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The Observer, July 5



The Pink Tomato Festival was held in Warren without benefit of Arkansas pink tomatoes, as has become almost customary. And you’ll play heck finding a pink tomato from Bradley County any time, given the prevalence of shipping-friendly tomatoes in the commercial fields.

The Altus Grape Festival will go on this year, but without Arkansas grapes, most lost to a late-season freeze.

The Observer stopped at a roadside produce stand in the Delta the other day. The peaches? “From Alabama,” the young proprietor cheerfully confessed. “Gonna be no Arkansas peaches this year. Freeze got ’em.” The tomatoes? “Alabama, too.” The watermelons? “Away.”

Summer has a rhythm for The Observer, the high spots being the arrival of peaches and tomatoes. The tomatoes are arriving, thank goodness. But no peaches? You might as well have catfish without hush puppies.

Read the other day that the governor of Alabama was making it official: It was everybody’s duty to go to church and pray for rain.

Then the Supreme Court’s chief justice said something about discrimination against white people was a bad thing, their being so bad off and all in the US of A. Same day, newspaper said the Pope was going to bring back the Latin Mass, there being such a surge in the speaking of Latin.

We’re wondering if when we go out to our car we’re going to find it’s sprouted big fins and has a bumper sticker saying “I’d rather be dead than Red.” If we look out the window, will we see kids walking on stilts? Black folks coming in through the back door?

The Observer, it must be said, at least here on this page, was the president of Senatus Populusque Romanus (SPQR), also known as the Latin Club, in high school. We figure we might be able to handle the Latin Mass, as long as the Mass referred to pools (Latin I, “lacunae,”) or Gaul (partes tres, Latin IV) or nolo contendere (Pulaski County Courthouse).

But what we really did in Latin in high school was have parties. There wasn’t any vino, and certainly no beer, so we can’t remember what was so festive about them. Food, most likely. Plus, the Latin teacher could reach behind his back with his right arm and tug on his left ear. We did some work, of course. But when it came time to turn in our homework — well, canis meus id comedit.

The Observer was pushing a cart at our neighborhood supermarket, maintaining a rate of speed intended to assure that we did not endanger other customers less agile than ourselves. Prudent and considerate — that’s The Observer in a nutshell.

We heard something closing fast from behind us, and then an unnecessarily loud voice was saying, “Watch out, old man! You might get ranned over!” He turned to see a young woman, a cashier or sacker, on her hurried way to another part of the store. “Probably going to practice dropping egg cartons,” The Observer thought. She was good-natured, despite her rather harsh salutation, and smiled at us as she swept past. “How ya doin’?” she asked. The Observer muttered.

The Observer is not one to fume or fret. We keep our sunny side up, up. Hide the side that gets blue, we do. But we pondered this incident as we made our way to the paper-towel section. (The Observer has learned you can never have too many paper towels.) Perhaps friends of our own age have greeted us, jokingly, as “Old Man,” and we’re sure that we’ve been described as such when out of earshot. But we can’t remember a previous occasion when an unfamiliar young person addressed us as “Old Man.” In public. The employee of an establishment we patronize. The Observer fears this may be a significant turning point. And not for the better.

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