10 May, 2009
ABOUT ROOSTING CHICKENS AND A PERVAYOR OF BRUTAL FRANKNESS
It is incredible how the more I talk to people from my home town of Dresden who respond to Wrights Lane, the more names from the distant past tend to surface and memories of funny little personal stories come flooding back.
I wrote not long ago about Gary Fraser who now resides in sunny California. Gary got a kick out of my Memories of Dresden story about Dave McCracken, a town character back in the 1940s and 50s. It seems that when Gary's family moved to Dresden, they purchased a home that was previously owned by the McCrackens who had moved just across the street. Dave sometimes helped Gary's father, Harry, with chores around a horse barn on the property.
As Gary tells it, Dave was invited in to the Fraser home one day to see some of the renovations that had been made to his old family home. Once inside, Dave took a look around and exclaimed, "Yep, still looks pretty much the same!" Then pointing up the freshly painted staircase, he added: "The chickens used to roost up there."
Gary said he thought his mother was going to have a fit.
More recently a long-forgotten name came up in conversation with another resident of Dresden and it reminded me of a couple of incidents that impacted my young life at the time. George Rupert was a couple of years older than me and it seemed as though his mission in life was to be brutally frank with me.
With a very serious face and eyes that penetrated right through me, George would make great pronouncements. One day a bunch of us had gathered in a lot beside my friend Joe Carr's home. The conversation turned to baseball and George took it upon himself to tell me in no uncertain terms that Hubert McCorckle was a better pitcher than me. He added insult to injury by stating further that the only reason I made the town's bantam baseball team that summer was because my dad was the coach.
Sometimes comments like that can have a motivational influence. I don't know, but I've never forgotten the incident. The tone of George's voice and the earnest expression on his face, are as fresh in my mind as yesterday. Who knows, maybe George's evaluation was right! I honestly do not think that he was intentionally trying to be hurtful, he was simply giving me the benefit of his honest opinion.
Another time, shortly after my barber father had passed away, I had my hair cut for the first time by his barbering associate, Jim Ford. Poor old Jim was so upset and nervous when I climbed into his barber's chair that he gave me the worst hair cut of my life. In fact, he literally scalped me.
The next evening as I was riding my bike to a softball game at Jackson's Park, there was George again approaching me with that look in his eye. "Sally Wilmott used to like you, but now with your hair all cut off she says she likes Curly Clark better!" he announced, almost without breaking stride and leaving me speechless with a churning stomach.
I wore a cap for a few days after that. It took the better part of a month for my hair to grow back and for Sally to "like me" again. But I didn't hear anything more about it from George. I guess he wasn't in the good news business as far as I was concerned.