In a day or so, the mariner and his family are gathering in Phoenix for a vacation get together. Mariner and his wife are escaping the harsh winter of the plains while offspring are gathering for celebrations of various sorts. It is a time to relax in a blissful place – mentally, spiritually and physically.
So today, there will be no complaining, no panicking, and no passing of judgment. A forgotten object in a corner of a dusty bookshelf on the second floor landing has called up memories of a unique character in mariner’s life – his father-in-law.
He went by the name “Bos” (Boz) and owned the town’s hardware store for 50 years, finally retiring at the age of 81. Bos had a quirky sense of humor that entertained folks across the entire county. One of the mariner’s favorites goes as follows:
Around Christmas, Bos placed a galvanized bucket with a barren tree branch resting in it on a prominent spot on the counter. From one of the twigs on the branch, he tied a string; at the bottom of the string hung a bullet. Bos would sit back and, like a cat eager to pounce, watch customers come in, see the bucket, branch and bullet and ask, “What is that, Bos?” With great delight in the moment, he would say, “That’s my cartridge in a bare tree.”
Back in the sixties, when we all were younger, Bos played golf once a week like clockwork with three cronies. The foursome was a sorry lot as far as scores were concerned but the keen game for them was to be the first to hole out so they could race off to the trash can at the next tee. The prize was soda cans redeemable for five cents. The winner of the round was the one with the most soda cans. Having the most cans was nice but Bos relished the nickel refunds, which, characteristically, he stored away in a multitude of cigar boxes, pouches and tins. When the Hunt brothers were buying all the silver they could to push up the price and make a profit, the price of silver skyrocketed enough that Bos gathered his silver dimes, cashed them in and bought a new Ford truck for cash. That was Bos.
This tight fisted nature was common among the oldies in the town. Bos was always holding up the foursome while he searched for golf balls lost by others. He boasted that he had never bought a ball in all his times on the links. Bos had five-gallon buckets full of all brands, new and old. Most of the balls had seen their day and with a mighty swing may have traveled 125 yards.
One day, we were sitting in the parlor after dinner. Bos was fiscally conservative and would not invest in the stock market. Most of his invested holdings were in EE Bonds. He mentioned that he had to find somewhere to reinvest the bonds because they were maturing. The mariner suggested rolling them over into HH Bonds tax free. Bos was reticent to believe the government would offer such a favor that evades taxes. Mariner reassured him it was so but Bos still did not believe it. The mariner bet him a new, store bought golf ball that it was true. Sure enough, the rollover could be done tax free.
The object found on the second floor landing was the only golf ball Bos ever bought enshrined on a wooden base with a bell jar cover. A brass plate reads, “ONLY NEW BALL BOS EVER BOUGHT – Cousin Reunion August 20,1981” The ball has a patina now but it still retains the fun and sport from 35 years ago.
Bos passed on in 2001. Folks who knew him still remember his quirky humor and how active he was in the life of their small Iowa town.