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The younger generation of Birge’s Corners insisted that nothing exciting had happened since Abigail Clergy’s love affair in 1867, and the older generation retorted that Thurley Precore, who must have been born in Arcadia, was bound to create excitement.

The older generation were content to have time snail over their doorsteps. To their placid minds much had happened and was happening to content any one of normal makeup. Take the Hotel Button—what more did any one want than that two-story establishment with ramshackle outbuildings and a crazy wooden fence about the whole of it? Commercial travellers making the town annually never complained about Prince Hawkins’ hospitality or Mrs. Prince Hawkins’ cooking—never. And during one of those comical cold spells, when twenty below zero was registered on the thermometer, the younger generation were mighty glad to end a sleigh ride before the Hotel Button, and have one of Mrs. Prince Hawkins’ oyster suppers—she had been Lena Button, an only child, and her working like a slave now ...! Also, the upstairs parlor with its flowered carpet and tortured walnut furniture and the same square piano on which Lena Button had learned her “Battle of Prague”—the younger generation never thought of refusing the upstairs parlor in which to have a wind-up dance. None of them complained about the slowness of Birge’s Corners—until the next day!

As for stores: there was Oyster Jim’s confectionery store with a balcony overlooking Lake Birge, and here the younger generation gathered to eat ice cream and drink cream soda. Of course, Oyster Jim’s store was not like New York tea-rooms which some of the younger generation had visited and drawn unkind comparisons about, but the ice cream was homemade, and, if he did dilute the cream, the water from Lake Birge was about as good as there was in the state; a chemist had said so. Besides, Oyster Jim’s other specialty was canary birds, yellow-throated songsters in every corner of the balcony, and it took a pretty smart man to keep an ice cream store and raise canary birds, to say nothing of selling Ford supplies to distressed tourists! Then there was Submit Curler’s general store. She was always taking magazines to keep “up to snuff”—and as for patterns of ginghams and calicos, there were no prettier patterns to be had. When the younger generation said why did Miss Curler insist on selling horse whips and lanterns and year-old hard candies and marbles and soft soap and acorn picture frames and knitted things she made in between rings of the bell, and why didn’t she have decent silk waists and neckties and stop calling you by your first name long after your engagement had been announced, to say nothing of wrapping things in newspapers and expecting you to carry them through the streets—the older generation sniffed in answer that Submit Curler was one of God’s own, and, although Algebra might have been the capital of a foreign country as far as she knew, she had crooned countless teething babies to sleep to give their mothers a rest, and helped lay out the dead and then stayed “behind” to have a piping hot dinner ready when the mourners “came back.”

Of course the younger generation were not silenced by this. They began a complaint about the weekly paper, a ridiculous affair running three-year-old detective serials and month-old national happenings, telling whose veranda was to be painted and who had bought a pair of new earlaps! To which the older generation magnanimously remarked that, as long as “Ali Baba” and Betsey Pilrig had their health, there would be no need for an up-to-date daily newspaper. One did not have to wait until news was gathered, edited and printed. Ali Baba, Abby Clergy’s coachman, and Betsey Pilrig, who lived in the yellow house across from Thurley Precore’s box-car wagon, kept the village informed of every happening in such rapid-fire fashion that the need for a daily sheet was never experienced!

enero 21
Library of Alexandria
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