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Comments Off on Our Town – August 29, 2013

Our Town – August 29, 2013

| Guest Written, Mary Ann Jones, Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships | August 29, 2013

The Soupster is called on by the teacher.

Our Town retired school teacher Elsbeth Newhauser picked up her walking stick and dog leash and called her bulldog Gerta to her side. The two always left the house for their walk at the same time every morning and followed a route that took them down their residential street to an intersection with a four way stop. It was there that they would cross the main road before continuing on their journey.

This day, however, when they got to the intersection, Gerta abruptly sat down and refused to move. “Now, come on,” Elsbeth encouraged, motioning forward. She had barely finished her sentence when she noticed a large dog charging across the street towards them. Elsbeth gasped and pulled Gerta out of the way, then watched in horror as a bicyclist raced down the hill and flew through the intersection, swerving from side to side. A speeding car followed close behind and slammed on its brakes, but failed to stop before careening into a utility pole.

When the action came to a halt, the bicyclist was laying on his side in the street. The woman in the car struggled to open her door, then emerged, waving her arms in the air. “Why did you stop in the middle of the street?” she yelled at the bicyclist, as he scooted out from under his twisted bike.

“I had to!” he shouted back. “It was all I could do to miss hitting that dog in front of me!”

As they argued, a frantic-looking young man ran up to the intersection, looked at the other two and asked, “Have you seen my dog? He’s a large Lab.” That was enough to spark an even bigger argument between the three about whose fault the accident was.

Finally, Elsbeth’s teacher’s instincts kicked in. She tapped her walking stick on the sidewalk and shouted, “People! Listen!” The bicyclist, motorist and dog owner immediately stopped talking and looked at her. “I don’t know whose fault this was, but we’re not leaving here until we figure it out!”

At that moment, the Soupster rushed out of a friend’s house nearby, approached the group, and politely raised his hand. “Yes, Mr. Soupster,” Elsbeth said, as if calling on one of her former students.

“Mrs. Newhauser, allow me to describe what I observed just now from the front window. The dog, which was off-leash and clearly in violation of city leash laws, came running down the sidewalk and dashed across the road in front of the bicyclist. The bicyclist had, just seconds before, failed to stop at the four-way stop as he sped down the hill. The motorist, who slowed down, but didn’t fully stop at the intersection, was looking down at her cell phone as she passed me.”

“Thank you, Mr. Soupster,“ Elsbeth said. “Well then, I hope you’ve all learned an important lesson about following the rules and being considerate of your fellow students….I mean…fellow citizens.”

“Yes, Mrs. Newhauser,“ they responded all together.

Submitted by Mary Ann Jones

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 9, 2013

Our Town – May 9, 2013

| Crazy Theories, Gardening, Guest Written, Mary Ann Jones, Our Town | May 9, 2013

The Soupster discovers sometimes you already have just what you need.

It seemed to Chauncey that almost everyone in Our Town had an opinion about The Giant Greenhouse Project. He thought local officials had provided more than enough information over the last few years to make sure the community was well-informed. After all, this was the largest construction project in the town’s history and, while the greenhouse had its detractors, most folks agreed that it was necessary. So, why were a few still not convinced that it was worth whatever it would take? Chauncey shook his head.

The problem was that there simply wasn’t an adequate supply of coffee in town. Storage levels were constantly running low, even with weekly shipments flown in from the lower 48, and the cost and environmental impact were enormous. Didn’t people understand the difficulties of maintaining a sustainable drink like that on a remote island that was too cold and wet to grow beans?

Chauncey was the first to admit that The Giant Greenhouse was an ambitious undertaking. Decades earlier, the town’s leaders had established a small coffee plantation in the mountains. They had hoped to capitalize on the “mountain-grown” slogan and export beans around the world, but, unfortunately, a large corporation used that marketing strategy first. Try as the town did to make a go of it, the poor coffee trees failed to produce more than a meager crop.

Chauncey recalled the excitement when a volunteer community work group came up with the idea of building a giant greenhouse to protect the coffee trees from inclement weather. The group met tirelessly for a year to design the concept and then put together a presentation that received unanimous support from elected officials. Town engineers sprang into action and hired a consulting firm that submitted a report confirming the feasibility of the project. By that time, the shortage had become more critical and local coffee drinkers were experiencing soaring prices and periodic shortages – or rolling blackouts, as they were called.

Now, three years later, after even more studies, designs and contract awards, construction had finally begun on the greenhouse. The excitement in town was contagious – Chauncey decided to go see for himself how the greenhouse was coming. On his bike ride out there, he spotted the Soupster who was sitting on a bench at Whale Park, drinking from a coffee cup. Chauncey pulled into the parking lot and paused. “I see you’re having your morning coffee.”

“Oh, this isn’t coffee”, the Soupster said. “It’s alder tea. Would you like a cup?”

“Alder tea…I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Chauncey said, as he took the drink from the Soupster and sipped it slowly.

“Good lord!” he shouted. It’s delicious! It tastes just like coffee!”

“I know,” the Soupster said with a broad grin, “and all you have to do to make it is boil seawater and alder tree shavings together. Guess we’re not going to run out of those two ingredients any time soon!”

Submitted by Mary Ann Jones

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Comments Off on Our Town – November 15, 2012

Our Town – November 15, 2012

| Animals, Dogs, Guest Written, Mary Ann Jones, Our Town | November 14, 2012

Our Town resident Chauncey Whelan was riding his bicycle down Lake Street when he happened to glance over and saw a large dog chasing the ducks at the lake. “For Heaven’s sake,” he thought. “I need to go over there and break that up.”

Being a good citizen, Chauncey stopped, got off his bike and started to walk towards the commotion. The dog saw him and suddenly turned its attention away from the ducks, growled and glared at Chauncey with a look that made the young man tremble.

The ducks, in the meantime, had apparently forgotten about the dog and had wandered over to Edith Goodrich who was throwing leftover bread on the ground nearby for them. “Thanks for distracting that dog, Chauncey! You’re doing a great job!” Edith shouted.

“You’re welcome, Mrs. Goodrich,” Chauncey said, trying not to make any sudden movements that might escalate his precarious situation.

A group of people soon appeared and Chauncey breathed a sigh of relief, but they didn’t seem to notice what was happening and walked past him on their way to the wooden pier. They stood there, looking at the lake and talking among themselves for a few minutes, then turned and headed back to the street. “Pardon me,” Chauncey said politely, “Would you mind helping me with this dog?”

One member of the group smiled at him and said, “We have this area reserved for our fundraising event this morning. You’re welcome to come, but we’d appreciate it if you left your dog in your car.”

“But it’s not my……” Chauncey’s words trailed off as the group walked away. “It’s not my dog. It’s…..it’s…George Clooney’s dog.”

Just then, one of the women in the group wheeled around and shrieked, “Are you serious? That’s George Clooney’s dog? Is he in town? Oh, my God!”

The whole group was excited by that time and rushed back to Chauncey, ignoring the dog, whose demeanor had magically improved with the arrival of more humans. “Why, yes”, Chauncey went on. “I heard that Mr. Clooney is in town on his yacht and that he’s been desperately looking for his dog because it ran away this morning.”

“I just love George Clooney,” one of the women sighed. “And he has such an awareness of pressing social issues.” The others in the group nodded in agreement.

“So,” Chauncey said, “You know that he’s also a big supporter of….what is your group called?”

“Society for Bluer Lakes,” one of the other women replied.

“Yes, he’s a big proponent of bluer lakes,” Chauncey explained. “I hear he’s quite a contributor. Maybe he would even agree to be your spokesman!”

“That would be awesome!” they all agreed.

So, off the group went with the dog, giving Chauncey an opportunity to walk back to his bike.

The Soupster had come out of the dentist’s office across the street about the same time this was happening and observed the conversation between Chauncey and the group. “Well, young man,” he said, “looks like they just couldn’t see the forest for the trees.”

– Submitted by Mary Ann Jones

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 26, 2012

Our Town – July 26, 2012

| Guest Written, Mary Ann Jones, Our Town | July 25, 2012

One Sunday morning in Our Town Mollie Papillion woke up thinking, “I’m in the mood for pancakes.” She walked into her kitchen and began looking for the ingredients, but soon discovered that she was out of eggs. She glanced at the clock and saw that it was only 6:00 a.m., which seemed a little too early to borrow from her neighbor, so she decided to drive down to the grocery store. “It’ll only take a minute,” she thought.

She threw her rain coat on over her pajamas, put on her indoor/outdoor slippers, grabbed her mug of coffee and started to walk outside, but realized almost immediately that her pajama bottoms had somehow gotten caught in the door behind her. She yanked at the fabric a couple of times, but it refused to budge, so she gave it one last firm tug. The material gave way with a loud rip, causing her to lose her balance and fall off the porch into the mud below. “At least I didn’t spill my coffee,” she sighed, getting up slowly and brushing herself off.

Not one to be easily deterred, Mollie continued on with her plan. She climbed into her car and drove about a block when, suddenly, a dog appeared in the road a few feet in front of her. She gasped and slammed on her brakes just in time to avoid hitting it, but, in the process, spilled her coffee all over the front of her pajamas. She tried to gather her wits about her and wipe as much coffee off of herself as she could using the old McDonald’s napkins from her car’s glove compartment. “Oh, my goodness,” she fretted, “I almost hit that dog!”

Rattled but still determined, she headed down the street again, turning on her windshield wipers so she could see through the torrents of rain that had begun to fall. She arrived at the store, got out of her car and walked towards the door, pulling her coat closed in an effort to hide the coffee stains and mud. She tried not to make eye contact with anyone as she walked down the aisle towards the dairy section, but the sound of her wet rubber shoe soles on the newly waxed floors made such a loud squeaking noise that two customers in the produce section were startled and looked up to see what was happening.

She stepped up to the display where the eggs were usually located and stopped dead in her tracks, staring in disbelief. There were no eggs. At that moment, the stress of the morning’s events finally proved to be too much for her and she shouted in desperation, “I JUST NEED SOME EGGS!”

Her words were still echoing through the store when the Soupster himself magically appeared. He quietly handed her a carton of eggs from his shopping cart and disappeared around the corner into the cereal aisle.

“Thank you, Soupster,” Mollie managed to utter as she started to cry, mascara running down her cheeks. “All I wanted this morning were some pancakes!”

– Submitted by Mary Ann Jones

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Would you like to create an Our Town?

The Sitka Soup would welcome an infusion of “new blood.” You may tell your story in words (450-500 of them), or as a graphic “cartoon” strip. We would even consider a short original photo essay with B&W photos. Your Our Town must be closely connected with the life of Sitkans, and the Soupster must make an appearance, even if it’s a brief one.

If we run your Our Town, we’ll pay you $50. To submit: Email your creation to shop@sitkasoup.com and put “Our Town” in the Subject line. Or call: 747-7595.

What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

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