Put-put Township was old-timer central
in the county. Most, if not all the long time residents lived here. Even the minister, Reverend Hiram was not only over the
hill but it looked like he had at least one foot on a banana peel. Anyone under seventy was considered a kid. Old man Seth
was a long way from being a kid, but he was as stubborn as a goat.
Old Seth lived a happy and prosperous
life. Ok, ok, so he was a grouch and didn’t have a penny to his name; but no need to say that on his last day. Might
as well send him off with a few good words. Aunt Mabel wouldn’t mind. After all, he’s gone, she’s happy
and the insurance pays well. She’s happy and prosperous, that should count for something. Now old Seth would still be
around if he weren’t so darned cheap.
Aunt Mabel kept telling him he needed
to get some new britches. Stubborn old man thought a few stitches would hold what he had together. On his last day, he picked
the one pair of overalls that had the rear pocket torn and old cheapo, as Aunt Mabel called him, had only tacked the torn
piece back up. He might have been ok, except he had also broke down and spent some money on new skivvies, boxers. Nobody wanted
‘em so they were marked way down. Seth didn’t care that they were bright red, no one would see them under his
overalls. . He was almost right.
If the old codger wasn’t so
cheap, this may never have happened. Mabel had tried to warn him often enough. It was a hot and sultry morning and Seth was
out checking fences. Big Boss, his prize bull was grazing. He was so fat he could barely move and the heat wasn’t helping.
Seth never had any problems with Big Boss. He would ignore Seth and just keep chomping at the grass. No one knows for sure
what happened next. It might have been when the tractor backfired. All that could be figured out was that Seth’s hat
blew off. As he bent down to pick it up, the stitching gave out. Aunt Mabel saw Seth flying through the air. The flight up
wasn’t so bad, but that landing…
Barney and Betty (Seth was watching
cartoons when Mabel asked what to name the twins) told their mother they would catch the red eye special. Mom got all upset
and told them to not be drinking afore the funeral. Jack (Seth was on a bender when this one popped out), the oldest had a
farm across the way so it just took a phone call. Mabel never did get the hang of modern phones. She would keep hollering
for the operator til the person answered. She didn’t make many calls so it wasn’t hard for Betty to set up speed
dial and tape it to the phone.
The old Geezers, I mean Seth’s,
neighbors got together to help Mabel make all the arrangements. It wasn’t easy, but after a couple of hours of digging
in Mabel and Seth’s closet, they did find one outfit they could plant, er bury him in. (these aren’t my words
folks, I’m just quoting the neighbors). They figured he would be best laid
away with his flip-flops that he used when he took a shower. The guess was that he used ‘em maybe four times in the
years that he had them. He always hosed himself down after slopping the hogs. He had to, his aim was horrible!
Now old Seth was a grouch and not
the friendliest of people, but he was a good worker and always willing to help other folks. So a decent turnout was expected.
Besides, it wasn’t often that a big feed for the town was offered this early in the summer. Put-Put township (ok, the
county wasn’t overly bright in the naming of townships), had the most blue winners at the county fair so we know where
most of the good gardener’s and cooks live.
“Mabel, we are so sorry but
the only preacher man is old Hiram.”
The folks were all seated and the
player piano turned on. This was a county of cooks and farmer’s, no one knew how to play the durned pianey as they called
it. The music was scratchy but would have to suffice. Someone did suggest that they get the hounds together and make a choir
but they decided not to. Oh it would have sounded better, but they had work to do. Somebody had to chase the crows away.
The room went silent. Hiram got
up and said a few words. His memory wasn’t the greatest so he called Maxi up (somebody whispered her name was Mabel),
then corrected himself. Dressed in her finest dress, actually her only dress, Mabel got up and told what she remembered about
Seth. Wasn’t much. Finally, Hiram took over and went over to say his good byes. As he bent over to place the good book
on Seth’s chest (a common practice there), his hairpiece landed square on Seth’s nose.
Hiram didn’t notice he lost
it. The mourners slowly walked by for their viewing. No one was brave enough to reach in and rescue Hiram’s toupee.
Finally the last person to pass by was Sarah Mitchell, Hiram’s niece. Since she was also part of the staff of the funeral
home, no one thought anything of her reaching in. She slipped his hairpiece into the pocket of her dress. The whole thing
might have just slipped off into oblivion except for one small problem. Sarah loved practical jokes.
Sarah stayed behind to help set
up the reception after the ceremony at the cemetery. As it turned out, that wasn’t the wisest of moves on Hiram’s
part. By the time everyone returned, most of the food was already set up. Everything that is, except for Sarah’s crowning
touches. Right in the center of the table, everyone saw Hiram’s award winning cantaloupe, complete with toupee!