What Ever Happened to...?

For anyone who's interested, here's the short version of what has happened to some of the more notable residents of Centerboro and the surrounding area since the 1950s. I have also provided elsewhere on this site a brief necrology of Centerboro and Oteseraga County which you may consult if you're so inclined.

Herb Garble: My one-time friend and occasional business associate was indicted by a grand jury on several counts of misuse of public funds as Centerboro's mayor. He skipped town to avoid prosecution and was never seen in Centerboro again, until he executed my estate (in more ways than one) when I was abducted by Martians back in 1998, although there was hardly anyone left around who would have recognized him. Herb and I had known each other since we were kids and had served in World War II together, and so we remained friends even though he had vanished under a cloud. We kept secretly in touch over the years, and I was a frequent visitor at his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at the stock ranch in Montana which he had inherited from his uncle Orville. Well, we've had a ugly falling out complicated by many unresolved legal issues, and I'm very angry with Herb--angry enough to reveal the alias under which he has been living for many years and maybe even to sic the law on him as I have good and sufficient reason to. You can read more about this in my documentation of my abduction by the Martians and the resulting chaotic mess in Centerboro and my personal life.

William Bean was a well-known and well-liked local farmer. He was a simple, honest, and forthright man whom one could always rely upon to deliver the straight dope on anything. His only peculiarities were his chatting with his livestock as though the dumb brutes could understand him and his possessing a pet bear which he named Peter.  He was an inveterate pipe-smoker, and while dozing after morning chores and a huge breakfast of flapjacks one day in 1959, he set an easy chair on fire and burned his under-insured house to the ground. The fire spread to several outbuildings including the main barn and destroyed them as well. He sold all his surviving livestock, farm machinery, and properties to me, a licensed real-estate broker and investor, and did pretty well recouping his losses. The fire took a lot out of him and Mrs. Bean physically and emotionally, though. That and the perpetually draining misery of having Frederick for a son compelled him to retire with his wife to Venice, Florida, where they both passed away of natural causes several years later— he in 1969, she in 1972.

Frederick (“Freddy”) Bean besides being a perpetual thorn in my side was a disgrace to his family and community. After several bad reviews in the local newspaper of his vile and feeble attempts at poetry, and after years of moral bankruptcy in Oteseraga County, he moved to Montana (so the story goes) about the same time Herb skipped town. He was never heard from again in Centerboro, and good riddance! I thought he was arrogant, nasty, and quite infatuated with himself. I know for a fact that he enjoyed “dressing up,” and no one thought anything of this scandalous behavior. For some reason, it seemed as though he could do no wrong in Centerboro. He did his best to thwart several of my business ventures out of pure pigheaded malice and spite. He made fun of my true story of the Martians in a letter he wrote to the editor of the paper. He and Walter Brooks defamed me at every turn. I’m getting very angry just thinking about it, so that’s it about Freddy for now. You can read more about him and his intrigues and schemes at other places at this site, namely here--A Corrected and Emended Transcript of My Address (Slightly Abridged) to the Ladies' Literary Society of Centerboro on Saturday, September 12, 1959 and here--Setting the Record Straight: My So-Called "Criminal Career" vs That of Frederick Bean. I do know that he currently resides in a nursing home somewhere or other, and I would pay good money to anyone who could give me a substantial lead to his whereabouts. I would so like to have a chat with Frederick.

James (“Jinx”) Bean, the amiable, wisecracking son of William and Martha Bean, started a successful pest extermination business in Centerboro after the Bean farm fire in 1959. He specialized in mice and rats, but would remove bees and hornets from eaves and attics, too. He sold the business and left the area in 1966. Rumor had it at the time that he had gone to Los Angeles to try his hand at standup comedy, but that could be wrong. Everyone liked him better than Freddy. He had a more winning personality, certainly. No one has heard from Jinx in many years, and my not having heard to the contrary, I believe he may still be alive.

Orestes Boomschmidt suffered a tragic mauling from one of his lions in 1961 and was forced to leave the circus in the hands of his dimwitted brother Hercules. During the two years Orestes spent in rehabilitation, “Herc” ran the circus into the ground, forcing both of them into early retirement. I believe they opened a little concession stand of some sort in Atlantic City, but I don’t know how that worked out. Orestes eventually passed away owing to lingering effects of his lion-induced injuries.

C. Jimson Camphor, our local born-with-a-silver-spoon, never-had-to-work-a-day-in-his-life playboy, inherited even more wealth when his two spinster aunts, Minerva and Elmira, passed away, leaving him the sole heir of the entire Camphor fortune which was immense. Having nothing more meaningful to do with his life, Camphor entered state and then national politics, and eventually he was appointed ambassador to someplace or other. I think it may have been Luxembourg. His good-natured bumbling and incompetence eventually led to his recall. He retired to his mansion on Oteseraga Lake and spent the rest of his days, a lonely bachelor, paddling about in a canoe and riding his lawn tractor. In a way, he rather reminded me of Richard Cory, except he didn’t go home one night and put a bullet through his head. He just faded away over the last fifteen years of his life and died as a result of a lawn mower accident, of all things. By the bye, Camphor was loath to disclose what the "C" in "C. Jimson" stood for, and most folks around here never found out. I myself hadn't a clue until Priscilla Belette spilled the beans during our second interview. If you wish to find out about that "C," you'll just have to read the interview.

Simon Rodere was the town ne'er-do-well. He and his family were generally viewed as a nest of furtive little sneaks and petty crooks. To everyone’s amazement, Simon underwent a miraculous conversion,“found the Lord” in 1959, and preached "the Word" throughout rural areas of upstate New York. Later, also to no one’s surprise, he and his son Ezra were discovered to have embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from his ministry’s overflowing coffers. Those frauds tearfully begged forgiveness from everyone (which their idiotic and gullible followers tearfully granted), and then the entire Rodere family promptly left the country with all the loot. I heard they went back to the land of their ancestors, Norway.

Harriet Peebles Anderson Pomeroy was the owner of Harriet’s—Hats in Centerboro when I first met her. We fell hard for each other and married within two weeks. Big, big mistake! We were divorced within six months. For one thing, she did not want me to invest in the second flying saucer project, and she got simply furious when I emptied our savings account to buy in. The project could have worked! It was worth the risk! Also, she did not like my then-best friend Herbie and wouldn’t even let him in our house, but that was only because Herb’s sister, Mrs. Underdunk, had made some snide, sniffy comments about Harriet’s little store, even after Harriet had been nice enough to whip up a special order of the "flying saucer hat" for her. Harriet also didn’t like it much when I’d want to dress up like a big kitty cat--strictly for fun, you know. She even told folks about that, and Walter Brooks embarrassed me by alluding to it in one of his books. Well, it turns out that Harriet had been carrying a torch all along for that Pomeroy fellow who would fly into town now and then, even though she swore they had had only a business relationship before she and I met. Right. After the divorce I heard from her exactly once—about five years later. She and Pomeroy were all set up in some little love nest, but she was still after her portion of the money I had invested in the saucer—can you believe it? Not all that long ago, I heard from our mutual acquaintance Priscilla Belette that Harriet, single again, lived not far from here just over the border in Pennsylvania, and that she had expressed interest in my giving her a jingle. Hah! As though that would ever happen! More recently, Miss Belette told me that Harriet has passed away.

Charles and Henrietta Pollo came to a very sad, but rather expected end. Let’s just say that after years of putting up with her henpecking, old Charlie finally blew. All their children had finally grown up and left the coop, and there they were—empty nest and no one to look at but each other. My guess is that she sharpened that nasty tongue of hers on Charlie's ego just once too often and that was that. People got suspicious only because Charlie kept making a big point of mentioning over and over to anyone who would listen that Henrietta was away visiting a sick relative. He had always blabbed and nattered too much for his own good. When Sheriff Higgins went to question him, Charlie cracked like an egg. I won’t go into the gory details, but when they unearthed Henrietta's remains, even dental records wouldn’t have helped identify her. He spent the rest of his days in Attica State Prison way up in godforsaken Western New York, but somehow I think he was quite happy there owing to such a large captive audience..

Mrs. Millicent ("Millie") Wiggins was one big, good-looking woman. She and her two younger sisters, Matilda and Mavis, were originally from Oswego, NY. Their father had abandoned the family when the girls were very young, and their mother had a nervous breakdown shortly thereafter. The girls were packed up and sent to live with Frieda Coubos, a widowed aunt of theirs who ran a large, prosperous dairy farm north of Centerboro. The girls thrived there, graduated from high school, and then a very strange series of coincidences occurred. Each of the girls left home to marry a local farmer. Each of their husbands' names began with a W--Wiggins, Wogus, and Wurzburger. Each of the husbands died within the first year of marriage in some awful farming accident. (The worst one involved Wogus, loose clothing, and a manure spreader. I will spare you the details.) And each girl returned to the Coubos farm, never to marry again. Well, the three of them took over the management of the farm when Frieda retired. After their auntie died, they stayed on at the farm, turned it into a first-rate enterprise, and with the income from the dairy herd, they were sitting pretty--owing largely to the good business sense of Mrs. Wiggins, the smartest of the three. (Sometimes I think I should have married Mrs. Wiggins! She would have backed the saucer project, I just know it. Darn! Well, no use crying over spilt milk, is there?) As I remember it, their farm was across from the Schermerhorn farm. Or maybe it was just this side of the Witherspoons. In any case, they were neighbors of the Beans, and Mrs. Wiggins was the one who called in the firemen the day the Beans lost their house. I just happened to be driving by the Bean farm when the firetrucks arrived. I pitched right in helping to pump water from the duck pond to the conflagration, and I recollect thinking to myself how they must have heard Mrs. Wiggins carrying on all the way down in Centerboro. Whooo-eee, could she ever cry! Anyway, after the Beans had settled their affairs and moved to Florida, Mrs. Wiggins and her sisters dried their tears, bought up a very nice parcel of their land from me, sold it later to the same developers I dealt with, and went out to pasture, so to speak, with a nice little investment portfolio.

Henry “Hank” Pferd was a nice enough, but really dim, aw-shucks kind of fellow who was a resident hired hand on the Bean farm for many years. His characteristic reply to almost everything: “Well, I dunno....” I remember how he used to complain about his rheumatism, but that didn’t keep him from staying up late nights in the cold, drafty barn playing poker with William’s daft uncle Benjamin, the retired lawyer "Old" Whibley, and Freddy. They’d clean him out regularly every payday. People say Hank was given to horsing around now and then, and some say he and Mrs. Wiggins were seeing each other, but I doubt that, Hank being the confirmed bachelor he was. I don’t know for sure what happened to him right after the Beans cleared out, but I heard he wound up working at the Knacker's farm down around Tushville for a few years before becoming a resident of the county home.

Mrs. Humphrey Underdunk is Herb Garble’s sister who owed her wealth and position to having married very well. The Garbles were pretty well-off by Centerboro standards, but Humphrey elevated his new wife to a whole new standard. He was a hotshot lawyer from the New Haven Underdunks who sent all their boys to Harvard, of course. His family practically disowned him when he announced his engagement to her. How did they meet? An interesting story! He had just arrived in New York City to join a hoity-toity law firm. She was working as a receptionist for that firm, having just finished studies at some business school or other down there. And yada yada yada they got married despite his family's desperate disapproval. Eventually they came to accept and then appreciate her, for she was a charming, lovely girl who mingled with disarming ease among their class, and who, while thoroughly enjoying the social and financial advantages of being Mrs. Humphrey Underdunk, actually loved him. When he passed away unexpectedly, she was devastated. She retreated to Centerboro, bought and refurbished the old Richmond estate, and kept pretty much to herself--at least as far as Centerboro was concerned. She would frequently entertain her friends and acquaintances from the worlds of entertainment, finance, and politics, but she didn't mix much with the locals, which caused a smoldering resentment among them--rather like one of those underground coal fires that never goes out. When Herb became the scandal of Centerboro, her star sank right along with his. She wasn’t well-liked, and most folks around here got a great deal of satisfaction when Herb skipped town and she lost her place in the society page despite all her money and influence. Well, I kind of took a shine to her once my divorce was final and she wasn’t so high and mighty anymore. And to my surprise, she took a shine to me. We had known each other as kids, of course, but had not seen each other much for many years. We met again when I sold her the old Richmond mansion at 184 Sherman Street. At first she wouldn’t be seen in public with me—bad for her image, she thought, because of my little brushes with the law, so our relationship was rather discreet for a long time. I went around to her back door after the lights went out for several years. Finally we just said the hell with it, and we ventured out into the public light. To our surprise, no one even blinked. We were astonished to find that we had become just two old socially invisible fuddy-duddies.

Benjamin Bean, who fancied himself an inventor, was the semi-lunatic uncle of William Bean. Perhaps you remember the fiasco of his Benjamin Bean Increasingly Loud Explosive Alarm Clock which resulted in some serious personal injury claims against Benjamin. There was also the Benjamin Bean Self-Filling Piggy Bank which simply didn’t work. He transformed one of the silos on the farm into a "space ship." He'd sit inside it twiddling a panel of knobs and switches from an old crystal radio and making zooming noises for hours. The Beans were very tolerant of their batty relative, letting him have a “workshop” in the barn loft until he began some experiments involving “atomic energy." They then decided it was time to have Benjamin committed before he caused some really serious harm to himself or others. Centerboro certainly lost one of its more colorful citizens the day Benjamin left for the Institute. He thought he was going there to be some kind of professor, and the Beans didn’t tell him any different. Believing that it would be therapeutic for Benjamin, the staff foolishly allowed him to continue to conduct "experiments" at the Institute, and he perished in a chemical explosion. Luckily, there were no other injuries.

Alice and Emma Quackenworthy: Everyone thought these two would never get out from under the wing of that tyrant Wesley Quackenworthy, their uncle and guardian. They wouldn’t have either had Wesley not suffered a series of strokes that did him in. Whoa! Those girls had a lot of living to do to make up for all those years of : “Yes, Uncle Wesley, right away” and “Just as you say, Uncle Wesley.” First there was a series of--ahem-- “gentlemen callers,” shall we say, dining out, and theater in New York City. Before long they started wintering down South, flying down there every fall. One spring they didn’t come back. They wrote to their best friend Matilda Wogus that they had opened a beauty shop called The Powder Puff in New Orleans, and that was the last anyone heard of them until their obituaries appeared in the paper.

Theodore Rana: I can still hear him stuttering. He was famous for it. He was out one day hiking near the “Big Woods” north of Centerboro, got bitten in the leg by a rattlesnake, managed to hop into town, and before he could get the story out to Old Doc Winterpool (who couldn’t hear very well anyway), he croaked. Let’s see—that was back in ‘62, or maybe it was ‘63.

Your truly: After I sold off the Bean property to Mrs. Wiggins and some developers, I took the profits and became the hidden partner in a second attempt to duplicate the flying saucer the Martians had come in. The first attempt was a complete failure. So was the one I backed. It never got off the ground, so to speak, and I took a bath on the investment. Up until recently, I held down a part-time job greeting people at the door of a big chain discount store--until I was dismissed for so-called "rude comments" (in actuality, in my opinion, dead-on social commentary) which I was not aware of having spoken out loud on more than one occasion. Nowadays, I spend a great deal of time preparing for the arrival of the Martian expeditionary forces which will most certainly annihilate most of the wretched human species. Don’t bother writing to me in Centerboro or trying to call me on the phone for more information. Just about everything I have to say about Centerboro and the Martians is here. Just remember that you heard The Truth™ about the Martians from me, and if I turn up missing again someday before the Martian onslaught, don’t worry. I will have gone voluntarily. You’ll find out more about me and other residents of Centerboro and Oteseraga County, NY, as you read through the rest of the pages of this site.





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