Rain Tomorrow, Candy Day Today

Well, here ’tis Halloween; the first coolish morning since April made us leave the doors open to welcome the fresh breezes; the foliage is beginning to look a bit wilted; some of my friends spent their weekend putting up deer stands: so fall must be here.

Yep, it’s the first weekend of October as I write. And until the Roman Senate got involved October was the eighth month, and Halloween was New Years Eve. Which is why it is “All Hallows Eve,” Halloween, and the saints were supposed to be honored on the first day of the year, but that’s another story. Of course, ever since Roman times every political body called a “senate” has felt duty bound to prove it could mess up a one car funeral.

Anyhoo, it’s crisp outside and I hope it will soon be at least seasonally cool. The record bustin’ September cold up north gives me hope for first frost and the end of hurricane season. And those with a thirst will have an excuse for hot mulled rum, Tom Collins’s, and such like alcoholic gut warmers.

Speaking of which, did you ever hear the story about the rich guy who gave his butler a bottle of whiskey? After a couple of days the rich guy asked the butler how he liked the gift.

“Well, it was just about right, Sir,” says the Butler.

“Just about right? What do you mean, just about right. Explain yourself!,” says the rich man.

“I only mean that had it been any better you would have consumed it yourself, and had it been any worse I could not have, Sir,” says the Butler.

That whiskey’s like the books people keep giving me. Not good books, and not bad books either. Just books. If they had been any better they would have kept them themselves! And, like the butler in the joke I’m not complaining – I’m reading!

For example, did you know that it is illegal to jump over bridges in Providence, Rhode Island. You reckon Superman was there? Maine law bans biting your landlord. Even she looks good enough to.

Now, look at this! It is illegal to sell gunpowder as a cure for headache in Trout Creek, Utah. I wonder why not? I am sure it would be as effective as some of the nostrums peddled for the purpose, and even more effective for a combination of toothache and sinus problems. Just pack the afflicted cavity and touch it off. That would get to the root of the problem.
Well, West Virginia makes making sauerkraut a penal offence. Considering how making the stuff smells, I can sympathize with that. It takes six weeks of fermentation to make the real thing. Stinking to high heaven all the while.

I will have to admit I do like an old fashioned Coney Island style hot dog with a spicy all meat wiener, slathered in mustard and wrapped up in kraut. That’s how a hot dog is supposed to be.

Mentioning islands makes me think of fishing. And the time a customer of mine who teaches Sunday School said one of the boys in his class came in late. Dean asked him why he was late.

“Mr. Novak,” says the boy, “I was going fishing but my Dad stopped me.”

“Well,” says Dean, “I am glad your father is bringing you up right. He’s teaching you not to violate the Sabbath, even for the pleasure of going fishing. Did your Father explain why?”

“Yes, Mr. Novak, he sure did. He explained to me that there wasn’t enough bait but for one, so one of us would have to stay home. And that one was me.”

Speakin’ of fishin’ and preachin’ in the same breath reminds me of the weekend ‘Ol Hardman and Jack Bell went down to that new place on the Red River, Lake Texoma, and came back with about twice as many black bass as they could justify keeping. So ‘Ol took about half his fish over to Brother Cook’s house.

Mrs. Cook was glad to see them, but ‘Ol Hardman had a little confession to make before he left. “Brother Cook, before I leave here let me tell you that we didn’t get to fish none on Saturday so all these fish were caught on Sunday.”

“Mr. Hardman, I sure thank you for thinking of us. Now, my first thought about these Sunday caught fish is to give them back to you. But my second thought tells me that the Lord knows and you know and I know… these fish were not to blame.”

I don’t think I have said too much about Mrs. Cook in past issues of Zero Beat. She was a little short lady, pear shaped, built on a dumpling pattern, if you know what I mean. Like a lot of us, she was living beyond her seams. She hated four letter words, and the one she hated most was diet.

She had great faith in Brother Cook. One time Brother Cook brought home some pictures from a retreat he took, and Mrs Cook dutifully stuck the film in a mailer and sent them off to Kodak.
Those were in the days before the Supreme Court busted Kodak’s monopoly on developing color pictures.

Anyhow, a couple of surprising, downright startling, slides showed up and got run through the projector to the family and a bunch of guests. You could say they embarrassed everybody there, although several of the men present would have liked a closer look. Most wives would have flew off the handle more’n some, but Mrs. Cook sent the offending slides back to Rochester with a note saying that someone might be looking for their pictures but they sure didn’t belong to an Oklahoma Baptist preacher.

Anyhow, when Mrs. Cook – if I remember right her front name was Elaine but I am not sure – first moved to town she taught Sunday School. One day she asked the class if they knew where boys and girls go who neck and spoon?

“Yes’m, Miz Cook,” Lizzie Cooter spoke up. “Down behind the depot on that vacant lot on Railroad Street.”

Mrs. Cook was from back east somewhere, around McAlister, I think. Mrs. Cook’s youngest sister Tina was between jobs for a week, so she came to visit. And you would never have though those two women had the same mama by looking at them.

Where the preachers wife was a scant five foot tall, the sister was well over six foot. Big Peters and a few of the other men in town could look her in the eye but none of the women could.

Her name was Tina, Tina Small, and her name was like Robin Hood’s Little John. The name
she wore sure didn’t fit her. Not none! For one thing, Tina believed in that old saying, “never eat more than you can lift.”

First thing you noticed about her was size. If sizes ran small, medium, and large, that woman would have rated like the label on the whisky jug. XXXXX! She outweighed a hay wagon, and she went high, wide, and handsome.

The next thing you noticed was her tongue. Mrs. Cook was the quiet type but Tina’s clatterbone hinged in the middle and flapped on both ends, for sure. That gal could talk a mile a minute in English and Mex both, at the same time. And sing, wheeeyew, she had a voice.

She had a voice that put Kate Smith in the shade. She didn’t need a PA system, not none. That gal would get wound up in the Boardman Hymnbook and shake the church walls, for sure. Plumb drown out the choir!

Tina was a grabber, and a man didn’t want to get too close, because she had a bad habit of getting tickled by anything a man said to her and grabbing said man and hugging him. I heard that was about like getting wrapped in feather pillows and being hugged by a grizzly bear! You didn’t get bruised but you sure needed a big shot of oxygen when she let you go!

Actually, she was on the lookout for a name change. They say there is someone for everyone, and she suited Collie Talbot right down to the ground she shook every step she took. You talk about love at first sight!

Tina arrived on the Thursday morning before Easter, Mrs. Cook took her to her regular Thursday dinner at the Jackpot, Collie saw Tina, and Cupid must have been hiding behind one of the cigarette signs because I never saw anybody fall that hard that fast.

Good Friday morning Collie showed up at the parsonage and put about a bushel of spring flowers into Tina’s hand. Made her sneeze so hard she ‘most blew the porch off the parsonage, she did.

Now, Collie was sort of a spectacle of nature himself. If he had slimmed down he would have made a good three hundred pound tackle, but a couple of hundred pounds of extra lard slowed his footwork too much. You can’t tackle ’em if you can’t catch ’em.

Besides, Collie was about the most good natured fellow I believe I ever knew. I saw Collie mad once, when LeRoy LaRue stopped him for speeding on his Servicycle, and I saw him mad once when a threshing hand emptied a five gallon can of grease over his head.

Collie wiped the grease off of his head and out of his eyes and uttered the most comprehensive curse I ever heard.

“I hope you get all your teeth knocked out but one, and I hope you get the most gawdawful toothache a man ever suffered in that one.” Ugh! What a thought!

Thinking about him, I believe Collie was the first hippie I ever knew. Collie was bound to have known how he looked on that motorized bicycle of his, with his polo shirt and overalls flapping, and his bare feet waving in the breeze. He didn’t care!

Until Miss Tina showed up in town – all neat and starched in nurses whites, with her big round face and pink cheeks, and a laugh that scared crows out of a cornfield a quarter mile away.

When Collie showed up at the parsonage he was dressed to kill, for Collie. A clean polo shirt, fresh shined Wellington boots, and the first time I had ever seen Collie in jeans. He looked pretty good, comparatively speaking. And he was driving his Dad’s one ton truck instead of that Servicycle, too! It listed to the left a bunch but Collie drove it!

Mrs. Cook called Tina out on the porch, and after the sneezing stopped Tina started talking. I have no idea what she talked about, but Collie never said a word. He must have liked what he heard, though, ’cause he was back at breakfast the next morning.

Now, think about this a minute. Between them they weighed at least 900 pounds. There was a porch swing, and it did well with two or three normal size folks, but it wouldn’t have begun to hold up either Collie or Miss Tina.

So you could count on Collie and Tina holding the concrete porch steps down every day from 8 in the Ayem to 9 at night, ‘cept a couple of short breaks while they took nourishment.

Now, you couldn’t hear what Collie said, but you could hear what Miss Tina said two blocks away without listening. It wasn’t hard to fill in the blanks. I was at Quint’s, getting one of my perpetual flats fixed when the really big event occurred.

The second day Collie roosted on the parsonage steps he proposed to change Miss Tina Small to Mrs. Tina Talbot. We heard Miss Tina give him a reality check, prontito! She started with about six or eight words in the Espanol that made Pedro Espinoza grin, and finished the thought in Anglo.

“Collie,” she says, “what would we live on? You know we would only have my salary, and I
don’t make enough for both of us.”

We didn’t hear Collie but we heard Miss Tina clear enough.

“You’re right about something turning up, and when it does turn up how in the world would we ever feed it?”

Well, Miss Tina stayed in town a week, and she got further than the Church that one time Mrs. Cook took her to the Jackpot. She went to Amarillo, and Collie mailed her a letter every day.

If he didn’t get a letter he’d get two the next day, so we figured Collie and Tina were still a thing. The second Saturday after Tina left the bus came to town listing to one side. It straightened right up when Miss Tina got off, though.

Collie met her driving a ’38 Hupmobile he’d swapped his Servicycle off for, and carries her to the parsonage. That Hupp was about the worst overloaded passenger car I ever saw. The frame was settin’ on the axles on all four corners.

Tina and Collie spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning on the steps and in Church, and after Services Brother Cook drove her to Elk City to catch her bus. This got to be a regular thing, every other weekend. Brother Cook even let Collie take Miss Tina to the bus a time or two that summer, though that wasn’t quite decent.

Now, love is like whiskey. It affects people in different ways, and it’s hard to figure before hand how anybody will act under the influence. Plowing a mule and farming a quarter section didn’t seem half as attractive to Collie as it had been, though.

So Collie sends off for a whole self help encyclopedia and sets out to learn all he had missed in school. When Collie wasn’t working or sparking he was memorizing those books. And instead of doing the farm work, he started working two and sometimes three jobs, too.

He worked those jobs like a man fighting fire. BT, before Tina, Collie would load a half a load of hay and take a long rest. So people who needed work done would go out of their way to avoid Collie. That summer he started loading a truck as fast as he could and when that truck was loaded he’d call for another one. And get aggravated if there wasn’t another truck to load!

At the same time, Collie seemed to lose his appetite, instead of chomping down six or eight at a setting, he’d only eat one of Beatrice’s hamburgers and one slice of cherry pie down at the Stockyard Cafe. And he would do it on the run, too!

By Labor Day Collie had lost well over a hundred pounds. He looked almost like Charles Atlas and talked almost like a well educated person. Folks that had work to do started looking Collie up, ‘stead of sliding around the corner to keep from lying about not having any work to do.

The day work Collie liked best was still carpentering, though. He said if wood butcherin’ was good enough for Jesus it was sure good enough for a Talbot. He was good at it, and he was fast at it, and folks started paying him to put up barns and such.

Labor Day weekend Collie disappeared and Tina stopped coming. You didn’t ask no nosy questions, not if you wanted folks to speak to you, and the Cooks and Talbots didn’t volunteer information, so the Collie question stood unanswered.

About a year after I left that part of the world I met Collie and Tina walking down the street in Bartlesville pushing a baby carriage. They didn’t weigh an ounce over five and a half between them, either. They were plumb skinny and looking mighty content.

I reckon they were making it right well, but Tina had her clatterbone running, so I couldn’t make out what Collie was saying. I think he said he was a construction foreman for Phillips 66, but I will never be sure. He looked mighty satisfied, though.

Now, speaking of the toothache, I heard about a fellow who had a first class pain in the bicuspid, or maybe t’was a molar.

Anyhow, he’s going down the street holding his jaw, when he meets a fellow he knows. “Howdy, Joe. Whattinells wrong with you? Ya look like you’re setting’ on nails,” says his friend.

“Aw, it’s this darned tooth of mine. It’s about to stand me on end, and Doc Pennington’s gone fishing. I don’t know whether I’ll even get it looked at today or not,” says Joe.

“Well, looky here, man! Whenever I get a toothache I go home and tell my wife. She hugs me and kisses me, and pretty soon I forget all about the tooth. Why don’t you try it?”

“Man, I sure enough thank you for the suggestion,” says Joe. “Where you live, anyhow?”

And that reminds me of the time Doc Pennington, the local Doc Yankem, put an ad in the Times. All it said was:

DR. PENNINGTON EXTRACTS TEETH WITH THE GREATEST PAINS.

Man, alive! That’s enough to give you cold robbies thinking about it!

When it came to Doc Pennington, the Times sure needed a proofreader. One time they run a birth announcement that went like this:

“To Doctor and Mrs Pennington, a sin. 6 lbs 4 oz.”

That was a heavy one. At least, that wasn’t like the story my grandfather brought over from Scotland. ‘T seems this couple had been trying and trying to have a baby, and one bitterly cold January day they succeeded.

So Moirag, the wife, wants a birth announcement in the paper – so all her friends would know the long wait was over. So Donald walks twenty miles through the snowdrifts to the paper and puts in a birth announcement. Then he walks the twenty miles home through the snowdrifts. When he gets to his “wee hoose and his wee bairn” Moirag wants to know if he put the announcement in the paper.

“Aye,” says Donald.

“What did it say?” asks Moirag.

“To Moirag and Donald McPherson, a son.”

“Hoo mooch did it cost?” inquires Moirag.

“Fifty pound!” says Donald.

Fifty pound, how come it cost so much?”

“The girrl at the paper asked me how many insairrtions, so I told her twice a week for twelve year!”

Anyhow – the local hospitals have been busy lately. In fact, they put one woman who couldn’t stay on her diet in the maternity ward. I know because one of the women in the office said they were out in the hospital to see a friend and her new baby.

This little girl, maybe ten years old, was running up and down the hall. One of visitors asked the girl what she was doing there. “Oh, I’m just here to see my grandma,” says the girl.

“Just here to see your grandmother? What in the world is your grandmother doing in the maternity ward?”

“She’s been cheating again,” says the girl.

That got everyones attention, until it got explained, for sure.

I mentioned up that I am of Scots descent. They say that Scots are extremely frugal. Now, I know a man, Bill Blackburn, who had a rare blood type and had to have three pints of blood. The only person available with his blood type was a Scotsman, just off the boat.

Bill was so grateful that he gave $100 for the first pint of blood, and $50 for the second pint. By the time he got the third pint he had so much Scots blood that he just thanked the Scot.

Well, it is time to get ready for the treat or trickers.

Stranger

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