I loved old-time, family-owned hardware stores. They had everything you could imagine in stock and it was crammed into the narrow aisles of the main floors, the upstairs, basements, plus the walls were crowded with “stuff” to the ceiling.
Such stores had what I call a “social patina” about them — a faint background smell of everything mixed together, dim lighting, creaky board floors and squeaky staircases. But give the owners enuf time and they could unearth the stuff you needed to buy — and they invariably did customer service with a friendly smile.
This story isn’t a true one about such a store, but it’s funny none-the-less. T’was a Saturday morning in the spring, back in the early 1950s, and the hardware store was packed with customers wanting everything from garden seed, to gasoline cans, to fence posts to mothballs.
One customer flagged down one of the owners and said he wanted to buy 10-cents worth of moth balls. The obliging owner smiled and said “wait a minute” and traipsed all the way upstairs, rummaged around amongst the boxes and drawers, and finally came down and handed the customer the mothballs.
Then he turned to the next customer and said, “How may I help you?” The customer said, “I need 10-cents worth of mothballs, too.”
The owner yelled so all the customers could hear, “Is there anyone else who needs 10-cents worth of mothballs since I’m gonna make another trip upstairs?”
He got no answer, so, the owner — this time without a grin — again traipsed up the stairs and got the customer the moth balls.
The he turned to the next customer and said, “How may I help you?”
The ornery customer replied with a big grin, “I need 5-cents worth of mothballs.”
The owner quit smiling for the rest of the morning.
My Iowa buddy, Pegan Ray, who overwinters in Apache Junction, Ariz., stopped by for a couple days of fishing on his way back to Iowa for the summer.
Even though it wuz chilly and windy, the first day we went to a nearby Flint Hills pond and caught a fish basket full of 30 bass and crappie. They made a wonderful mess of fillets for Pegan to take back to Iowa.
The next day was even colder and the wind switched to the east and went from brisk to just plain “peel your eyelids back” windy. We first went to a watershed that is a traditional hot spot. We fished for more than two hours and caught one small bass.
We noticed that the watershed was host to a big flock of pelicans and cormorants — both voracious fish eaters. We wondered if those fish gluttons had eaten all the fish or just scared them into the deep water? No way of knowing.
We then drove to another farm pond 25 miles away and the pond was full from an earlier rain that had some runoff and the water was perfect for fishing — except for the whitecaps pounding the shore.
But, it wuzn’t blowing beneath the surface because the bass were biting semi-regularly and we ended up with a dozen that provided a nice fish supper that evening.
On the way home, we were speculating on the effect fish-eating birds have on fish populations, when a little limerick about pelicans popped into my head. It wuz a rhyme that me dear ol’ dad, Czar E. Yield, used to say whenever he saw pelicans. Here’s the limerick:
A wonderful bird in the Pelican
Can hold more in his beak than his bellican.
Holds enough in his beak
To last him a week.
And, nobody knows how the hellican.
We finally got a nice “soaker” of a rain. For most of two days, it drizzled heavily and, according to the reading of my new electronic rain gauge, we totaled eighty-eight hundredths of an inch. Every drop soaked into my new garden planting, my chicken food plots and the newly-burned native grass. Nary a bit of runoff, which we need badly, but I sure didn’t complain.
Two days from now, my Missouri buddy, ol’ Canby Handy, and I will be in the midst of our two-day Old Boars’ Tour of Wabaunsee County on Gravel Roads. We don’t have much of an itinerary, so we’ll pretty much be freelancing — which is more fun anyway. I’m sure something will happen that warrants a discussion in next week’s column
I want to comment on something serious. A rancher friend in the county has lost 14 Angus cows from anaplasmosis, even though he regularly feeds the cows an anaplasmosis-preventative feed. Trouble is the label on the feed is legal, but deceptive, about the amount of antibiotic in the feed. Hence, my friend’s cows weren’t getting sufficient amount to prevent the disease. I want to make the point that the government and the feed companies need to get their act together and make sure the label on the feed is precise and accurate.
I’ll close for the week with these words of wisdom. Modern people are multi-talented. They can talk, annoy, and irritate those around them all at the same time.
Have a good ‘un.