How Reindeers Can Fly

Chapter 31

December 22, 2011

Forecast for the week of December 25 to 31: It looks like the snow we may accumulate this week will be long gone by New Year’s Eve, with a warming trend beginning Christmas Day. It’s already been a mild winter and that looks to continue.

Carl and Jessica Cunningham returned from Park City, Utah on Tuesday where they picked up Jessica’s mother, Lillian Reeves, who will be living with them now. Lillian, we are glad to have you in Walnut Shade.

Jeff Barnett was seen wearing what appeared to be a black armband this week. I wonder if it had to do with his beloved Jayhawks losing, inexplicably, to Davidson on Sunday?

The regular Willing Workers 4-H Club meeting, scheduled for next Monday, has been postponed until after the first of the year. Several of the members will be traveling with their parents during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Olive Jane Johnson hosted a Christmas tea at her home on Sunday afternoon. Guests included Michelle Clemons, Harry Singleton, Jason Glenn, Sue Brady, Daphne Wolf, and Teresa Duffy.

The Erin Go Bragh Cookbook committee met at Dorothy Westover’s house on Saturday to review some of the new recipes they’ve received from the community. Flossie Wentworth brought a blueberry coffee cake to sample.

Despite the best efforts of Oscar Baker and Al Begley, an electrician had to be called from Fremont to determine the problem with the lights on the Mayor’s Holiday Tree. For some reason they were on most of the day and off during the evening when they were supposed to be illuminated. Harry Norris, owner of Harry Norris Electrics, found that the timer had been “reprogrammed” by an unknown party. Harry switched the little plastic plugs around and now the tree is lighting up at the correct time. Being in the holiday spirit, Harry only charged gas money for the call. Rumor has it that he also got a piece of cherry pie with ice cream “on the house” at Shirley’s.

Craig Duffy says that his “Holiday Nog” has sold so well that he had to divert some of his production of 2% milk to fill all the orders he had for it. His “Peppermint Delight” is also selling briskly and this time of the year always sees a big increase in the demand for heavy cream, desserts being somewhat more prevalent on Sunday dinner menus around Walnut Shade.

Jim and Sue Brady have been seen driving around town with big smiles on their faces, probably owing to the heated seats in Jim’s Toyota Highlander.

Father Mike Garza reminds everyone that the Christmas Eve mass will begin at 10:30 p.m., not 11:30 a.m., as printed in last week’s Parish bulletin. Refreshments will be served in the Parish Hall beginning at 9:00… p.m.

Christmas Eve services will also be held at St. Stephen’s UCC and First Baptist. St. Stephen’s will begin at 9:00 p.m. and those at First Baptist will start at 10:00. If you are so inclined, you could probably hit all three and still be home in time for the late showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” on channel 38.

For my money, “A Christmas Story” is the best holiday movie ever made, but “Miracle on 34th Street” comes close. This time of the year, there’s never a lack of entertainment, especially in Walnut Shade, on TV and otherwise, so…

Until next week, I remain…
Your faithful correspondent

Jessica Cunningham’s mother, Lillian, has been suffering from a variety of ailments for the past few years and Jessica decided it was time for her mother to come live with her and Carl. Jessica flew out a few weeks ago to help her mother sort through the collection of books, records (78s, 33 1/3s, 45s; no CDs), paintings, dishes, clothes, shoes, and furniture that one accumulates in a lifetime. Lillian had no regrets about parting with so much “stuff” as she called it, but she was not too happy about leaving Park City, having lived there for forty-three years. Jessica’s father, Roy, passed away ten years ago and it has become harder for Lillian to attend to the daily needs of her nearly five-thousand square foot house and surrounding acreage.

Lillian and Roy moved to Park City when it was not much more than a winter haven for snow-skiing hippies, one of whom happened to be Robert Redford. Roy met Redford when they were working on the movie “Inside Daisy Clover.” Roy was what is now known in the business as a “script doctor,” someone who fixes problems with a story that eventually becomes a movie. Redford liked Roy’s sensitive, but realistic treatment of his troubled character, Wade Lewis, and the two became good friends.
During the summer of 1967, Lillian and Roy were guests at Redford’s house in Park City and they fell in love with the area. Roy decided that he could do his job any place (this in the age before the Internet, when a phone call was thought of as instant communication) and Park City was as good as any LA suburb. They purchased a small house set on six acres on the edge of town and when Roy was working on a script, he’d have it messengered up U.S. 40 to I-80 and on into Salt Lake to be flown wherever it was needed. Jessica remembers that sometimes there would be a frantic effort to get new pages to a movie set in LA or New York or London, but there was never serious consideration given to moving from their idyllic mountain top.

“I realized a few years ago that Bobby [Jessica calls Robert Redford “Bobby”, having grown up with him visiting her mother and father every time he was in town] showed my dad that it was possible to work at home at a time that that wasn’t really done much in the movie business,” she explained. “About the only time we left Park City was to attend an opening in LA or some event where my father was to receive an award for his script work. As a teenage, it was both exciting and maddening. Spending 360 days in Park City was torture, but being in New York or Beverly Hills for four or five days of the year was unbelievable.”

Jessica recounts that her mother had developed a taste for wine while they lived in LA, at a time when most people were drinking martinis or mixed drinks. Redford discovered their mutual appreciation and he always stopped by Lillian and Roy’s house when he got back in town, a bottle of wine under his arm from some exotic local where he was shooting or directing a movie. Instead of drinking the wine right away, Lillian began storing it in their “wine cellar,” a room in the basement that never seemed to get warm even though it was right next to the furnace. Over the years, she managed to amass quite a collection of excellent vintages and the wine cellar expanded as the house itself grew larger, which posed something of a problem when the move to Walnut Shade was reluctantly agreed to.

“Mom had no qualms about disposing of her furniture and many of the knick-knacks she acquired over the years, but she wasn’t about to let go of the wine. When Carl and I told her that we’d be flying out to help with her final packing and then drive her back to Walnut Shade, she told me to be sure to bring only the essentials for a couple of days, that she had consulted one of her friend and they determined that all twenty-eight cases of wine and Quincy’s kennel would fit in a U-Haul panel truck, but that there wouldn’t be any room for extra luggage.”

Quincy is Lillian’s beloved thirteen-year-old standard poodle and the twenty-eight cases of wine were the nearly equally-beloved blue-ribbon bottles that she would part with under no circumstances.

“The trip back to Walnut Shade was a bit tight, but after a couple hours on the road, we decided to fold up Quincy’s kennel and lay it across four of the sturdier cases of wine. I spread our coats out over the top of it and he and I were able to get pretty comfortable, with Carl driving and mom in the passenger seat,” Jessica explained. “We stopped in Denver to spend the night and the manager at the Brown Palace looked at us rather skeptically when we walked in with a perfectly groomed poodle and each of us carrying only a backpack. I imagine the valet who parked the van was a bit surprised to see it packed to the ceiling with cases marked ‘Fragile. The good wine.’”

Carl says that the wine will be stored in their basement until Lillian decides what to do with it. He’s in favor of having a big party and inviting everyone in town over for a monumental wine-tasting event. I suspect there are lots of folks in town who would second that proposal. In the mean time, Carl, Jessica and Lillian will be regularly sampling some of the bottles “imported” from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and Napa Valley by none other than Robert “Bobby” Redford. Perhaps one day he’ll visit Walnut Shade and bring Lillian another bottle or two to add to her collection.

The other day, I ran into Billy Thornton and Ralph Thompson at the Stop and Go.

“Billy has figured out how reindeers can fly,” Ralph said.

Now knowing what jokers Ralph and Billy are, I took this as the opening gambit in one of their elaborate fish stories, this one obviously related to Santa Claus and what happens on Christmas eve. Or perhaps it was going to turn out to be the conclusion they were drawing from a piece one of them had seen on the innumerable conspiracy websites they regularly consult. Seeing my ill-disguised skeptical look, Billy jumped right in.

“It’s really simple, you know. The reindeers are eating magic mushrooms that have been infected with nuclear radiation from that atomic plant that blew up in Russia a couple of years ago.”

“You mean Chernobyl?” I asked. “That was over thirty years ago and it’s a long way from the North Pole don’t you think? If the reindeers are flying, wouldn’t other animals be affected, too? And how about humans?”

“That proves my point. Santa Claus can fly in the sleigh because he got some of that radioactive dust on him, too,” Billy said, brushing aside the millions of residents and thousands of species of fauna in northern Europe who were in the path of the radiation.

“Have you called CNN or Fox News with this discovery?” I asked, trying not to laugh.

“Ralph sent Wolfe Blitzer an email a couple of days ago, but he hasn’t gotten any reply yet,” Billy said as serious as could be. “I imagine there’s going to be a TV crew here any day now. It’s getting close to Christmas and they’ll want to get this on before Christmas eve.”

Yes, I’d say this is just the kind of breaking news Wolfe Blitzer or Greta Van Susteren would want to feature on their shows. Perhaps, there’s even a special report by Geraldo Rivera in Billy’s future. Just what we need to really put Walnut Shade on the map. Well, maybe not. Some of us can remember Al Capone’s secret vault.

About stclairc

Abstract artist, photographer, writer
This entry was posted in Dada, Natural world, Observations, Psychedelic, Small Town Life, Wine and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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