Friday, February 6, 2009

Contestant #2


This old shack stands right beside the road going down to Bethel Beach. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who may know if it was ever anything other than a shack, but I'm not one of them. Speaking of old shacks and interesting things on the side of the road, we turn now to a story about Watergate--not the hotel, not the scandal, but the infamous Mathews character who presided over Eastview Inn and/or Westview Inn depending on the direction of the wind. When I say "inn" of course what I really mean is "drinking establishment."

Today we continue with another entry in The Story Contest. I'll continue publishing these until we reach the end of the submissions, then we'll vote on a winner.

Contestant #1's Story is Here.

Below is Contestant #2's Story which is actually Part II of this contestant's original submission. I'm presenting it before Part I because my mind is a mysterious place and some things cannot be explained. The story reads just fine without the first chapter--which I will post in a few days. Now I will shut up so you can read it.
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Our Most Memorable Hitch-Hiker
-Contestant #2

When I was a child, I worried about my daddy's habit of picking up hitch-hikers.I worried about it most when I was in the truck when he picked them up. No amount of protest on my part would over-ride his determination to stop.

Our most memorable and, arguably, our most famous hitch-hiker was the venerable denizen of a little shack up the road, known to me as "Watergate" (the denizen -- not the shack).

Any of my fellow Mathews readers know how he got that name?

Anyway, I was a little worried when we stopped to pick up Watergate. He was a raggedy little old man, who hung around at various street corners around the county. He was not too clean, and probably not too sober, and he didn’t smell too great -- I was really glad when he happily hopped into the BACK of the truck for his short ride up the road (instead of in the cab next to me!). I noted that he was pretty nimble for an old dude.

His requested destination on Route 14 was rumored to be a "shot-house." When we got there Daddy pulled off on the shoulder and waited for Watergate to exit the truck bed. The truck windows were rolled all the way down. (Daddy rarely went over 45 on the local roads), and I was leaning on the door, day-dreaming and waiting to get underway.

Suddenly, Watergate popped his head in the passenger window, inches from my face (he was nimble and he was STEALTHY!) and loudly inquired of Daddy, "You got a dollar, Mr. D****? You got a dollar?"

I jerked back. I had gotten a really up-close view of (what was left of) Watergate's teeth and a really up-close whiff of his breath. I scrambled across the truck seat and affixed myself to Daddy's side.

Daddy was looking straight ahead, as he cheerfully allowed that "No, Watergate, I don't have a dollar today" and he slowly put the truck in gear. He gave her some gas, since he was now sure that Watergate was clear of the wheels. Surprisingly, Watergate did not let go of truck door. He continued to harass Daddy for "A dollar, Mr. D****? You got a dollar?"

Daddy indicated, "Nawsuh, no dollars today, Watergate," and drove on.
The truck continued to accelerate -- and so did Watergate, reaching speeds I would have deemed beyond his capability, still shouting for his “dollar.” He was nimble, he was stealthy and WOW, he was FAST.

Eventually Watergate let go of the side of the truck (unharmed). I suppose he went back and paid for his own shot. Daddy and I continued on to Gloucester, or wherever we were bound that day.

I wonder if they had a track team when Watergate was in school? If so, he could have set some land-speed records I'm sure!

14 comments:

Ann Marie said...

There was a whole team of them love and due to most of them are still living I better not name names.

I would if Watergate taught school in that little shack of his..
Watergates School of Getting the Dollar.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Ah, Watergate, arguably one of the most memorable characters in Mathews if you grew up around here in the 70's and 80's. Watergate set a whole new standard for characters.

There were two inns on either side of the Ward's Corner intersection (today there's a large camper parked in front of one, and the other usually has an 18-wheeler parked beside it). Watergate--I believe--used to prefer the Eastview Inn, but he frequented both. You couldn't drive by without seeing him sitting on the step or holding court outside, waving to each and every car that went by.

Our basketball team would frequently go "up the road" before practice, and on a few occasions we'd pull in there for a brief visit to see him--or rather, to let him entertain us.

This is a great story not only because it provides a glimpse into one of our most legendary characters, but also because it takes us back to a time not that long ago when hitchhiking wasn't considered dangerous, rather it was just another form of transportation.

Thank you, Contestant #2, for this great contribution.

Ann Marie said...

Another mystery to solve.. how Watergate got his name...

Betcha Brooksie would know.. (speaking of characters!!)

phyl said...

What a trip down memory road!

big hair envy said...

I'm wondering if the characters from MY neck of the woods ever came over to visit the characters from YOUR neck of the woods! The parallel story lines are uncanny....

Great story, Contestant #2!

Mental P Mama said...

Like a cartoon. But a real one.

foolery said...

Oh, that is fantastic. You can't make that stuff up, either. I mean, you CAN, but you just know the writer is painting a picture from deep memories.

LOVED "Nawsuh." Can't wait to hear that in person.

And the captcha code is SLAMEN, as in "this story was SLAMEN." If I spoke Teenager, which I do not.

Anonymous said...

There's Watergate, who I called out a greeting to once and was promptly asked to leave Emory's; Brooks or Brooksie, a big coooool dude that liked Thunderbird and grapefruit juice; and, Bozo, a uniquely dignified odd-jobber who was loved and respected by many. Someday, someone will have to tell us more about Bozo - I know so little about him.

MMM

Ann Marie said...

Brooksie.. gotta love Brooksie.. for as long as I can remember he has called me nothing but lil Henry.

Bozo.. what I know about Bozo is he lived in a little shack in Redart I went to take a picture of it the other day but it is GONE GONE.. like nothing. There wasn't much there 30 years ago when he lived there so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.
What I can say is that I was a tiny little thing when Daddy used to tell me that was where Bozo lived and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why a clown on tv would live in such a place.

Anonymous said...

Well, Brooksie's knickname is pretty self-explanatory, but "Bozo" and "Watergate"? I'd love to know where those knicknames came from!

Do we have a Bozo entry coming up?

How about Mr. Hubert? Anyone?

The anticipation is killing me!

AMN

Anonymous said...

If you are going to bring up redart(trader) you have to metion "Hotdog" who I passed every moring on my why to school on his porch in his undies his house is still there tho it looks much nicer!!

Anonymous said...

Watergate, Brooksie and Bozo... leaves one wondering who else might emerge from the annals of history from Mathews County.

Looking forward to Contestant #3's story - and who knows how many more.

Good night!

MMM

Anonymous said...

I believe that “Watergate” got his name from the scandal that forced Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974. When “Watergate” indulged in certain libations, he would often lecture his students on the subjects of politics and economics. I attended his class one hot summer day – back behind the dugout at Thomas Hunter middle school.

B

Anonymous said...

B, your not serious are you? I'm gullible, so I'll believe whatever you say.

MMM