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Archive for April, 2012

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Bacon and the Crayfish

Submitted by Michael Elliott Leander John Bacon:

A tale from the poor side of town.

My family lived for years in  a tiny house in the west end of Pawnee City.  It was not a neighborhood which one would describe as desirable.  I don’t know if it was on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, but it was beside the tracks.

It was close to Turkey Creek.  Turkey Creek flooded every year, in the Spring.  As it did field mice, snakes and other moving things would surround the house seeking refuge.  The floods rarely lasted very long, a few days at most. But it was impressive to watch the torrents when it did.  Such awesome and rageful power!  And it would take days more for  waters to receed into the banks.

One year, when the water’s return to the creek itself was complete, I walked over to watch it as it still surged.  I did not notice until I turned to go home that I was completely surrounded by crayfish.  Hundreds of crayfish.  Abandoned on the land by the risen water.  There were little crayfish and large crayfish, all sizes and ages, left there  wriggling, bereft of hope.  Yet their eyes seemed trained on me , right there in their midst.  I knew they would come and get me in their despair.

I panicked.  The hair stood up on my head and shivers went up and down my spine.  I began to kill them with rocks. After a carnage, with many casualties, the perpetrator of which was me, I managed to escape.

Back that house I felt like I had done something unforgivable, by my own hand. I still feel that as I write this.  Mom said that if I had picked them up, she would have cooked them.

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Submitted by Michael Eliott Leander John Bacon:

It may not be wise, even at this date, to admit to crimes which we committed.  There is a pity in that, but…there is one legend to which people still living can attest or say is bunk:

The High School in Pawnee City was credited for years as being academically of very high quality.  Credit was given to its Superintendent, Wesley R. Bratt.  Equally important was the music program of Arthur Schrepl.  These two were contemporaries and worked at the school over the same decades.

One graduating class, the which I do not know, after graduation ceremonies, grabbed Mr. Bratt and held him out of the second floor window by his feet.I never believed this story.  I can’t imagine it. 

Mr. Bratt exuded an awesome aura.  When he entered a boisterous study hall or classroom, it went quiet.  His presence was sufficient.  He was also willing to help and individual student with studies, math especially. He was respected at a level rare at that time and this.

Mrs. Bratt taught English.  She was equally highly respected. I never had her, and in retrospect wish I had.  I needed a corrective to my lifelong commitment to silliness.

Others have honored the Bratts.  In fact I think there is a foundation established in the name of Mr. Bratt.  Barry Kennedy may have had a part in that.Even in our bedimmed state, we knew we had something special in teachers such as these. 

Allia Gauli in partes tes divisa est.  Would someone fix that? (huh?)

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Submitted by Bill Snyder:

The Star Cafe was a family friendly place and dad was determined to keep it that way. Because it was a common meeting place for people of all ages there were times when some felt the need to act out in unacceptable ways.  A kid we called Splash was sitting in one of the back booth and had become very mouthy. Now Splash earned his name from by making huge canon balls at the swimming pool due to his large size. Dad went back to the booth and told Splash to tone it down because he was bothering the other customers.  Splash tried to blow dad off with an inappropriate smart remark. Dad reached over and grabbed this large kid and lifted him up to expose a large bottom. This was apparently an opportunity for dad to apply the belt of wisdom to the seat of misunderstanding. Splash yelped “You better not hit me or I will tell my mom!”  Dad replied “Sonny, your momma can’t help you now.”

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My You Have a Pretty Face

Submitted by Bill Snyder:

During the late 50’s the Star Cafe had a tall counter at the front of the cafe with four high bar stools. Pawnee City was home to the quintessential “dirty old man,” Al Curry.  Every evening before leaving the cafe Al would make the rounds wagging his index finger and in a loud squeaky voice he would say: “Hi.” One evening a young lady was sitting on one of the high stools in jeans so tight that they most likely required both brothers and her sister’s help when dressing. Not only were her jeans tight but she was sitting with her legs splayed for full affect.  Al making his rounds and with his usual greeting came upon the young lady.  With his eyes focused below the belt he uttered instead of the usual greeting: “My you have a pretty face.”

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Always Ahead of Irishmen

Submitted by Bill Snyder:

The Star Cafe was a popular place to stop by for coffee in the afternoon. In the late 50’s and early 60’s Pawnee City still had an active business community with very few empty store fronts which meant that on any afternoon you would find business owners, farmers, and even teachers stopping by for coffee and pie. The owner of the cafe was Morris Snyder who possessed a real sense of right and wrong.

One of the regulars for coffee was Jay O’Tool, an unpleasant man who shared the racist attitude of that time. An occasional customer was the basketball coach at Lewiston, a former Husker basket ball player and one of the county’s few Afro-American whose name was Willie Fitzpatrick.  One late afternoon with O’Tool sitting in the back of the cafe, Mr. Fitzpatrick and a friend came in for a cup of coffee and sat in the front of the cafe. Morris, my dad, went up to take their order only to hear O’Tool shout out “Hey Snyder, when did you start serving niggers?” Dad didn’t miss a beat and shot back “I told you O’Tool, everyone is served ahead of Irishmen.”

Epilog.  Dad barred O’Tool from the cafe but Mr. Fitzpatrick would still drop in for a cup of coffee when he was in town.

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Submitted by Michael Elliott Leander John Bacon:

Do you watch Pubic Television?

Last night it presented a profile of Margaret Mitchell, you know, authoress of “Gone with the Wind.”

Interesting, but it made no mention of her relationship with Alan Edee.

A few years back, a book was published, called, “Dynamo Going to Waste, The Correspondence between Margaret Mitchell and Alan Edee”.

I have a copy.  It concerned letters back and forth 1919 to 1921.  They met when he was in Amherst and she at Smith.  They were close.  He went on to live in New York for a couple of years and returned to PC, the magnificent, in 1922 to take over the store.  The correspondence had ceased by then.

I know the producers of the TV show know of them because they used the quote which is the title of the Edee book from one of her letters to Alan.

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