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Two Tales - Tall but True by Gary D. Crawford

Part One The other day Frazier came breezing into the bookstore again. I slid a chair over for him, and he took a seat. We got to talking about his days running the local automotive garage, his profession after coming out of the service in WWII. I’d heard from folks hereabouts that he was a crackerjack mechanic of car, truck and workboat engines. I happen to know he’s a very good woodworker, too. He has a knack for figuring things out. I recall being in the audience where a county official was explaining how residential septic systems contributed about 8% of the pollution coming into the Bay from the shores of Talbot County because an estimated half of the 8,000 septic systems weren’t working properly. The county had gotten a grant to purchase 200 retrofit aerators that would improve things, and he urged people to apply for one. Frazier put up his hand and offered this observation: “Well, 200 is 2½% of the 8,000 systems. And 2 ½% of 8% of the pollution is point 002. So this program would fix just two-thousandths of the problem?” (I noticed Frazier didn’t have a calculator.) As

the good folks in the hall digested this morsel of food for thought, the speaker considered and then said, “Well, yes.” The meeting broke up soon after. Later in our conversation, Frazier happened to mention the burglar alarm he had in his shop. I pricked up my ears, knowing a story was coming. It seems he became convinced that somebody was prying his garage door up and pilfering tools and spare parts, nothing big and not all the time, but a few things missing once in a while. “So, I came up with a little system,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye. He sat there. I knew it was my move and that he was waiting for me to ask him about it, but I suddenly found a paper on my desk that needed to be moved and have a little note written on it. Then I gave up. “How did you work it?” I asked, figuring it was some sort of electrical trip-wire gimmick he’d cooked up. “Used a cigarette butt,” he said. And he clammed up again. I waited. “And the telephone,” he added with a smile. Now he had me, so I gave up and plunged in. “A cigarette and a telephone? What kind of burglar alarm could you make with that?”

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May 2014 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times May 2014

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