By Gramps Walden and Viv Walden
There is this nice thing about small towns – a sense of familiarity and ease among folks. When you have grown up together or lived for years on the same road you understand each other in a way city dwellers do not.
Dave Curtis and Jake Drew were life-long neighbors. They lived on farms on upper East Road which were seized by the government in 1939 via eminent domain for an airport. They subsequently moved down East Road a bit and remained neighbors.
Dave Curtis was many things. He was a bus driver, a photographer, a piano player, a dog owner, a bachelor, and a rock ribbed Republican. (That, says Gramps, is what they used to call us old people who refused to go along with all the stupid stuff that goes on today.)
Well, Dave Curtis had a rundown farm he worked and to make extra money he drove the school bus. First he used the horse and buggy. (That was before school buses picked up every kid even if they live ten feet from the school. Now you have kids with weak legs because they don’t walk anywhere. – Gramps again) Later Dave graduated to a car, an old unreliable Hudson.
As I said before, Jake Drew lived across the road from Dave Curtis. Jake, a married man with a few kids, was busy on his farm most days and did not have to take on odd jobs. Jake was as strong a Democrat as Dave was a Republican. In fact, he was a strong yellow dog Democrat. If a dog had run for president on the democrat slate, Jake would have voted for him, so they say. In those days there were just two Democrats in the whole town.
As you can imagine there was a fair bit of good-natured arguing between the rock ribbed Republican and the yellow dog Democrat. Dave Curtis (R) was always complaining to Jake Drew (D) about the democrats who were in charge in Washington. He had a peculiar way of sniffing when he was about to say something. ‘Well’, he would say,’ sniff sniff, Them dahn democrats don’t know what they are doing. They’ve been in charge for years and are doin’ this country no good.’ And then ‘Sniff sniff, Cranks, that’s what they are. Sniff sniff. Goshdahned cranks!’
One cold morning Dave Curtis was getting ready to pick up the neighborhood kids to take them to school and was having some difficulty in getting his Hudson started. This was in the days when a car could be started with a crank if nothing else worked. It was 20 below zero and the car wasn’t going to start without some help. Dave was not the most organized fellow and he couldn’t find his crank so he hobbled across the road to get one from his neighbor, Jake Drew.
He crossed the road and said, ‘Jake, sniff sniff sniff. Can’t get the dahn old Hudson started this morning. Do you have an old crank I can use?’
Jake, thinking to have a little fun, said to Dave,’ Why don’t you write down to Washington and get them to send up one of those cranks down there you are always complaining about?’
“Well, sniff sniff’, said Republican Dave, determined not to be outdone, ‘I would, sniff sniff but they are so dahn crooked I couldn’t use them.’