Thursday, August 5, 2010

Walking the dog days of summer

"So the plane bounced twice on its wheels, veered to the left and ended up right in the giggly-weeds." Mr. Hall looked over to Mrs. Hall for her reaction. She was staring out of the windows watching the trees going by. "You know, the trees are changing color already. I think it's going to be an early fall this year." Mr. Hall sighed; he knew better. It was all he could do to keep Mrs. H's mind off the kids.
He had done his best to keep her occupied as much as possible. Last week, he accompanied her to the Onondaga-Oswego Funeral Directors Association (acronymically known as "OOFDA") Clambake over at Hinderwadel's in north Syracuse. Mrs. Hall always looks forward to that annual event eagerly, ever since the first year she won a scooter for one of the door prizes. (There are still funeral directors in the area that, recalling how she rolled around the facility on her new wheels, yell out "Hey Scooter!" when she walks by.) The food was terrific and the company even better; this year the Halls were joined by Stevie Iltsch and his lovely wife Pam. It's a cinch that nothing tastes better than a tray of freshly steamed clams on a hot summer night, and Mrs. Hall never mentioned the children once. Bon vivant and man-about-town Hugh Norris even joined them, dragging young Albert Clos into the act, for a short while. Just about the time the party was slowing down and the little band reflected that this was the first year they hadn't won any of the door prizes, they announced the winner of the 50/50 contest. Steve yelled out, "Sammie, Sammie- that's you! You won!" and Mr. Hall strolled up leisurely to the booth to collect his $250 in winnings. "There's a seat right here for you," said Bob Zamierski, former hearse driver for Mr. Hall, as he patted the bench at the poker table, but Mr. H. just smiled and waved him off.

The Eastern Star ladies had had a festival on the grounds of their old folks home in Oriskany last week as well. The Halls usually arrive early to help work the breakfast booth, but work demanded they show up a little later, and they ended up serving up lunches at the sausage booth instead. The festival at Oriskany brings out not only the well-dressed but the worthies and right worthies as well; the grand officers in the group could be distinguished by their white attire and broad smiles. Mrs. Hall waved to the Grand Matron and Patron for NY as well as the officers from her own district. "Next year, you'll be wearing white with these ladies, too," remarked Mr. Hall, proudly. "Ah, yes. Yet another good reason to go shopping!" answered Mrs. Hall. The heat was oppressive that day, so leaving the outdoor festivities to the younger set, they headed on back down the toll road towards home. Mrs. Hall was just leaning back in the big black car, indulging in the air conditioning, when she realized they weren't exactly following the flight plan. "I thought we'd stop for a short visit to the Turning Stone Casino," piped Mr. Hall brightly. Mrs. Hall patted him on the back and remarked the evening was looking up after all.

A few years back, an unfortunate flood in the Southern Tier had forced the PGA to move their BC Open venue from the En-Joie golf course in Endicott to the Turning Stone course in Verona. From that point forward, the Turning Stone never looked back. Determined to host PGA sponsored events ever more frequently, they invested heavily in world class upgrades to the resort, and the result was a much nicer, more elegant course, pro shop, lodge and of course, casino. The Halls took in a quick show and a cocktail and strolled the grounds, steering their way past four wedding events taking place at the same time. They finished up by checking out the new spa on the grounds, but by that time, Mr. Hall was so tired he couldn't even get up out of the chair. "Com'n big fellow," coaxed Mrs. Hall. "It's time to take you home." Carefully avoiding the slots and the roulette tables, they slid back into the big black car, turned on the auto pilot and cruised back home again.

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