Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Engineering in Loonville

I am in the driveway behind the house cleaning the car. I have washed it and now I am vacuuming the inside. Delbert and his friend, Will, who lives next door to the east, are just the other side of the fence in our backyard. I stop the machine, as I have finished that chore, just in time to hear Will say, "Let's go over to my Grandfarter's. He'll give us a dime to leave him alone." Delbert said, "Don't you mean 'grandfather'?" Will replies, "Yeah, that, too. But I meant what I said. C'mon, you'll see. Just don't pull his finger!

Mrs. Lewis is a widow. She has two children, Will, seven and Pamela, nine. Like the neighbors on the other side of us, these are pleasant children, and our children have developed good rapport with them.

Mrs. Lewis, Carol to her friends, is a hard-working woman, clerking at the local general store by day, and taking in ironing which keeps her busy at all hours. She has her admirers; and has on numerous occasions, she confided to my wife, been asked "out." She has declined all these invitations, saying she is much too busy trying to raise her kids to get herself involved with a man who, "for crying out loud might need even more raisin' than they do."

On the other side of Mrs. Lewis live Mr. and Mrs. Adams. No one ever sees Mrs. Adams, except once a month when he guides her solicitously to the car. They always return in exactly four hours. I sort of got acquainted with Mr. Lewis when I discovered that he played chess. We would meet in the little park behind the firestation perhaps three or four times each summer for a game. I never learned much about him from the "horse's mouth." We were so evenly matched at chess that virtually all our games ended in a draw.

But talk is not an expensive commodity in Loonville, and many people over the years were quite willing to fill me in. Not all the stories would fit appropriately into a family newspaper such as this one, but one of the best followed along these lines.

Mr. Adams is a genius. I can believe it. Mr. and Mrs. Adams are reclusive. No kidding. In his youth, Mr. Adams studied engineering at Purdue and was employed throughout his career by a leading construction company, where he rose to the level of High Mucky-muck. They bought the little house on Water Street when he retired and moved into the community. (This datum in itself leads me to suspect that much of what I was told was created from whole cloth, inasmuch as they were not "local." Neither were we, and heaven knows what was said about us.)

Mrs. Adams liked her little house very much, and Mr. Adams found much pleasure in tending the flowers and dressing the yard. But there was one flaw. The house had no basement, and the Missus very much wanted one, for whatever reason no one could fathom. So the Mister devised a plan to create the desired unit. Having sources (from his past career, you know) he obtained an unspecified amount of dynamite. But then we don't need to know how much. Only he needed to know, and he did. He labored over his drawings and the mathematical calculations into the wee hours of many a morning, until one day the time had come. He went into the crawl space with his blasting equipment, wires and such paraphenalia and set his charges, oh, so carefully, in just the right places.

Shortly after eight the following morning, that is after all the neighbors had gone to work and the kids were in school, there was heard a dull "Ka-whump!" in the neighborhood. It was said that the chinaware in the cabinets nor the vases on the tables never so much as jiggled. Mr. Adams then hired a group of transient laborers to remove the loosened earth from beneath his house. Then he proceeded to construct a finished basement under his domicile!
© 2010 David W. Lacy

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