On Judging a Book By the Cover

Nancy and Buddy, and Mary and Marley at the dog park in Westport Ct.
If the small town lawyer has a life outside the law, especially if he married the gal from Connecticut who he met during the freshman mixer at his small town college, he sometimes gets away and learns things outside of that small town. He learns to treasure such times and experiences and is reminded that first appearances of a stranger can be deceiving.
These adventures include magical trips to The Hawaiian Islands where Burt and Nancy experienced a lava breakout and earthquake, 5.8 on the Richter scale, and to London and Ireland, Durtie Nellie’s (oldest pub in Ireland), Bunratty Castle, the Rock of Cashel, and the seaside Village of Kinsale.
A week during son Chris’ and daughter in law Sarah’s time in Corvallis Oregon revealed crystal clear scenery, the Cascade Mountains, Bend Oregon, the Columbia River, Pacific Ocean, the tall pines, and the wine country of the Willamette Valley. And our visits to our children’s home towns of Atlanta, Charlotte, Asheville, and Savannah have each been filled with gems.
But, little side trips can be great also. Here are two:
1. On the day of New Year’s Eve, during a visit to my wife’s Mother’s in Easton Ct.,  we went to “Paul Newman’s Restaurant”, “The Dressing Room”, next to the Playhouse in Westport.  The food was terrific as was a dog park behind it, where Duffy and Buddy had a great time. We went back to the dog park during this trip (August 29 – Sept 1, 2012).
2. An older lady with a cane was pulling the essential little blue bags from the machine, holding us up a bit.
3. Buddy is our 13 year old beagle mix who is afflicted with congestive heart failure but handling it like a champ. Turns out Buddy, and the Lady, who we learned is Mary Wenger, were travelling at the same pace.
4. We learned that Mary’s dog Marley is also a “rescue dog”, so we had two, and she had one. The term “rescue dog” has some irony I may mention in a future post. Buddy, the beagle mix, arrived at our back door in a snowstorm, and we found the forlorn puppy Duffy, a medium, sleek, athletic hound mix,  in the shelter in Buckhannon. They have each rewarded us with lots of love.
5. We also learned Mary is the widow of Don Wenger (USAF Major General Don S. Wenger), a test pilot after WWII, acquaintance of Chuck Yeager, lawyer and doctor, who was doctor to the astronauts. He helped design and test a pressure suit. She says Chuck Yeager didn’t quite trust it to 40,000 ft. but another pilot went there and it worked fine. Chuck must have used it too.
6. She explained that her husband liked to wear baggy jeans and just sit down and chat up a person who did not know him. He enjoyed learning about the person and never caused a person to feel “talked down to”.  
7. In eyeing Buddy’s “equipment” (we never had the heart to get him “fixed”; my bad!), she mentioned she is writing a book about the penis , and volunteered some interesting anecdotes, including the number of (minor and major) erections a healthy man has in a day.  
8. As we walked into the woods, she mentioned that the manager of the dog park can be “mean”. “He once kicked me out!”
9. She explained she had had an encounter with a young woman. I think Mary criticized her unladylike appearance.
10. They had words, which must have distracted Mary, who stumbled and fell down; whereupon, the young woman took Mary’s cane and threw it away. She then went to the manager and complained about Mary! He approached Mary, bawled her out, and told her to leave and never come back.
11. Later she encountered the man, who recognized her but was in a different mood. She shared with him that her cat had died, and he was most sympathetic. He asked if she was the lady from the dog park, and she conceded that she was. He asked if she had ever come back, and she advised, “Yes,  the next day.” He said, “I figured”.
12. She talked about living in the Va. with her husband before he retired, and knowing a prominent politician from WV., chief aid to Governor Rockefeller; couldn’t quite come up with the name.
13. She insisted on getting my blog address, www.burtonhunteresq.blogspot.com, my name, and the name of my book.(Editor: Alas, Mary never contacted me or reviewed my book. If she tried to find it now, it has grown to 700 pages, and can be downloaded as a PDF file from my website, www.hunterlawfirm.net. )
14. She told us her daughter wrote a book on gardening and then had to defend a copywrite infringement lawsuit, which she won. I tried to find the book but failed. If Mary writes as promised, I shall add a comment.
15. I did not ask if she knew Martha Stewart. I didn’t have time to drop in on Martha Stewart, and I hadn’t shaved! But, by this time I assumed they were on a first name basis!
16. She promised to write me and to give my book 5 stars on Amazon if it deserved it.
17. She said that her husband’s best friend told her at his memorial service, “Of all his wives, you were his true love”. Apparently she was the last, and his widow.
18. I asked her if she had been a “trophy wife”; she thought about that a bit, and answered, “Yes, I guess I was. I was 35, and had a good figure.”
19. As for struggling with a few names, but only a few, she explained she had just got out of the hospital. There was not one “boo hoo” or complaint, just bubbling energy and enthusiasm, curiosity, and interest, in two total strangers, and their country dogs.
20. She explained that Marley had sustained 9 stitches over the jugular from “a biter” at the dog park, but she really liked our dogs.She discussed in detail how it feels to put a dog to sleep at the vet’s and have it relax in your arms. The said her husband had no stomach for that job.  I have done that, and don’t like to recall it, but she said the dog’s face returned to its look when it was a puppy.
We were friends by the end of our walk.
The other incident was a a simple one, but right on top of our visit with Mary. I bought a book for Nancy and her mother Marjorie, “The Big House: a Century in the Life of an American Summer (beach) Home” by George Howe Colt. The sales clerk saw it, and said, “I saw this same book in that bin this morning,  for $4.98.” I got it and saved $10.00! Every business should have employees like that. (Editor: I read that book. An excellent read of the history of a large Cape Cod House. I loved it. Nancy not so much. Later, my friend Peter advised that he knows the house well.2-26-2015.)
Upon returning to the “real world” of business e-mail on my iPhone, I was soon frustrated and even angry, but our little side trip with Mary and the clerk, perhaps 1.5 hours, we learned of two fascinating lives, well lived, and received a small kindness.
Here is Don Wenger’s entry in Wikipedia.

Don S. Wenger

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Don S. Wenger (December 18, 1911 – July 10, 1986) was a Major Generalin the United States Air Force.
Wenger was born in Monroe, Wisconsinin 1911.[1] He attended Milton College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Marquette University School of Medicine, the St. Mary’s University School of Law, and George Washington University. As a civilian he practiced medicine in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wenger died on July 10, 1986.

Wenger joined the military in 1942. During World War II he served in Germany. In 1949 he was assigned to Chanute Air Force Base. From 1953 to 1957 he was assigned to the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States Air Force. In 1957 he was assigned to Lackland Air Force Base as Chairman of the Department of Surgery. Later Wenger was re-assigned to the Office of the Surgeon General as Chief Professional Consultant. His retirement was effective as of July 1, 1967.

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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