Pitt shares conversations, memories over coffee
By Roger Pitt
There is no typical day at the End Stool.
It is much of the same old, same old, but there is enough variety daily to avoid monotony of a ‘groundhog day.’
Sid Freeman visits nearly every day to have a cup of coffee and exchange a few words.
I met Sid shortly after coming to New London in 1964 while interviewing his father, also Sid, for one of several stories I would write about him over the next decade.
Sid’s father was an eclectic man, with an interesting past and numerous activities in retirement.
Adventures in his early years were a carnival strong man – ripping telephone books in two, when they held many names and addresses before cell and smart phones, and lifting tables with his teeth – and a setup man for stills, producing booze during prohibition.
In retirement he collected coins, sorting through bags of money collected from parking meters by police, and created intricate art from carved wood and popsicle sticks.
Young Sid, who recently celebrated his 86th birthday, met this day with Kirk Fletcher, who he grew up with in New London and recently observed the reunion of Washington High School’s class of 1950. Fletcher rues that he is on a committee for the next reunion, something he has avoided for decades.
Fletcher and I got to know each other Saturday mornings at the local barber shop. The first one in got the barber chair and get clipped by Curt Sommer, who has sheared customers for more than 60 years.
Sid has kept track of changes in the price of gas since Oct. 12, 2004, when it hit $1.94 a gallon and piqued his interest, as to just how high it would go. The recent dip in prices below that level still needs to drop nearly a dime to fall under the $1.69 price in late 2009.
The most common complaint of my peers is driving at night.
“It’s good that there are the white lines,” Fletcher said, expressing my sentiment. For us old timers, the lines help keep us in the correct lane of traffic, in addition to defining the edge of the road and out of the ditch.
Michelle stopped at the End Stool before meeting with a couple friends. She said her son, John, has been accepted at Marquette University, one of his top choices, and had qualified for grant funds.
She showed a picture on her smart phone of the new epoxy floor in the garage. “It is the first time I have had a garage to put my car in,” she said. “I don’t know if I will be allowed to use it.”
Reuben Klug updated me on his wife Mona, who had fallen at home and broke a hip. “We were just at the doctor and she is going to have a hip replacement.” Surgery was scheduled this week.
Mona and Sally Heise ran into me, the day she fell, and warned me to be careful and not fall on the ice.
It was a day for patient updates, Charlie Coenen just had successful cataract surgery on both eyes.
“I need to get me some new glasses to read the paper and phone book,” Charlie said. He was another old guy who eschews driving at night.
The usual Saturday-Sunday waitress Sadie, who is married to Kyle, the cook, was on the 6 a.m. shift after returning from her honeymoon to the Dominican Republic. She began her new job Monday at J.J. Keller.
John Lee, who followed my trail from New London to Appleton with the Post-Crescent, was having breakfast and working on one of two crosswords he does daily.
John asked if I knew anybody familiar with Joe McCarthy?
I had never met him and those I knew, including a sister who lived in New London, were dead. John said his inquiry was from a third party doing a story about McCarthy.
Fred Zaug showed up shortly after Lee left, and seemed a logical source because of his role in Republican Politics.
Zaug said he never met McCarthy, but his dad, Jerome, said Joe was present at Fred’s baptism at Most Precious Blood.
I had just finished my income taxes and Muskie said he had been at the library and they did not have the federal form he needed. Before writing the column, I printed out a couple forms for him.
An issue stirring as much discussion as the presidential marathon along End Stool row, the status of Network Insurance and ThedaCare, was renewed when Dick Fritz asked Chris Kurth, “What are you going to do?”
It is a question most of the End Stool regulars are asking, because Network is their supplemental insurance for Medicare.
Network extended the June 30 deadline to terminate coverage of ThedaCare patients to the end of 2016. It will now give people a chance to attain new insurance coverage under the yearly time line.