Chapter 24: In Gouda We Trust Pt. II!!
Uploaded June 6th, 2000
Now Sterling had been briefed via Western Union wire that the new advertising material was on its way and had received a memo from Lazyacre up at the cheese factory to the effect that major prominence was to be afforded to the announcement of the new product.
So on receipt of the advertising copy he set to with a Will (who was his type-setter) to prepare the Examiner's next edition.
Well! Humble stock clerk to Managing Director in only weeks!
He grasped Lazyacre's proferred hand in both of his and shook it hard, all the while uttering his gratitude and appreciation for the advancement and opportunity. Jack clapped him hard on the back in fond cameraderie, and then clapped him hard again to help him disgorge the cigar that the first clap had send halfway down Lampard's throat.
Then, with due dignity, (after Lampard had begun to breathe again....) Lazyacre called in his senior clerks and announced to them that effective immediately they would be taking their orders and directives from Mr. Ernest W. Lampard Esq, the new Fenster Cheese Company Manager.
The following afternoon, the latest edition of Wayne Sterling's Toenail Ridge Examiner went on sale, available for purchase from Michael Cotton's General Store, Chuck Parker's Saloon, the Selbyville and Rowel train stations, and by subscription delivery to the outer lying farms and properties.
The Examiner always led each front page with the most important news of the day relative to the Valley of the Toenail Ridge, such as the edition of November 11th, 1918 which in banner headlines informed the reading public that Clay Shay's sow had broken a leg when it fell off the Lake Wallace dock where it had been chased by the local lads out for a laugh. At the bottom of page 4 the Examiner noted in passing that the Armistice had been signed in France, bringing to an end the War to end all Wars between the Allies and the Axis.
So it wasn't too surprising to most folks in the Valley that on unfolding their copy they were greeted with 56 point headlines announcing the local development and release of the greatest labour-saving device ever to have been discovered in the whole long, involved and distinguished history of these 48 United States!
No longer, stated the editorial spread across the next three pages, would the lady of the house have to force her dull knife through the hard and dry block of cheese in an effort to prepare luncheon victuals for her flaxen-haired children, nay!, the genius of one of our own sons of the Valley had solved all of her anguish and she would have time in abundance to apply to her more feminine pursuits and socializing engagements, secure in the knowledge that her offspring and her helpmeet had goodness and nourishment in their lunch pails in the form of Keen, Ripe, Always Pure, Healthy, Tasty KRAPHT Cheese slices!
Sterling then went on waxing lyrical and loquacious, extolling the brilliance of Ernie Lampard who had invented the concept, the Fenster Cheese Company technicians who had brought his magnificent idea to actuality, the dexterity of the staff who sliced and packed and shipped the product, not to mention the magnificent contributions that that fine gentleman and patriarch of the Valley, one New Jersey Jack Lazyacre, Esq. had bestowed on all those who were blessed to live in such a benign and fortunate place!
So by the time that the average denizen of Selbyville had digested this diatribe he or she was ready to digest the latest addition to the bill of fare from the local cheesy comestibles corporation.
And no less an impact did the country-wide advertising campaign have, with orders flooding into Lampard via Western Union wire and the overworked and underpaid United Post Office mailman Tom, he of the long suffering knees and back from transporting Mr & Mrs America's important communications to and from their loved ones.
The Fenster Cheese Factory moved into high gear, production going up 100% in a matter of days, the cheese slicers thumping away in their purpose-built annexe behind the main production facility.
One of the problems that this caused, however, which somewhat offset the huge economic benefits to the Valley of the Toenail Ridge, was the need for more labour to keep the output outputting and the income incoming.
And that started to rile a few folks in the valley, those who could trace their time in the idyllic setting back just about to the days of first settlement and Emmett Selby himself. Even the new old-timers, those who only been there a few years, began to mutter disquiet about the influx of them durn furrinners comin' into our valley and takin' all the best sites and leavin' their trash all over and durn-it, my pappy wouldn't'a put up with this sorta shennanigans, no sir! Next thing you know we gonna be overrun by all them durn (insert favourite ethnic slur here.......) jest like back in (insert name of former place of abode here....), durnnit!
Now, of course, when there is this type of discourse within a small community it is up to the community leaders to pour oil on troubled waters.
Especially those community leaders whose charge in life is the wellbeing of the spiritual aspects of their constituents.
So it came to the attention of Reverend Jeremiah Little that certain members of his flock had taken it upon themselves to cast aspersions in the general direction of some of the newcomers to the valley, especially those newcomers of different faith, colour, or land of birth.
Well, it may have become apparent in previous chapters of these chronicles, Gentle Reader, that the Rev. Little was not overly endowed with the milk of human kindness, his Christian beliefs leaning more in the threats of Revelations than in the love of the Gospels. 'Love Thy Neighbour' is one of the most beautiful commands of the Son of God.
.... unless you are of the mind set to take it literally, when it can be loosely translate as 'Fornicate Freely' and it was to this latter belief Little leant, and against which he preached volubly and interminably, warning and threatening his flock of the buckets of brimstone and hobs of hell-fire reserved in their name for those who looked with lust on any of their neighbours, friends, or just plain fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth. (Although any regular assignations between the blacksmith and the cooper's wife were purely co-incidental. Purely and simply. Co-incidental. Only chance. Really.)
So when Little decide to comment on the slurs and insults being hurled at newcomers, his studied and pious answer was "Let 'em go back where they come from, we don't want those no-accounts polluting our valley, anyway!"
He believed strongly that all men were created equal, after all, the Bible and the Constitution said so, but God in His infinite wisdom had meant for some men to be more equal than others, and it was for enlightened people like Little himself to be able to decide who qualified and who didn't.
And them newcomers takin' all our jobs and vittles and buying up our land and temptin' our daughters sure as Hades weren't intended to be God's chosen!
Well, a preacher's followers are called a flock. One of the most stupid creatures on the face of the Earth is the common sheep.
Sheep congregate in flocks.
A flock of sheep will follow mindlessly wherever the leader happens to go.
So it was that Little's utterances and diatribes led Little's Women and their husbands to repeat his words of dubious wisdom and spread his gospel all the whole length of the valley, missing no man, woman or child with its message.
Within a couple of days, Sheriff Dillon Matthews was alerted that a young feller, a newcomer to Selbyville, had gotten his nose busted and some skin knocked off in a dustup behind Chuck Parker's Saloon on Saturday night. His investigations led him to have a sheriff to barkeep chat with the saloon keeper to get at least one side of the story, and Parker, a former New York policeman himself, assisted the Sheriff with his enquiries to the best of his ability, up to the point where he was called on to name names.
Well now, that can be a pretty hard ask of a man whose livelyhood depends on the continued good opinion of his clients. So when it came time for poor Chuck to tell Dillon who hit who and with what while who else held the party of the third part in a hit-able position, the barkeep found himself smitten with a temporary bout of amnesia, not able for the life of him, so help me, God, to rightly identify one person who had been present at his saloon that night. Awful sorry, Dillon, it's just plumb leapt right out of my brain, gittin' old, I guess.......
The sheriff of the Valley of the Toenail Ridge was an astute man, a canny man. He understood the feelings of his fellow valley citizens, although he could certainly see both sides of the argument too.
Selbyville and the other little communities were booming, stores busy and new shops opening weekly to supply the monied populace with everything from candy to baby carraiges. The Toenail Ridge Shortline was running at capacity, carting out cases of KRAPHT cheese for trans-shipment at Rowel, and returning with cars-full of consumer goods and exotic imports for the dilectation of the cheese factory employees and their dependants.
The valley hadn't had a boom like this since the gold ran out back in old Emmett Selby's day.
And for the same reason as the first boom, this boom brought in all the same nationalities and races as the first one. And the desendants of those nationalities and races from the first boom were the ones damning the new arrivals for being from those same nationalities and races. However, it's a well know fact that the easiest way to change a (insert blasphemous word here...)(insert colour here....)(insert shape of eyes here....)(insert slur on legitimacy of parents union here....) into a gentleman is to have your daughter announce her engagement to him, so Sheriff Dillon approached New Jersey Jack Lazyacre to see if that man of intellect and organizing ability could perhaps come up with a suggestion to overcome the animosities rife in the valley.
They both knew that within a couple of years the whole problem would have gone away as families melded and kids grew up together so what was needed was a way to hurry up the process. The cheese factory was embarrassing Lazyacre with the wealth it was generating for him so in the true spirit of entrepreneurial philanthropy the lawyer proclaimed (normal people 'say', rich men earn the right to 'proclaim'...)"Reckon we could throw a bit of a shindig so's folks could get to know each other, what do ya say?"
No sooner said than done.
Ernie Lampard was not only an excellent manager, he was an organizer par excellence, and within a day of being given the charge by Lazyacre he had arranged tents, sideshows, transport, a cartload of the Selbyville brewery's product (at wholesale, of course...) and had some of the lesser clerks drafting invitations to be forwarded to every person living in the Valley of the Toenail Ridge.
Now, there is nothing in the world that will bring folks out of their shells and domiciles faster than a free feed and a free beer, so when the day of the Fenster Cheese Co. picnic dawned clear and bright, not a living soul in the whole Valley of the Toenail Ridge was absent from the park as festivities got under way.
Lazyacre gave a speech welcoming one and all to the gathering, making specific mention of the thanks due to his employees for the success of the new product. Thanks indeed to all of those whose labour had resulted in the fine repast laid out before them. Thanks also to those who had answered the call and flocked into the Valley to lend their skills and assistance to the original workers so that all could benefit from the improvements to living standards and Oh! By the way! Did I mention that because of all the business that all those newcomers had generated every working man and woman in the Valley who was employed by the Fenster Cheese Company was to receive an immediate two dollar rise, effective today! And I reckon that in gratitude every man jack and his wife and kids present here today should stand and offer three rousing cheers to those newcomers who have made this all possible!
Well, there are some people who can sell iceboxes to Innuits and New Jersey Jack Lazyacre was just such a man.
He'd been known to pass himself off as everything from a pious clergyman in Davenport, Iowa to a little old lady (he stood six foot three in his gartered socks....)when escaping debtors in San Francisco so with not much more than a modicum of effort he exhorted his captive crowd at the Selbyville picnic grounds and within minutes the first murmurings of agreement were heard amongst the throng, even from such illuminaries as the Reverend Jeremiah Little himself.
Lazyacre told those folks of the accomplishments of the newcomers to this Great Land (...and it's hard to pronounce Capital Letters in speech....), all the way from the immigrant patriots who fought the War of Independence and stood beside Davy Crockett at the Alamo to the great, nay, blessed allies who had helped America defeat the Hun in the Great War to End All Wars just past!
At a wink from Jack, the high school band began the strains of 'America the Beautiful' as the lawyer began his finale, extolling the now teary-eyed listeners to love their fellow man, to grasp his hand in friendship and to live together in Peace, Love and Harmony.
It's an interesting phenomenon about a large group of people, as soon as the emotions are called into play the collective IQ of the multitude decends to the level of the dumbest individual present.
(This is observed frequently at street demonstrations, environment rallies, riots and January Sales.)
So it came to pass that peace decended on the Valley of the Toenail Ridge, with folks basking in the afterglow of the picnic and plain just getting along with each other.
They all pretty much knew that it wouldn't last but at least while the latest situation had been defused time had a chance to work its wonders and build some real harmony amongst the folk of the valley.
At least until next time..........
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