“You related to Ernie?” I enquire.
“shore am,” the gruff voice grins, and extends a hand in greeting, “My regular name is Alfred.”
I shake his hand and can’t help but ask, “So Alfred, how did you get to ‘Dernie’?”
“Derned you Alfred!” a feminine voice calls out, “We don’t want to be setting these cucumbers atop of the Zucchini!!”
“That’s how,” Dernie grins more, “That’s Fernie.”
Dernie holds his hand up and calls, “Say Fernie, we’ve got company!”
Fernie comes from the parking lot and recognizes me, “Why it’s the Scout,” she says in a small-town familiarity, “Why don’t you go Scout up a basket of produce and help us load up this refrigerator-caboose here.”
Alfred, aka Dernie, smiles as I grab a crate and climb the steps, “She likes you, don’t worry, Fernie is very easy to get along with. Just try and do everything she says.”
Dernie unbolts the door into the Refidger-caboose and we step in. It’s a bit chilly as Dernie takes my crates and stack them into the coolers installed in the refridger-caboose.
Dernie notes my interest, “It was the Short=Line’s idea,” he remarks, “They came into a whole set of cabooses that were being decommissioned, and the truckers were getting tired coming this way. They never knew how high the water bridge would be or how long they’d get hung up at the Droll Bridge.”
“The freezers sound like a Sam Bascom Invention,” I quip.
“But they are!” Dernie practically exclaims, “How could you have guessed?”
“Dumb Luck?” I shrug.
As we proceed to shuttle the fresh produce up the steps into the refridge-caboose, Dernie explains the details, “What with the trucks and the touristy types stopping in at Clover County Seat but skipping out on visiting our little ole HicksTown, Why in season,we got folks with produce coming out the ying-yang, and it all goes to waste too.”
“Seems like a lot of it gets thrown at Weenerman and Ernie,” I remark.
“That’s not considered all waste,” Dernie confides, “Throwing tomatoes at Ernie and Weenerman is like a Township Tradition, you know.”
“so you think the touristuy-types will come all the way out here to the Township just to throw tomatoes at Ernie and the WeenerMan?” I question.
“Not Quite, but that may be an idea,” Dernie remarks,
“Nah, Actually Sam Bascom come up with a way to install some coolers in one of these excess cabooses and runs the ‘Veggie-Express straight to the County Seat twice weekly on the local which comes out this way anyways,” Dernie grins, “Just dsets us off on the siding by the ol’ station and the touristy types and anybody looking for fresh fruit and veggis can pull right up and come on in, and help themselves.”
“You two are gonna need some help if’n you don’t stick to loading,” Fernie warns us. Dernie gives a thumbs up, and we go back to work portering fruits and veggies up into Refridge-caboose.
Once inside we unload the boxes into the temp-controlled coolers.
“Gotta keep them just chilled,” Ferni pokes her head in, “For the trip back to the County Seat.”