Friday, May 05, 2006

The Mayor of Pearlington

Photo by Jennifer Wiest

Anybody who’s been long in Pearlington knows Buster.

He’s a former student of Charles B. Murphy Elementary School here and a going concern. 10 or 11 years old, he is cocky, loud and completely irresistible. We call him the Mayor because he always has an opinion about how things should go and how the world should be run.

He’s usually right.

I have three particularly fond memories of Buster, during my times in Pearlington. The first occurred on Hallowe’en, in the afternoon before Laurie’s party and my Pearlington Karaoke Debut. Here is part of my posting on that day, from my Dream School International blog.

"Buster is a member of some kind of Junior Fire Club thing and has attached himself to one of the units here fighting fires from out of town. He spends the day in his junior firefighter boots and jacket, running errands and "being in charge of the unit.

Just ask him.

The men are kind and generous to him and he sits like them, works like them and eats with them. Yesterday, he was climbing on the back of a four wheeler to head out somewhere with one of the men. He lost his balance and reached out for the man's shoulder sitting in front of him. Steadying himself he sat down and patted the man on the back in thanks, as if to reassure him.

It was a small, intimate moment for a small young man in the midst of chaos."

The second memory is of a Saturday community meeting, under the "big top" that was the Red Cross food tent. During question and answer period, Buster asked to speak. We all waited with bated breath. He strode to the front of the tent, grabbed the microphone out of the County Supervisor’s hand and looked him dead in the eye.

"I want to know what you guys are thinking, when you tell everybody that you’re not going to rebuild this school!"

It was a question on everybody’s mind and only Buster had the courage to ask it. Rocky Pullman, the Supervisor, mumbled an answer, stunned by Buster’s directness. But Buster was on him now, and had him by the throat and wasn’t letting go until he heard what he needed to hear. The crowd was in stitches, that it took a little boy to remind the emperor that he had no clothes.

The third moment came during one of my November Friday evening group therapy know, Karaoke Night. Friday night was steak and potato night at the Red Cross food tent and we all had eaten our fill. I was standing in front of the Pearl*Mart, my equipment lugged all the way from Canada - in the middle of a song - when I became aware that there was a whisper going through the crowd about someone smelling smoke.

Soon it was apparent that the large trailer that housed the Red Cross food and equipment was on fire!

Fortunately, at that point in time, the place was crawling with out-of-town firefighters. We all watched as they hammered down the metal door of the trailer to get at the cause. Buster was, of course, right in the thick of things - issuing orders to his men. Turns out the "chef" forgot to turn off the oven and there were still potatoes inside. Everything got taken care of and Buster returned to the bemused crowd in front of the Pearl*Mart to announce in a big voice:

"Everybody stay calm. It’s allllll right. We have it under control!"

Some woman asked what had happened. Buster’s reply?

"Let’s just put it this way," he said, as if telling her the truth would break some fireman code or form a breach of confidentiality:


Don’t eat the hash browns!"

The picture below is that of Buster receiving a brand new typewriter at Easter. The purpose of the gift? So Buster can write the President, the Congress, the Queen of England - whoever it takes to get this world sorted out.

You go, Buster.


At Wednesday, 21 June, 2006, Blogger Gary McGinnis said...

Thank you for remindng me of Buster. I was the one that outfitted him for Halloween while splitting work between FEMA and West Hancok FD.

I had forgotten aobut Buster but so glad you reminded me.


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