Become a Fan
Barney Google the story of C. A. Miller, his life, his dogs and .......
By Ken Medernach
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
There was an old man who lived in the wooded area near my home..this story contains some truth, some fiction and some hypothesis.
Exerpt from the novel "BARNEY GOOGLE"
The old man who lived way down on Bee Road; was called “Barney Google” he lived about a quarter of a mile past Casey’s Canal, and his real name was C. A. Miller; but we, all of the kids in the neighborhood and our older siblings and sometimes our parents, called him “Barney Google”
I don’t have any idea who, when or why somebody gave him that name. Barney Google was a “Comic Strip” back in the 20’s 30’s; he actually made his debut in 1917. I’m sure that Mr. Miller knew Mr. Google or at least who he was.
Mr. Miller had several notable eccentricities and curiousness about him.
One, he could ride a bicycle slower than anyone else, we, boys would try to emulate him, we even timed him and tried to break his slow record, but we would start to wobble and nearly fall over while attempting to ride “slower than Barney Google.”
Another was his dogs; his house was a typical old farm house. And it was always surrounded by ten or twelve dogs, and his old “hog wire” fence had many holes in it, consequently the dogs all wore wooden yolks to keep them enclosed. These were forked sticks, like “slingshots”; with the dog’s necks in the crotch of the fork and tied with a rope or wire to keep them on. Actually Mr. Miller didn’t invent these devices; they have been used for years, maybe centuries to control small livestock such as sheep and goats.
Another was his house, it looked as it was always about to fall down; it defied gravity. Because it was leaning to the East at about 5 degrees. It had never been painted and the clapboard siding was the color of a grey rain cloud just before is starts to darken before the rain; it’s sort of a dirty silver grey, patinated by time and weather.
And there was no sign of electricity or telephone, or any car or truck, just the bicycle on the porch.
He kept to himself, but now and then he would ride that bicycle down 50th street, to Kleeman’s grocery; between 48th and 49th streets on Waters Avenue, buy his provisions and ride back. Fiftieth was paved, but when he got to the end of the street; he was in the heavily rutted Bee Road. The sand had about the same characteristics of “powdered sugar” but it had a strange density and if it was exceptionally dry, it was next to impossible to make headway on a bicycle.
Mr. Miller seemed to be a total recluse and hermit, except for his occasional forays to Kleeman’s and the 49th Street Pharmacy, his reputation with the kids, was that he was a strange character, and was scary almost forbidden, taboo, weird. I, however was intrigued by the eerie and foreboding nature of the exterior of his home and his yard with all of the dogs and two or three milk goats
There were a couple of other things that piqued my interest; there were these “whirly gigs” that were made from bicycle wheels, that were all linked together in tandem, and there seemed to be a wire running from their hubs to a shed in the side yard. One evening, riding with my Dad and Mom, coming back from a visit with my Aunt Evelyn, we took the “shortcut” via Bee Road, as we approached Mr. Miller’s house, I notice an eerie bluish glow emanating from the shed, this stimulated my interest in the “weird old man.”
I was at a loss as to how I, a 13 year old boy, would attain an entrée into the world of this weird old hermit
Well, one day while hunting around the “canal’, fortune smiled on me; I heard a dog whimpering in the bushes next to the trail along the canal, I immediately recognized it as one of Mr. Miller’s dogs because of the yoke, I immediately saw the reason for the whining, she had been shot in one of her hind legs, the wound looked more painful than serious, I didn’t think that a bone had been hit and I looked like the bullet had passé through without hitting bone or major blood vessel. Not realizing that this would eventually get me invited into the strange world of C.A. Miller, my main thoughts were for the sake of the dog.
I petted the puppy and right away she realized that I wasn’t a threat; she warmed up to me very quickly, rather than try to make her walk back to his house I picked her up, and then noticed something very bizarre about her; she didn’t “smell” like I had expected her to, I expected the odor, to be that of a dog who was uncared for, the dogs that you saw from the road, the pack of barking, yapping dogs that alerted Mr. Miller when anyone approached his property. This dog smelled sweet, like just coming from a bath, but not “dog soap”, “people soap, lady soap, like lilacs or roses or some type of herbal”, I just didn’t know what.
As I neared, Mr. Miller came to the fence; there was a look on his face like the look of a parent just realizing that their child had been in an accident.
“Oh, oh, oh, baby girl, baby Lucille. Where did you find her?”
“Down by the bridge”
“Did you see who did this?”
“No sir”, then and only then did I realize that Mr. Miller, “Barney Google” had a voice, not only did he have a voice; it was an “educated” voice, not at all what I had expected.
Site: Ken Medernach's site
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!