A Day in the life...
First hand accounts from our local citizens
By Grant Overstake, as published in the Myriad 1977:
First time I met Clyde he offered me a chew. Next time I saw him, he offered me a drink. When I see him again, he might offer me the shirt off his back.
Clyde Brush turned 69 years old last Friday, but don't think he's gettin' old. His attitudes and outlook on life are as up to date as just about anyone - even a student on campus.
We sat and talked in the garage across the road from his Towanda home, where he used to repair 1950 Chevrolets. He sat on a stool next to a pot bellied stove and we talked about old time, and new times. Once in awhile, he'd lean over and spit tobacco juice into a tin can, then wipe his mouth with the sleeve of his blue denim shirt.
"Came to Kansas from Illinois in 1922," he began. "Dad was in poor health and the doctor said to come to a better climate."
"I got married in 1927 and I'm gonna have my 50th wedding anniversary this year," he smiled. "Had five boys and they all had a sister. Now everybody asks me 'You mean you have ten kids?' I tell'em Nope, I got six kids. All the boys have one sister."
We talked about old times and squirrel hunting and when he got lucky and missed the war because of an ear infection. Then the talk turned around to today. Clyde sat up straight on his stool, spat in the can, wiped his sleeve and began.
"I listen to the news a lot, and what gets me more than anything now days is the law. They've got too many laws now. Hell, they don't even enforce the ones they have."
He pushed his fan held hat back upon his head and thought a moment before saying, "But I heard on the news that there have been seven people murdered in Kansas this week. Now I know hanging someone or electrocuting them isn't right, but you've got to set an example for the others. Haven't we?"
He spat again and we talked about the weather for a while. Then his eyes lit up and he leaned over and said, "Hey, you know they're going to have a gamecock fight this weekend? They're trying to get rid of that, too. I know it's being cruel to dumb animals, but I say as long as someone wants to do it they should be able to. Don't you? It's just like these movies over in Wichita. If a person wants to go and see something like that, he should be able to. Is is supposed to be a free country, but sometimes it makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
I sat there in the warmth of the stove and thought about my place in history and the things my generation was fighting for. So I just decided to ask Clyde what he thought about marijuana, hoping he wouldn't take it wrong and blow up or something. His answer blew my mind.
"Oh, hell," he said. "They used to fight whiskey the same way. I'll tell you, I feel the same way about marijuana as I do about whiskey. I say put it on the market. Put an age limit on it. Let him go to the drug store to get it, make it be good stuff, but make him be 18 or 21 before he can buy it. I'll tell you what one of the problems right now is. It's that some 14 or 15 year old kid can go out to some damn bootlegger and pay twice what the weed is worth and get what isn't good quality. I just figure that kids are treating marijuana today like we used to treat whiskey, don't you?"
I smiled and laughed a little and said, "Yeh, Clyde, I think you have some good points there." We talked about a lot of things and Clyde showed me around his property, where he has a pretty good collection of old junk. He talks about having a sale one day, but he figures his sons will sell it all when he's gone.
"You sell something and damned if you don't turn around and need it a week later," he said with a laugh.
So, if you're ever in Towanda and feel like stepping into the past, or just feel like having a good talk, drop over to Clyde's garage, pull up a stool, have a chew or a drink, and be prepared to be treated right.
Because Clyde's like that.
"There have been several people come by here trying to buy that truck. It's a 1946 Dodge, and I don't think I'll ever sell it. Hell, the Highway Patrol will catch up with me one of these days and I'll have to ground the son of a bitch anyways. But that's a fine truck." - Clyde.
"I used to make a little home brew for my own use back before they had beer (during prohibition). That stuff would knock your socks off. But it was tricky. Sometimes, it would come our right and sometimes if would blow up! That stuff would give you a buzz! You wanna drink? Got some Wild Turkey, 101 proof. Stuff will knock the hair right out of your throat!!" - Clyde