Christmastime 1996

Dear Fellow Woemongerers,

Greetings once again from that jewel of the North, the largest city in the United States without a cinema.

This has hardly been a banner year in Bedford’s illustrious history, though true to form it remained one of inexorable excitement. The big news was that, after three long years without, Bedford was finally going to get a new cinema — six screens, no less. Four days after this precipitous announcement it was learned that yet another cinema company was going to build a seven-screen cinema right across the road! Everyone (except, perhaps, for the old Widow Bartlett whose 27-odd cats found great relief from the sand pits on the latter site) was quite excited about this prospect, till it was recently announced that the latecomer has decided to sue the city allegedly for not informing him of the fact that someone else was also building a cinema in town. How he couldn’t have known that remains a mystery given that everyone over the age of two seemed to be aware of it, but what’s likely to transpire is that all parties will end up in court and Bedford will remain cinemaless.

As to what to do with the unfinished construction sites (mostly two large holes in the ground), local cinematographer Pipo Clementi wants to use one to show his homestyle underground films. Reverend Peterson says he’ll have none of that and has threatened to call down the wrath of God on the site if Pipo goes through with his plans. He’s even convinced Harold Simms to dump all his spare Studebaker parts in the dugout if need be. No less than the town agnostic Bobby Jim Martin seems opposed to Clementi’s plans, though speculation is that Martin’s ex-wife, Loribeth, is rumored to have had a revealing role in one of Pipo’s seamier productions. We guess it’s just sour grapes all round.

The Cratons remain largely unmoved by these events, however, wallowing in their own self-absorption. They did experience a very sad event at the beginning of the year when Debbie’s father, Bob Williams, passed away very suddenly on January 3. He has been sorely missed by one and all, but is remembered for the laughter and joy he brought to his extended family through all the trying times in Bedrock.

Debbie (aka Dr. Wife) has endured 1996 reasonably well, in spite of her husband and children. She accomplished this largely by engaging in escapism, both literal and imagined. (John felt she took that a bit too far one romantic evening when he heard her whisper the name Duncan Macleod in his ear, then came after his head with a double-edged broadsword.) On more literal grounds, she and two other fools friends climbed Mt. Laconte in Tennessee in October without the need of splints or oxygen afterward and have vowed to do it again next year. She also took a week’s trip to Lexington with her mother (and survived), and accompanied her on a trip to Williamsburg ... not the one in Martin County where William “Sweets” Sullivan runs his six-radiator distillery.

As for the offspring, Ben started junior high this year, much to his parents’ dread. He seems to have fit in reasonably well, however, and was manager of the 7th-grade football and basketball teams. (He loves carrying his new rawhide whip.) His biggest disappointment has been the fact that junior high school does not have science fairs; he continues experimenting on his two younger brothers anyway.

Jonathan, now a fourth grader, continues to herd turtles for a hobby and believes he’s met his future wife. Certainly the most gregarious of the lot, he has been known to ask young lasses out — without marked success, fortunately, seeing as he has neither the means nor transportation to acquiesce to their desires.

Stephen began first grade this year, no longer being “one of those little kindergartners.” He’s on his way to becoming a great chef (if only he spoke better French — his Gratin Dauphinois ended up with a distinctly fish flavor) and is definitely in contention for the lead role in Die Meisterwhiner.

As for the old John, he’s hardly been flushed with success this year. He has labored mostly to literize the local populace but without notable strides apparent. At the present he is trying to reopen another audiology practice and is doing web pages. He still wants to spend more time composing, but the Muses won’t allow it. (Rumor is they say he’ll only further desecrate the art.) He’s had considerable difficulty accepting the fact that President Bubba was reelected (he theorizes it’s because the populace wanted to keep a turkey in the White House for Thanksgiving) and is giving serious thought to returning to Russia with Anna in 1997 and working for the Russian Monarchist Association to restore the Romanov dynasty.

Whatever, the Cratons all wish you and your’n a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year ... in spite of the present Administration.

John Douglas, Debbie, Ben, Jon, Stephen, Anna, Dixie Cat & The Turtle Tribe

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