Saturday, June 12, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: Sister Cities

When it comes to historical importance, Silver Creek has none. We couldn’t even borrow any glory.

For a while in the 70s and 80s it was a big thing to become a sister city with someplace distant and/or impressive. Santa Pura, which is just to the south of Silver Creek, is sister city with some ancient village in China. In their central park they have a red pagoda as a sort of gazebo. It’s painted with fierce gold dragons and fat chrysanthemum blooms. Rather lovely, really, especially in the spring when the area around it is rich with irises and tulips.

To the north we have Lombards, which has as its sister city a distinguished Flemish town with an unpronounceable name. To show its fondness, the village gave to the town a gorgeous suit of armor worn by some medieval soldier with a truly historic codpiece. The armor is a marvelous piece of workmanship with bronzed vines and a truly panic-inducing helmet with tiny eye slits. There’s even a shield with a strutting red rooster prancing on a field of blue and white chevrons. The armor has pride of place in Lombards library and is actually something of a tourist attraction, being one of the finest pieces of Flemish armory in the U.S.

And then there’s Silver Creek and its sister city…Hoboken, New Jersey. God help us. Yup, that’s the best we could do. The gift from our sister city? A framed black and white photograph of three members of the Hoboken City Council shaking hands with three members of the Silver Creek City Council. Two of the three New Jerseyians later disappeared under mysterious circumstances and one was associated with that grim phrase, “dental records.”

We also had an autographed photo of Frank Sinatra inscribed “to the Hoboken of California.” God, what a phrase! An we had Sinatra’s movie camera. Or at least what purported to be. We knew because there was a blue and white Dyno label with “Sinatra” on it. There was no film, just an old Super 8 camera and case with his name. I always loved the label….like if he didn’t put his name on it, Joey Bishop would steal it without permission.

Hoboken…we couldn’t do better than Hoboken?

The only even vaguely historical item we had in town was three old bells that hung in an 8-foot high mock church steeple. The bells were said to commemorate Father Junipero Serra’s journey to bring smallpox and Catholicism to the pagans.

With typical modern scorn for anything worthwhile, this fake steeple, ended up in the parking lot of the Silver Creek McDonald’s. The McDonald’s people got tired of drunken kids trying to ring the bells, so they put a chain link fence around it, which looked incredibly hideous. So they asked the city to move it to the park.

And, in the half mile between McDonald’s and the park, the bells disappeared. That pretty much sums up Silver Creek. It’s the kind of place where three 100 lb bells can vanish in an afternoon and nobody thinks to notice until a year later when someone actually asks in a City Council meeting “hey, whatever happened to those bells?”

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Scenes from Silver Creek: Rufus and Mr. Goldman

Rumor had it Rufus was part bear, part German shepherd. His actual parentage was a mystery known only to god. Equally mysterious was where he came from. He showed up as a huge puppy one day, sleeping on the steps of city hall. When someone tried to pick him up, he gleefully decided it was a huge game and ran away, disappearing for a few days and then showing up again in the park.

From then on, he belonged to the town and the town belonged to him.

Everybody loved Rufus, even dog-haters, and he happily lived wherever he wanted. Any open door was an invitation and it wasn’t uncommon to look up and see him walking into your house. Half the businesses in town had bowls of water or food either on the sidewalk or just inside the door.

Rufus would frequently adopt people or businesses for a while. He’d decide to live at one house for a few weeks and then suddenly his gypsy would kick in and he’d be off somewhere else.

The Silver Creek Police Department, oddly enough, seemed to be his unofficial home. They set up a doghouse in the garage and that was his default shelter on rainy nights or when he decided he’d like to rough it rather than sleep on someone’s sofa. It always amused me that the never took him to the shelter or tried to reign him in. They let him come and go like the rest of the town. And occasionally they took him for a ride. The most un-K9 cop of them all. He’d sit in the passenger seat, head out the window, tongue hanging out, barking joyfully.

Rufus remained the town dog for about three years when he adopted Mr. Goldman.

Mr. Goldman was a locksmith who lived next door to my best friend, Sean. Rufus lived with Sean’s family for a week and then wandered out the door and into Mr. Goldman’s house. Like most of the city Mr. G welcomed Rufus with a fond scratch on the head and some leftover meatloaf. It must have been some great meatloaf, because Rufus never left.

All of Silver Creek, including Mr. G, expected Rufus to decamp after a week or so, but it never happened. Every time Mr. G let Rufus out he’d think it would be to move on, and yet Rufus stayed. And stayed.

After three months, Mr. G bought a collar.

After six months, Mr. G got Rufus a license.

It still wasn’t uncommon to see Rufus trotting down the street as though he owned it. But now it was in tandem with Mr. G.

And Rufus never left. He stayed with Mr. Goldman for the rest of his 12 years and when he died, the whole town held a memorial for the brown shaggy dog that everyone loved.

There’s still a plaque with a photo of Rufus on the wall of the Silver Creek Police Department.
Photo of the day; The Newcomers

Just brought into the shelter yesterday and still trying to figure out how things work. But kittens are very resilient. After an hour or so of coaxing and cuddling these two and their their siblings were happily being fed and having a good play. Extra cute, these guys. They'll find homes fast.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Photo of the day: Depository

Just put all your money here. Please.