Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell 1872-1970


Richard E. Noble

Bertrand Russell was a scientist, mathematician, educator, and philosopher. From the philosophical point of interest he stands out most prominently because of his avowed atheism. Most people, me included, have a great difficulty in understanding atheism. How can anyone not believe in God, asks Oprah Winfrey and a host of others.
Well Bertrand, as with most else, explains himself very simply and reasonably. His defense of his atheism goes something like this.
If God is defined as the Creator of all that is, and all that is, is inclusive of evil, then God must have created evil.
If God created evil, then He must be evil or at least partly evil, and if God is evil and it is illogical and against common sense and reason to believe that God can be both good and evil; and if there is then something that is truly evil and not just apparently evil; then God must, by rational definition, be evil. And so concludes Bertrand, I refuse to believe in a God that is evil.
So, when Bertrand denies the existence of God, in his mind, he is not denying 'goodness', but affirming the existence of 'evil'.
He defines evil not as war and murder, or rape and human cruelty and injustice entirely but as the basics of nature; natural disasters, floods, volcanoes, typhoons, disease, defects of birth, the predatory survivalist nature of creatures (animals eating one another to survive) sickness, pain, and death. So, says Bertrand, since there is objective evil, if there is a God, He too must be evil. This leaves a reasonable man with only two choices, either believe in a God that is evil, or not believe in God at all. For my part, states Bertrand, I choose not to believe in a God that is evil. So I do not choose to believe in God at all.
Because of this point of view Bertrand was not very well appreciated by any of the religions of the world. There is no other way to win the hatred of more human beings of all colors and types at one time than to deny the existence of a Creator to the universe. When Bertrand became deathly sick one time in India or the Orient, his hospital was immediately surrounded by believers who prayed, sang hymns, chanted and spun prayer wheels calling to God for his death. Despite all the prayers, Bertrand did not die. In fact, he lived to be almost one hundred.
It does seem, strangely enough, that possibly God was not as offended by Bertrand Russell and his point of view as the majority of God professed followers. And though Bertrand Russell was a preacher of a 'creed' there has not been, as of yet, a 'religion' established in his name and memory, which does seem surprising.
I can see no more fit ending for this piece than the words of a famous poet from my home town of Lawrence, Mass., Robert Frost.
"God forgive my little jokes on Thee, and I will forgive your great big one on me."

Mabel, Violet, Bill and Harold

Lawrence – My Hometown

Mabel, Violet, Bill and Harold

By Richard E. Noble

Jack Sheehy, Frank Duchnowski and me were VIPs at the 5 O’clock Club. We had our reserved seats at the back bar directly behind the cash register. It actually seems like we spent an entire lifetime sitting there. In truth, I suppose that it was only ten or twelve years – and then only the summers. It was kinda the old Nell’s how-to-start-a-corner-theory, I suppose. Sit and hangout and “they shall come.” If it was summertime and anybody was looking for any of us, they knew where to go. We were a part of the art deco. We were the gang from “Happy Days” maturing and drinking competitively.
One of the challenges of our sentry positions behind the cash register at the Five was to sit there each evening drinking continuously from 5 or 6 p.m. to closing at 1 a.m., and then rising from our stools and walking to the front door as if we were sober. That involved a number of pretenses – no stumbling, no stuttering, no unreasonable laughing, no knocking over chairs or tables, and saying goodnight to Mabel, Violet and Harold on the way out without slurring. Bill was usually with us each night at the bar so we already said goodnight to him. I guess we were kinda like the Walton’s of the Five – goodnight John-Boy.
Mabel, Violet, Bill and Harold were the owner family who ran the 5 O’clock Club at Salisbury Beach. They were a wonderful bunch and we had a great time teasing them. I think their last name was Nabhan. Over the years we became friends. I even delivered chickens to their mother’s place out on Seabrook Beach. I owned a little meat market in Lawrence and she said she loved “my” chickens. I tried to explain to her that they weren’t really “my” chickens and I just bought them from John the Chicken Man at S.H. Brennan’s. But she wouldn’t buy that simple explanation. She felt that I had put my touch onto these chickens and they were special. After awhile she actually had me wondering. Maybe it was me? Maybe I had the Midas “Chicken” Touch. It could happen, I suppose!
Harold was the Commander and chief, Bill was an enlisted Air Force man who had married Mabel. Mabel was a challenge; she was very serious. Violet, on the other hand, could have been named Marilyn or Niki. She was very giggly and silly. One could stare at Mabel and get nothing but a curious glance in return. Violet could not take the pressure. If you looked at her, she laughed. Bill was one of the guys. He laughed joked and teased. He caught on to our routines instantly.
Violet, Mabel and Bill were always buying us free drinks. Harold on the other hand was a hard butt. He considered himself to be a reasonable and practical man. He was an officer in the Military and a West Point graduate – and I think he served in the military of the United States of America after graduation as opposed to the French Foreign Legion or something like that. On top of that he was a lawyer. He didn’t practice though. He was too busy tending bar, checking IDs and watering down our drinks at the Five.
Violet and Bill were the best pourers – heavy on the booze and light on the “filler.” Harold, on the other hand, had to be watched closely and coached constantly. “Harold, Harold! You were a little quick on the gin. You want to try that again and this time I’ll count to three for you.”
Harold did have occasion to use his legal expertise though. He told us of one interesting case that he said set a precedent in the Seabrook annals of juris prudence.
Now I may have this a little upside down so don’t sue me Harold, but this is the way I remember it.
Harold who was no spring chicken at the time – maybe in his mid-thirties had, at long last, met the girl of his dreams and fallen in love. Harold asked the young lady for her hand. She accepted and Harold went shopping for a ring. He bought his girlfriend a lovely and very expensive engagement ring. She accepted it and promised to be his bride.
But Harold was of a very suspicious nature. He didn’t get to be single in his mid-thirties by just “jumping” into things. He had been hearing rumors. He was going to hire a detective to follow her around but then decided that he should do it himself. The fact that it was cheaper to do the tailing himself was really not the issue – he explained. This involved honor not money.
Duchy criticized Harold’s approach to the matter. “If you don’t trust somebody, you shouldn’t marry them,” Dutch advised.
Harold smirked, indicating Duchy’s naiveté.
In the weeks and months that followed Harold deployed many disguises and aliases culminating at a second floor bedroom window expose’. It seems that Harold was so shocked at what he saw that he nearly fell off his ladder. His promised bride to be was making mad passionate love to another of Harold’s old girlfriends. Now even as I write this tale I become dubious of my memory but this was Seabrook, a community much ahead of the times.
Harold was so distraught over this discovery that he sued his prospective bride for breech of promise. He wanted his expensive ring returned. Duchy contended that this was not the action of a compassionate man. He told Harold that the ring was a gift to Harold’s chosen bride, someone that he once loved, and it should be forgotten. Harold’s eyebrows rose and his nose elevated. “Really,” he said. “And this is what you would do if you were in my situation?”
“Of course,” Duchy replied. “A gift is a gift. You made a mistake and now you should be man enough to accept the consequences.”
“Well,” Harold said, “returning to the world of reality and the LAW. I took her to court, won my case, and got my ring returned. You see LEGALLY the ring was not a “gift.” It was a contract. The ring was given on the condition of the acceptance of marriage. She failed to meet the understood conditions of the proposal and therefore she was required to return the ring.”
“Yeah but she didn’t say that she wouldn’t marry you,” Jack interjected.
“Yeah, but I ain’t going to marry her when she’s sleeping with my ex-girlfriend for god’s sake.”
“So then YOU broke the contract and she should get to keep the ring,” Dutch expounded.
“No, no, no, no. You can’t be engaged to somebody and go sleeping around with other people.”
“Really, did you guys know that?” Duchy asked.
“Well, all I know is Nancy Mahoney got caught screwing her best man after the wedding in his car out in the parking lot behind St. Patrick’s Church and she didn’t give back her engagement ring or her wedding ring,” Jack said.
“Yeah but the guy Nancy Mahoney married was Freddy Grogan and he got caught with Nancy’s bride’s maid in the lady’s room. He couldn’t really ask for his ring back after that.”
“Not only that, Freddy borrowed the money for the ring from Nancy in the first place. So whose ring was it really?” Jack added.
“Oh my god,” said Harold. “You can’t talk to you guys from Lawrence about anything serious. You guys live in another world down there.”
“Oh yeah? … And Salisbury and Seabrook are in the real world, I suppose,” offered Jack.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m going to give you all a round on the house and let’s just change the subject.”
“Okay, start pouring and I’ll count to three the correct way – one a thousand, ahh … two a thousand, and ahhh … Dutch are you timing this with your watch?” Jack asked.
“I left my watch at home,” Dutch confessed sadly.
“Three,” said Harold, “and that’s it.”
You see, one had to be good to work a free drink out of Harold.

Richard Edward Noble is a freelance writer and columnist. His local column, the Eastpointer, won the first place 2007 humor award from the Florida Press Association. He has published several books. All of his books can be viewed and purchased on He can be contacted at for discounts and volume sales.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Eastpointer

Sitting on the dock of the bay

By Richard E. Noble

Our first year oystering on Cat Point was what some might call a “religious” experience. The bay was a miracle, we were told.

In those first few years that we were here - from 1982 to 1985 - the oyster crop was abundant. There were more oyster boats on Cat Point in those years than there has ever been since, I’m sure. In fact paranoia had set in.

New people came to Apalachicola Bay from all over. There were people here from Alabama, Georgia, Chesapeake Bay, Louisiana, Mississippi, and all parts of Florida. Carol and I were from Massachusetts. But Carol and I were a fluke. Most of the others were here because they had heard about the bumper oyster crop. They came here specifically to catch oysters.

Finally a year arrived where the local oystermen could make a little money and people were coming from everywhere as if Apalachicola Bay was Sutter’s Creek and it was 1849. There were meetings at the courthouse. Most oystermen wanted to protect the local oyster crop from this foreign invasion. What could they do?

As Carol and I would sit out on the dock at the Island View Campground and look at all the boats on Cat Point, we would speculate on how long our migrant experience here in Franklin County would last.

In those days we were migrant workers. We went from one area to another harvesting apples, oranges, peaches or whatever. We were completely mobile. If there were no oysters here next September we would be off to Michigan to pick apples. And from what we could see, we were convinced that this was just another short run working experience. With all those boats smothering Cat Point, it would be a miracle if there were even shells left come next year. We weren’t worried but the locals were. We had a rented boat and an old motor that cost us $300. We could throw the old motor away and we’d still be ahead on this work stop.

We asked the owner of the campground about this situation. He was a dealer, and a lifetime oysterman. He laughed. “This is nothing,” he said. “I’ve seen times when this bay was so thick with oyster boats that you could walk from one boat to the next from here to the Island and never get your feet wet.”

We discounted his testimony as that of a businessman who was making money off the influx of “foreigners.” Bosses love to see lots of available workers; it keeps wages low and profits up.

We decided to go to the meeting at the courthouse and listen to the locals and the guest experts. There were advisers here from numerous government agencies. They we here to explain the options to the outcry of concerned oystermen.

The oystermen wanted restrictions. Some wanted permits to be sold only to residents of Franklin County. Others suggested that the number of licenses sold should be limited and on a first come first serve basis. In the future oyster licenses would be handed down to family members or sold by the license holder. There were numerous suggestions, but the experts from the DNR and all the other agencies shot down the possibilities one after another.

The experts suggested charging more for an oystermen’s license. A license sold for $5.00 and you could buy one at the courthouse any time of the year. The experts suggested the possibility of a $500 license. The oystermen gagged. Were these guys kidding? That price would not only restrict the outsiders but the locals as well.

It was the workers responsibility to find work. If there were no oysters in Apalachicola next year, the oystermen would have to become something else. Carol and I had already set ourselves up to find other options. If there were no more oysters, we would move on down the road to the next job. We knew how to survive. That was our whole idea. We would not be trapped by an expensive house and a job at the local mill - or oyster bar. We would carry our home on our back and move it to wherever the work was.

But when that next year arrived, there were as many oysters on Cat Point as there were the year before. As the years went by the Cat Point crop varied but there were always oysters. So we hung around. You might say we fell into the “security trap.”

We’re still here. We’ve moved on from oystering. There are new problems and new worries for the oystermen but the oysters are still here. Most of the Dealers are gone. The Marine Patrol is gone and so are their Miami Cigarette Boats and helicopters. The DNR is gone. The check stations are gone. But there are still oysters and there are still oystermen.

The Eastpointer is R.E. Noble’s latest publication. It is a selection of columns from the Franklin Chronicle. It is for sale on Amazon along with his other works. Richard Noble is a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for thirty years.
Lawrence – My Hometown

She says she’s a mop

Richard E. Noble

Lawrence is, of course, the Immigrant City. In Lawrence your ethnic heritage was a thing of pride and all your friends knew what nationality you were. I never thought much about it until I settled in the South.
In the South ethnic heritage is more simply defined – you are either black or you are white; you are a Yankee or you are a good old boy (Redneck). I have managed to pass for white here in the South but I have never gotten past being a Yankee. The minute I open my mouth some guy who looks like Baby Huey and has a whole pack of cigarettes in his mouth that he is attempting to eat but can’t seem to swallow says, “You ain’t from around here, are ya?”
Many guys “way down yonder” are named “boy.” I would imagine their sisters are named “girl.” In the South they are not much on imagination or diversity. They are all “American.”
I told somebody who came to my little ice cream parlor that I was part English. The rumor went around town that some “foreigner” from Britain owned the ice cream parlor in Carrabelle. British tourists would come into my shop and ask me where in England I was raised. Many locals in this neighborhood think New England is a country in Europe. It is mixed in somewhere among those other countries like Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Spain, France and New England. I told one guy that Massachusetts was in New England. He said, “No way man, Massachusetts is right here on the east coast of the United States.” I decided not to pursue any further debate on the issue.
But in Lawrence a person’s ethnic heritage was something to take pride in. The majority of my buddies had a parent or grandparent who spoke something other than English. When some old grey haired woman stuck her head out of a second storey window and began chattering in gibberish, it was no big deal. From my point of view all grandmothers spoke some sort of gobblygook. It didn’t bother me or any of my buddies.
Mr. Reardon, who lived next store, was Scottish. Mr. Reardon spoke English, he wife said, but whatever he was speaking was Greek to me.
He would pick me up in his 1934 Chevy four door with the red, spoked tire rims on his way to church. He would mumble something and they would both turn and look at me sitting there in the back seat of their car. After a few moments of awkward silence, his wife would say, “He wants to know how you are doing in school.” It would continue like this all the way from Chelmsford St. to the Immaculate Conception Church. He would mumble. She would look at my bewildered face and then translate and I would answer.
My grandmother spoke no English that I remember. Her usual greeting was, “You workie, Richie?” As long as I “workie” she would give me a smile.
I would sit in her living room as a little boy for hour after hour listening to a Polish radio station playing Polish polkas. Every half hour or so the guy on the radio would say something in English. It went like this, “Pierogui goumphki mushtuski Heffern’s gas station. Or in the middle of a long line of gibberish the announcer would throw in a Breen’s funeral home, or an Essem hot dogs. I thought it was all some kind of comedy show, like Sid Ceasar’s Show of Shows. Even the music was funny. I would laugh and Grammy would laugh because I had laughed and we both had a great time. I didn’t know what she was laughing at and she didn’t know what I was laughing at, but it was all laughs so who cares.
One day we had a minor calamity at 32 Chelmsford St. My uncle Clayton and my aunt Amelia were moving out of the apartment upstairs. They were buying their own home over on Exchange St. across the street from the Polish Bakery. A new family was moving in. The little tenement was a buzz with rumors. What would this new family of strangers be like? My mother was snooping around for information. She couldn’t get much out of my uncle. She saw my grandmother sitting out on the front porch. She decided to go out and grill her. My mother spoke Polish. I could hear them jabbering. It was summer time and the windows were up with the screens in place.
They were talking for some time when suddenly my mother burst into laughter. She came running down the corridor and into the house. She couldn’t stop laughing.
“What’s so funny,” I asked.
“The new lady upstairs, she’s a mop.”
“She’s a mop?”
“Grammy was talking to the new lady and Grammy asked the lady what nationality she was. Grammy said that the lady told her that she was a mop. Grammy shrugged her shoulders and asked me if I knew what country mops came from? I couldn’t figure it. I asked Grammy if she knew the lady’s last name. The lady’s name is Ciardello.”
“She ain’t a mop. She’s a wop.”
“Yes, Mrs. Ciardello told Grammy that she was a wop and Grammy never heard of the word wop, so she figured she meant mop. So Grammy thinks Mrs. Ciardello is a mop.”
“So did you straighten her out?”
“I tried. I told her that Mrs. Ciardello was a wop and not a mop. But Grammy said that she knew of no country called Wop or Mop. I tried to explain to her that people who come from Italy are called wops but Grammy said, wops, mops it doesn’t matter to her as long as the lady pays her rent she can be a mop or a wop or whatever she wants to be.”

Richard Edward Noble is a freelance writer and columnist. His local column, the Eastpointer, won the first place 2007 humor award from the Florida Press Association. He has published several books. All of his books can be viewed and purchased on He can be contacted at 1-850-670-8076 or for bookstore discounts and volume sales.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nietzsche (1844-1900 A.D.)


Richard E. Noble

Frederick Nietzsche is the only so called philosopher whom I have delved into so far that I can sum up in one word ... MAD.
Little, puny, sickly, hate-filled Freddie didn't have to fall on his head, as his father had, in order to go completely berserk. Freddie did it all on his own. The last ten years of his life were spent in the nut house, a situation on which his poor mother commented something to the effect, "It is so nice to have my little baby back once again."
When I first began perusing Nietzsche, I realized very quickly that I had already done all of this. I had already read Adolf Hitler and Nietzsche's modern day, theoretical little step daughter Ayn Rand.
Nietzsche actually says that there will come a time in the future when the world will no longer be divided into B.C. and A.D. but B.N. and A.N., before and after Nietzsche.
There is also the theory that little Freddie was suffering from either congenital or acquired syphilis. There exists the same theory as regards to Adolf Hitler. I have heard no such rumors as with regards to little Ayn, but I'm sure they are in the making.
It seems that little Freddie actually considered himself THE anti-Christ, whatever that is.
Freddie was the son of a preacher man, and a devout Christian mother. Everybody in the family loved Freddie but little Freddie himself.
I am convinced that one hour of reading our man Frederick could turn even the most devoted atheist to seek God, and redemption.
Freddie is the man who announced in his Thus Spake Zarathustra that, "God Is Dead!" in case you have always wondered who mouthed that one.
Need I tell you that our man B.N./A.N. had a little problem with suicide? He has confessed, himself, to the notion of putting a revolver to his head. Boy, if only he had some of that "Superman" strength that he told us so much about, and had the courage to pull the damn trigger.
There is also a legitimate theory that the entire German nation may be subject to lunacy. Ger-mania - Ger meaning war ... mania meaning crazed or insane behavior. This might well be the subject of a serious psychological investigation. We could then follow up this study on the basic tendency of Mankind, in general, towards self abuse and personal destruction. I'll leave such an investigation to a more dedicated and younger investigator. Good luck, who ever you are.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Lawrence My Hometown

Clarence Darrow, F. Lee Bailey and Morris Ravitch

By Richard E. Noble

I have written about this event in my mini-novel A Summer with Charlie, but now here’s “the rest of the story.”
The Salisbury police busted into our little castle on Old Town Way and threw a bunch of us into the pokey. Those of us who were the victims of this brutality on the part of the Salisbury police decided that we would take this group of ruffians to court. After all, we were all mature, responsible adults at the time of our arrest and it was unanimous that these make believe, wannabe flatfoots had grossly overstepped their authority. Who did they think they were dealing with here - a bunch of kids? So what if we had a few beers and were a little rowdy. We were old enough to drink – most of us. We paid for our booze. We paid our cottage rent. We contributed to the financial success of the 5 O’clock Club, and the Normandy, and the Kon Tiki, Mac Jenney’s, the Edward’s Hotel and the Bowery and everywhere man! We were a positive attribute of the Salisbury economic community. We should have been treated with some respect! We weren’t a bunch of punk kids sitting out on the corner no more. We were adults and should be treated accordingly. We worked for a living. We collected paychecks. We were big boys now. We had this same cottage for the last three years in a row. We didn’t get thrown out. The place had not been condemned or anything like that. We decided to contest our fines and seek damages for being abused, mistreated, manhandled, harassed, and humiliated. We got a court date.
In the weeks before our day in court, we decided to solicit character witnesses from our beach neighborhood on Old Town Way. Most of the neighbors agreed that we had not caused a disturbance on the night in question. Of course, many of them were guys we knew who were also from Lawrence or Lowell or Haverhill and had rented their own cottage. Nevertheless a number of them agreed to come and testify on our behalf.
This was all well and good but we needed a “credible” witness. There was good old George and his family who lived across the way and few doors down. He was a nice guy. We had him and his wife over to our place many times for a beer and some pizza or an Italian Hogie from Lena’s or Tony’s (Papalardo’s) Subs. He was not only a real person but also a retired cop from Haverhill. We decided to go over and talk to him about our situation.
When we told him that we had been arrested for disturbing the peace he was shocked. He was right there in his cottage that night and he never heard a thing.
“Would you come to court and testify for us, George?”
“You are darn right, I will! These guys down here aren’t even real police. They’re a bunch of part-time bozos who want to be important. I don’t know how they get off arresting you guys.”
“All right, George!”
When our day in court finally arrived, we gathered up all our buddies and went and got George. As we wandered, nervously around the court house, who do we bump into? Why, none other than the most famous barrister in all of Lawrence, Morris Ravitch.
When Morris found out that we were defending ourselves in this endeavor. He shook his head sadly and said, “That could be a big mistake, boys. You know the old saying; A man who is his own defense often ends up with a fool for his attorney. If I were you guys, I wouldn’t go in there without a lawyer.”
“Yeah, but we can’t afford no lawyer.”
“What the heck are you talking about? How many accused do we have here?”
“There’s six of us.”
“Okay, you got ten bucks each?” We all began shuffling through our billfolds and we each gave Morris ten bucks.
“Okay boys, you’re all set. I’ll see you in court.”
“Don’t you need to know about our case?”
“Oh yeah, what happened to you guys anyway?”
We told Morris our whole story and introduced him to George and all the rest of our witnesses.
The Salisbury cops gave their side of the story first: We were loud and noisy. All the neighbors had been calling. We were all drunks. We were out in the middle of the street waving beer bottles around. We were sitting on top of cars. We were yelling and screaming and using abusive language. We had the radio blearing. There were half naked, underage girls everywhere, and yeahti, yeahti, yeahti – the same old same old we had heard a million times.
We were all dressed in our Sunday best. One by one we told the judge of the physical and psychological abuse that had scarred our personalities – probably for the rest of our lives. We showed the judge the marks still on our wrists from the handcuffs. We contested the drunken issue and why shouldn’t girls be half naked – this was Salisbury Beach for god’s sake. Everybody is half naked at the beach. If any of the girls were under age they weren’t under by much and they had never mentioned it to any of us. Yes we may have been sitting on cars but they were our cars, parked in our parking spaces. But we took a special exception to the noise accusation. At this point Morris started calling the neighbors to testify.
The judge didn’t seem to be buying a word of it until Morris brought up old George, the retired Haverhill policeman. The Judge even knew George. Morris asked George if he had heard the aforementioned social disturbance.
“I’ll tell ya, I didn’t hear a thing. These kids are all great. I live right across the street. I have even been over to their cottage. These are all good boys.”
“You didn’t hear a lot of screaming and yelling?”
“I didn’t hear anything.”
“You didn’t hear anything?” Morris emphasized. “You live right across the street and you didn’t hear any noise? You didn’t hear the alleged loud music? You didn’t hear boys and girls screaming and yelling?”
“Nothing! I didn’t hear anything.”
“My god, are you deaf or what?” one of the accusing cops burst from his seat.”
“Well,” George said. “I have been having a little trouble lately. The doctor says that my right ear is completely gone but my left ear is still working at about 50 percent. I don’t hear everything these days. I have to keep the TV volume up pretty high. But I’m getting by.”
The judge fined each of us forty bucks apiece. We didn’t get any jail time though. Thank-you Mr. Morris Ravitch, attorney at law.

Richard E. Noble was raised in Lawrence, Mass and is now a freelance writer. He has published six books. Two of them have Lawrence as their setting, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. A Little Something is a book of poetry -parts of it inspired by life in Lawrence. Hobo-ing America is a workingman’s tour of the U.S.A. The Eastpointer is selected pieces from his award winning column about life in a sleepy fishing village in the Florida Panhandle.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Cat Point

Cat Point

Leroy “Bubba” Richman – Southern Democrat

By Richard E. Noble

I have this sorta friend. His name is Leroy “Bubba” Richman. He lives in the Plantation on St George Island. He is very, very rich. I know this because he lets me know how truly wealthy he is in every conversation we have or have ever had. His taxes for the year are more than I have ever earned in a year – maybe two years. I know what his taxes are because he has told me – many, many times. His home on the island is worth several million, he says.

I first met Leroy shooting pool at Charlie’s bar in Eastpoint many years ago. He is originally from Alabama. He made his fortune the hard way – selling aluminum siding. Before the aluminum siding he sold mobile homes.

For some reason he likes to hang around poor people. That’s how we became friends. He is into politics. Well, he isn’t into anything but he talks a lot of politics. He says that he is a Democrat. I told him that he was no such thing. I know a Democrat when I hear one. I told him that he was a Southern Democrat aka a Redneck Republican. He said that he was not a Redneck Republican but a true Democrat. He is just not like those “weird” Democrats that they have up North. He really didn’t use the word weird. He had his own synonym. It rhymes with words like deer and leer.

One of the many things that he doesn’t like is volunteer fire departments. He says, “If them boys want to play with fire trucks they should buy their own and not ask me to pay for it.”

Because Bubba Richman pays substantial income taxes along with his substantial property taxes, he feels like he is paying for everything, including everyone’s salary.

When he gets done eating at any local restaurant that he enjoys, he will tell the owner that he will be “supporting” him in the future. That means that he will be back again to eat.

He spoke out (at Charlie’s) against the volunteer fire department when they were first considering a local fire tax to support the department.
I thought he wanted something better. That was not the case. He wanted something worse.

“If them boys want to play fire chief, let ‘em do it. They aint getting’ paid now and they love it. Why start paying ‘em.”

“Well, the tax isn’t for salaries it is for more professional equipment and training. At the moment in Eastpoint they have an old fire truck that was built at the original Ford motor company and if they can get it started they tie a shrimp boat mooring line to the back bumper and drag a water truck behind it.”


“So that’s good enough for you and your ten million dollar home on the Island?”

“Listen son, if my home burns down, I will just build a new one. I don’t care nor do I need a fire department. The fire department is for my neighbors and folks like you. You folks want it, you should pay for it, not me. I don’t need it.”

“But aren’t we all members of a community? Shouldn’t we all chip in and do our part?”

“You can do your part by buying some insurance. If everybody had insurance, we wouldn’t need a fancy fire department. As long as that truck on a rope gets there to wet down the ground around the burning house, who cares. That’s good enough. And all those volunteers can play fireman all they want to.”

“Well, you know if I were a volunteer fireman and I thought that everybody thought like you, I wouldn’t volunteer any more.”

“Oh yes you would.”

“Why would I?”

“Because you like playing on fire trucks.”

“I don’t like playing on fire trucks.”

“Not you, but them guys that do that.”

“You just don’t want to pay any taxes.”

“I pay enough taxes. With all I pay in taxes we should have a fire department here in Franklin County like they have in New York City.”

“Why don’t you move to New York City? Then with all the taxes you pay you would have the fire department that you deserve.”

“I like the fire department I got right now. An old water truck on a rope is fine. That’s all we need around here. You are the one that wants a better fire department.”

“I didn’t ask for a better fire department. I have an old junk trailer. If it burns to the ground, I’ll go a find another old junk trailer.”

“See, now your thinking like me. Let me buy you another beer.”
“No way man. You start buying me beers and somehow you’re going to think that you own me. I don’t want your sorry butt “supporting” me too.”

“See, now you are becoming a Southern Democrat, instead of one of them “funny” Yankee Democrats they got up there where you come from.”

[Please don’t show this column to anyone currently volunteering on our local fire departments. I love people who volunteer for anything. I wish that they could all get paid. I wish that volunteers had a union. I am not a Southern Democrat. I’m a damn Yankee Democrat.]