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A caller to the office whispered into the phone. “Christmas tree. Dumped on St. Charles Boulevard. Brown.”

February, done it ourselves. May, never.

Another call came into The Observatory this week, from Tommy Ross Braswell of Little Rock. He believes he’s Quatie Ross’ great-great-grandson or -nephew, so he was glad to read in The Observer last week about the Cherokee woman whose death on the Trail of Tears here is memorialized at Mount Holly.

Braswell isn’t positive of his connection to Quatie, but he’s pretty sure there’s some truth to the story that his grandfather’s brother Larkin stole Al Capone’s watch. The family story is that Larkin, a highway robber by trade, stopped Capone, stole his watch and then realized his folly. Braswell’s grandfather — who worked for the funeral home in England — apparently spirited Uncle Larkin away, stowing him in a coffin and driving him in a horse-drawn buggy to Redfield. “My mom says we still have the watch somewhere,” Braswell said.

Some people have all the genealogy.



The Observer celebrated Mother’s Day Sunday by going to the ballet “Snow White.” Actually, The Observer went to see a friend’s child dance in “Snow White”; we are pretty backwards when it comes to dance, or the dance, as the highbrows say.

But The Observer had a fine time at the ballet, which had enough great dancing in it to bring it a level above recital, and enough cute little baby-fat ballerinas dressed like leaves to make us smile. No Baryshnikovs, but the prince cavalier, imported from Tennessee, danced well and hoisted his Snow White, the extraordinarily beautiful and beatific Julia Aronson, with ease, and the local male dancer did a fine job and had great stage presence.

But there we were in the dark, our programs unreadable, looking out for our friend’s child. Running on stage came a wild cadre of dancers — all dressed like, well, like leafless trees. That is to say, their bodies were encased in stockings all the way to the tops of their heads, where things poked up out of them. I examined each and every stockinged body, trying to discern which body best matched our dancer’s, and finally piroutted to our daughter in panic. Which one is Emily? The wise child next to us told us to calm ourselves. Those were no wood nymphs, they were furies. Happily, Emily came on in the next act, her beaming face unhidden. Offstage, her mother wept. A happy mother’s day.



There are joys for non-mothers too. From time to time, The Observer finds ourselves temporary guardian (babysitter) of an energetic and precocious 6-year-old. Keeping him company is a solid hands-on and mind-on job, which leaves us drained but in a jovial mood.

Saturday we walked hand-in-hand through downtown, discussing the idea of a McDonald’s ice cream cone to start off our coupla hours together.

The discussion somehow turned to what being brave meant, and was it different from courage. Somehow we were able to make a reference to the Cowardly Lion of Oz, and that seemed to satisfy him. Whew.

When we reached his house, we noticed that the front door was completely open. It could be nothing, but it could be a burglar or a bad guy. We were not going to taken any chances.

We called the cops to check it out.

The kid questioned our bravery.

That took some ’splaining. Taking precautions doesn’t mean you’re not brave.

All was clear, thank goodness. It was simply the furious wind that blew the accidentally unlocked door open. No boogey men or women.

Our next problem: Did Mr. Kitty get out? We looked in the house, around the house, down the streets, inquired of some neighbors. No kitty to be seen. Kid asked if we were going to need to go to the pet store to get a replacement for Mr. Kitty. No, we assured him, Mr. Kitty would be back.

He declared, “Poor Mr. Kitty! I never really got to know him!” with all the drama and emotion of Scarlett O’Hara.

That evening, the kid’s parents told me that Mr. Kitty finally came out of hiding from under the bed, slinking out around 8 p.m.

Mr. Kitty, you see, was a bit of a ’fraidy cat.

Alive and inside the house, thank goodness. But not brave.


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