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40-12-31 Howard has a New Harness

Mr. Gumpox and his horse Howard received an anonymous gift of a fancy, new bridle. Sade thinks it cost around $1,000 and believes her Uncle Fletcher may have been the donor.
Howard is pulling the garbage wagon in style.

When I was little, my grandmother had an elderly friend she cared for who had dementia. He was always ordering all kinds of little gifts for Grandma and me out of catalogs. My parents were strict on A/V material entering the house (they preferred, rightly, that their kids not be in front of a screen all the time), but he provided me with an ample children’s video library, which was housed at Grandma’s until we finally got a VCR at home. He also sent me lots of beautiful children’s books and little figurines of animals. It wasn’t until I was a little older and the friend had passed away that I realized the extent of the situation. My grandmother showed me a whole closet full of gifts he’d sent — music boxes, figurines, knick-knacks, jewelry. I remember thinking how lonesome the poor fella must have been, and how out-of-control the buying must have been, and I felt sad about how much I’d enjoyed all the stuff he’d sent without quite understanding what he was going through. But if you lose your inhibitions as you get older, and what you do when you lose your inhibitions is to constantly buy gifts for everyone, that reveals a pretty beautiful character. Wish I would have known the guy better — rest in peace, Harry.

Anyway, not to get maudlin, or anything — it’s just that this episode always makes me think of him. Uncle Fletcher is not that far gone — he’s just getting older, he’s free, his living expenses are low, and he knows he has a certain amount of freedom to spend the money he’s saved over the years on other people. Why not give the garbage man a treat? But I think anybody with aging family can sympathize with what Sade is going through. Sure, Fletcher’s not that far gone yet — but how will she know when he is? How will she know when it’s time to step in? Learning to care for the people who once cared for you is one of the most difficult aspects of adulthood, and Sade can be forgiven for being a little anxious. Vic is supportive and does a good job reassuring her without making her feel like she’s being crazy. It’s a lighthearted episode, but it also contains a meaty bit of commentary about aging and family obligations that I imagine most listeners could (and can) relate to.

SEE THE SCRIPT (transcribed by Lydia Crowe)
Sade says she feels responsible for Uncle Fletcher. Vic makes the point that perhaps Uncle Fletcher is actually 'well off'.

There's not a lot going on in this episode. It's just talk of the new bridle and Sade feeling like Uncle Fletcher may be throwing away his money.


+ Harry Plink was mentioned for the first time. He works at the lumber company.

+ Rush reads generously from a Third Lieutenant Stanley book. You can hear him reading in the Third Lieutenant Stanley section of the blog.

Download the complete commercial-free, sound-improved episode!

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