Monthly Archives: August 2012

Storytime – The Man in the Bowler Hat

haberdasher       bowler      key

The Man in the Bowler Hat

Chicago Typewriter

Hattie May watched out the window as her husband trudged away down the street, leaning into the frigid February wind.  It was snowing sideways, whirling and eddying into doorways.  John May was trying to get in some extra work to help them pay the rent, but it was going to be a close thing.  This was definitely not the time of year to get evicted, she was thinking.  She watched him as he rounded the corner, hair blowing, clutching his thin coat tightly about himself to hold out the wind.

She sighed, then went back to the cranky old stove to try to coax some more heat from the few remaining cinders and clinkers.  That was another worrisome expense, but if the coal ran out maybe they could find some crates to break up.  Fruit crates were best, when you could find them.  Right now, they were close to being out of anything to feed the stove.  She heard the baby coughing again in the other room.  She feared what might happen if the cough worsened; how could they pay the doctor?

John finally made it to the old warehouse and fought the wind to get inside.  Someone inside gave the door a tug to help him.  He smiled gratefully, then said, “What a day to be out.  I’d rather wait to do this job, but Acey said Mr. Moran was counting on having this truck running today, so here I am, freezing my wrenches off! Now, if I can get that ignition switch replaced, maybe things will go smoothly and I can get out of here.”

Hattie sat at the kitchen table, holding and trying to soothe the sick little boy.  He was resting a little better now, maybe he’d go back to sleep.  She smiled to herself, thinking of better days.  Was it only a year ago she’d gotten married?  And, what a fine man she found in John May, gentle and loving.  And, he had a trade, a mechanic, no less.

She had seen a bowler hat in the window of the haberdasher shop down the street, she’d love to get it for him so he wouldn’t have to go out bareheaded in this bitterly cold Chicago weather.  She wondered how she might get the 75 cents to pay for it.  This was 1929, and times were hard.

Back at the warehouse, John finished cutting the new key, and was under the truck to check the ignition wires.  He didn’t pay too much attention to the commotion at the door; none of his business.

Suddenly there was shouting, “All you men, get over against that wall!  Get that guy from under that truck, get him over here!”  The policemen were carrying rifles or maybe shotguns, waving them around.  Someone was pulling on his legs, so he came out to see what was happening.  They hustled him over to join the other men who were lined up facing the wall, hands in the air.  He heard the ominous sounds of cocking guns.


  Hattie was standing there, looking down into the shallow grave.  Snow was falling faster now and was starting to collect on the bowler hat she had placed on his coffin.

She stifled her sobs and turned away.


Corydon Murder Mystery Dinner 2012

Yesterday evening (August 4th), Kate and I attended the Corydon Murder Mystery Dinner, and we had a great time!  The theme/setting was a New Year’s Eve party at a notorious 1920’s gangster nightclub (The Four Deuces), and there would be secrets, and plots, and betrayals.  And, maybe a few murders!

We bought our tickets a couple of weeks beforehand, then they emailed us our ‘character profiles’, which described the persons we would portray, so we’d know how to act and to interact with the other characters.  I would attend as ‘Capo “Toto” Tequila’, and Kate would be my wife, ‘Vicky Ravioli-Tequila’.

The character profile documents also gave us a list of the other attendees (by character name), and a thumbnail profile of them.  Wodda bunch of cheats and thieves  🙂  Just before the party we were given the password (“The cat’s pajamas”) which would allow us to gain admittance to the festivities.  So, we were forewarned and forearmed to some degree, and we entered the club to see if we could figure out who might be killing whom.  First, we had to check out the hors d’oeuvre table, and found some wonderful nib-lets  🙂

There were several murders during the evening – the assassin might stroll up to the intended victim, lure him/her to a secluded area, then present the ‘weapon card’ and pronounce them dead!  The victim would have to fork over all the casino cash they had left, and were then taken away somewhere to be re-born as a lesser character.  No one had to sit on the sidelines after being murdered.

Partway through the evening we were seated in side rooms and were served a really nice meal, and this gave us another opportunity to try to gather facts about other attendees who might be suspects.  I found out that ‘sleuthing’ might not be one of my strong points – Kate was very good at it!

At the end of the evening we filled out our ‘guess forms’ to try to win a prize for identifying the culprit or culprits.  Again, I didn’t do too well  😦  At least I survived the evening – Kate didn’t fare too well there.  When asked why the villain chose Kate’s character to murder, he announced that she was “too mouthy”.  No comment!  🙂

As I said, we had a wonderful time, we look forward to doing it again next year.  Maybe we’ll see you there, yes?

I took a few pictures during the evening, and I apologize for not including everyone.  Some of the pictures just didn’t turn out (I was using my little pocket camera), and some of the folks just forgot to wander in front of the lens.  But, enjoy!

Here and there

It’s been a rather slow summer for us, not too much going on.  We did manage to get away for a short (SHORT) trip to Charlotte, NC to visit  Erin and Joe and newly-arrived Ananda.  As it worked out, we got there too late to help carry in boxes and furniture (dang!), but we got in a nice visit.  We like their new rental house there, very spacious, nice neighborhood.  Ananda’s room has lots of room for her, so I think she’ll settle right in.  The weather in Charlotte will be quite a bit different than Denver, but she has had some exposure to those conditions during her visits with the Aaron/Maya gang in Tulsa.  So, now we wait for Baby Laurel to make her appearance in September.  I’m sure we’ll be going for interim visits while we wait.  It’s about a 10-hour trip, which Kate usually rounds off to 6-hours, for some reason.  Maybe she’s just psyching me for the ‘short’ drive 🙂

The garden just didn’t work out this year.  It seems that if you don’t take precautions, the wildlife will indeed consume everything you wanted to gather for yourself, and they come EARLY in the plant growth cycle.  The corn and okra sprouted up, grew a few inches, then the deer arrived to crop them right down to the ground.  I don’t pretend to be a farmer, and I’m certainly not familiar with this area, but accusing the deer is not baseless – I caught a doe out in the fenced area on a couple of occasions, munching away on the delicacies.  Oh, well, at least there are the tomatoes.  Nope, not to be – the deer ate the tops right off the plants.  Must be a hungry year, maybe the dryness and heat has driven them to the garden.  I recently gave up the effort and pulled down my ‘puny’ fence and drove the riding mower across the plot.  Maybe next year will be better – if I do put in a garden I’ll also be installing an electric fence.  Not trying to harm the wildlife, just want them to dine elsewhere.

As it turned out, the garden was not the only casualty of the summer.  Our good old 2004 Ford Escape SUV suddenly entered its infirm years.  As with any used vehicle you have to do occasional repairs, but after the latest incident, I figured maybe it was time to quit throwing money at it.  Recently, the ‘check engine’ light came on, and the car was running rough, so I took it to the auto parts place to make use of their engine fault code analyzer ( a free service offered by most parts places), and determined that  there was an ignition fault.  It was likely that it was one of the dedicated spark coils on one of the 6 cylinders, but it wouldn’t tell me which cylinder, so that was going to be a guessing game, which would begin with the purchase of a $60 part for my trial-and-error attempt.  As I discovered, I could only find 3 spark plugs, the others were hidden somewhere back at the rear of the engine.  Anyway, to have the work done for me was likely going to be in the $350 range, and I just decided that, all things considered (including worn-out tires), it was time to move up to a more recent vintage vehicle.  The Escape ‘sputtered’ me down to the Chevy dealership and I soon discovered that the air conditioner had also failed, just that morning.  So, long story short, I now have a 2012 Chevrolet Silverado parked out front.

Nice truck – powerful, smooth, quiet.  So, now I’ll have to go back the Craigslist folks and list my faithful old 1987 Chevy truck to free up a parking place and put a few dollars in my pocket.  Got $800?  Sold!

On the entertainment front, we have a fun outing scheduled for this evening.  We will be attending the Murder Mystery Dinner in beautiful downtown Corydon.  This will be a costume party occasion, and all the guests will have the opportunity to try to solve the murder mystery during the evening, using secret clues. I will be in costume as Capo ‘Toto’ Tequila, crime boss, and Kate will be in attendance as Vicki Ravioli, Capo Tequila’s wife.  We’ll get a nice meal and have some fun interactions with the other attendees.  We just might get ‘bumped off’ during the evening (it happened to me last year), so we’ll see how it goes.  Pssst, got a bullet-proof vest I can borrow?

Also on the entertainment front, we have some honored guests coming to stay with us in about a week.  Alek and Aleyna will be here with us for about a week, and we’re gonna have lotsa fun  🙂  We’ve been penciling in some things to do, some places to go, all that.  We’ll do all the usual things kids enjoy – quiet museums, watching history channel documentaries….. NOT!  🙂

Maybe we can find a few things they’ll enjoy about rural Indiana, hope the weather cooperates.  They’re great kids, we want them to take away some good memories!

That’s the update – we’re just staying busy being ourselves, trying to enjoy life and hopefully meet more nice folks along the trail.