I'm not bragging, but reporters are always asking me about John because I did go to school with him when we were little fellers. And now with him being internationally famous for his sculpture, they're always writing up stories about our town where he was brought up, or his friends or what he eats for dinner or such. And with me and him being so close when we were kids the postmaster always sends the reporters over to my place. And when he don't the neighbors do.
So now I got my talk down pat --- done it so many times. Know just what I'm going to say when I show them the fields and woods where John and me used to dig holes and climb trees 50 years ago. You think they'd get enough of it, but they don't seem to. Every one of them writes up the same old stuff and calls it a "fresh approach."
Of course John always stops in at my place every time he's back in town and I bring him up to date on who's died and we laugh a lot. He knows where the reporters get the stuff for their stories and he always tells me I'm doing good. Sometimes he even reminds me of a bit of deviltry we were into when we were kids. Even though I might not remember it when John tells me about it, I can remember it real clear after I've told it to the reporters three or four times.
I started to tell you about the art reporters because there was enough of them around here last week when they dedicated the new piece of sculpture that John gave to the town. They all agreed it's the greatest work of abstract art produced by anyone in this century.
I told you John's always coming back here because he likes this place, even though he's a big shot now with everyone in the country making a big fuss over him. And on one of those visits a while back, some of the year-round summer people, who are running the town now, asked him to make up a piece of sculpture that we could set up in a town park. Naturally John agreed to do it. With him being able to throw one of them things together in an afternoon it warn't as if they'd asked him to strain himself in one way or another.
Our biggest problem was in finding a place to make a town park. Most everything around here is woods and fields and no one had ever realized we needed a park where people could walk on grass and under trees. We do have a nice cemetery, but the crowd that had elected themselves to the Blue Ribbon Art Park Committee didn't agree with some of us that thought John's sculpture would look good resting in the there.
They held one meeting after the other to decide where the Art Park should be. One gang wanted it over on Cutler Road because the town already owned the land --- bought it when the state made us open a town dump. The other crowd naturally wanted it over on a lot that they'd bought on speculation when they first heard talk of a town park. After weeks of meeting every night to fight and argue, the Cutler Road folks finally won out --- at 3 A. M. a couple of the speculation people fell asleep with their hands in the air and voted against themselves.
That's why the Art Park is over on the road that goes into the dump.
Naturally John said he'd donate the sculpture to the town free. All we had to pay was $80,000 for the materials he'd use to make it. There was a lot more haggling over that, but it was pointed out that one of John's sculptures set up right here would really put this place on the map, and that the money warn't that important. So they took $80,000 out of the snow plowing and road sanding fund and sent it down to John to buy his materials.
No one saw the special truck deliver the sculpture, but one morning it was there. The Art Park Committee folks hurrahed and held more meetings and stood beside it while every slick magazine and TV network in the country took their pictures. Most of us who saw it warn't too impressed because we don't understand art, but I'd be the last person to hurt John's feelings by saying so.
John showed up a couple of days after the stories and pictures of his sculpture appeared on TV and in the magazines. Snuck around to my back door like he always does and asked me to run him over to see where they'd set it up.
I guess I'm the only one who knows why John sent the town back the $80,000. He hadn't had a chance to make the sculpture, and the Art Park Committee had set up and dedicated an old burnt and twisted bedspring that had bounced off an overloaded truck on the way to the dump.