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September 15, 1977 Around Adair with Ed Waggener
This article first appeared in the September 15, 1977 issue of the Daily Statesman. Topics included Olin Loy's squirrel soup, memories of grocery store long-arms, Candidate Bert Janes, and the non-retirement of Buell Collins. --Pen
By Ed Waggener
Terrible things are happening in the varmint world. K.I. Riddle, a proper citizen of the fashionable College Park area, suffered 11 stings when he ran over a yellow jacket while mowing the yard. It hurt, he says, but no worse than the laughter which greeted when he fled into the kitchen to escape the critters. Instead of sympathy, his wife Maxine and son Steve doubled up at the mirth in the flight. "I guess," he told them, "that when they lay me out you two will pass by laughing."
Steve Riddle did help in the revenge, burning out the yellow jackets while K.I. stood a safe, but hollering distance, away.
It was no easier for Mr. McGowan
Mr. Riddle's plight was no more pitiful than that of Mr. James R. McGowan, a proper citizen of the fashionable (all Columbia neighborhoods are fashionable) Green Hills.
Mr. McGowan was respectably waiting in line at the First National Drive-in Bank when he felt a live creature crawling up his pants leg. He smote it with his hand before it reached his knee, but he felt a sharp sting, and felt the creature continue on its appointed rounds up one leg and down the other. When it ran out, McGowan caught sight of a baby field mouse. When he regained his composure, he hastened to the doctor's office, but reports are that the physician and his assistants had a hard time maintaining the solemnity the occasion deserved. To make matters worse, Mrs. McGowan received a letter from a "Robert Rodent" complimenting the tastiness of Mr. McGowan's leg.
A Democratic love-in
We are still waiting for the announcement of the Democratic Party love-in, at which all factional considerations are laid aside, and members of the party of Jefferson, Jackson, Truman, and Henry Morgan make up. Now, we understand, the feast has a hold-up. Friends kid Democratic sheriff Olin Loy that he is supposed to be out killing squirrels for squirrel soup to be served at the affair. Loy says that's no laughing matter. "I can remember when eating squirrel soup was a real meal," he says.
The grocery business is different now
Remember when you did business with the grocery which gave you the best credit? Things have really changed since then. Today's supermarkets have a much greater selection, but sometimes you miss the old oiled floors, the shelves piled to the ceiling, and the salt fish barrels. Sometimes you miss the loose candy, the milk in glass containers, the luncheon meat and cheese which had to be bought fresh-cut.
And the grocery store manager - he, or she, is different today. Then, he was not only the family's banker, he was a close economic adviser as well. When the account would get old, the grocer's frown stopped spendthrifts from getting a lot of popsicles, chewing gum, knick-knacks, or too much fresh meat instead of staying with beans. But when the account was paid up, times were good.
The creditor's face shown brighter, and often, after a particularly heavy bill was paid off, he rewarded you for your faithfulness with a round-steak or at least candies for the kids.
But if you were unfaithful to the grocer during the time the account was high - if you wandered off to buy from a "cash and carry" store, there was no reward, but a stern reminder to next time, pay cash with him rather than taking off the "good cash business" to a competitor.
The colors in the old store were different. Packaging went in more for Reds and Yellows, or Oranges and Blues, as in the case of the old RC Cola bottles, the Post Toastie boxes, and the old Wheaties containers.
The cereal was stored on the top shelves, some six feet or more from floor level. There were two ways to get them down. One was by main strength and awkwardness. You jumped up and tapped the bottom of the bottom box until the top box came plummeting down. Or you could call the grocer and he would get his "long arm", a device made specifically for such a purpose, and get the box down in an orderly manner.
I haven't seen a long arm for 15 or 20 years. They say they don't make them anymore.
Now there was a campaigner
Bert Janes of Metcalfe County was a phenomenal candidate. They say that the reason he was such a good campaigner was that he was one of the first people to ask the wife in the family for her vote. Other candidates still followed the old tradition of pulling up in the drive of the farm home, blowing the horn, and having the man of the house come out and plot politics, an exercise from which womenfolk and children were, by convention, not allowed to take part in, in those days.
They say he was a good thinker on his feet, too. Once he was out campaigning in a remote area of Metcalfe County. He knocked at the door and held out a card which said, "Vote for BERT JANES for Jailer of Metcalfe County." The woman obviously couldn't read.
She said "I'm sorry, mister, but you are wasting your time. The only candidate we're going to vote for is Uncle Bert Janes."
Janes snatched the card from her hand, the story goes and said "Well, if you want to go vote for the old fool, just go ahead." And he left.
He got the vote, and probably with less humiliation of the woman than if he had explained who he was.
Janes was an uncle of Mrs. Bill Dunbar of Tutt Street, Columbia.
Twenty years in: but he can't retire
Buell Collins is working on his 20th year as a school bus driver in the Adair County School system. in many professions, that's enough to retire. And some would call driving a school bus hazardous duty. Collins drives Bus Number 12, and he'll likely keep on driving it after he completes this year. "It's a big job looking after the kids," he says.
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