Aunt Bee and Deputy Dawg
The summer of '68 should be just a dim memory in my mind. However, although it was forty-one years ago, our family has recalled this incident so many times that I remember it as if it took place yesterday. The cast of characters (and I do mean characters) consisted of Cindy, our brown terrier, my Aunt Millie, whom we called Aunt Bee (long story), the amiable son of the village postmaster, and, in a strange way, the cartoon character Deputy Dawg.
The scene was typical for a hot summer Saturday afternoon. My sister, Stacie, and I were at home with our Aunt Bee, who was covered with a mixture of baby oil and dark-brown liquid iodine. She was soaking up the sun while reclining on a lawn chair. Keep in mind, Aunt Bee (in her mid-thirties at the time) was a sun worshiper like no other, and the dangers of ultraviolet rays were unknown at the time. Sunblocks were not yet in vogue and Aunt Bee used the oil mixture to magnify those rays, not inhibit them.
No other family members were around that day, and I decided to jump in the car and take a ride, too. I had just turned sixteen, had passed my driver's exam, and I used every excuse possible to run errands, so I was up and out of there in a flash.
At times, Aunt Bee would sunbathe in her bathing suit, but at other times it wasn't uncommon to find her scantily clad in her panties and bra. We had no neighbors close by, and the back yard was shielded by the house, so passing motorists had no view to anything behind our home. Oh, one more important aspect of the scenario - Aunt Bee was so covered in oil that she wore a white sailor hat brim pulled down - to keep her hair back and off her face and neck. Right in the middle of the front of the hat was a big colored stamp of Deputy Dawg.
The quiet solitude of that summer day was broken by the squealing of Cindy, our beloved house dog. She had her leg caught in a jump-trap, set by my dad for rats that were beginning to burrow under our shed in the rear of the yard.
Not having the slightest clue how to remove a terrified animal from a trap, and known for panic in all similar situations, Aunt Bee quickly donned a white robe (belt undone), jumped in her '66 white Ford Mustang, and drove barefoot into town like Mario Andretti at the Indi 500. Keep in mind, too, that she was sporting a very dark, iodine-enhanced tan and had that Deputy Dawg hat drawn over her face, all the while dripping with baby oil.
As she entered the town of Sidman, she encountered Bill Walters, the son of the postmaster in town. Bill was about 20 years old at the time and, thank God, he was in good shape. With her windows down, Aunt Bee screamed at him with desperate cries of, "Help, help me please Cindy is caught in a trap up at Potchak's and we can't get her out! Please help us, please!"
And then Aunt Bee drove off never thinking to offer Bill a ride up the steep, mile-long hill where we lived. To complicate matters, Bill didn't know our family well and immediately thought that my sister, Stacie, was the one caught in the trap.
Aunt Bee continued around the block in her Mustang, wearing her white robe (barely covering her underwear), her Deputy Dawg hat, no shoes, and dripping brown baby oil all over her black leather seats. She tried garnering anyone's attention that she could, and I might say she was doing a great job.
Meanwhile, Bill started sprinting the mile-long, uphill trek in the heat, his denim blue jeans making the distress worse, to rescue Stacie from the trap that was no doubt biting into the poor child's leg.
Aunt Bee passed the Good Samaritan on her way back to the house, again never giving thought to offering him a ride as he continued his jaunt up the steep hill.
When the weary, drained, and exhausted marathoner finally got to the house, his face as red as a beet, he was totally out of breath and could barely speak. And then, he noticed Cindy was not a human, she was a dog!
Bewildered and visibly shaken, Bill managed to get Cindy out of the trap, and then introduced himself to Stacie. Aunt Bee eventually calmed down from her total panic state, to a mildly hysterical one.
I pulled in as the saga was ending, but still to this day I can't remember if Bill had to walk back home after that ordeal or if someone offered him a ride home. I know I didn't take him back into town, so if Aunt Bee didn't do so, he must have walked back, once again on his own. At least the return path was downhill.
If you have ever heard that the Potchak family was a little odd, please take that implication with a grain of salt. There are a few in the family who are semi-normal. I've heard that personally from credible sources. Just ask that lovable canine-lawman with a badge of tin and a heart of gold peering out in days of yore from the hats of desperate oil-covered, sunbathing, lady drivers in sports cars.
**Editor's Note: No animals were harmed that day. Cindy required no veterinarian attention and never so much as limped from her ordeal. She continued to witness many more family flubs and tribulations through the years.