MAIL CARRIER KIMBERLY DUNWORTHY TAKES YOU ON A TOUR OF SHADY PINES

Well, hello there! I’m Kimberly Dunworthy. Haven’t seen you around here before. Are you new in town? It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it? Clear, blue skies and just a whiff of a breeze. Take a deep breath. Do you smell the fresh aroma of pine? Just look at all those big, tall pines trees reaching for the sky. Notice the long, finger-like branches dotted with prickly pine cones. Ah, yes. That’s how you know you’ve arrived!

What do you say we wander down Main Street? Look at all those brightly colored stores. C’mon, I’ll introduce you to our very special town – and our very special townspeople. Watch out! Heh, heh, those kids can sure whip by on their bikes and skateboards. We’ll just step aside and let these folks running with their dogs pass by.

Yep, this town has everything you’d expect, and some things you might not!. Cup ‘O Joe’s coffee shop over there brews a great cup of coffee. And Maggie’s Dinner is always good for a hot meal and interesting conversation. For the latest hairdo, just stop in at Helga’s Beauty Parlor.

Say, do you have a pet? Yes? Well, Pete will help you find everything you’d ever want for your pet over at Pet’s Galore. And, you can stock up on groceries at Fred’s Corner Grocer.

Now, if you want to find out what’s really going on around town, THIS is the place. The local newspaper office. Meet Zulah Talmadge. She’s the editor of The Shady Pines Gazette.

“Oooooh, fiddly fiddle sticks. Where did I put my glasses?” says Zulah

Heh, heh. There she goes, missing her glasses again – but not really. Zulah often wears three sets of eye glasses at the same time – one on her head, one on her face, and one pair hanging around her neck on a chain. She wants to make sure she doesn’t miss a thing.

“How am I going to see without my glasses?” She looks all around her desk.

Oh, good. Here’s comes help. The tall, freckled young man with red hair coming our way is Shawn Billingsley, or “Scoop, the Cub Reporter” as folks around here like to call him. He loves a great news story just about as much as his boss Zulah does.

“Ms. Talmadge, may I help you find something?” ask Scoop

Zulah looks up. “I’m trying to find my glasses Scoop.”

“Well, Ma’am. They’re right up there on your head.”

Zulah reaches up and touches her dark, brown, hair. “Well, by golly, there they are! Grab your camera and coat, and I’ll just get my reporter’s notebook and my bag, Scoop! We’ve got news to cover!”

Those two will have a good laugh over that one. Now that they have solved that mystery, it’s time to get going. Oh, and Zulah’s bag? It’s full of disguises, just in case she needs to go undercover for a news story. And Scoop’s coat has extra pockets for extra pens and notepads – just  in case Zulah forgets something

Let’s see where they are going, shall we? Looks as thought they are heading over to Mayor Beauregard P. Fibbs’ office at City Hall.

Mayor Fibbs loves this town. He grew up here. In fact, he and Zulah went to school together. But he has a bad habit of sometimes stretching the truth a little. And just as when they were kids, Zulah makes sure that he stays honest. Oh, he always apologizes and makes things right. But it’s good to try and keep him honest just the same.

The mayor is holding a news conference this morning. Sitting behind his big wooden desk, he looks to be hard at work going over his speech. You can tell he’s thinking hard. See how he squishes his face and his big, bushy eyebrows dance up and down? Just watch. Next he’ll tug on his bright red bowtie. See? Told ya!

“Thank you everyone for coming today. I’m proud to announce that – wait a minute. Should I say, ‘proud?’  Maybe I should say, ‘excited.’ Oh, blast. I’m not sure.”

Mayor Fibbs does not like writing speeches. But he does like to give them. He likes the attention.

“So, in conclusion, my fellow citizens, this is another example of why Shady Pines is a marvelous place to live.”

“Mr. Mayor, the newspaper and tv people have arrived.”

That’s Martha, the mayor’s assistant.

“Thank you, Martha. I’ll be right there. Oh, I bet Zulah will ask her usual tough questions. Well, I’m ready.” He checks himself in the mirror, pulls out his comb and fixes a stray bit of hair. All good. Time to face the microphones and the cameras.

While the good mayor is doing his civic duty, let’s head over to the Nuts ‘N Bolts hardware store to meet Harold Sanders. He owns the place. Brooms, shovels, paint, the works. You name it, and you can usually find it here. This is the go-to place for fix-it-up projects large and small.

Hey, check out the old wooden barrels filled with candies and goodies. They’re stacked all around the old-fashioned soda fountain in the middle of the store. This is where Harold likes to hang out and tell his stories. He’s got a million of them. See him? He’s behind the counter making a hot fudge sundae for that little guy in the checked shirt.

“Thank you Mr. Sanders.”

“Don’t mention it, Joey. Just make sure you’re on time for the Cub Scout meeting Monday night at the firehouse.”

Harold loves supporting the scouts. He earned his Eagle Scout award. They call him, ‘the story-telling Scotsman’ because he’s honest and his ancestors came from Scotland. Harold loves to tell a good tale tells the truth, but he is also kind, hardworking, and funny, and people respect and admire him for that.

“Ruff. Ruff.”

Ha! Meet Boomerang, the Australian shepherd that Harold and his wife adopted a while back. The handsome, multicolored dog sometimes comes to work with his dad.

“Hi, ya, boy. I got a bowl of water here for you, and a chew toy. Wanna hang out with me while I serve up some sodas to these kind folks?”

Now Boomer is fast on his feet and smarter than most humans. We don’t know for sure where he came from, but a guy passing through town told Harold he’d heard about a dog that jumped from his owner’s truck. They were on their way to a big, fancy, dog show when he disappeared. If Boomerang is that dog, then he grew up herding cattle on the U.B. Good Ranch somewhere out West.

“Say, folks, did I ever tell you about my close call the day I turned 35? No? Well, you see, I was out on this hiking trail, far up in the mountains, trying to get home in time for the surprise birthday party I wasn’t supposed to know about, when all of a sudden—”

“Ruff. Ruff.”

That is our signal. Harold has buttoned his cardigan sweater and pushed up the sleeves. That means he’s about to tell a really big story this time and Boomer knows it.

Say, let’s walk over to the Sanders’ home on Dogwood Drive, right across from Copy Cat Lane. I want you to meet Harold’s wife, Edna. She’s a hoot. Makes new friends real easily. She is fun-loving, bright, and always trying out new things.

This way. So what do you thing of our little town so far, hmmm?

Here we are. What is Edna doing now? I think she’s practicing ballet moves in front of the mirror. Edna used to be quite the dancer.

“And a one, and a two. Plee-ay, Rela-vay. Down and up. And repeat. Whoopsie-Doodle. I nearly fell over. Do you like the music, Halley?”

That would be Halley’s Comet perched on the basket filled with towels. She’s a silver streak of a cat with attitude. Halley just showed up one day right here at the Sanders’ back door. It was the same day Harold discovered Boomer outside the hardware store! Edna nearly fell over her.

“Halley, my girl, why don’t we go downstairs? I’ll fix myself some lunch and you can have some tuna. Wait! OK. I’m right behind you.”

Halley is fussy, but she sure does like tuna. She acts like a princess, with her pretty pink collar and her nametag. We’re not sure where she grew up. Edna often finds Halley looking at magazines with pictures of large, beautiful homes. We think she may have lived with a wealthy family up North.

“Meow.”

“Here you go girl. A fresh can of tuna served up in your bowl. Practically a 5-Star meal. Now, what do I want to whip up for myself?”

I should tell you Edna can be downright dangerous in her kitchen. When she puts stuff in that blender of hers and turns it up high – look out!

“I think I’ll make some fresh vegetable soup. Let me get all the ingredients out of the refrigerator. Now I place the chopped vegetables and the liquid in the blender. Here we go.”

Oh, boy. Halley has the right idea. She’s already hopped up to her window seat away from the action. Get ready. Edna’s about to turn on the machine.

“Wait. NOOOO! Not the lid. Again. Why does that keep happening? Got to turn it off. There. Whew. Halley are you all right? You-joo! Halley? Where are you? Come out of the pantry. It’s safe, girl.”

Well, it may be safe for now. But these two have one big mess to clean up. Why don’t we leave them to their chore? This might be a good time to show you the Shady Pines Community Center. It’s located right beside the elementary school.

I want you to meet the Center’s Director, Rita Malleno. There she is, walking up to the guys playing checkers.

“Hi, Edgar. Got a good game going on here? Isn’t it nice sitting outside at the picnic tables on a day like this? Who’s winning?

“We’re tied, Rita. We’ve both won two.”

“Not for long, Ben. King me!”

“Listen you, two. Just enjoy yourselves. I’ll see you back inside a little later. OK?”

Rita makes people feel comfortable. She can kid with the men, help women with their artwork, or play games with the kids. It’s all in a day’s work.

“Yikes! Slow down, children. No running in the hallways. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Rita checks the bulletin board on her way back to her office. Since becoming director over a year ago, Rita has added a lot of new programs. She’s especially proud of Operation: Arts and Crafts. Once a week, students from the elementary school mingle with the older folks. They get help with their school projects. It makes Rita feel good to see young and old working and laughing together. They’re learning from one another. 

“Hi ya, Emma. How’s my sweet baby girl? Thank you, Sophie, for watching her.”

“No problem, Ms. Malleno. She’s a good baby. I’ll be back with the mail.”

Sophie is Rita’s assistant. And Emma is her infant daughter who has a little crib right by Rita’s desk – which also has lots pictures of Emma on it, as you can see.

“Ms. Malleno. Here’s your mail. And, Ray Robinson is here.”

“OK, Sophie. Thank you for letting me know.”

Ray’s mom often drops him off here after school. The shy seven-year-old is a wonderful student. His mom has two jobs, and his dad is in the military. He’s working across the ocean for the third time.

“Hello, Ray. How are you?”

“All right, I guess, Ms. Malleno.

“Only all right? Well this should cheer you up. It’s Edna’s day to volunteer.”

“Is she bringing Boomer and Halley?”

“Yep. She just called me. She’s on the way. Would you like to go on rounds with them?”

“You bet I would!”

“Oh, look! Here they are now!”

“Ruff. Ruff.”

“Hi, Ray. Sorry we were a little late. We had a little something we had to clean up first.”

“Meeeoow.”

“That’s OK, Ms. Sanders. Would it be all right it we went down by the lake?”

“Sure. Halley and I will hang out while you throw the ball for Boomerang. How does that sound?”

“Let’s go!”

While Ray and Boomer play, Halley naps, and Edna eats a sandwich – the soup was not a success – let’s stroll over to Stonewall Park and sit under the shade of the gazebo. This special spot is where the town holds all kinds of get-togethers – birthday parties, concerts, important town meetings. It also gives us the best view of the park.

Whew! It feels good to sit down, doesn’t it? And just listen to the pipe music blare from the carousel. Look at all those kids riding the pretty painted horses up and down and around. And the laughter and barking you hear? That’s from the Dog Park nearby – another great addition to our town.

Yep, this is a pretty special little town, don’t you think? And I believe you’ll find that everyone who lives here – young and old – wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. So, welcome again. We hope you will stay for a while get to know everyone a little bit better in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

If you’d like to become a member of this wonderful community and join others who are trying to make this a better world for the next generation, please go to MEMBERS AREA!

And if you’d like to take home more adventures of Boomer and Halley, Harold and Edna, you can find out more about their award-winning books. BOOMER and HALLEY BOOKS