The Legend-News

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Monday, 2002 October 21 : Volume 5, Number 21
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What We Got Here in this edition of The Legend-News.

Meanwhile, Back At The Critter Ranch
Local boy does good

Glenn Pauls lives in Placerville, Colorado, "just over the hill from Ouray," he says, or about 35 miles by way of the regular highway. Inspired by the early songs of C.W. McCall, his family from Minnesota took a trip to Colorado in 1976. "Imagine my surprise as a 14-year-old boy that there really was a Silverton train, Black Bear Road, and a Conoco station in Ouray just down from the pool."

In the years since then he's made many trips back to the Ouray area, and he even met Bill Fries at a performance of C.W. McCall's San Juan Odyssey, where "he signed over the last copy of Wilderness to me." Glenn moved permanently to the area in 1996, and he's now working on a large land preservation project in Ophir.

He's also involved in a light industrial development project in Ridgway, just north of Ouray. The project is attempting to move business away from the scenic highway U.S. 550 and into the town of Ridgway itself. "In honor of Bill, I named a street after him, McCall Street. I hope that he will appreciate our efforts."

Glenn says that he'll send us a picture of the street sign when it's installed.


Old Home Café
An alternate universe

[Ed.'s Note: I haven't received any death threats since publishing the first episode of this story, so I'm assuming that someone out there is actually reading it and liking it. Please send all complaints, compliments and donations to ed@cw-mccall.com — Ed.]


Episode II: Westbound and Down

This is a serial story by Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental. I hope.

The pithy saying: "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade." The obvious conclusion: "Life occasionally sucks."

Avis Granelli had just pulled back onto Interstate 80, heading west from Le Claire, Iowa, when she heard a loud whump in the engine compartment of her BMW. The whump was followed by thwap thwap thwap, and then silence. Well, silence except for the engine, which continued to hum its usual tune. Avis expressed her displeasure with a hearty epithet, and decided to exit at the rest stop two miles down the road.

By the time that she reached the rest stop, Avis had noticed one effect of this sudden problem: the air temperature in the passenger compartment was rising. She held her hand before the air vent in the center of the dashboard and discovered that cool air was not being supplied. Her wild guess: the air conditioning had failed.

She pulled in, parked, and popped the hood of the car. Finding the compressor for the air cooler, she noted the obvious source of the problem: its drive belt was missing. She guessed that it had broken, and its short death throes had produced the noise which she heard.

She dropped the hood back into place and pondered her situation. The outside air temperature was 83 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the car's gauge, and the weather forecast estimated a high of 95 across most of Iowa. Her destination was Pisgah, and even if she continued her trip using I-80 she would still be travelling for at least six hours. Six hours with no air conditioning on a hot road. Six hours with the vent fan on high and the windows open and the wind roaring in her ears.

Avis was pissed.

But home was her destination, and she didn't want to spend a few hours finding a mechanic to replace the missing belt. The time was currently 10 A.M. and she had the entire day to reach Pisgah, but she didn't want to delay any longer: she had already spent three days driving to reach this point, and the further that she removed herself from New York City, the better. Six hours of less-than-cool air would be tolerable if it meant that she'd be somewhere familiar by evening. So she bought a cold Diet Coke from the rest area's vending machine and resumed her journey westward.

The back seat of the BMW was crammed with clothes; in the trunk was her computer, a small music system, and the few books that she deemed worthwhile to keep. Everything else from her apartment in New York she'd sold or given away to friends and charities; she already missed her nearly-new Krupps cappacino maker.

Iowa City, Grinnell, Newton, and Des Moines flashed by as Avis drove west, passing the cities and towns that she hadn't visited in the years since she'd moved to New York. For the first two hours, at least, the drive was tolerable with the windows down, a warm breeze flowing through and the stereo volume set high enough to overcome the roar of the traffic. Then fatigue began as she became increasing annoyed at the heat, the noise, and her situation.

She didn't really want to be driving to Pisgah, at least not for the reason that she had for doing so. She was unemployed; her position as an accountant was eliminated when the company for which she worked found itself to be the target of governmental scrutiny of accounting fraud, a scenario that seemed to be running rampant through Big Business. She was a collateral victim of other people's mistakes, and she wasn't happy about that. Living in New York was expensive and her savings had lasted for only a few months while she made a fruitless search for a new job. The ranks of the unemployed were now filled with thousands of accountants, but she was a too-small fish in a too-large pond.

Avis thought that a few weeks back in Pisgah would be the cure as she attempted to regain control of her life. She had lost control of her hair, she mused, from the constant hot wind; her coiffure now resembled an explosion. Her dad wouldn't notice, she knew, but Mom would tsk-tsk about the disarray. Mom still had her "truck stop waitress" hair-do from the '70s, a veritable helmet of hair.

The vacation would be nice, but she really needed to find a job. Maybe she could find a new position in Des Moines or Omaha; from those cities she could afford to visit Mom and Dad on the weekends. A job that was closer to home would be hard to find.

Interstate 80 turned to the southwest and Omaha, Nebraska. Avis left the wide, flat roadbed and continued west on I-680 towards the Missouri River. The hills became steeper and more rolling as the farmland disappeared. At Interstate 29 she turned north for twenty miles and then exited, heading to Mondamin and the Loess Hills area in which she was born. Those hills weren't as impressive as the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where her Uncle Bill lived, but they were just as pretty, and more beautiful than block after block of the brick, concrete, steel and glass of New York City. Only Interstate 90 in northern Indiana was more boring.

Soon Avis crossed the small bridge over the Soldier River and knew that she was almost home. A left turn up 1st Street, and she'd be a less than a mile away from Mom and Dad.

Up ahead, two motorcyclists were parked near the Old Home Café; another poker run, Avis guessed, because this was the time of year for bike rallys. The bikers were probably looking for a place to have a beer, but the "for sale" sign in the Café's window told them that they wouldn't be finding a cool one there.

Mom had told her about the closing of the Café. Avis was sure that she missed it, recalling the days that she'd be there, after school, helping out. She remembered that she told her Mom that one day she'd own that Café, and that it would be the best one around. That future didn't seem too likely now.

Across 1st from the Café sat a blue sedan, its driver studying a map. Probably a tourist, thought Avis, looking for what Pisgah didn't have.

As she crossed Main Street and passed the Old Home Café, Avis looked in the mirror and grimaced at the mess of her hair. A lot of brushing would be needed to fix that disaster. But that could wait; home was just up the road.


In our next exciting episode: something actually happens!


Song A’ Th’ Week
Words without music. Call 'em poems.

Glenn Pauls mentioned Ophir, which is near Ames, which is near Sawpit, all of which are mentioned in this tale of a locomotive hybrid.

The Gallopin' Goose
(Chip Davis, Bill Fries)
From the album Roses For Mama

On a cold November mornin’
Back in nineteen-thirty-seven
With an early snow a-fallin’
On the three-foot tracks at Ames
Came a mighty strange contraption
Known to trainmen as a motor
But to folks in Colorado
She was known by another name

Up the canyons south of Sawpit
Past the red Cathedral spires
’Cross the yellow mountain switchbacks
And the rapids far below
On the high and lofty trestles
Near the fabled mines of Ophir
In the silver San Juan Mountains
Came a goose a-plowin’ snow

[Chorus]
With a Pierce-Arrow engine,
Runnin’ hot and on the loose
Came the Rio Grande Southern
The Gallopin’ Goose
With a Pierce-Arrow engine
Runnin’ hot and on the loose
Came Number Five, The Gallopin’ Goose

’Twas a four-door auto-mobile
On a dozen wheels of iron
Sixteen feet of rockin’ boxcar
Spot-welded to her tail
Loaded down with mercantile
Ten bags a’ high-grade ore
Two mothers nursin’ babies
Seven miners an’ the mail

Up the side a’ Sunshine Mountain
By internal gas combustion
Eight Pierce-Arrow pistons pullin’
Fifteen thousand pounds a’ lead
At the snowshed on the summit
The conductor said his prayers
He’d acquired a busted driveshaft
On the pass at Lizard Head

[Chorus]
With a Pierce-Arrow engine
Runnin’ hot and on the loose
Came the Rio Grande Southern
The Gallopin’ Goose
With a Pierce-Arrow engine
Runnin’ hot and on the loose
Came Number Five, The Gallopin’ Goose

[Musical interlude here.]

Down the three-percent to Rico
In the valley of Dolores
They still talk about the Southern
An’ her flock of flyin’ geese
From the roundhouse at Ridgway
To the depot at Durango
All the tracks are gone for scrap iron
And the ganders rest in peace

Up the canyons south of Sawpit
Past the red Cathedral spires
’Cross the yellow mountain switchbacks
And the rapids far below
On the high and lofty trestles
Near the fabled mines of Ophir
In the silver San Juan Mountains
There’s a legend in the snow

[Chorus]
With a Pierce-Arrow engine
Runnin’ hot and on the loose
Came the Rio Grande Southern
The Gallopin’ Goose
With a Pierce-Arrow engine
Runnin’ hot and on the loose
Came Number Five, The Gallopin’ Goose


“The Gallopin’ Goose” can be found on the album The Best of C.W. McCall.


Next Issue

Will Avis finally reach home? Will Jon stop staring at that map? Will Mr. Exposition start writing some dialog? Yes!


The Legend-News is published fortnightly — unless the fortnight is the fifth Monday, in which case it's published fortnightly-and-a-half — by TechRen Enterprises, fully-loaded with optional extras installed. Contents Copyright 2002 TechRen Enterprises, except for anything that we borrowed from someone else. Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music, and thanks to a Large Multinational Record Company That We Can't Name Because They Might Notice Us for not suing our pants off. "Honk! Honk! Why, it's Wobbles the Goose!"