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By Linda Emley
It takes hours to research and write a “Postcards” column. I’m blessed because I don’t have to make up stories, since these things already happened to someone in the county or nearby. Some stories have to be dug up, but others just find me. Today’s column’s about a few that came to me in unusual ways.
I have a friend who’s always telling me, “Everything happens for a reason.” I didn’t know if I believed it, but after last month I finally think he might just be right.
Example 1: My friend has two dogs and I offered to take “the girls” to the clinic in the park to get their shots because he had to work. I went to pick up the girls, but the gate was locked so I had to find a way to get over the fence to get them. I went back to the museum and got a few items I needed and finally got the girls loaded in my car. By this time, the clinic was about over and we reached the park with only a few minutes to spare. We were the last customers of the day. After we got all the business done we were talking and I told Dale Stewart that the little dog Elly likes to come to the museum and she acts like she sees things. I jokingly said I sure hope she doesn’t go looking for that bear that is buried in the museum yard.
Doc started laughing and told me he killed that bear. I told him that was real funny, but I had heard it happened a long time ago. Dale then told me a story I’d been been looking for for many years. The year was 1971 and there was a low-budget circus putting on a show in front of the museum. While taking the bear out of his cage, part of his “manhood” got ripped and they called Dale to sew him up. He told them it would cost $100.
Since this was a low-budget circus, they shot the poor bear because they could buy a new one for $50. Dale said he would’ve done it for $50 had he known. Looking back on this, I was amazed how the story found me. If I hadn’t taken the time to help a friend, I wouldn’t have found how this bear came to be buried at the museum. If I’d picked up the girls without delay, I would’ve arrived when there was a long line and not gotten to small talk with Dale. This whole story fell in my lap.
Example 2: Sometime over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, the “Bob Ford is buried here” sign disappeared from the Richmond cemetery. Many times, I’ve had to give directions to people who want to visit his grave. I asked my historical society board to get a new sign for Bob, but too many other things came up. Two board members, David Blythe and Steve Roush, spend Thursday afternoons at the museum and I often mentioned the lost sign. A few weeks ago, they cut out a square board and painted “Bob Ford” with an arrow on the board and left it on my desk. They thought it was rather funny, but I was still giving regular directions to Bob’s grave.
Now for the rest of the story. A Richmond man had some postcards he wanted to sell and he called Blair’s Furniture after he heard about its new antique mall. Since I have a booth at Blair’s and they know I collect postcards, they told him to call me. I wasn’t interested because I was running low on time and he didn’t have any local postcards. But I listened to a voice in my heart and went to see the postcards anyway. I was getting ready to leave after buying the cards, when he told me he wanted to ask me about something. He said he walks the cemetery hill to get exercise and noticed a sign buried in the mud behind a wood pile. The sign had “Bob Ford” written on it. That afternoon, he an his wife pulled up to the museum and unloaded the very dirty but “perfect” sign I had been looking for.
With a little help from a friend, Bob Ford’s sign is now back on the hill where it belongs. It took a few miracles, but everything happened for a reason.
Example 3:. Megan Minnick and I have been working on a story about Dukes II Restaurant. Meg has fond memories of it and has worked really hard collecting facts about its changes over the years. A few weeks ago, she came to visit me and donated a wooden Noah’s Ark belonging to her grandmother Nancy. It’s very special because it was made for Nancy by her father. After we played with the ark, Meg pulled out her Dukes II notebook. I had a noon lunch date, so Meg stayed at the museum and looked at some old newspapers until I returned. When I got back, I had a few museum tours, so I told Meg I’d be right with her when I finished. She said she had the name of someone she wanted me to call to get some Dukes details. I found Doc Jordan and his wife Judy touring the museum and chatted with them for a bit. I told them I needed to make a phone call and would check back. I went to my office and looked at the notebook that Meg had. She wanted me to call Judy Jordan because she’d owned Dukes II in the 1990s. I started laughing and told Megan we didn’t need to call because Judy was touring the museum. We went to the basement and I handed Judy the notebook and told her that she was the person I needed to call. She started laughing and then asked why. A few minutes later, I saw several different stories come together. Meg told Judy that her restaurant had been a fun part of her childhood. Judy appreciated the nice comments because she’d always wondered if her brief spell at the restaurant had been worth her effort. I don’t know if I should credit my good fortune to Noah’s Ark or the fact that Meg had to wait for me to get back from lunch. If we’d made the phone call earlier, Judy wouldn’t have been at the museum yet.
Coming next: a story about Burrell Lee and another good example of how much fun it is to be in the right place at the right time.