Monthly Archives: May 2011

What’s All the Fuss About Coffee?

If You Can’t Afford Expensive Coffee Make the Cheap Stuff Strong

Every now and then Clem Pixler, the owner of the Jittery Goat Cafe, gets trade magazines through the mail. Sometimes those magazines are just a reminder of how behind and inadequate Rode Apple Junction has become. For years he has read about the burgeoning coffee industry. It seemed to him like the world had gone nuts over coffee. His theory on coffee was handed down to him by his Dad, the previous owner of the Jittery Goat Cafe, ‘you buy it cheap and make it strong.’

He began to wonder if he was depriving his patrons of a truly magnificent and gratifying coffee experience by not having a cappuccino maker or being able to draw a shot of espresso? Granted the people of Rode Apple Junction aren’t sophisticated, but does that mean they would not enjoy a Tanzanian dark roast or a Sumatran arabica rain forest blend?

Sometimes Innovation Means Somebody Gets Fired

Winky Flynn stopped for a coffee at the Jittery Goat Cafe one morning not long ago.

“Business slow today?” Clem said.

“Haven’t cut hair on a Thursday morning since Carter changed the part in his hair.”

“What did that have to do with it?” Clem said.

“Everybody in Rode Apple Junction decided to do the same thing,” Winky said. “The whole lay of the hair changed and had to give it time to grow out. It got the whole hair cycle off kilter.”

“You didn’t lose any business from it did you?” Clem said.

“Nah, Nah, nothing like the British invasion. That was a sad day for the barber industry,” Winky regressed and lamented. “Monday used to be the slow day and with the change in the collective community hair growth cycle I’m pretty busy on Monday mornings now.”

“Didn’t the long hair of the sixties and seventies hurt you?” Clem said.

“Nah, Nah, you got to be innovative and stay up with the trends?” Winky said and blew on his coffee and sipped. “My, that’s good.”

“What did you do?”

“I fired my nephew, Dirk.”

“That’s not very innovative.”

“It sure was to Dirk,” Winky said. “He had to become innovative to find away to pay back the money he borrowed from his Dad for barber’s school.”

“I thought he went on scholarship,” Clem said.

“That’s the story the family passed around,” Winky said. “Truth is, is that the boy is dumber than sock fuzz.”

In Rode Apple Junction there is only one category below sock fuzz and that is pig snot. Clem quickly filed that bit of information away. Just in case one of Dirk’s off-spring came looking for work.

Clem pressed his lips and said inquiringly, “I’ve been thinking about innovation.”

“Who ya got to fire?” Winky said surprised.

The Jittery Goat Has Always Been on the Cutting Edge

“I’m talking about real innovation. All I see in trade magazines and every time I go to Ft. Wayne or Toledo are cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos in upscale coffee shops. The Jittery Goat has always been a trend setter in Rode Apple Junction. People look to the Jittery Goat for what’s coming next.”

“Like what?” Winky said incredulously.

“My Dad was the first one to install fluorescent lights and neon signs. And we brought the double hamburger to town. You used to have to go all the way to Ft Wayne to get a double hamburger, but the Jittery Goat brought it to Rode Apple Junction.”

“Come to think about it you were the first to start using Styrofoam cups on take-out orders,” Winky conceded.

“Before you know it, Carl, down at the gas station, will get one of those fancy cappuccino makers and take all my coffee business.”

Winky looked at Clem real serious. “Have you ever thought about doing market research. Will folks go for that? Why not take a drive to Ft. Wayne and visit one of those fancy coffee shops, sort of get a feel for what goes on and how it operates?”

Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid

Winky left. Clem pulled a book from beneath the counter. It was a spy thriller by an upcoming novelist, Leonard LaCrue. His latest novel, You Can Never Find a Cuban Cigar in Socialist Cuba, but the Health Care is Good, and it took place in Santiago, Cuba. The main character, Burt Wynncliff, assumes the name Miguel Suarez and makes his contacts at a little café in Santiago. He always orders Espresso Cabana. Clem pictures Wynncliff looking like Bogart in Casablanca speaking with a slight accent. The combining of characters are due largely to the fact that Clem has watched Casablanca four nights in a row. And now with the possibility of market research swimming around in his head, he combines all the elements.

Clem took Winky’s advice to heart and made plans for a clandestine trek to Ft. Wayne.

(Continued Next Week Link)

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Does Art Define A Community?

We Need Art in Rode Apple Junction

Things were quiet in Rode Apple Junction this past weekend. Everybody headed over to the home and garden show in Ft. Wayne. It seems like every time that happens people come back to Rode Apple Junction with new ideas on how to improve the community.

We’ve had a community pump and water trough in front of the town hall for as long as anyone cares remember. Miss Abigail Finster, after a visit to Ft. Wayne several years ago, got the ladies reading circle excited with her proposal of a statue fountain to replace the water trough. “Everybody who visits here will think we’re nothing more than a community of ignorant farmers with no appreciation for esthetics and art. We need something that defines what the community is all about.”

It just so happens that the members of the ladies reading circle are married to the most influential business, political, and community leaders in Rode Apple Junction. That being said, none of them have a esthetic bone in their collective bodies. The attitude by some is like walking into a ladies clothing store and pretend to be interested. Suddenly interest becomes approval and you leave the store with another four hundred and twenty-two dollars worth of ‘that looks nice’ on the store’s charge card.

The town council authorized Abigail to contact a well known sculptor from New York City, Talbert Wadly. He did not have time to visit the town. He asked Abigail to send pictures of the town along with a brief description of the people. He asked her to write the story of the town. Abigail was quite flattered and immersed herself into the project.

Mr. Wadly asked for $2,500 to consider the project and submit his concept. With an impassioned appeal by Abigail the council authorized the funds.

Art Project Raises Suspicion

Hilda Vanderpool, the art teacher at the high school found a Wadly sculpture in one of her books. It was a sculpture of Zeus in a three piece suit – it was called “Zeus Suit.” It was in Bernie Madoff’s collection. By the time word got around, Abigail was accused of introducing a godless doctrine to the town and slowly corrupting the minds of the youth.

Now anybody who knows Abigail knows she’s a god-fearing woman. After all, she was the one who organized the Christmas nativity play in ’83. The fact nearly everybody in the play got frost bite and she tried warming them with cognac is certainly no strike against her devotion. Although she did take blame for the hang-overs of the entire cast, she remained firm that they had free will. Of course, that struck up quite a religious debate between the Lutherans and Baptist on the question of free will, especially when trying to explain why baby Jesus slept so well for the next two days.

From that time on, Abigail was always trying to overcome the great dissension she caused back in the 80’s. Her only suitor in a life long desire for love, Cornelius Soudersniffen, the only doctor in town left because of that.  He said, “A woman who can get the cast of a Christmas pageant corked, nearly start a religious war, and divide a community will be popping pills from my pill cabinet in no time.”

Rode Apple Junction Doctor Exposed

Abigail was eventually exonerated for chasing Dr. Soudersniffen from town. It seems that ole Doc was an escapee from a prison in Massachusetts. The closest he came to ever being a doctor was working in the prison hospital where he observed a number of appendectomies. It seems that after watching a dozen or so he mastered the technique himself.

His first week in town he performed and emergency appendectomy in his office. It very possibly saved the life of Rita Gorky. He was a hero. No matter how noble the cause or calling if you have larceny in your soul it’s there for good. Soudersniffen was performing an appendectomy or two a week at five hundred dollars each with only local anesthetic. Soudersniffen numbed the area, made a small incision, and pretended to pull out an appendix. Then he would sew-up the patient. Seems like he was buying pig’s innards a couple of times a week and using their appendix. Sam Haverstan, the butcher said he should have known something was wrong when he came running in the shop for innards in the middle of a procedure on Willie Winegarder.

It was about a month after the Doc’s leaving town that a new doctor came to town and took over the old practice and office.

The new doctor, Thaddeus Thorngood offered to reinstall each appendix – for a minimal fee. He was scheduled for his first reinstallment when the Ohio State Patrol arrived and took him into custody. It seems like Thorngood was an old cell mate of Soudersniffen and the two corresponded over the years. Thorngood was not as adroit at the field of medicine as Soudersniffen. Reinstallation of appendix seemed quite logical to him and apparently to at least fifteen residents of Rode Apple Junction. They were all lined up like cars at a ten minute oil change on coupon day.

Wait, Wait, Wait, and No Talbert Wadly

Ten weeks had passed without hearing from the famous sculptor, Talbert Wadly. Rumors began to swirl that maybe this was a scam, but Abigail showed everybody pictures of his work. “It’s as plain as day,” she said. “Look right there. Anyone can see he is a genius.”

Well, a sculpture of an open can sardines didn’t prove a thing to the people of Rode Apple Junction. Not even the ones who traveled to the Toledo Museum of Art on field trip in ’75 and they knew art when they saw it.

Abigail checked expectantly for mail everyday and waited by her phone every night. She envisioned the work as a collaborative project. She had dreams of stimulating conversations with Talbert Wadly about art and the world beyond Rode Apple Junction. She thought that maybe there might be a future in art for her to seek out worthy commissions and projects for Talbert Wadly.

(Continued next week link.)

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The Story Behind Rode Apple Junction Mineral Springs Water

Rode Apple Mineral Springs Water

Kermit and Kirby Spangler were twins. Their mother and father were quite proud of them while growing up. They were beautiful babies that grew into handsome young men. That served to be a curse more than a blessing. There was a point in time when boyish charm and good looks could not cover the lack of wit and mental acuteness needed to navigate the trials of life.

They had been hired and fired by nearly every farmer and businessman in Rode Apple Junction. They were as destructive and inept together as they were apart, but usually they chose to be a team. That’s another way of spreading the blame.

Genius Comes In Many Forms, but Stupidity Has No Limits

They even tried a few businesses themselves. They were visionaries. A few years back they saw the potential in the bottled water industry. They dreamed up an enterprise called it Rode Apple Junction Mineral Springs Water. It was kind of catchy when you think about it. They said they would put Rode Apple Junction on the map – exactly what the folks of Rode Apple Junction didn’t want.

The thing about ‘Rode Apple,’ it reads one way and sounds another. So when the boys came up with a snappy little jingle that had the lyrics, “Remember we’re the water that comes straight from Rode Apple —- Junction. When you smell the distinct aroma, that distinct taste, you know its from Rode Apple —- Junction.”

All the water came from the spigot of an old auto repair shop next to the railroad tracks. The Spangler boys rented a box car and loaded it full with cases of Rode Apple Junction Mineral Springs Water.

The truth, of course, is that Rode Apple Junction does not have mineral springs. The water is pumped from four community wells into an eighty-one foot water tower. The Spangler boys got a five hundred and seventy-five dollar bill from the Rode Apple Junction water department, which they could not pay. This was primarily due to going over budget on advertising and they failed to sell one bottle of Road Apple Junction Mineral Springs Water.

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Negotiate

Rode Apple Junction Water Tower

After hours of contentious and heated negotiations The Spangler boys reached an agreement with the water department. The Spangler brothers were to dump all the bottled water back into the towns water tower. For several days Rode Apple Junction witnessed the Spangler brothers hauling water case by case from the boxcar, diving it across town, and hauling them case by case by rope to the top of the water tower. It was there that the water was emptied back into the tank – bottle by bottle.

It was not long after the water dumping that the residents of Rode Apple Junction began to notice a peculiar taste in their drinking water. It was not necessarily a bad taste, but yet something distinctively different. No one could quite put their finger on it, but nevertheless suspicion hovered above Kermit and Kirby Spangler like a radioactive cloud of dust. No body seemed to get sick from the water. It just tasted different and folks seemed okay. In fact everybody was doing quite well. Finally the town council ordered a stop to the reintegration of the bottled water into the water system. That’s when it happened. Every resident began to experience headaches and everyone was lethargic. What ever was in the water was well gone. What ever was now not in the water had a collective negative effect on the citizens of Rode Apple Junction.

The town council held an emergency public hearing to get to the bottom of the phenomenon. First to testify was Kermit Spangler. “It was my job to fill all the bottles one week and store them in the box car. And I got the water straight from the spigot of our corporate headquarters.” (The Spangler boys love holding on to an allusion.)

They were asked why they stored them in the box car rather than the building.

“We had to have room for our labeling machine,” Kermit said. “that had not arrived yet.”

“What happened once the labeling machine arrived?”

“Kirby and I spent a week putting it together and the next week Kirby spent at our Rode Apple Junction facility (see what I mean) unloading the unlabeled bottles, labeling them and loading them back on to the box car.”

Kirby next testified that he did nothing to the bottles except to add the labels and stack them back into the box car.

The town council was left with little to go on. They made a decision not to charge the Spangler twins with the water used sense they could not allow them to return what remained in the boxcar.

One Thing Is Clear and It’s Not the Water

Then suddenly, as if a miracle, a stranger spoke up. He identified himself as a production supervisor and quality control manager of Buckeye Distillery. “I think I can shed some light onto this problem. We distill vodka under several brand names. Six months ago an unbranded and unlabled boxcar of vodka disappeared from our facility in Cincinnati. We were able to trace it to here. Our box car was left here and Rode Apple Junctions Mineral Springs’ was taken away. We had some customer complaints.”

“I can well imagine,” Mayor Zeke Zenmeister said. “What! You mean to tell me is that the Spangler boys have been pouring straight vodka into our water tower.”

“Well kind of,” the man said. “You see I’m with quality control at out distillery. It seems some one hundred and eighty proof vodka which was supposed to be sent else where and diluted got bottled and sent to Rode Apple Junction. From what I’ve been able the gather at this hearing is that the Spanglers have been dumping ninety percent booze straight into the town’s water supply.”

“You meant we’ve all been crocked for the last three weeks!” Zeke said.

Spud Sizemore, owner of the Side Track Bar and Grill, said,“Worst of all, the sickness we’ve all been experiencing is a hang-over. I know. I’ve seen enough to know what I’m talking about.”

(Continued next week link)

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