Some memorable quotes

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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The Twins Café was more than a diner. It was a community gathering place for a generation of Smithfield and Isle of Wight residents.

Not that the food wasn’t good. It was. The last day the Twins opened was a Thursday, and I’m pretty sure that was intentional because it was on Thursdays that they offered their extraordinary chicken and dumplings. On that last day, they sold every scrap of the delicacy.

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There was also salt herring one day a week and chocolate or lemon meringue pies. But I digress. The point of this is things I’ve heard said over the years at the Twins and elsewhere.

There were three distinct morning crowds that gathered in the Twins. The first came in at 6 a.m., the next at about 7 and the final — the town ladies’ gathering — later in the morning.

During my years of hanging out in the Twins and elsewhere, I have heard some rather memorable quotes. A few of them follow.

The late Carl M. Beale Jr., Smithfield’s mayor for a number of years, came in the Twins the morning after the 2000 presidential election in which George Bush and Al Gore were locked in an undecided electoral battle. The election would eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in Bush’s favor, but that morning it was very much in doubt.

“My television is broke,” Beale said as he walked in. “It has the same picture this morning that it had last night.”

The late Bob Gale commented on nature one morning.

“Buzzards won’t eat after dark,” he said. “They’re afraid they’ll get something that’s not good.”

The late Granville Starke had a quote for most occasions, but my favorite was his comment on old age (He was in his 90s at the time).

“I don’t ever buy green bananas anymore,” he said, the implication being they might not ripen.

I think this is attributable to Everett Doggett, though it may have been passed along by his son Henry (who will certainly correct me if I’m wrong).

“The temperature fell so fast it bent the nail holding the thermometer.”

Another Twins regular was Russell Andrews. With tongue firmly in cheek, he once joked with a soon-to-be groom. “I just hope you’re half as happy as I thought I would be.”

Russell Batten, the town’s veteran public works director, came in one spring morning and said “The wind’s blowing so hard, I’ve got whitecaps in the birdbath.”

A Twins regular for many years was the late Dwight Doggett. One day his son Dwight came in without his father. Asked where Dwight Sr. was, he said his father didn’t feel like coming to town.

“My job was to come to town and get the news and tote it home,” he said.

Beyond the Twins crowd, here are a few more quotes from my rather modest collection.

From a downtown bakery employee:

“Would you like your brownie with almonds or with nuts?”

Local television channel WTKR ran a story back in 2001 about a gathering of Pagans in Isle of Wight County. I watched, just to make sure we hadn’t missed something in our coverage. We had indeed missed a delightful quote.

An unidentified county resident told the camera, “It’s wrong to be out there dancing half naked in the woods. They ought to be in church, reading the James King Bible.”

At the end of a German Club dance, someone commented:

“You know you’re getting old when, after a dance, your feet hurt worse than your head.”

The late M.H. Robinson, longtime mayor of Windsor, had wisdom to share on many occasions. My favorite said loads about our tendency to throw out the old in our search for the new.

“I just hate to see a good jar get broken,” M.H. said.

And no list of quotes from local wags would be complete without one from the late Segar Cofer Dashiell. Her son Harry often quoted his mother’s rejoinder when asked to do something she didn’t want to do.

“I’d rather hold a horse in the rain,” she was fond of saying, and that just about said it all.