It was Thanksgiving Eve a few decades ago. The family was “out” partying heavily and by 2 AM my brother-in-law, known to the kids as “Uncle Dirt” (UD) and I were the last left at the Swirl Inn Bar. UD is to meet his sister Zee at the Greyhound Bus “station”, arriving from Baltimore, at nearby Cremer, Pa. at 7 AM so she can join the family for the day’s festivities. UD and I fashion a plan at the bar to enhance Zee’s arrival experience in Cermer… it is, without a doubt, a masterpiece plan, that even today the resulting event on that cold Thanksgiving morning, remains a historic event in family folklore.
Some salient points: (1) Cermer is a tiny town, maybe 15 blocks square if that. (2) It was a snowy, frosty morning, maybe 20 degrees. (3) The Greyhound bus terminal was an old, classic house of sorts, on the main street, closed that holiday morning. So when the bus deposited Zee at 7 AM Thanksgiving morning, the tiny town was dead, no cars, no people, and Zee’s waiting area was outside, on the front porch. (4) Zee was and remains a spaz of sorts and was scared to death of Baltimore Street People. So much so she once admitted she would cross the street to avoid walking near one on the way to work.
UD and I leave the Swirl Inn Bar, well oiled, at 3 AM or so, Thanksgiving morning. We went to my dad’s house and gathered up an old stained raincoat, galoshes, dirty work khaki pants, and a scarf that looked so bad Goodwill wouldn’t take I; also a walking cane, a rag-bag, and an old filthy Fedora type hat. I put it all on… the outfit was a perfect recreation of a Baltimore Street Person. With that, at about 5 AM, UD and I head to Cermer, about 10 miles away, to await the arrival of the Greyhound, and Zee.
UD dropped me off in my outfit, behind the Cermer YMCA, across the street and adjacent to the Greyhound bus station. He positioned the van a block away where he had a clear view of the scene. And in rolls the bus at 7 AM. Zee de-buses, walks up the steps of the old house to wait on the porch for UD to arrive. Cermer is a ghost town.
I step out from behind the YMCA in my outfit and make my way across the street, now in Zee’s line of sight. I am bent over, moving slowly, limping, with cane, in filthy clothes, the Fedora concealing most of my face. Zee is watching. She thinks its street person! Yes! As I get closer to the house, UD pulls the van up directly across the street, Zee starts down the porch steps, crosses the sidewalk, watching me. I’m getting closer now. Later she would reveal that she was sure she could “take me” if anything “funny” started. Zee starts to cross the street, with a travel bag in each hand, looking at me. She reaches mid-street, halfway to UD and the van, and I start after her yelling, “Hey Little Girl, Hey Little Girl”. She throws both bags up in the air and races toward the UD’s van. UD is in the driver’s seat, bent over howling, and is only able to snap one photo, the one in this post. Zee dives into the van, I run up, identify me, she is beyond pissed.
The story was fully recounted at the Thanksgiving dinner table, the family in hysterics; Zee, not so much.
If you encountered Zee today, decades later, and spoke the phrase, “Hey Little Girl, Hey Little Girl”, she would have a very special message for you, most likely beginning with F and ending with U!
***** S&E *****