Like fine wine, age makes rumors better

Andy walks into Walker’s Drug Store and asks for a jar of salve to apply to a scratch on Barney’s finger. A couple of customers hear his request and wonder what’s really up.

About an hour later, undertaker comes to the courthouse and offers condolences (and his services) to Andy due to the tragic death of Barney who, word has it, apparently shot himself while cleaning his gun. 

Amazing, isn’t it, how a scratched finger mushroomed to a fatal gunshot wound with each retelling of Barney’s “horrible accident.” Nope. Not amazing at all. Just as giant oaks sprout from little acorns, so do facts spring from scuttlebutt.

Rumors are the fountainhead of the mysterious and magical “they,” the most quoted authority on anything worthy of oral pass along. Great thing about rumors is the rapid nature of dissemination. Cable news anchors and cellular texters/film makers hustle to keep pace.

One recent tidbit landing close enough to be heard from our ol’ rocker focuses on an iconic restaurant on the west bank of Dorcheat Bayou. After fire destroyed the facility, people wondered what might follow. Naturally, the mill from which rumors flow has generated an answer. They say a popular establishment in Bossier City is planning to rebuild and get busy.

We’ve checked. No one with the authority to do so has expressed such interest. A reliable source says it all began over coffee when a patron said something to the effect of wouldn’t it be nice if (insert restaurant name) built there. In Aunt Bee fashion, the verbiage got a little skewed and a grand opening is planned for next month.

Another piece of info still being floated puts all sorts of things on the cleared property along Sheppard Street. From federally subsidized housing to big box stores to an expanded church facility, words hover over the property like haze over the bayou.

Property owners may remain tight-lipped, but that doesn’t make a difference. We’re not patient enough to await facts. And, in the words of somebody, if you don’t know, make it up. Saul Alinsky says repeating the lie (i.e., gossip/rumor) often enough makes it truth.

A couple of other pieces of ?nformation have reached the front porch, but since it concerns governmental and appointed agencies it’s often hard to tell fact from fiction. We heard there would be a staff turnover inside city hall, but relatively speaking that one hasn’t gained much traction. Guess everyone there is cruising in their own lane, thus avoiding oncoming traffic.

There were also whispers that on the heels of its success with Miller Quarters, the tourist and convention group was planning to take a serious look at a couple of other properties, both historic and hysteric. Don’t put any stock in rumors that a previous car dealership might be a new museum site. Improving and enlarging a memory bank isn’t high on priority lists.

Parting thought: From rumor to rumination. We read an interesting piece about a consideration for the parish police jury. A presentation from a neighboring parish gave locals an idea of how they might solve the problem of rough stretches of asphalt disguising themselves as parish roads.

A weights and measures department, complete with an enforcement officer to watch for oversized and overweight heavy trucks, was explained for jury members. Those heavyweight trucks, the folks were told, are one of the primary reasons some parish roads are wearing and tearing as quickly as they can be patched (if they are). 

We hear the idea was received with something less than enthusiasm. Reason? While oilfield company trucks were one identified cause, jury members were reminded local companies might also be culprit to hauling over the limit. That, we hear from sources, caused furrowed brows and a pucker or two. It might prove really difficult to pass ordinances that scoop up our kitties with the litter.

No matter how one might cut it, the police jury budget isn’t exactly bursting at the income line. Load permits and overweight/oversize fines might not raise millions, but income from these could be significant. And, a healthy figure could be saved when considering the cost of repairing roughed up roadways.

Looks like the jury members might be looking into the horns of the dilemma. Is it better to just let the road problems remain as they are without a fixable solution? Ask the public that drives on substandard byways. The fiscal solution might cause heartburn, but holding public office is a job of choices. Let us know what, and why, you decide.

– Pat Culverhouse