My good and dear friend who was the first person to encourage me to write years ago reminded me that my tenuous hold on reality is not a recent phenomenon. Janet Ruhe-Shoen came back from Chile with her husband and daughter over twenty years ago and ended up settling in my home town of Beacon, N.Y. Janet was a genuine writer and was doing research on a book that was eventually published. No matter what I wrote she managed to find some of the words worthwhile. In my fantasy world, I was remaking the town and the surrounding area with the Rent-A-Nun store located next to the Moose store, where one could buy a used(I shudder to think what I meant by that) or new moose-all sales final. The Melzingah Buffalo Preserve flourished on the top of Mt. Beacon where pampered buffalo were transported to the bottom of the mountain in a wheel barrow. The caretaker, whose name eludes me, suffered from massive disfiguring hernias and was always in need of a new wheel barrow. I think from this caretaker's behavior came the physiological term "enabling". The buffalo also participated in illegal races in the Melzingah reservoir--a major source of revenue in our poor, near- death factory town. Consequently, repulsed Beaconites also built the first bottled water plant in New York. In most homes tap water was sniffed for chlorine, but Beacon water gave off a distinct odor of bison. The area also had other firsts. One weekend a family friend who had never ventured north of NYC. came for the weekend and requested a tour. I took her to nearby Wappingers Falls. While standing on the bridge that spanned the river, I pointed to the river bank where the the first factory was created on the banks of the Wappinger's river. Using water power the Indians would sit assembling tomahawks that moved briskly past them on a conveyor belt. Janet reminded me that my fantasy town also had the world's only totally blind dentist. Karen had to jar my memory, but she remembered the dentist had an incredible seeing eye dog who functioned as his assistant. The combination of braille x-rays and the dog barking--one bark for a cavity, two barks for a root canal and three for an extraction worked quite well. The dog, wearing purple gloves, handed the dentist the correct instruments. Being a German Shepard, one growl and a flash of teeth, was all that was needed for prompt payment. Otto the dog was deaf so complaints were useless--unless one knew German sign language. As i"m writing this I suddenly remembered that on his office wall he had a plaque inscribed "Blind Dentist of the Year-1965"-a fact the doctor was inordinately proud of and shared with every patient.
In real life I played whiffle ball in the backyard with my brother. A home run was a ball hit over the cherry tree. The voice of Red Barber giving the play-by-play on a hot, lazy Sunday afternoon drifted over the fence from the Nelson's back porch. That should have been enough back then--it would be now.