Christmastime 1999

Dear Holiday Roisterers,

Greetings once’t again from the Cratons of Bedford. This has been a rather trying year for the folks of Bedrock as they’ve been overly concerned about the effects of the dreaded Y2k bug come January 1. The mayor became alarmed about it early this summer after Jake Williams came down with an out-of-season case of influenza that he insisted he caught while surfing the web looking for farm supplies. Not realizing the potency of some of these computer viruses going round, Mayor Hobart decided it was time to take drastic action in the event of a full-scale epidemic come New Year’s.

Given that the mayor is generally quite laid back (or even semi-sentient, seeing as he is content to govern from his easy chair next to the big stove at Bailey’s Bait & Tackle while quaffing his favorite brew), his animation certainly served as a call to arms to all citizens. Frantically searching for ways to upgrade their adding machines, calculators, and coffee makers so that they don’t all surreptitiously expire at the end of 1999, the citizenry have been in a virtual frenzy since August, a few hearty souls even sending letters of protest to the Japanese embassy in Washington. (For many here any portent of bad times is blamed on “them ferriners.”) At least things here haven’t reached quite the state of affairs down in Martin County, where Deputy Waxman was called in as backup to help quell the riot that nearly saw the county’s only computer geek burned at the stake.

Old Harold Simms has been one of the few to maintain his head during the fracas, calmly (or even gloatingly, one might say) driving around town in his '53 Studebaker, making sure to point out that it is fully Y2k compliant. Jake Williams, now fully recovered, isn’t so sure, however, and has been stockpiling manure in case his cows stop producing on January 1.

Other locals have been similarly loco. Widow Bartlett decided to join the Lawrence County Gun Club after all these years as a gun-control advocate. Membership has indeed swelled as many fear an imminent invasion of North Korean, Chinese, and Canadian armies (though Mrs. Bartlett is quick to point out that she signed up only in order to attend the soirées and potlucks). Reverend Peterson has seen his congregation grow too in the last few months and even had to rope off a special section for the “Perimeter Guards” whose sidearms kept poking the quilting ladies in the sides — too much to their delight, the Reverend noted. Fr. Bob, vicar down at the Anglican parish, has even noticed that Bobby Jim Martin, the town agnostic, has been seen once or twice slouching in a back pew, muttering when asked something about not wanting to be lost on a technicality.

The Cratons have been far less concerned than the rest, partly because of their confidence in technology and also because they rarely know what’s going on anyway. Their offspring continue to grow older, as do they themselves (though we won’t mention that). Ben took driver’s ed this summer and is soon to be numbered among those deemed worthy by the State of Indiana to guide a 2,000-pound missile down our byways. His dad has been searching for a good buy on an armored troop carrier but may have to settle for what he’s got. If Ben keeps pestering his folks for a new Corvette they may decide to reward him with a Yugo for his troubles.

Jonathan began junior high school this fall and has begun to acclimate himself to teenagerhood, much to the chagrin of his parents. In addition to his studies, he’s also become the local Pokémon master. He also still herds his six box turtles which have grown even more affectionate now that they get to listen to the mellow strains of his bassoon while he practices. Always one on the lookout for a fast buck, Jon is thinking of taking up chemistry in order to develop a medication derived from male chelonian hormones aspirated from Shelby the turtle in an effort to compete with Pfizer’s Viagra, seeing as old Shelby would mate with a rock given half a chance.

Stephen has become a bona fide computer addict and spends most of his free time making web pages. He taught himself how to do that over the summer and has already made a respectable number of websites, none of which has yet drawn the interest of the FBI. Now in fourth grade, Stephen no longer desires to limit himself to becoming a chef but wants to combine his talents to become a chef-architect-internet provider and maybe a sometime soda jerk even though his brothers think he’d make a better punching bag.

Debbie continues her efforts to heal the halt and maim, but there are so many sick people in Bedford it’s a never-ending saga. Even the new therapies involving burning myrtle leaves and waving peacock feathers is meeting with only marginal success, despite the AMA’s endorsements. She’s hoping for a revival of sanity within the medical profession someday, though at present there appears little hope.

Old John (aka Douglas) continues hawking books on the internet while awaiting an opportunity to apply his talents once more to the ears, either by healing them through his audiological training or destroying them with his gifts of musical composition. Being able at present to avail himself to neither, he rusts away in his insular office situated at home where he’s able to restrain his offspring from fratricide most afternoons after school. He still holds out hope for a royal appointment by the Romanian nobility, but with each passing day it seems less and less likely. He’s thinking about maybe just buying a videocamera and chasing after some of the local Wiccans in the woods. He figures if it worked for Blair Witch it might be worth a shot.

At any rate, the Craton clan wishes you all a joyous holiday season and a happy and prosperous final year of the 20th century. (Yes, that’s right, despite what Clinton says the next millennium doesn’t start till 2001! We’ll postpone our celebrations till then.)

John Douglas, Deborah, Ben, Jon, and Stephen Craton

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