Hominy & Hash
TO KNOW-IT-ALLS WHO HEARD, SAW AND READ IT BEFORE ME
by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Long before I was born, my mother saw some subtle differences in families because of the radio. She wrote a poem called Radio Blues.
The poem goes on about Joe's going over to his mother's house, moaning about the frustration of it all. She commiserated him until he said he wondered if they'll have a nice day tomorrow. "Oh, no, Joe. The rain will continue. I just heard the weather report on the radio."
Poor Joe. And now, an example of "what goes around comes around." So, poor John, who has spent every day of his adult life reading The New York Times. He would clip interesting articles for me or one of the children, his sister, a co-worker or others. We were always grateful; we wouldn't have seen it, known it, if it weren't for his thoughtful diligence.
However, more and more often lately, I'm the one first with the news. My computer opens with the front page of The New York Times and it's me who says what the Breaking News is before he walks to the driveway to pick up the paper tossed on the lawn. On the one hand, he looks forward to reading all the details I pointed out; on the other, he doesn't like turning pages to read what has now become "old news."
Sometimes, the news of the day begins with CNN and the reporters telling us what went on overnight. There's a bit of one-ups-manship creeping into our house. It's not unlike Joe and the radio. Radio? Yes, I think we have one around here somewhere. Oh, yes, it's next to the bed. We use it for an alarm clock.
Wanting to be the first with the news must be in our genes. There's a story I heard years ago about a horse, a wagon and a bathtub. The incident took place on a hot summer day after the fruit and vegetable vendor was finishing up his route. The wagon was just about empty when the horse strained up the cobblestone hill to stop in front of the man's house. Then, the horse dropped to his knees, whinnied with head turning heavenward, and dropped to the ground with a thud. The horse was dead.
The man was overwrought. He collected a crowd and they wondered how they could help. He gathered his wits and said pleadingly he needed to get the horse upstairs into his house. There were enough strong men in the crowd to do it and although they questioned his motives, they responded to his sorrow. Danny Boy, the dead horse, was unhitched, the wagon secured, horse's legs were tied together, then the horse was hefted by four men, head to rump and they got poor Danny Boy up to the landing.
They wiped their brows and as they turned to leave, the vendor begged them to help him carry the horse a little further ... into the bathroom.
Well, that sort of made sense, having him out of the way until plans for the carcass were completed, so they went along with that request. But, when the vendor said he wanted the horse in the bathtub, all niceties were dropped.
"We have gone along with this but I'll be damned if I can see why you want the horse in the bathtub," said Mack.
"Well," said the vendor, still puffing from his part in the lifting, "my brother-in-law lives with us and every time I say anything at the supper table, he says, 'I know it.' and then he takes over telling the story. Tonight when he goes in to wash his hands before dinner, he's going to come out yelling, 'there's a dead horse in the bathtub,' and I'll say, 'I know it!'"
From the days of drum beats, (I heard it, too") to smoke signals ("Yes, I saw it in the distance"), there's always someone who has heard it, seen it, read it, witnessed it 85 and they step on our lines making what we try to go on saying "old news."
Yes, the story of Danny Boy, the dead horse, is really just a story, and I'd like to think you heard it here first. But, the person who created that little fable really knew human nature, didn't he?