June 24, 2018

Life of Dan

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A black sheep, aside from its more utilitarian virtues, serves to reveal just how white white sheep really are. Of course, the thing works in reverse and in other fields, so when we find someone on Doodlebug Island of a virtuous eccentricity, we take note of him. He’s likely to show the rest of us as real oddities.

Dan Piedmont, owner of the Doodlebug Hardware Store, is a man whose actions are noteworthy. His life seems to have been cobbled together out of the parts of other lives, yet he is one of the happiest and most exuberant men on the Island. Perhaps cobbled isn’t the exact word we need, and yet it fits more closely than others we could use. Once the reader is acquainted with the facts, he or she can determine the matter.

As a young man, Dan wanted to become an archaeologist conducting digs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. But when his dad’s health began to fail, Dan took over responsibility for running the store. He meant to stay only long enough to see his dad through the crisis. Unfortunately, however, his dad died, and Dan found himself somewhat locked into running the business, which was his mother’s only support. He put his plans on hold.

A couple years later, a young woman with two children came to work in the Doodlebug Country Club, but her earnings didn’t begin to match her needs, so out of the goodness of his heart, Dan invited her to stay in one end of the duplex he owned while he lived in the other. He charged a meager rent which she paid when she could. Well, it wasn’t very long before the two developed feelings for one another. He took care of her kids while she was working, and pretty soon the two of them got married. Dan talked about working in the hardware business just long enough to get a little ahead, then he planned to move, family and all, to Egypt. However, getting a little ahead just didn’t happen what with medical and dental bills, clothes, school supplies, and the other expenses related to keeping a home. So, with calm good nature, he continued in the hardware business, his dreams of digging in the sands of Egypt beginning to fade.

About that time, the Doodlebug committee appointed to address the social needs of residents, decided to open an extended care facility for the aged and they asked Dan to oversee construction. When the home was opened, he agreed to act as honorary director in assisting the paid staff to run the place and secure what they needed. Before long, the facility was extended to include a shelter for battered women–fortunately unneeded by Doodlebug women–and a half-way house for recovering alcoholics, some of whom were from Doodlebug. Dan began spending more of his time administering these functions than he was able to devote to his business, so he hired a manager to care for his hardware interests and immersed himself in the social institutions mentioned.

And, as if that were not enough, he and his wife began adopting difficult children identified by Arizona child protective services. They bought a small ranch, built a many-roomed house on it, moved everyone there, and began turning incorrigibles into good citizens.

Well, after quite a number of years, Dan is talking about Egyptian excavations again. He’s got maps and books and tools, but more than anything else, he’s got his old enthusiasm back. He talks archaeology with everyone whether she or he is interested or not. He knows all the Valley of the Kings excavation sites, what was found, potential sites, political problems. He’s linked up with American Universities currently working with the Egyptian ministry, and most important, he’s put enough by to support a three-year stay in the field. Why, you’d think he was leaving for Egypt tomorrow, but in this you’d be wrong. No, one of those “difficult” children Dan and his wife took in turned out to have the same burning desire to become an archaeologist, and with the same interest in Egypt.

Dan will live the dream vicariously through the work of his adopted son. Yes, I think you could say that Dan’s life has been cobbled together out of the lives of others, but if that’s so, the rest of us on Doodlebug believe his achievements do him more credit than anything he would have found in a foreign land.

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