Life on Whidbey: Help complete the picture of one memorable 1950s day

It was a clear day in the early 1950s when a local woman headed to Maylor’s Hardware to pick up a few things.

She arrived at the store on Pioneer Way and was about to disembark her Buick (or Pontiac, or was it an Olds?) when the car lunged forward, followed by the awful sound of breaking glass.

The pane of glass to the left of the entrance came down, and one large shard hung on precariously. The window trim at the bottom bore a terrible dent where the car’s grille made contact. The lady surveyed the damage to the front of her car from its spot on the sidewalk.

A man in a flannel shirt stood at the doorway and a policeman arrived. No one seemed as upset as the woman who was beyond embarrassed. (Should a family member recognize the car or know who she is, trust me to preserve her privacy and not divulge her name.)

Also at the scene were several teenage school girls in pleated plaid skirts, saddle shoes and hair well curled by Toni home permanents.

End of story. Or is it?

I wish to thank my neighbor GINNY KANTOR for passing along these photos. The former owner of The Shoe Box, a few doors down from Maylor’s Hardware, found the pictures in an old cash register. They recently resurfaced and she passed them on to me. Now it’s up to you, dear readers, to fill in the blanks and let me know if you recall the incident.

I’ll start by going out on a limb and guess the man in the police hat (second from the left in long shot) is the late FRED MURCRAY.

Such an incident would have kept telephone party lines buzzing for days.

A different perspective …

When asked how the American military could be better protected against deadly roadside bombs all over Iraq, Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class JAMES IRWIN, an ordnance specialist from the Electronic Warfare Wing at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station said, “You can’t defend against one person with brute force and you have a better chance of avoiding an Improvised Explosive Device on the ground if there is a Prowler in the air. That’s how critical they are to the Navy’s missions.”

Irwin spoke to members of the PBY Memorial Foundation at their Jan. 23 meeting and luncheon at the CPO Club.

Much of his career has been spent responding to troubles in the Middle East, as he served onboard the USS Carl Vinson for two tours during Desert Shield, a year overseas with VAQ-136 during Desert Fox, at Diego Garcia during Operation Noble Eagle and most recently aboard USS Harry S. Truman with VAQ-130.

He noted, “The mission today is smarter, smaller, faster. We are trying to slim down to fewer items in the aircraft inventory,” adding that eventually all branches of the armed services will adopt a single aircraft platform.

Life can be grueling on the ground and in the air. America’s fighting men and women find a welcome break at Camp McCool in Afghanistan, just a short distance from an uncontrolled area, and at the Pat Tillman Recreation Center in Bagram, the only block building in a sea of tents.

“It makes such a difference to these forces when they can come in from their Humvee for a couple of days, enjoy some Gatorade and beef jerky and use the wireless Internet to stay in touch with those at home,” he said, noting that the best tasting cookies he ever had were provided by the USO at Bagram, a small thing but an enormous morale booster.

But aren’t they all nerds?

Contrary to some widely held misconceptions, Mensans aren’t just “brainiacs” who sit around and contemplate deep philosophical thoughts. They have a fun side too!

According to the organization’s directory, there are at least 19 Mensa members living on Whidbey Island (nine in Oak Harbor, five in Langley, two each in Anacortes and Coupeville and one in Greenbank), and there are bound to be others.

If you are a Mensan who would like to meet and share some good times, call HELEN BATES at 675-4201 or RANDY WALL at 632-0946. Please leave a message and your call will be returned.

February may be the year’s shortest month but it feels like the longest part of winter. Cover up your tender plants and dream of spring. See you on Feb. 7. Meanwhile, call me at 675-6611 or e-mail me at life