Sunday, October 09, 2005

Poor Old Waterford

The unfortunate town of Waterford, Virginia, was founded in 1578 by an itinerant tinker and his dam named Walter and Lita Ford, who wandered in circles on their way to founding Chicago, got tired, and simply decided to sit down and cut their losses. Absolutely nothing of interest has ever happened there, and in celebration of this fact its simple yet uncomplicated denizens invite the world in for an annual bash they are pleased to call (quite unoriginally, entre nous) The Waterford Fair.

Politely if quietly skeptically, we neighboring Lovettsvillians feel obligated to show up, in much the same way that we dutifully attend the preschool Thanksgiving pageant of a close relative's toddler -- it's more a tiresome social obligation than an eagerly anticipated event, and we can't help thinking that Waterford would just be so miffed if one year we found a more compelling event on our social calendar.

But return we do, surreptitiously rolling our parsimonious Pennsylvania Dutch eyes at the unseemly self-importance of our Quaker neighbors to our southeast, and each year we're reminded that the human capacity for self-delusion knows no bounds.

The Mayor of Waterford, Sam Drucker, is extremely proud of his poodle, Eva Gabor. The poodle attends town meetings and is considered something of an unofficial town mascot. People who appear to be about to disabuse Sam about his poodle frequently find themselves hopping about on a suddenly very sore foot. They've very protective of their mayor Sam, are the people of Waterford.

The town's musical life is greatly enlivened by the Red Clay Stumblers, a string band that plays a highly unlikely combination of Steven Foster standards and early Kinks numbers. Here, they deliver a characteristically puzzling arrangement of "Tired of Waiting/Farewell, My Lilly Dear" in which the two classics are sort of sandwiched together and played simultaneously.

That's Eb Crandall, the town's Walt Whitman impersonator, third from the right. I'm not gonna say anying predictable about "singing the shaver electric," but until old Eb gets himself a shower and some deodorant he should just give up with those dishy Civil War reenactor boys. He's pretty rank.

I mean, this pretty much says it all about the Red Clay Stumblers. The poor, poor man. Nobody has the heart to tell him the obvious. He just sits there and saws away at it. Sad.

The town did actually host one important historic event, in 1689, when a company of Cardinal Richelieu's men accosted a naive young D'Artagnan, who had inadvertently insulted them. The town commemorates the event today with the annual Display of Embarrassing White People.

"Nom d'un nom! As chief minister, your master the Cardinal de Richelieu seeks to consolidate royal power and crush domestic factions! His tenure, marked by the Thirty Years' War that engulfed Europe, will ultimately lead to the immigration to America of the Palatinate Germans who will eventually settle in our neighboring Lovettsville to our northwest and bring their sarcastic numbers to our annual festival to mock us in satirical Internet postings! Taste cold steel, usurper!

Ah, here's Mayor Sam now, with his gal-pal, Lady DeWinter. Sam's a bit of an old-school anti-Republican. As in, he really hates the idea of Republics. Generally Waterfordians are able to dismiss this as just a charming quirk, but eyebrows were raised at last Saturday's U12 boys' soccer game (Sam's an assistant coach, which, he says, is "no reason one shouldn't dress like a gentleman"), in which he flung his lorgnette at young Chester Treadwell and denounced him for a "demnition Chartist popinjay!"

I wouldn't mind a getup like Sam's. Just for relaxing around the house, you know. Grocery shopping. Home Depot. Trips to Subway.

All in all, I think the Eighteenth Century's...

...just a little...

...overrated, don't you?

Oh, give me a home...


Kevin Wolf said...

Are the criteria that low for declaring a town or district a National Historic Landmark? Is it sufficient merely to have enough old buildings survive flood and fire for a couple of centuries?

XTCfan said...

That's not Cardinal Richelieu, that's Ron Higgins, professional Cardinal Richelieu impersonator!!


Bobby Lightfoot said...

Glurnt. Sputter. Hork.

This whole being funnier than me trip is going to have to stop.


Portuguese/Yiddish esperanto for "go 'way".

Anonymous said...

KevinWolf - if you don't have National Historic Landmark all those houses would be torn down and the town of Waterford would become like the town of Centerville. Come by and see Centerville and you'll ask yourself - where is the town - all you'll see is a butt-ugly strip mall and an interchange where at one time there was something with character that you could walk through.