it, but everyone knew better. The cry of “Good riddance to bad rubbish!” is not a Christian cry and neither is this paper’s silence. Carl Devoner, once you got to know him, was as harmless as Christ himself, and probably just as miserable. Who are we to judge? So, rest in peace, Carl!
Signed, Lyle Bridges
SELKIRK INN REPORT
Written on Official Stationery Selkirk’s Country Inn & Ammo US 20 and County Line Rd. Parsons, Iowa (ask at the Filling station if you get lost)
To the Editor:
A lot of you have been asking around about Wang.
I have to admit he’s been acting pretty peculiar for even, well, for Wang. Last week he re-arranged the dining area in some geometric pattern he said would still seat the same number of people. I didn’t quite get it, as there was one ammo box left over after the shuffling. Somehow, I felt that there was a mathematical certainty that 6 tables could not seat the same as 7 could.
But it quickly became apparent that this was in fact Wang’s goal, and he asked if he might do with the spare box as he may. I find with Wang, its easier to just watch and see. My guess was that he wanted a bit of decoration for his rather spartan room.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but Wang’s room, (which I only caught a glimpse of once during the fire drill we had last fall) contains only 4 items. A bed that is no more than 4 inches off the floor, a chest about the size of a camp stove, a silk smoking jacket, and a bamboo painting of Elvis. I can fathom no purpose for half these items, but I’m sure some of the things in my room are just as incomprehensible to him. It boggles the mind.
I really owe that boy a debt, not only for working long hours on minimum wage and tips, but for the extras he does, gratis. I can’t tell you the number of people he’s chased off with that broom of his. Everything from a few young bucks needing a lesson in quiet resistance, to those seemingly endless stream of investors and junk bond salesmen we had not too long ago. The movie crew gave him some cause to pause though, and I have seen him reviewing a script he has tucked in with the cookbooks in the kitchen. Something about a resurgence in martial arts movies. But I digress.
Truth is truth, and lies is lies, and as true as I’m no gander, the boy is good at heart, and loyal to a fault. So I pretty much give him free rein. Might as well, since he don’t ask me much of anything to start with. Like inviting that English bloke here for kite fighting. That’s no typo there, that’s Kite Fighting. This is, I suspect what Wang wanted with the ammo box, as he had to get the wood for struts someplace. Come to think of it, one of the wicker rocking chairs on the porch has more than the usual sag to it as well.
This English bloke, a tall, pale fellow with one eye looking all dazed and confused drove up in a black sedan and asked quite politely after a Mr. H. Wang. He didn’t seem to mind my staring at his bum eye, but still, I had the presence of mind not to ask about it. My guess is he got into a bit of a tangle when young and impetuous, as do so many of us Americans, who don’t have the sense God gave a rock when it comes to basics, like keeping our mouths shut or learning to duck before we actually need to use that skill.
There was a bang somewheres back of the house, and Wang came rushing up, still wearing his apron and fatigues. I can always tell the time of day by what Wang is wearing. This was his after-the-noon-rush and hurry-the-dinner outfit. He did some quick bowing and rushed the Britisher in without so much as proper introductions. I did catch the occasional “quaint” and “rustic” interjected by our guest, but soon they had moved through the Dining area and up the stairs back of the Ammo register to Wang’s room.
I let it go for the time being, certain as I was that Wang would collect the rent, if that’s what the man was here for. I did take the opportunity to inspect his car, which some whimsical advertiser in Great Britain had named “Bentley.” Maybe that works for them over there, here that would be like calling a Chevette a “Rustbucket”…some sales ploys are down right blatant anymore. But I digress.
There was a unlikely smell wafting its way out of the kitchen area, and I went to see if it needed salt or anything. As owner and proprietor its my duty to see to the myriad things that keep a business going. I found some sort of sweet potato dish churning away at slow boil. I called out for Wang, and got an answer from the back yard where he was using a rather wicked looking knife to remove the lining from his smoking jacket. The English fellow was looking on, and casually flexing a strip of wood against his palms.
The whole thing sort of had this Twilight Zone feel to it, so rather than make the left turn myself, I just poked things with a fork and turned down the heat, and went back to check the M&I for local sports scores.
When the 7 pm flock of diners started arriving, a crowd gathered about the Bentley, and some speculation on its owner passed back and forth. The upshot of that being, that we didn’t care who it really was, as long as he could drive on the proper side of the road, and pay for his meals in good old copperclad like the rest of us.
Finally Wang opened the doors and there was a general rush to get inside and take a peek at the newcomer. The sort of thing you only see when people try to jockey for the seats closest to the Ammo parlor, as to get first crack on hunting season.
The English Fellow was no where to be seen, and I had no occasion to ask after him during the hubbub that is dinner hour, or during the card game afterward. This will no doubt disappoint some of my clientele who count on me to keep them up to speed in the rumor mongering department.
The next morning however, I heard a car fire up, and since it was neither my landcruiser or Wang’s Nash rambler, I figured our guest was departing. I looked out the window and saw both Wang and the English fellow trying to negotiate something into the trunk. I watched them drive up the line and eventually the dust trail hit off road. I jumped into my boots, figuring it was an accident in the happening. When I got the landcruiser fired up and out the drive I saw that the Bentley had gone up the hill at Caldecott’s Bluff, taking a roundabout way there, mostly by following the cowpaths. Up at the top I could see Wang in his red coveralls, and the English fellow waving their arms about and pointing.
Ghodallmighty I thought to myself, the man’s an alien, recalling as you will, the attempt at signaling a mothership from that very site by Saier and his lot just the previous spring. Looking where they were pointing I saw two figures in mortal combat. One an oriental dragon with long multicolored tails, and another resembling Elvis.
Damnedest thing I ever saw. There was much laughing and pointing going on up on the bluff. I could make out Wang’s girlish titter, and the throaty laugh of the Britisher.
I watched for a while, drawing something akin to patriotism when Elvis beat the Dragon to ribbons in less than 20 minutes of aerial dogfighting, the like of which I haven’t seen since leaving the 442nd.
Not wishing to let my presence known, I turned about and had my usual plate of hominy and eggs half gone before the car pulled back in to the drive, pausing only to let Wang out and then heading back up County Line Road. I looked at Wang and saw the look of elation on his face, and didn’t have the heart to break his mood with questions. Later he asked if he might take a side trip on shopping day, as he needed to replace a few things in his room. Word is he bought a new smoking jacket, and an actual velvet painting of Elvis.
Well I’ve meandered downstream far enough for one trip. You all put the big pot in the little one, as mom used to say, and come round to Selkirk’s this weekend. Mind the last rocker on the left, it’s a might saggy these days.
RJ Selkirk Selkirk’s Country Inn & Ammo
IRATE FOOL MAKES PRESENCE OBVIOUS
To the Editor:
I address my letter “to the editor” out of form only, because that’s the way you’re supposed to open a letter to the newspaper, but I have no respect for the editor of this one, who obviously has no dignity or concern for the feelings of his readers and the moral well-being of the community.
It was an insult and a slap in the face to see those same perverted articles, TWO VIEWS and the PERSONALS, in the last issue of the M&I, after I made a complaint on behalf of law-abiding and morals-respecting members of this community. Not that I particularly wanted to see Mr. Gunthrie in jail, it was just meant as a warning. The M&I used to be a great newspaper. It could still be one if we cleaned out the dirt.
I mean, who the heck IS Am-tatem Hotep anyway? I looked up “spandex” in the dictionary and it bounced me around with “polyurethane” and “elastomers” and other words that all sound pretty weird and dirty, if you ask me. “Dr.” Phoebus and Madame East obviously didn’t grow up around here, and the people of Parsons don’t need any “advice” on how to do what comes naturally. We learn all we need to know from watching the barnyard animals go at it.
The people who are taking out personals ads can’t be natives of Nodaka County either. These people are obviously not typical Parsonites, and they should go fulfill their sick needs somewhere else, like California or Twin Peaks.
Since the editor refuses to take action, and my complaint has been tied up in court all these months, I am circulating a petition to have the offensive articles removed from the M&I. You can sign them at Lizzie’s Donut Emporium, Ashley’s Convenience Store, and other God-fearing and law-abiding businesses.
George Stonebrake Very Concerned Citizen
FORMER LOCAL RADIO REPORTER CHECKS IN
Dear Editor –
Right after the elections in ’92, I took a job with WXYZ in Detroit for nine months, and for the last nine months I’ve been at KCMO-TV in Kansas City, Missouri. I had to get out of Parsons, as my family situation was a bit strange (hi, Mom!) and the radio station in Parsons was just too weird. Bathsheba Potterhaus turned out to be a total loon, and WYNT wasn’t paying me near enough money to put up with that crazy lady!
Out here in Kansas City, I periodically see Mr. Bluford’s friend Dean Stringer, and I’m my own boss, assistant program director at KCMO, in charge of sports, special programming, and charity stuff our station does. I answer to one person, and she’s pretty sane compared to Ms. Potterhaus.
I miss covering politics back home, and most of the time I miss my mother, who was a rock of support when I needed her, but Parsons is just too small for the likes of an old Oxford scholar like me. So, glad to hear the M&I is back on track – I miss all you guys, and I don’t.
MISSING REFRIGERATOR MAGNET AT LIZZIE’S DONUT EMPORIUM
Dear Parsons M&I:
I am a waitress at Lizzie’s Donut Emporium. I am happy that your newspaper is coming out. We need something to line the cat box with. But I have to tell you it is causing me some difficulty at work.
One of my jobs is checking the paper napkin dispensers. I always put in plenty so that it is hard to get any out. But at least once a week someone refuses to wipe their hands on their pants and gets away with one of our napkins anyway.
That’s how it was. But since your paper is coming out, people in town are emptying the entire dispenser. They are asking for more napkins. When I ask why they need them, they say they are writing their fool memories or a cute saying or something. This means I have to get into the storeroom nearly every hour, and Lizzie almost always squeezes my leg when I go by her. I suppose I should thank you for that.
I also wanted to ask if you could bring back the refrigerator magnet that stuck to your secretary’s* hat yesterday when she bought a dozen double-chocolate fudge donuts filled with chocolate cream custard and topped with colored jimmies. I noticed it when she was standing outside eating the donuts, but could not get her to stop eating even though she was staring straight at me through the window. She just gobbled those donuts, then threw the empty bag in the street.
Thank you. Henrietta Alberston Lizzie’s Main Squeeze**
*Assistant Editor’s note: That was me in Lizzie’s, and I am not a mere secretary. Cynthia Marston Haggart, who is a gopher at the M&I, will drop off the magnet as soon as she is through replacing the silk cherries her porcine monstrosity, Nestor, ate off my Evan Picone Hat. I also did not litter in the street, a passing feed truck blew the bag out of my hand. Gomer only gave me 1/2 an hour for lunch that day so I had to eat fast. — Polly Prudhohn
**When questioned by Ms. Prudhohn about her relationship with Henrietta Alberston, Lizzie Alridge, Proprietress of Lizzie’s Donut Emporium, denied all such allegations of a relationship, and said: “Henrietta has a crush on me. I know it and I have never touched her in my life. It is a tight fit getting back to the store room, and she always goes by me when I am behind the counter and has to squeeze by to fit.”
NEW ARRIVAL ANTICIPATES BALLPARK ACTION
Since arriving in Parsons just three short months ago, I have been made to feel extremely welcome. The folks over at the feed store and the garage (can’t remember its name, but it was the one with the diesel pump) sent me their best wishes upon my arrival and were mighty considerate when I filled up my tank only to find that I had forgotten my wallet back home. I’m settled in now, just got my furniture from McCullough brothers just outside of town, and would be happy to entertain any visitors. I’m a bit lonely since leaving the Lark’s Nest section of Pleasanton, but I’ve noticed already the towns are not that different. People are just as friendly here as they are back home.
I noticed the old fountain on the corner of Hapsburg Street and Waylay Avenue is falling to pieces. I sort of consider renovating old monuments a hobby of mine and would be willing to give the Mighty Iowan figure a face-lift if the townspeople would like. As I said, it is a hobby, and I would not expect any payment other than the pride the citizens of Parsons would feel when they pass that fine work of marble and concrete.
By the way, when do the Parsons Schooners start spring training? I used to be the shortstop for the Pleasanton Larks and found the Schooners to be our toughest opponent. I would love to watch them play this summer, especially after hearing rumors that Doc (Louis) Harkin was returning as an assistant coach. His batters were the most fierce hitters in the division.
I would like to thank you, citizens of Parsons, for opening up your arms to me.
I plan on staying here a long time and I would love to get to know each and every one of you as soon as I can. See you at the ballpark!
Silas Morgansen Formerly of Pleasanton Currently renting the old Huebner house on Hapsburg Street
NOTES FROM THE HOME
To the editor and who all ever,
Say, did anyone hear who won the worm, slug, and snail races this week out here at the home? Do you know which of the old men said the races were lots more fun than watching Mrs. Bennett put her hand down Dr. Kerries’ pants? And which of the old women said watching grass grow was more exciting than anything in Dr. Kerries’ pants?
Who ate half the contestants in the race before anyone noticed?
Oh, that’s a secret, I can’t tell you that. Well, I hope no one is surprised. You should see where Mr. Bennett puts his hands when they’re cold! And what happens when he starts shaking is hard to believe…
Of course, it’s always hard to believe old men like us. Hardly anyone even listens to us anymore.
Say, it’s almost time again for those funny things Mrs. Greenlegs does with the kindergartners when she brings them out here. I suppose it’s funny, leastwise she always giggles when them boys disappear under that huge skirt of hers. Of course, we may be old, but we remember pretty good sometimes, and it ain’t really no surprise when she walks away and there are the boys again.
How about that wonderful thing Mrs. Meyer did last summer with her ballet students? “Swan Lake” in the swimming pool here at the home was a lot more authentic, didn’t you think? Too bad about those three students that never learned to swim, wasn’t it?
Well, that’s about all that’s happening out here. I’ve got to check, Dr. Andrews might need to be let out of the closet again, and I think yesterday’s snail race might be getting near the finish line today. This is the one yard dash, so it’s fast.
Someone ought to tell the youngsters in the red car that parks up on 3rd Street that you’re doing a great job. We watch you most nights through the telescope in Mr. Hallies’ room. You’re a lot more exciting than the wife-swappers on 2nd street, and better to look at than the sisters on 5th street. Just thought we’d congratulate you.
See you next time you’re out here, if I’m still around. If I’m not, you’ll probably see me, but I won’t look at you!
James Sandferry, 95 or 96 years old, and still coughing hard when the doc says to.
OLD FRIEND WRITES FROM BIG CITY
I used to live in Parsons, but moved away last fall. I live in Des Moines, married to a fellow named Tom Collins since last March, and expecting our first baby in June. I work part-time as a secretary for the local H & R Block office here, and Tom is a TV/mechanical stuff repairman for a local retail outfit here.
I miss, and don’t miss, the old home town. I don’t miss it because there was so little to do, and so few things a body could do in Parsons. Here, at least I have a job I can work at until pretty close to when the baby is due (21 June), and there are more people around to socialize with. But, I DO miss my friends from back home (hi Molly and Jack!), and wanted you all to know about the baby, which I MAY come to Parsons to have – as my mother would really like that and Tom doesn’t mind.
Thought you’d want to know,
Wanda (Haushofer) Collins
PS. I heard Mr. Bluford went to Russia! Was he there when they shot up the Parliament? W.C.
I met Jessie-Sue Anderson and Sally Fredericks out in the woods the other day, and that mouthy girl saw us with her pig. The pig squealed some, and she has been saying some things about us around town and in that trashy bar she and her friends spend so much time in that just are not true.
I thought I’d share the recipe we were working on with you. Maybe knowing that we were researching the natural foods and bounties of this old country like good Scouts will make her shut her trap.
For this recipe, you go out and turn over the leaves and mold under some trees. Now lay out a plastic sheet and a blanket on top of it. Next, you have to roll around on that, gently but firmly. We were doing that when that darn pig went trotting through.
Leave that overnight, and come back the next day. If you want to, you can stay there, warming the ground tenderly, although it’s good to have company if you try this because it can get quite cold out there, and you will need to check each other out frequently to make sure you don’t have frostbite or leaves in your hair or something ugly like that. I usually stay with my Scouts, just because I enjoy them nights in the clean air of Parsons and I want them to be safe. A night out with the girls can be very relaxing.
Anyway, the next morning, when the dew is on the grass and spiderwebs are putting jeweler’s work to shame, you turn back that blanket and plastic and grab fast, cause you should find a mess of nightcrawlers under there. Try to get the big, fat brown ones, not them little scrawny red ones. Brush the ants, termites, centipedes, and other bugs away, and put those worms in a can or pot. Be sure to put a lid on it, cause sometimes they’ll sneak away if you don’t.
You might have to spend more than one night out in the raw to make sure you get enough. Jessie-Sue said she got enough the first night, but Sally and I spent two nights out there, on account of she only had one short puny wrinkled white worm the first night. That second night, she got her a good long fat one, and we pounded it real good. She had a big old smile on her face when we were done, and she squealed some too, but it’s always a pleasure helping one of my Scouts learn about nature.
Anyway, you take those worms, and wash them good. Run them through a blender or meat grinder, then wash them again. Don’t matter how much you wash them, they usually have some grit left, but I think that’s good for your body, or maybe your soul.
What you’ve got left is almost pure meat. I like it in spaghetti or lasagna, but you can use it anywhere that other people use beef or chicken or kids or other meat. You can freeze it and keep it for Thanksgiving or Christmas, too. I often make it into sloppy joes for the church potlucks, and most of you have eaten it before.
So I hope this will explain why those ugly rumors are going around town about Jessie-Sue, Sally, and I. The other Scouts know the kind of fun, games and good times we’ve enjoyed together, so I can’t imagine why anyone would listen to that hog. Oughta wash that mouth out with soap if they keep talking like that.
I’ll leave you with the words of wisdom I learned from a french cook who was passing through town and stayed with me for a few nights. He said he was a gurmet, but he acted just like a regular American around me and the Scouts. He did show the girls some french ways to do things, but they liked those too.
Anyway, he said it ain’t so important what you eat, or even how you’re dressed or undressed. What’s important is what you call it, how you spice it up, and how it feels going into your mouth. One person’s garden pest with salt is another person’s estee cargo with butter, you know?
For some of you uncultured folks, estee cargo is french for fried oysters. You can have them raw, too, and they look just like common garden slugs when you eat them that way. Don’t taste as good as a garden slug, but sometimes you have to sacrifice for good taste, if you want to keep it up. And with all the Scouts to take care of, I always have to keep it up, of course.
Signed Herkimer Gerold-James, Girl Scout Leader, Troop 493 and a half
MINISTRY OF HEALING
To the Editor:
Okay, Father Herlihy gave me a look that bore a hole straight down my skull at Mass yesterday, so I collared James, Lara and Charles Lee and put the heat on them. Turns out all THREE of them spilled the chili beans in the confessional this week. So I figured I might as well go ahead and make my confession in print, and bypass the middle man, since I guess the whole town is going to find out about it anyway.
Yes, I’m the one who left the Sony mega-bass boombox and 14 choice CD’s in the entryway collection basket before dawn on Saturday morning. I also returned the two robes and the silver plate, which I washed thoroughly. And no, they weren’t the disco and metal CD’s I used to listen to when I was 12, like my cousin Charles Lee Wryock said to taunt me. They were my favorites, including my Gloria Estefan’s Greatest Hits album (I just adore “When I Close My Eyes”). I guess I don’t know what Our Lady of Infinite Plains Catholic Church is going to do with them, but I think the Lord will find some use. Maybe Sister Clarisse can have some music now while she is scrubbing the floor on her hands and knees.
Anyway, what happened was, you all know my darling prize-winning pet pig Nestor, right? He’s such a good boy! I adore him to pieces and I guess people make fun of me for that but I say: take love where you find it in this mean old world.
Last Monday I came home exhausted from a very long day at work at the M&I (we discovered mice in the morgue) and just collapsed on my bed and it was almost an hour before I realized that my little Nesty-boy was looking very lethargic. His eyes were dull and his breathing was slow, and he didn’t want to go for his usual evening walk. I looked around and found a dish on the back stoop that had this sloppy-joe-looking stuff in it, but it had a strange green tint to it, not unlike Prestone anti-freeze.
Well, I’ll think the Christian thing and suppose that somebody left that dish out for the field rats, but poor little Nesserino got very ill from it. All week he was not his usual self, and I was very upset at work (by the way, I’m really sorry I stomped on that cute kelly-green hat of yours, Polly). By Friday night, he wouldn’t get up at all, and his breathing seemed labored, so I frantically called up my cousin Charles Lee and asked him to come over in his pickup and carry us out to Goodhardt’s Veterinary Clinic on Route 6.
When we got there, though, nobody was home. Nestor gave me the most soulful look and I started to cry, so Charles Lee let my baby boy ride up front and we raced across town to the emergency room at Our Lady of Infinite Plains Hospital. Well, I want to tell you, they wouldn’t even let us through the big double doors there. That nurse who laughed at me: I just hope you never do anything newsworthy, lady, because I will tear you to shreds in print.
I sat outside on the curb, crying my little eyes out, and then suddenly Lara Staggemeir and James Marston came stumbling out of the hospital. I have to tell you, I started crying even louder seeing them together on an emergency room date, because I remember the time James took me in for a broken ankle. Lara got thoroughly loaded and fell off the curb in front of the Tip-Top-Tap, and she needed 10 stitches in her skull, but you have to admire that girl: she came out of that medical inferno with bandages across her face chanting “Party, party, party!”
James, obviously feeling no pain himself, took one look at Nestor and started screaming at the orderlies to get a gurney out here, stat! Charles Lee threw his hands up in the air, muttered “More animals to take care of,” and pushed us all into the back of his pickup. James and Lara started singing “Achy Breaky Heart,” and I started yelling that I was going to break Charles Lee’s Stratocaster over their heads if they didn’t shut up, and then suddenly James fell backward out of the truck, picked himself up off the street, and weaved drunkenly through the church door.
Lara and I pounded on the window for Charles Lee to stop, and we all followed James into the church to try to drag him out before he started in on the communion wine. I set Nestor down by the altar. I was sweating and I said to him, “Little guy, you’re getting too big to carry!” He looked up at me with a very sweet face, and he and I sat there resting in that big empty quiet cavernous cathedral, while Lara and Charles Lee searched for James.
Suddenly James came out from the back somewhere, wearing a white robe. I gasped but he just held up his hands and started chanting all these ominous nonsense syllables. Nestor looked up at him blankly, and then abruptly the organ roared thunderously to life, and Charles Lee began pounding out “Be Thou My Vision” with every stop yanked all the way out. Lara followed James out from the back, also wearing a white robe, but hers was on backwards, and she tripped on it, and so she just stayed there on her knees, head bowed and eyes closed and hands clasped.
“You crazy bunch of lunatics!” I hissed, and I tried to pick Nestor up to get out of there before the Lord struck us all down with lightning, but James laid both hands forcefully on Nestor and screamed out “HEAL! BE YE HEALED, YOU BEAUTIFUL BARNYARD ANIMAL! LET THE DEMONS BE CAST OUT OF YOU!”
Nestor, shocked at all the commotion, struggled to his feet, and he started making this “acking” noise. Lara, recognizing it from many instances of personal experience, quickly grabbed a silver plate and shoved it in front of the boy, and he…well…he finally got all the poison out.
Just at that moment we saw the flashing blue lights of Deputy Sheriff Watkins’ squad car outside, and we all scrambled for that one big stained glass window that opens out, the one that shows Jesus with a crown of thorns and a purple robe. James was carrying Nestor, and just outside that window he tripped and fell forward flat on his face, and to my utter amazement, the little Nesty-guy picked himself up and raced into the back of the truck! And all the way on that wild ride home, he licked me and jumped around just like his usual playful little self.
I don’t want to start talking miracles, but I prayed for a long time that night, and around dawn I cleaned up the robes and the plate and brought them down to the church, along with my gift of thanks.
And I started saying Hail Mary’s right away, and haven’t stopped yet, because I guess it’s going to take a long time to do the penance for this one.
Cynthia Marston Haggart
THE BLUFORD REPORT
It’s been a long time since I wrote, in fact I see from my files that it was only a couple of weeks after my friend Ida Mae Swenson died, now over a year and a half ago. I was pretty disconsolate about that death for several months, but in the spring of last year, I said “To Hell with it, I’m going to do something new.” When Ruth, my wife, was still alive, we always talked about travelling together, and hardly ever had time for it, what with raising kids, and me teaching and running Applegate Farm, plus the jam & jelly business.
So, I talked to Bill Blessing, my hired hand and good friend, and he felt a change of scene would be good for me. I was 66 going on 67, in fairly good health save for my rheumatism, had buried a wife and a lady I thought might end up being a second wife, and really felt a need to go away for awhile. Bill agreed to handle the jam and jelly business, even though he was 61, and having some health problems of his own – an aching leg from where he got shot in Vietnam, eyes starting to fade (he’s got tri-focals now!), and a tendency towards brittle bones (he’s broken an arm, a leg and a couple of toes in recent years). He bargained hard, I finally agreed to let him have 75% of the profits if I could just go off for awhile. He agreed to watch the place and stick pretty close to home, and I decided to travel for three months.
So, after much bureaucratic nonsense, I obtained a visa to go to Russia, and another to go to China, and a third to go to England/Scotland, where my forebears had come from. I left in June, a few days after my 67th birthday. Bill drove me to Des Moines, and I flew to New York from there, and then on to London, where I planned to spend 15 days. My travel agent had found me a driver, and at the end of the time in London, I planned to have this person drive me through the Midlands, so I could see the inspiration of the Lake poets, and then on to Edinburgh.
I arrived in London on 12 June, when England is at its loveliest. Of course, I did all the touristy things, going to Buckingham Palace, the Parliament building, the War Museum, Trafalger Square (where the youngsters there looked AWFULLY scruffy!), Westminster (I stood a long time at Winston Churchill’s memorial), then also to Soho, Coventry, Newcastle-on-Tyne (where my mother once had a penpal years ago), the Kew Garden (and the Palace too), Hampton Court, the Kensington Gardens, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, #10 Downing Street (though the Prime Minister was away), and an enormous number of other places. I took 15 rolls of pictures, and another 15 through the Midlands, where I just luxuriated in the wonderful rolling hills and trees everywhere, English countryside as I had always imagined it.
When I got to Edinburgh, it was 27 June, and I had planned to stay 15 days, but after 10, I got restless, though I truly enjoyed the Scots people, it stayed coldish and grey most of the time I was there. I watched the last game of the NBA finals on a small pub TV in central England, and that’s really the only time I connected to the US in England, Scotland and Ireland, where I spent five days just roaming the countryside, after looking at the wonderful buildings in Dublin for two days. My poor travel agent was going crazy with all these changes to my itinerary, but worked it all out.
So, I flew from Dublin back to that nasty old Heathrow (one of the security- conscious places I’ve ever been, even the Russians were more lax than they) in London, and then onto Moscow via Frankfurt, where we stopped for an hour, and that all I saw of was from the air coming in, as it was pretty dark. I arrived in Moscow in the early a.m. of 13 July, and was met by a person I had met via e-mail on the computer – the global village IS a reality! He had found me a family to live with, and saved me a lot of grief by meeting me, as the taxi drivers at Shermetyvo are real sharks!
The family I stayed with was fascinating, Nikolai and Olga, and their two daughters, Tatania and Ludmilla, aged 6 and 3. They have a flat in southeast Moscow, in “Khrushchobo” housing (crackerbox apartment buildings built in Khrushchev’s time). Their four rooms were VERY crowded with me there. But, they were very gracious, and I threw in money for food every week, plus gave them a gift of 50,000 rubles (about fifty dollars at the time) when I left for taking such good care of me, plus I bought a lot of treats like chocolate, Canadian ham, wines from Europe, stuff like that. Nikolai and Olga didn’t eat much meat – mostly potatoes, bread, cheese, eggs, tomatoes, and fish – but I spoiled them to death, typical “American tourist,” they teased me. They took me everywhere, both by car and the Metro, one of the best subways I’ve ever seen! The stations were often incredible, I made it a point to see almost all of them. The Metro made the London system seem dirty and unkempt in comparison.
Of course, I went to Red Square, the Kremlin, the Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Square, and the Pushkin Museum (wondrous place, I saw the Matisse exhibit there that had been in New York the year before), the CP headquarters, the White House, several embassies and museums, the Tolstoy house, the Sparrow Hills and MGU (one of the seven great Stalinist piles in Moscow – I saw four altogether), several monasteries, about twenty bookstores (I brought thirty books home from there) and many other things. I also went to Zagorsk outside of Moscow to the northeast with one of Nikolai’s business partners, Igor, and had a really great time. What a beautiful place! I took another 20 rolls of pictures, but only on a few occasions. Most of them time, I either went alone or with Nikolai, and just tried to see what I could see. My last night there, we went to a village 75 miles west of Moscow, where I got to meet Nikolai’s parents, Yuri and Zoya, and a place where no American had ever set foot before, “thirty kilometers from where the battle of Borodino was fought against Napoleon.”
Neither Zoya nor Yuri spoke English, but we drank profuse amounts of homemade vodka (the current vodka was the best), and stayed up most of the night after a big meal where no meat was served (I like the way Zoya fixed that cauliflower, and I don’t even like cauliflower!). No inside plumbing, no running water in the house (a community well was fifty yards from their gate), and they had only had electricity in the house since 1991. But, gracious folks, Yuri’s sister lives next door, a spry lady only a few years younger than I, a flirt and a giggler. It was great fun, I was most regretful I had to leave.
But, leave I did, on 12 August, and flew on to Beijing. Here I had no e-mail contacts, but I stayed with a young Professor of history at Beijing University named Wan Lin Shen, and he was most gracious and kind, taking me many places including the Great Wall, the “Forbidden City,” Tiananmen Square, and out to a country village near Wuzhong along the Yalu river for a few days. I also got to see Shanghai, a wondrous, and old, city with many fascinating places in it that had survived the scourges of the Red Guards, and the ’49 “revolution” before that. I also went to Nanjing, another old city. A fascinating country, too big for one old man to really digest, but people were invariably polite, and very helpful, and Wan knew lots of people. I met many of them, in private they were all too willing to discuss the shortcomings of the regime. I left 16 September, from Hong Kong, where I spent a day (unbelievably crowded place!) after flying there from Shanghai. From there I flew to Honolulu, where I spent an afternoon (the most costly place I visited while away, though London was expensive too), and then onto San Francisco (three hours there), Chicago, and Des Moines, six more days than I had planned to be away, on 17 September, just as the leaves were beginning to show the first color of fall. Bill drove me into the gates of Applegate Farm again, and I was SO relieved to be home among my beloved books again, with the ache over Ida Mae still alive, but considerably eased by all the strange and wonderful experienced I had.
Bill told me all about the flooding, I was surprised to see so little evidence of the damage, though he told me even Parsons had some of the water, but then all that had happened in July, and things had gotten back to normal when I arrived home. He said the berry crop had been a bit affected by all the rain, but that he had made $800 after paying two Parsons’ kids to help with the roadside stand (Tom Buehler and Cindy Watkins, he never said what happened to Wanda Haushofer who had worked for us the summer of ’92, all I know is she’s left town).
Fall of ’93 was uneventful, I spent some time working on a design project for a small town in northeastern Iowa, Decorah, for a small addition to the Luther College complex there, a science and technology building, the first like that I’d ever designed. Christmas was spent quietly. The birds are all still alive, Bill and I sit often in the aviary room and enjoy their many noises.
Now, as spring creeps across Iowa, all I want to do is read, and sit around, and look at the pictures I took in England, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, China, Hong Kong and Hawaii, and not fool with too many tasks. Because I was away last year, we did no horse mating last year, but my friend Dean may be along one of these days from Missouri with another foaling project this year. I really don’t need to do much, Bill does most of the work here, with the help of a young whipper-snapper with a smart mouth from over Obregon way named Tom Snipes, who comes twice a week to help with the horse and general maintenance.
I miss Ida Mae, and have met no interesting ladies I like, so I guess I’m settling into old age alone, though I sure do miss the company of a woman around the place. Bill cooks adequately, as do I, but it’s not the same without the lady’s touch on occasion.
I hope spring treats you all well, I’m glad to be home. Anytime anyone wants to see a lot of pictures of foreign places, and has a couple hours to spare, come on by Applegate Farm and see them!
With regards, George Bluford
F E A T U R E S
A WEEK OF BEAUTY IN PARSONS: Consumer Report Kora Jean Kresk (Ex-Cosmetologist) rates the “Day of Beauty Specials” at Five Local Salons
Kora Jean’s Rating System:
***** (5) Better than Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough **** (4) Better than a quickie at the Well-Earned Rest Motor Inn *** (3) Better than watching pecs on “Bay Watch” on Saturday Night ** (2) I’d rather go with Gigi to “For Animals Only” for a flea dip * (1) about as much fun as gopher trapping in my front yard
The Salons visited:
Head Games Salon: Proprietress, Judy O’Brien. Day of Beauty Special: Total Style: Wash, Cut, Blow Dry, Lava Mud Mask, Mineral Body Wrap, Leg and Bikini Wax, Manicure, Pedicure, Facial, Shiatsu Total Body Massage by Helga Nordstrum, Color Consultation, Cool Cucumber Slices for the eyes#. — $175.00 # This service is $1 extra when cucumbers are out of season.
All for One Unisex Salon: Proprietor, Ernesto Smith. Day of Beauty Special: Total Style: Wash, Cut, Blow Dry, Scalp Massage, Manicure, Pedicure, Nipple Piercing by Sven Thorson#, Meringue Facial, Total Body Hair Removal using Hot Wax by Lars Green. — $115.99 #Optional, included with package. May substitute another cartilaginous body part.
Burt’s Barber Shoppe: Proprietor, Burt Landry. Day of Beauty Special (only on Tuesday which is Ladies Day): Shampoo, Cut, Burt provides Big Turkish towels for you to dry it yourself, Witch Hazel/Hot Towel Facial, Nail Clip and Buff, Neck Rub By Lloyd Ferguson, and a Ben Gay Rub Down by Darrell Durrell. — $55.00
It’s YOU! Beauty Nook: Proprietress, Mary Bottini. Day of Beauty Special: Total Style: Wash, Cut, Blow Dry, Organic Hot Oil Treatment, Organic Facial, Mustache Bleach, Shiatsu Machine, Ceramic Tip Manicure and Pedicure#, Hot Mustard Body Wrap. — $95.00 # Only Salon in Parsons featuring Ceramic Tip Toe Nails.
Shear Luck: Proprietress, Ina Bumstead. Day of Beauty Special: Total Style: Wash, Cut, Blow Dry, Color Enhance Hair, Mustache Wax, Formaldehyde Facial#, Herbal Body Wrap, Full Body Steam and Sauna.–$85.00 # Advertised as “stopping wrinkles dead in their tracks.”
My objective for this article was to rate five of Parsons’ better salons (since there are only five, that made it pretty easy) to determine which offered the best deal for its “Day of Beauty” specials. This feature is sometimes known by other names such as “the works,” “make-over,” “re-deaux,” etc. in women’s magazines. My “Day of Beauty” was really a working week of beauty as I visited each of each of the salons and went through the beauty process five different times: Monday: It’s YOU!, Tuesday: Burt’s Barber Shoppe (since that was the only day Ladies service is available), Wednesday: Shear Luck, Thursday: Head Games, and Friday: All for One.
I started this exercise with hair down to my butt that I’ve been meaning to do something new to since my husband has been complaining he nearly smothers on it every night. This gave each one of the salons a chance to cut it, and style it. It also let me try out a number of looks on the husband to see if anything “tripped his trigger.” I was surprised at the number of different approaches and services available with such a small number of shops.
My comments are as follows:
Monday: It’s YOU!: Mary Bottini is a nice person, but all the organic stuff turned me off. The blender was going constantly churning up stuff to put on my face. I didn’t like the smell of some of it — reminded me of the pig house on Fridays before my husband mucks out the pens. Also I have no use for “Ceramic Tip Toe Nails.” My husband claims mine are already like razors since I don’t clip them enough, those “ceramic tips” would make hamburger out of his legs on cold nights. Mary does give a good cut and style, though the bee-hive was a bit too tall for my taste. She cut my hair to the middle of my back. The husband said I looked like a bar fly. Rating: **
Tuesday: Burt’s Barber Shoppe: Burt Landry should really stick to the men. If you’re the kind of woman who wants an adventure by crashing one of the last all-male hang-outs in town, then this may give you some jollies. Burt only does the ladies on Tuesday, because (and I quote): “The men complain they ain’t got no place to play checkers, and this is the one place they can get away from you gals.” As a concession to feminine sensibilities, Burt also takes down the auto parts calendars and Sports Illustrated Swim Suit calendars on this special day. The whole place smells like Vitalis and Witch Hazel. Burt gave me a good cut up nearly to my shoulders. Lloyd gives a very nice neck rub, but I skipped the Ben Gay rub down by Darrell Durrell because I didn’t like the way he stared at my butt when I walked in. The hot towels were nice though, and my husband doesn’t mind the smell of witch hazel. The husband said I looked like normal only my hair was shorter. Rating: * 1/2 (because I ain’t that fond of gopher trapping).
Wednesday: Shear Luck: Ina Bumstead is a good cosmetologist, but she talks too much — mainly about her kids. I got my hair layered and a spot perm to deal with my cowlick. The herbal body wrap was nice and smelled like green grass and Celestial Seasonings teas. I don’t have a mustache that needs to be bleached or wax, but I let them do it anyway. (Now the skin on my upper lip looks too white, though that could have something to do with the formaldehyde facial.) The steam and sauna were nice, and my pores were completely open when I left. My husband liked the new do, and said I smelled great until he got near my cheek. My advice to Ina: learn to listen more and drop the facial from your beauty regime — how about calling Eve Arden? Rating: ***
Thursday: Head Games: Judy O’Brien is probably the best cosmetologist in the area. I was treated like royalty. The shampoo girl brought me hot chocolate and cookies and my every whim seemed to be answered. The cool cucumber slices for the eyes were wonderful. The cut and style I got were amazing: They framed my face and made me look ten years younger. The mineral body wrap both moisturized and relaxed. Helga Nordstrum makes you want to die during the first five minutes of the massage, then she makes you think you have died and gone to heaven. This one costs the most, but it’s worth it. My husband liked my mood, my hair and the way I smelled. Rating: *****
Friday: All for One: Ernesto Smith give very professional service. I had them give me one of those trendy asymmetrical cuts with one side buzzed. This shop is fun and trendy. The boys are gorgeous to watch and I got a crick in my neck under the hair dryer every time Lars bent over, and Sven is such a tease he just breaks your heart. I decline to say if I took advantage of the nipple piercing or total hot wax that is part of the package. I came home looking too young, and smiling much too broadly for my husband’s taste. Rating: ****
CHANGES IN THIS YEAR’S MISS CORN CRIB CONTEST
By Henry Pickford-Tally CHIU Chairman, Organizer of the Miss Corn Crib Contest (Written under the considerable urging of his wife, Agnes Pickford-Tally)
After the fiasco at the Corn Detasseler’s Dance last year, the members of the Corn Huskers International Union (CHIU) refuse to judge another contest due to subsequent irregularities in domestic and other relations, tire tracks in certain front yards, and mail boxes exploded at 3 am with fire crackers (the prime suspects in this incident are somehow related to the Women’s Center at Parsons’ Community College).
As a result, this year CHIU is selecting a panel made up completely of the CHIU women’s auxiliary members to judge the contest. That’s right, the women (who claim to be more critical of each other than men ever are) are going to decide who is tops in Parsons in important CHIU activities like beauty, talent, and the “most ladylike hog calling.” It should be right entertaining to see who the all-female panel selects as the winner.
This year’s prizes are the Golden Husker’s trophy, a chance to go to CHIU husk-off in Oklahoma, and the traditional bikini and used pair of hog boots. The winner will be asked to model the bikini before her walk down the runway as a concession to the members of the CHIU who agreed (under duress) to change the judging rules this year.
TWO VIEWS Advice from Dr. Erica Phoebus, Ph.D., Psychology, Practicing Sex Therapist, and Ms. Faye East, retired Bordello Madam.
Dear Faye, this here little hick town’s got us a heap mount of trouble, and that’s trouble with a capital “T.” Miz Mize, who lord know she’s too old to be having romantic notions to begin with, she’s having marital type relations with the Devil. Now, I don’t mean *a* devil, Lord knows there’s aplenty of them around, but I mean *the* Devil. Sign me “Watching for the Signs.”
Dear Watching, often times those of us who are brought up with traditional Christian values tend to be more aware of the pitfalls and temptations of the weaknesses of the flesh than those of us raised in more liberal environments. If all of us are to live in harmony we must be willing to allow everyone to find his or her own comfort zones in morality without giving up our own values.
Perhaps it would be beneficial for you to examine your life to see if there are unresolved conflicts about your own morality or sexual identity. Often others reflect back to us issues we need to come to terms with ourselves. Also, please keep in mind that we have statistics to show that there is no age limit for sexual cessation. Perhaps you could be glad for your friend finding someone with whom she can share in intimacy. Dr. Phoebus
Dear Watching, you mean that sly, silver tongued devil is back! Hot Damn! Now, I need more information from you. Are you green-eyed jealous or just waiting for the fireworks to start? You sound like you get your kicks vicariously, which in this day and time might not be a bad way to go, considering all those nasty STD’s going ’round. And “yes” to ep’s last two sentences. By the way, ep, what do you mean butting in first? The letter was addressed to me. And while I’m on your case, which are you, the traditional or the liberal? You used “us” in both cases. Faye
Dear Ladies, I’m worried about the future of our business, which is rubber: a whole line of latex for anything that needs covering and our business is ballooning (a little yoke, pun on words you know!) Well, not exactly the business itself but, well, let me give you some background info.
On our honeymoon, I wasn’t sure how Alice, my new bride, would feel about Wendy. Wendy is my inflatable doll that Dad brought me back from that Chicago business trip — pure virgin rubber she is too. I was 18 and Dad sat me down and had one of those talks.
Well, you can imagine my relief when Alice introduced me to Jim, her blow-up boyfriend. Even more exciting, they both are from Chicago, her mother must have been on a business trip about the same time. Jim’s got a slow leak so Alice has to do a lot of blowing, but otherwise he works just fine.
Anyway, we’ve had a great marriage, and business is good. The problem is the children. Alice wants to sell them but I’m not sure how I feel about that. Jim and Wendy haven’t commented which I wish they would, after all, it should really be their decision. It just don’t seem right to sell family.
Sign me Perplexed Air-Head (Please don’t use my real name, but if anyone asks, we’ve got Rubbers This And That at 69 Lickher Circle).
Dear Perplexed, it is not usual to assign human qualities to inanimate objects, especially when we own them for some time. How many of us name our cars or cry when the washing machine breaks? However, it may become unhealthy when carried to the extreme, and you may be approaching the outer limits of imaginary playfulness. I suggest you send Jim and Wendy on an extended vacation and you and your wife spend some time exploring why you feel you need fantasy partners.
Perhaps you may find that you are able to satisfy each other’s special needs. Dr. Phoebus
Dear Perplexed my Aunt Fannie, listen Barking Mike, I recognized your handwriting from the mailing label from the last package I got from you. You know you can’t compete with that stuff made in Japan! Stick a hat pin in Wendy and Jim, and put Alice’s lung power to work while you get real! Faye
All questions concerning any areas of your life affected by the erogenous zones are welcome. Maps available, send $2.50, allow four to six weeks in coming.
UPCOMING TV AND VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS IN PARSONS
By Jason Fleece, Roving Entertainment Reporter and Proprietor of Preener’s Fast Food and Video Nook*
Channel 2 will have live coverage of the 1992 Olympics at selected times during the upcoming week. Some portions pre-recorded. Don’t miss it.
On the satellite channels – tonight at midnight, flip those tuners across the channels, and look at Lucille Ball on every channel. This is a rare and special event, when all the channels coincidentally scheduled simultaneous re-runs of that Queen of the Airwaves. Something for every taste. Don’t miss it.
Rumors of our own satellite cable T.V. company? A certain mysterious clerk at the bank (there are only 3 so guess you heart out) told this reporter over coffee at the Tip-Top-Tap that the one of the other bank clerks has seen Nestor (the porcine member of the Haggart family) eating a legal document from Time-Warner (over by Lizzie’s Donut Emporium) which was accidentally thrown away by one of our local celebrities. Gomer Gunthrie, just what the heck are you going to do with a cable station here? And if we get it, are you going to make sure we get the Do-It-Yourself Channel? I sure would like to see re-runs of “This Old House” to see what the flannel shirt of Norm Abrams of yore looked like. It could be a real chance to see vintage plaids of the past.
Again, I’d also like to remind you to drop by my drive-through oasis in Parsons’ central mecca. Without even getting out of your car, you can pick up a burger, shake, rental video, blank tapes for your Walkman, a cd or two to copy from, and whatever else you need to make your life complete. Plain paper bag or showoff clear plastic now available. (Yes, we have adult videos and all the Rambo movies)
New Specialties: Try Our New Dish – Adam’s Ribs on Toast. Single Weenies available for the ladies. And special gift tapes with Mickey Mouse Hits for the kids!
* Editor’s note: We are aware that Jason Fleece uses his column as a shameless plug for his business, but we need the filler. That is why he is a “roving reporter” and not paid for his submissions to the M&I.
PROPER DOG RAISING IN NODAKA COUNTY A new column by Maevus Hurcane, Trained Veterinary Assistant
I’m very proud to be doing this new column for the Parsons Dog Raising Society.
I was voted in for this duty because I’m a Trained Assistant at Simon Goodhardt’s Veterinary Clinic out on Route 6. We all know some members of the Society didn’t agree with me being appointed at the last meeting. Lila Maud Perkins went so far as to shove her fist right in the cherry cobbler! Well, Agnes Pickford-Tally told Lila Maud, “She’s farm folk, but her mama was the late Ms. Ida Swenson’s third cousin twice removed and that counts for something.” So put that in your pipe and smoke it!
Dog Tip: One of the things that’ll pester you this time of year are the darn ticks. Get some good tick soap at Parker’s Universal Feeds and wash your dogs. Even the ones that stay outside on the farm says that a good tick washing would save a lot of trouble for folks.
Good Dog: Candy Lou had this problem waitressing at the Tip-Top-Tap. Seems this certain customer thought it suited him fine to pat her behind when she served up his order. Turns out one day Candy Lou was out walking her mutt, Rufus, and ran into this certain customer on the street. Well, Rufus sidled right over and peed in his shoe! She told Rufus what a good dog he was and Chuckie got so mad he just stood there and sputtered. Needless to say, her behind didn’t get patted anymore. I told Simon that’s a pretty smart dog for a mutt.
Owners Advice: For those of you with dogs that bark in the back of your pick-up. The dog’s back there barking (at other dogs or the like) and you’re in the front of the pick-up trying to maneuver it while you drive. Well, your dog knows you can’t do anything so he’ll just keep on barking. You just get yourself a real long board and put it in the seat next to you when you get in the truck. Take a nice long look at that board, and then a good long stare at your dog. If he doesn’t get the picture, and starts barking while you’re driving, just get that board and nudge him in the butt. He’ll learn soon enough not to bark in the back of your pick-up.
THE BIKE IN THE SKY Local Boy Flies 70 Miles By Pedal Power
by Cynthia Marston Haggart, Parsons M&I Staff Gopher
Lying in his bed at Our Lady of Infinite Plains Hospital, both legs in elevated casts, one arm broken in seventeen places, bandages around his skull, Chris Barnessen smiles and says simply, “I flew.”
“Nothing else matters,” he says. “I flew a bicycle.”
Vice-presidents from Lockheed, Boeing, and Schwinn have come to visit Chris within the last week, to congratulate him on his accomplishment, and– incidentally–to try to convince him to sell the plans to his Aerobike. Chris just smiles at them, too. He’s not interested in selling the bike. He never made written plans for it. He never prepared or submitted a patent application. He invites the vice-presidents and the engineers to look over the wreckage, but they walk away puzzled from the tangled mass of metal, balsa, and plastic.
All Chris Barnessen did was build a bicycle. In his garage, in his senior year at Nodaka County High, Chris Barnessen built a flying bicycle, with retractable wings, and a pedal-powered propeller, that he successfully flew more than seventy miles before taking it into what was surely one of the most spectacular non-fatal wipe-outs in history, directly in front of the Tip-Top-Tap on Main Street.
Chris says the idea for a flying bicycle first came to his mind late last fall, on a Friday afternoon, when he was riding his Schwinn five-speed home from school and got distracted by a certain junior who happened to be wearing a short burgundy skirt and tight forest-green sweater that day. Chris steered the bike headlong into a ditch with about eight inches of standing water in it.
“Just before I got soaked,” he says, “I was sure wishing I had wings I could just pop out of that bike.”
He says that he didn’t think about it again until Sunday, when he was sitting in St. Stephen Lutheran church with his parents and, as he puts it, “almost asleep.” The Augsburg Bell choir was playing variations on the English folk tune Greensleeves, and with one jarring misplayed note, Chris sat bolt upright and saw clearly in his mind how the wings and propeller would be attached. He considered it a vision from God and stayed for the second service that morning to take extra communion.
Now the senior who had never even oiled his bicycle’s chain before began spending every spare moment in his parents’ garage. Chris’ father, Jack Barnessen, of Morningside Drive, says only that “he got an inspiration from heaven. Yes, I bought him the parts. But he put that Aerobike together himself. I don’t pretend to understand how it works. I’m damn proud of that boy.”
Chris and his father took the first prototype Aerobike out to the Seven Sisters dirt road in early February. They tied the handlebars to the back of Jack’s Ford pickup, and Jack towed his son along the road to get up speed. However, one wing failed to extend, and Chris sustained fairly serious cuts and bruises when the bike flipped sideways eighteen times.
“Yes, of course he was wearing a helmet,” his father says.
Patiently returning to the garage, Chris rebuilt the spring extenders and made a number of improvements to the propeller axles as well. For the second trial, he asked his father to come along, but said he would not need a tow. The two once again brought the bike to the top of the highest Seven Sisters hill, and Jack stood aside as Chris pedaled furiously down the slope. At the proper speed, Chris engaged the propeller and popped open the wings. The Aerobike rose, unsteadily at first–Jack was certain Chris was going to plow directly into the next hill–but then he caught an updraft and the bike soared off the road.
Jack Barnessen says “I took off my hat, jumped up and down, and cheered to the heavens!” Chris simply grins.
Chris didn’t bring the bike down. He flew, mostly at altitudes between fifteen and seventy feet by his estimate, around Parsons several times, then headed across the corn fields east of town. Several dozen witnesses called the M&I, the Deputy Sheriff, and the Air Force with excited reports.
At Sharon Center (six houses, a bar and a graveyard, 32 miles east of town), Chris gently wheeled the Aerobike around and turned back west. He says he wanted to see how high he could go, and he gained altitude steadily on the return trip.
Somewhere just above the Farney farm on Route 6, something happened. Chris is not too specific about it. He says there was a fireball directly in front of him, and a smell like pork chops. The evidence of a fire can be clearly seen in the wrecked propeller and wing struts. Chris says he knows what happened.
“I flew too close to the sun,” he says. His father looks askance at this statement, but says nothing.
Whatever the cause, the bike came down rapidly. Chris stayed with it and steered the bike, its wings now in flames, between the buildings on Main Street. He impacted the pavement directly in front of the Tip-Top-Tap, stunning the participants of an early-afternoon bachelor party sitting in the front window. The wreckage of the Aerobike continued skidding down Main, finally coming to a tangled stop in front of Lizzie’s Donut Emporium.
The bachelor party loaded Chris hurriedly into the back of a Dodge pickup, and he apparently sustained further injuries during the high-speed transport to Our Lady of Infinite Plains. Chris just smiles about the drunken rescue ride. “Nah, they’re good guys,” he says. “It’s no problem. They did the best they could.”
Gently but firmly, Chris insists he won’t rebuild the Aerobike. “Done that,” he says. He looks at me with a sparkle in his eyes and tells me he is trying to decide who to take to the Senior Prom.
Suddenly, Chris’ eyes close and his head bows. Alarmed, I ask his father if we should call the doctor. “Nah,” Jack Barnessen says.
“He’s just praying.”
Chris smiles, his eyes closed peacefully. “I flew,” he murmurs.
POLLY’S PERCH: VIEWING THE ARTS IN PARSONS
By Polly Prudhohn
A visit to the Northeast Iowa Regional Senior Art Show
I was very flattered when asked to be one of the judges for the Northeast Iowa Regional Senior Art Show held in Decorah, IA recently. The flier described it as featuring “the late blooming talents of Iowa’s best Senior artists.” I knew the artists would be Senior Citizens but I really thought the show would be juried prior to my involvement, this was just the first of many surprises.
It started when I walked into the exhibit space which turned out to be large empty pole barn-type building donated for the affair by local John Deere dealership (their latest shipment of combines wasn’t due in for another two weeks.) I was promptly greeted by Hildegaard Stiers, Arts Coordinator, who greeted me with a wet kiss on the cheek and a waft of “Evening in Paris” perfume. She promptly slapped a large adhesive badge in the shape of a huge pink pig with the words “OFFICIAL JUDGE” written in bad Italic. Hildegaard also insisted that I replace the clip I was wearing to hold my hair back with one her granddaughter had made out of shoelaces (in the colors of lime green, raspberry red and lemon yellow).
“Brittany worked so hard on it, and would just be crushed if you didn’t wear it. She got her fingers stuck together using the hot glue gun, got a couple of blisters and everything. Poor little thing!” Hildegaard said in one breath. “She does have a right good color sense, don’t you think?”
How could I refuse? I wore it. How could I crush the feelings of some young girl? I later met Hildegaard’s granddaughter, Brittany, who turned out to be a 23 yr. old unmarried mother of three. She is into Heavy Metal and wearing black t-shirts with animal skin print spandex bicycle pants, and claims that Axl Rose (of Guns and Roses) is the father of her latest kid (it happened on a tour bus in decadent Des Moines). She sells “hair jewelry” at swap meets, flea markets, craft fairs and carnivals, and continually pointed out to people attending the Art Show that I was wearing one of her creations.
These were just the first of many misrepresentations made to me about this show. As I began to look at the walls, I realized this was not a show featuring “the late blooming talents of Iowa’s best Senior artists” but a show featuring the work of every Senior Citizen who paints anything and lives in Northern, Central or even Western Iowa.
Everywhere my eye fell it was “treated” to paintings featuring clowns, dogs, barns, the family dog or cat, cows, and other kinds of domestic livestock: Some were on velvet, some were on poster board, some looked suspiciously like they had been done from paint-by-number kits, and still others had surely watched those painting shows on PBS where the artist paints from his mind and does a landscape in half-an-hour.
My head was reeling, and much to my dismay: I was the only “OFFICIAL JUDGE.” I had expected to be part of a panel, but all the other invited judges has declined the privilege that was now solely mine. No rules had been clearly outlined other than that four prizes were to be awarded for Best of Show ($200 for first, $100 for second, $75 for third, and $50 for fourth), but no other ground rules or categories had been established by the Show’s Coordinating Committee (a/k/a Hildegaard Stiers who was evidently a committee of one). Note to all: Hildegaard Stiers is trying to make a reputation (and eke out a living) as an organizer of cultural events in Northern Iowa, but her previous experiences has been with flea markets, swap meets, and church auxiliary bake sales.
I knew that general mayhem would result unless quick action was taken. I quickly amended Hildegaard’s rules to include honorable mentions in the following categories: Best Clown, Best Barn, Best Family Pet, Best Landscape, Best Farm Animal, Best Miscellaneous. I had Hildegaard dispatch Brittany to the local Ben Franklin Variety Store, where she brought materials to make special ribbons for these categories. (Thank god for hot glue guns! And I really do believe Brittany has some talent after seeing what she whipped up on such short notice!) All in all, I had fun, but I really had to work much harder than I should have. Hopefully, Hildgegaard will take the advice I gave her as well as consult me before she plans another of her “cultural events.” I mean, I don’t even charge for such consults, and nearly anyone is welcome to call me.
The results of the show are as follows:
The four Best of Show winners at the show really did deserve to win:
The first place winner Harley Fried (in his mid-80’s) is a well-known children’s illustrator. His painting, “First Shearing” showing young sheep being shorn was both well-observed and flawlessly executed. The pleading expressions on the sheep’s faces were at once humorous and poignant. Harley’s work has been published by all the big publishing houses and he is best known for his work in the children’s classic, _Not Me, Mom, He Did It!_
Elyssa Russo’s encaustic portrait of her grandmother knitting took second. Elyssa (in her early 70’s) has Parkinson’s Disease, but goes on working in spite of it. In “Portrait of My Grandmother Knitting,” the fuzzy, unsteady lines caused by Elyssa’s disability conveyed a character and vulnerability to the old woman knitting on the porch that a steadier hand might have marred. The thick medium of wax added a primitive textural quality that also made this work exceptional. Elyssa started painting as a result of some classes at the Senior Center in Decorah where she lives.
Third place winner, Marty McCool, resides in Parsons, IA. Marty’s dual portrait entitled “Cut It Out” was of his two granddaughters drenching each other with water in a plastic wading pool. His observation was funny and accurate in its depiction of childhood rivalry. Marty (in his early 60’s) is a painter to watch, his ability to accurately capture form, light and color is truly astonishing. This is all the more remarkable since Marty only started painting two years ago (after his retirement from the Marston feed mill in Parsons).
Samuel “Red” McKinnon’s painting, “The Take Down of Old Red,” took fourth. It showed the dismantling of an old, round barn on the McKinnon farm just south of Decorah. Samuel and his family have donated the barn to Living History Farms near Decorah because of its historical significance. Round barns evidently originate back East with the Quakers, who according to legend (and to Sam McKinnon), made them this way the Devil couldn’t catch you in a corner. His painting was nicely done, especially in its choice of color, and accurately depicted the complex inner structure of the barn.
Honorable Mentions were:
For Best Clown: “Happy Harry” by Marcy Detweiler, age 62, of Independence, IA
Best Barn: “Weathering to Grey” by Minne Tubner, age 93, of Ottumwa, IA
Best Family Pet: “My Poodle, Diane” by Dexter Wallace, age 77, of Oelwein, IA
Best Landscape: “Overflow on the Wapsipinicon” by Geraldine Krespi, age 61 1/2, of Decorah, IA
Best Farm Animal: “Pink Porker” by Hamlin Jenkins, age 83, of Waukon, IA
Best Miscellaneous: “Close-Up of My Nose Underneath” by Jerome Henley, DDS (retired), age 75, of Cedar Falls, IA
P A R S O N S P O E T S
WILD TRAIN a country shuffle
by Charles Lee Wryock
Ride the wild train stranger Dance those dice now roll Night full of thunder, heaven under Your shadow’s out of control We’re born in the world With love never where But I gambled the moon on a wild train That two hearts make a pair.
Wild train split the country It’s one big heart to break Wheels on a wire, engine’s on fire The dreamer sleeps when you wake We’re born in a game I hold one card I rambled the world on a wild train The man says all aboard.
Ride the wild train rosebud Wheels on ice now roll The devil’s an angel who made a choice Tomorrow’s out of control We’re born every day We live all alone We travel to work on a wild train A wild train brings us home.
by Crystal Lee Bailey Gabe’s, Iowa City
She’d like to kiss it all off tonight, the warm beer she’s only holding, the nearly same band with the same fuzzed reverb, cheap snare, bass guitar player’s pointed snake boots aimed into her breastbone, braided blue pony tail, the way he’s shaved up the sides, glimmer off his silver ear clips, mirror moon on the ceiling sinking its lure just under her belly skin, down about a quarter inch even as up top in the cool grey silk sheathed cells of the cerebellum she’s thinking, Old Hat. Last Call. It’s Been Done.
A D V E R T I S I N G
Congratulations to the Sextons for a charming baby boy! Alexander Sexton was born 2:35 AM March 1 in Pullman Memorial Hospital, 8 lbs, 3 ozs. 21 3/4″, natural childbirth.
SHARKS FOR RENT
Have you been in an accident of any kind at any time involving anything? Great! We at the law offices of
Beatrice Arracuda, Esq.
are eager to help you sue large corporations for truckloads of cash. I see no reason each of us can’t come out of this thing with at least a cabin cruiser. Remember: There are no legal fees unless you win! [Excludes filing fees, contempt of court fines, overhead, taxes, title, and destination charges where appropriate, industry standard overcharges, whatever I can skim off while you’re not looking, and other miscellaneous stuff I haven’t thought of yet.]
[Ed. note: The editors and staff of the Parsons M&I wish to disavow any relationship with Ms. Arracuda, former Chief Counsel of the M&I. We have no opinion, neither stated nor implied, about her morals, ethics, or lack of same. The editor’s alleged comments comparing certain unnamed attorneys to malignant slimy rodents and festering blood-sucking leeches was both taken out of context and never happened anyway.]
Ever dream of being a part of a major publication recently appearing in the Fortune 20000 list of newspapers, newsletters, and assorted bird cage liners? Want a great job at a great salary with a great future and great working conditions? Don’t we all? Are you willing to hang out at the M&I offices until such an opportunity comes along?
Then you may have the “right stuff” to make it in the exciting world of Newspaper Representation. The Parsons M&I has an opening in its legal department for a bright, ambitious individual that is ready, willing and eager to play in the big leagues. Call us today!
The Parsons M&I is an equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Cynthia Haggart is strongly encouraged not to apply again because even if she does own a law book and opens it occasionally she doesn’t have a degree and she isn’t getting the job and it doesn’t pay any more than you’re already getting anyway so JUST GIVE IT A REST, WILL YOU?
Contact: Gomer Gunthrie, Parsons M&I.
LOST CAT! $20. REWARD!
We will pay $20 for information leading to successful finding of our lost cat. She has been missing now for 10 days! She is medium gray (NOT black), long bushy tail, white underside, white nose and little white tips of paws, tiny tear on left ear. She is very very shy of people but likes other cats and may follow yours home. A color picture is in the window of the Bertch Pharmacy on Main.
***She is NOT the cat at the corner of Barker and Queen Ann. ***She is NOT any of the cats around Parsons Feed and Grain. ***She is NOT the (DARK grey) cat hanging around down on S. Newlenberg St.
Call 527-1359 and if we do not answer we are out looking. Think of the cold and THINK OF OUR CAT! Thank you.
If you see a stray cat about the neighborhood, call us first!!!
Friends, are you saved?
I wasn’t, but then I was sleeping it off in a pigsty just outside town when I saw the light. It was a visitation from a higher power.
So I have to tell you it’s time to repent! It’s time to start worshipping the pig in a poke, singing hymns to miss piggie, and while we can’t allow bacon for daily breakfast, in the New Church, sausage is a regular sacrament. Just think, when you count those ten little piggies on your feet, you are getting closer to them.
Check your meat drawer, and then come to the church that really understands you. It took me a week of writing to get down all those words that hog uttered in one soul shattering blast of foul air, but I couldn’t get close to anybody else anyway, and now the truth about pigs is revealed. I couldn’t believe it when he hit me with his holy rib, a bit rare, but tasty, and now you too can join the one true Church.
Ziggie Anderson, the Self-Announced High Priest of the New Church of Heavenly Fat, Dedicated to relived Pigs everywhere – we free you of this life, for the next – and then we eat you, too!
Special Rates available for bulk butcher shop purchases after every service.
Coming soon to a pigsty near you – at the toe of piglet, there’s mud. The only collected authorized version of the Word of Pig.
SWM, 23, Elvis Impersonator seeks King-loving, Priscilla Presley look alike (20-29) for romance and stage act. Let me show you what the King really meant when he sang “Love Me Tender.” Reply to: New King, c/o M&I, Box 33.
Totally deaf (but very attractive and slender) DWF, 31, seeks DWM or SWM 25-40 for serious relationship. Read lips well, and would appreciate someone who doesn’t yell when they talk to me. I can’t hear regardless how loud you talk, so give it up. Sign language a plus, good attitude and common sense worth more. Reply to: I-hear-in-other-ways, c/o M&I, Box 39.
Long Distance Trucker, Male, 33, inbred fat, ugly & hairy Southerner with a beer belly, squinty little eyes and a lot of cash seeks a woman who doesn’t give a damn. Has no delusions: I drink, chew and swear. Ain’t no Prince Charming, don’t need no Snow White. If you’re good-looking, great, if you ain’t, I don’t care — long as you put out. Reply to: Dixie Mack, c/o M&I, Box 22.
SWF, 21, Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian with wheat gluten allergy seeks same for romance and house-sharing. Must love cats, and be willing to go with me to the Wimmin’s music festival this summer in Wisconsin. Reply to: Wimmin Together, c/o M&I, Box 19.
SWFS (flying squirrel), 4-ish, seeks stupid moose to perform animated light comedy, including bad puns and slap-stick. Rabbit out of a hat tricks a plus. Must be too stupid to read this note. Reply to: Rocket J., c/o M&I, Box 12.
DRMRDPS2BWBDTAWF (divorced, re-married, re-divorced, planning-soon-to-be- widowed-but-don’t-tell-anybody white female), early 30s but a real babe, seeks ugly, stupid, low-life boozer for possible long term relationship. No ice skaters. Reply to: Tonya, c/o M&I, Box 78.
Totally Ordinary, SWM, 56, looking for Totally Ordinary DWF, WWF or SWF of any legal consenting age to have romantic relationship. I want someone “normal” the way that word was defined in 1954. No libbers, lesbians or other confused broads need answer this ad. Photo required along with birth certificate. Children a plus. Must not have visited any Scandinavian countries within the least five years: fool me once shame on you, fool me twice — shame on me. Reply to: I want June Cleaver, c/o M&I, Box 54.
DWM, 34, seeks WWF, DWF, or SWF, 29-35, for romantic relationship. I am allergic to and terrified of: cats, birds, dogs, snakes, all bovines and porcine animals — so no animal lovers or activists need reply. I prefer someone whose idea of a good time is playing Scrabble, sharing the making of a good meal, and snuggling in front of a good movie. Reply to: Snuggley Stan, c/o M&I, Box 15.
bi-SF, 19, swimmer and body builder seeks someone to glide and pump with. Send a photo. If I like the way you look, I’ll call. Reply to: Stroker, c/o M&I, Box 12.
S H E R I F F’S O F F I C E R E P O R T
by Earl Watkins Nodaka County Deputy Sheriff
7:38 p.m. Tuesday — I pulled over Maribelle Barnes on Old Comstock Road, she was doing something like 85 mph. When I asked her what she thought she was doing, she said the oil warning light come on, and she figured she better get home as quick as she could before the car blew up. I advised her to leave the car there and gave her a ride to her folks.
3:45 p.m. Wednesday — A group of concerned parents and their young ‘uns trooped over from Walt Kelly Elementary to complain about Jeannie Stremlock, the second grade teacher. They said they objected to her style of disciplining the youngsters. Apparently Jeannie pulls out a large pair of scissors, snips ’em at the head of the class, and says if people don’t stop talking Mr. Scissors is going to come and cut out their tongues. I advised them that this was a school disciplinary matter, and no matter what I might think about Jeannie’s behavior, no crime had been committed.
5:47 p.m. Wednesday — My suspicions were aroused when I noticed Verl Hives driving his pickup with a whole lot of political campaign signs that said “Gordon Hoveland for School Board” in the back. I knowed ol’ Verl was no great pal of Gordon’s, and I’d heard talk at Lizzie’s Donut Emporium that Verl was thinking about running next election though he ain’t declared. I followed him for several blocks and saw him removing the signs from yards and fences. Verl said he thought the signs was from the last time Gordon run unsuccessfully and Verl was just trying to beautify the neighborhood. I gave Gordon a call and he affirmed that he was running again and the signs were for the next campaign. I told Verl to put ’em back in place where he found ’em.
7:49 p.m. Friday — Acting on an anonymous tip, I investigated the possibility of there being obscene materials in use at the home of a certain couple who shall remain nameless. They allowed me to search the place without a warrant, and I ascertained that there were indeed video tapes with disgusting, perverted actions depicted on them. However, as the performers were in fact the inhabitants of the house, the filthy movies was obviously not purchased anywhere in town, nor did I see any sign that they intended to sell them. Much as you or I might disapprove of what they was doing, I couldn’t find any laws or statutes that prohibited them. Which just goes to show you where this society is headed.
P A R S O N S M & I C O N T R I B U T O R S v 4 , n 1
Cynthia Marston Haggart, Charles Lee Wryock, and editor for this issue of the Parsons M&I: John Bowers
Greg Pruitt, Lara Staggemeir, Kora Jean Kresk, Polly Prudhohn, and assistant editor for this issue of the Parsons M&I: Pam Marin-Kingsley
Gomer Gunthrie and Beatrice Arracuda: Kenneth A. Kousen
Gracie Orser-McBlount: Lynda Moulton
John Farney, Henrietta Alberston, James Sandferry, Herkimer Gerold-James, Henry and Agnes Pickford-Tally, Jason Fleece, and Ziggie Anderson: Mike Barker
Dirk Butley, George Stonebrake, Jordan Rivers, and Earl Watkins: David J. Loftus
Lyle Bridges and lost cat owner: Jim Coleman
RJ Selkirk: R. Allen Jervis
“Dub” Hunziger, Wanda (Haushofer) Collins, and George Bluford: Valentine M. Smith
Silas Morgansen: Mike Capsambellis
Dr. Erica Phoebus, Ph.D., and Faye East: Elizabeth Pape
Maevus Hurcane: Sam Bach
Crystal Lee Bailey: Beth Lee Simon
Birth announcement: Jerome Chan
“Personals” authors are, of course, anonymous
Very special thanks from the editors to Palmer Hall (Col. Brett Westland).
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