Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Three Wise Men of Dardanelle



Whenever I travel to Dardanelle, I like to stop at the Hobby Shop on Front Street. I go in there to visit the three old Republican coots who run the place.
There are signs posted on the wall that warn, " Shoplifters Will be Killed and Eaten." Maybe you can see why I like these men?
They usually have a small television on in the background broadcasting the news. Today was Ted Kennedy's funeral, so I couldn't resist from asking these men if they were sad.
"I don't feel any different," said the tallest man. "I don't feel one way or the other."
The retired pilot, sitting behind his computer, was shaking his head in a disapproving manner. "I'm old enough to remember Chappaquiddick," he said. "And they just kept re-electing him," he said in disbelief.

I knew what the ex-pilot was talking about. I'm not old enough to remember Chappaquiddick, but it has been all over the news. At a party one night in 1969, Ted and a young female aide went for a drive. Ted drove his car off of a small unlit bridge and into the water below. He escaped, but the girl died. Ted claimed he made multiple attempts to save her, and then walked (walked?!) back to the party to get help. Sometime later that night, Ted swam back to the mainland and went to his hotel for the night.

I looked at a map and Chappaquiddick appears to be several miles away from the mainland of Massachusetts (although one web source reports that Ted swam 500 yards. I've never been to Chappaquiddick so I don't know how far it is for sure. But I do think that it would've been a challenging swim for nearly anyone, even without it being late at night or coupled with probable drunkenness.) How did he do that? And why? Why did he leave his other friends? Why didn't he call an ambulance? Even if you are certain the person in your car is no longer alive, how can you just leave their dead body in the water? Maybe you'd have to walk a mile in Ted's shoes (or swim a few miles, in this case) to fully understand his decisions, but it is puzzling and disturbing for sure.

The tallest Republican coot casually mentioned that his niece's husband was at that party on Chappaquiddick. "What?" I asked him. "You mean THE party?" He nods, and I shout, "Ohh! Tell me more!" The people at that party would've surely been able to tell if Ted had made an honest effort to save the girl, or if he had any motive to dispose of her. But the tallest wise man just said, "He won't talk."
"Are you serious?" I ask him. Yes, he's serious. He tells me that his niece and her husband live in Boston, and he only likes to go to Boston when he is flying to England because it has a better airport than New York. Then he tallies up the cost of my exacto knife, plywood, saber saw and wood glue that I am purchasing and puts it in a nice bag for me, and he asks me if I want to buy another model ship like I did last the last time I was there.

I paid for my items, and my friend Cameron and I left the store. The Hobby Shop is always an adventure.

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