From now on, this weekly Newsletter will be called ROBERT A. MILLS'S OP-ED COLUMN. Access it and enjoy!
Newsletter Dated: 3/3/2012 5:39:28 AM
Subject: NUNDA FUN DAYS - PART 1
NUNDA FUN DAYS – PT 1
I have a friend named Carl Hausman who used to live in Rochester NY and now lives in New Jersey. He is affiliated with the Institute for Global Ethics and is the editor of ETHICS NEWSLETTER; Carl has written three books about media ethics and testified before Congress on journalism issues.
Earlier this fall he forwarded a copy of the NUNDA NEWS dated April 29, 1965 in which the front page stated I would be the MC at the Nunda Fun Days’ parade in June of that year. “Nunda,” by the way, is pronounced ‘None-Day” — hence, the euphonious Nunda Fun Days.
It brought back a flood of memories, even after 46 years.
For several consecutive summers in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Nunda Fun Days was an event I looked forward to with keen anticipation. Not only was I paid a handsome fee for my appearances, but the promoter, organizer and catalyst was the inimitable Nunda postmaster Bud McMaster, a gentleman of the first water.
He always arranged for me to play golf at Nunda’s 9-hole municipal course (it’s now an 18-hole affair about 2 miles north of the village.) One hole had a barn smack dab in the center of the 8th fairway. The shortest way to the green was to hit your second shot through an open hayloft and out the other end. Frequent double bogies, my 16-handicap notwithstanding, resulted in the rural cliché: Damn fool couldn’t hit the side of a barn if’n he tried!
McMaster always made sure I showered and changed at his house, preparatory to my grand entrance at his magnificent cocktail party and elegant dinner his lovely wife hosted, where I was toasted by the illustrious mayor, Ivan McColl.
At one such function I met Jack Williams and his family, proprietors of the Portageville Inn near the south entrance to Letchworth State Park. Jack, now deceased, had a teenage daughter named Jill, with whom I was quite smitten. Jill eventually graduated from Cornell with a degree in hotel management and became affiliated with the Williamsburg Inn in Virginia, affording me a most delightful visit a few years later.
After the parade and fireworks and announcement of the winners, I, along with Congressman Barber Conable, State Senator Ken Willard, and Assemblyman Jim Emery, were given a police escort out of town — with sirens blaring, lights flashing and everything! An expensive tribute but what great fun!
One year, after the others had vanished in receding headlights, I was preoccupied with the dials on the AM radio of my new car when I stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. The young man was in the car less than a minute before he brandished a silver-plated pistol.
“Yer money or yer life!” he demanded.
Assuming my best Jack Benny demeanor, I replied, “Well! Let me think about it.”
It turned out the hooligan was an escapee from the Livingston County Penitentiary, and it took but a few well-orchestrated maneuvers to disarm him and flag down the police car just turning off behind me.
The pitiful miscreant, whose name was Sean McGillacuddy, was an illegal immigrant from Wexford, Ireland, and the gun he flashed was just a plastic toy. Before Nunda officer Bryan Leonard handcuffed him and towed him off, he snarled at me, “If ye ever git billeted inna castle in Shannon, an ye er lucky enough tuh haf me fer yer valet, ye best watch yer back at all tymes!”
It took the entire drive back to Rochester to figure out what he’d said, but when I translated it, it really got me to thinking . . . about “Castles in Ireland.”
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT SATURDAY. LOOK FOR NUNDA FUN DAYS PT 2.
Copyright©2012 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved