Word of Mouth – A Parable from Tom Robbins

An Excerpt From Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins

“Er, ah, this quite an interesting place you fixing up here.” The speaker was Gunnar Hansen, a thirty-fivish pea farmer from down the road a ways.

“Thank you, Mr. Hansen,” smiled Amanda.

“But you folks, your name ain’t Kendrick,” Farmer Hansen said with uncertainty.

“No,” Amanda assured him, “our name is Ziller.”

“Well, er, ah, who’s this Kendrick?” asked Farmer Hansen, trying to sound jocular through an accent the color of a midwinter suicide. He was nodding his tombstone head at the new neon-bordered sign that stretched across the roadhouse facade just below the great giant sausage: CAPT. KENDRICK MEMORIAL HOT DOG WILDLIFE PRESERVE. That’s how the sign read, in letters the height of Jewish ghetto tailors.

“Shame on you, Mr. Hansen,” Amanda said. “You don’t know your local history.”

“Well, I thought I did.”

“Captain John Kendrick. You can look him up in History of the Pacific Northwest by George W. Fuller. Captain Kendrick was one of the first fur trader and explorers to operate in the Puget Sound region. Came here in 1788. On slim evidence he was reported to be the first white mand to navigate the Strait of Juan de Fuca and to circumnavigate Vancouver Island. He did quite a bit of exploring but unfortunately he neglected to leave any record of his discoveries. History repaid him for that oversight by generally ignoring him. After about five years here, he tired of the Northwest skin trade and set sail for the Sandwich Islands. He arrived on December 12, 1794 and was immediately killed by a shot from a British ship which was saluting him.”

‘Oh, awful,” said Farmer Hansen, with a Nordic insensitivity to irony. He drove away in his truck. Farmer Hansen had five children attending public schools in Mount Vernon and Conway. Perhaps that explains why it is now common belief among Skagit County pupils that Capt. John Kendrick invented the weenie sandwich in 1794.

— Tom Robbins from Another Roadside Attraction
Copyright 1971 Thomas E. Robbins
Published by Bantam Dell
A division of Random House, Inc.
New York, New York

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