When "Renderings with Raymond" kicked off on Wednesday, Marvin Walsh was still steaming mad about the headline in the Lennox Valley Hometown News:
Lutheran Disruption Seemed Like
Disagreement Among Friends
At the same moment, as Iris Long sat with her friends Sarah Hyden-Smith and Juliette Stoughton over lunch at the Hoffbrau, Iris laughed about some of the humorous headlines that had graced the Hometown News through the years.
Both Sarah and Juliette were relatively new to the community, so they hadn’t realized their older friend was such a skilled wordsmith.
Overhearing the topic of conversation, Jessie couldn’t help but become involved.
"One of my favorites," Jessie said, unsuccessfully trying to hold back her laughter, "was the headline that went with the story when Melvin and Kelli Schmidt moved to town. What was that headline again?"
Iris’ reticence to give an answer hinted this particular headline wasn’t purposely written to be funny.
"It’s slipped my mind," Iris answered, as if the words weren’t forever emblazoned in her memory.
Jessie couldn’t hold her laughter in any longer as she roared, "I remember now. It was ‘New Residents Come From Elsewhere’!"
Both Sarah and Juliette attempted to hold their laughter, but couldn’t help but giggle a little.
"What was your favorite?" Jessie asked her friend, attempting to make up for the embarrassment she had just caused.
"I’m not sure," Iris responded. "Sometimes I just want to liven things up a bit, you know? A newspaper is more than just a source of information. It’s a public service. I try to inform the public, sure. But sometimes it’s fun to add a little humor to the mix."
Overhearing the conversation from his booth, Charles Marsh asked loud enough for the group to hear, "What was that headline you wrote when the poultry inspector quit his job?"
Iris laughed to herself. Obviously, she had written that particular headline on purpose.
"I believe," she said, "it was, ‘Meat Head Resigns’."
Laughter erupted throughout the room as it became obvious the friends’ private conversation wasn’t so private. Thinking back, I’m not sure much of anything was truly private in my hometown.
"Remember the one," queried Oscar Phillips, "about the little girl’s stuffed animal getting stuck in the sewer?"
"Oh, yes," Iris answered with a laugh. "I couldn’t help myself when I heard about the incident. Mary Ann Tinksersly dropped her stuffed Winnie the Pooh down the storm drain on Main Street."
"That’s right," shouted Phillips. "I remember now. It was ‘Sewer Blocked By Large Pooh’!"
It was then Vera Penrod walked into the ‘Brau to pick up a dozen apple fritters for the evening meeting of the Auburn Hat Society.
"What’s everyone laughing about?" she asked no one in particular.
"We were remembering funny headlines in the newspaper," Charles Marsh answered.
Jessie turned to Vera and said, "You’ve been in The Valley all your life. What’s the funniest headline you remember?"
Vera rubbed her chin as she pondered the question.
"It was about five years ago, when the youth group at the Baptist church was doing a service project at the Spring-field Senior Citizens Club."
Jessie began laughing, obviously remembering the story.
"What was the headline again, Jessie? Do you remember?"
"I will never forget it," answered Jessie. "It might be my all-time favorite."
"Well, what was it?" Juliette asked.
Jessie could barely get the words out, she was laughing so hard.
Mercifully, her words eventually came out. "Students Cook and Serve Grandparents."
The diner erupted in laughter.
Unlike Marvin Walsh, the group at the Hoffbrau had an appreciation for Iris Long’s headline humor.