Old Man Brown

With his earflaps down

| May-June 1996

One afternoon I was in the kitchen practicing a fiddle tune. A woman’s boisterous chatter arose suddenly in the back alley. I went to the window. It was neighbor Helen shooting the breeze with Old Man Brown. Long, thin, bent, Old Man Brown with his earflaps down, bundled against the spring chill. Toothless, near deaf, standard-issue cane, he was well into his 90s.

Later, I noticed him poking about in my pile of carpenter’s scraps. I went out for a visit.

“Hi, Mr. Brown! What are you looking for?”

“You got a triangle piece of wood?” he rasped.

I yanked out a good-sized corner sliced from a sheet of plywood.

“Too big,” he said.