A thousand reasons to be involved

Murray, the world’s cutest dog who learned how to speak and write English at the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, looked up at me with a little tear in his eye and said, “Come on, Pops, let’s have a talk. I’m worried about you. You work too hard and we don’t have enough quality time together.”

“Now Murray,” I said to the cute little guy with those devil ears, “don’t worry about me. I love what I do, but it does come with a price. On the other hand, you get two squares a day and all the water you can drink and as much love as can be bestowed on a single animal, so you shouldn’t worry about me. Now what do you want to talk about?”

“Well, Pops, I want to know what all that fuss with those OLLI people is about.”

“That’s an easy one, Murray. OLLI is one of the best reasons to live in the Berkshires. That splendid group has offered hundreds of courses for people, often retired, who want to keep informed, educate themselves and listen to some of the best speakers anywhere.

“It turns out they can get a second million dollars for their endowment program if they have at least a thousand members. They are almost there. They just need 55 more members over the age of 50. You would think that would be a simple matter, once the word gets out.

“They’ll get what they need and we all have to get behind this essential part of the Berkshire experience. Hey, I just saw that they take trips, including a recent one to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. And they have a great speakers’ series.”

“Why haven’t they invited you to speak, Pops?”

“Oh, they have, Murray, and they have invited your mom, the Lovely Roselle, on more than one occasion. We’ve even done the Media Project on WAMC for them.”

“That’s good, Pops. They sound like good people.”

“What else is on your mind, Murray?” “Well, I thought you told me that people should pick up after their dogs. Someone has been doing bad things on our street.”

“I know, Murray. The other night, I saw a woman with a big dog and all she did after he pooped was throw some leaves on top of his deposit. I should have said something, but I didn’t. You know, little kids live in that very house. They could get sick.”

“Another thing, Pops, I want to know where you guys go on Thursday nights. I miss you when you’re gone. Sometimes I get so scared that I hide under the bed. The stories you’ve told me about your stalker from down south get me worried.”

My heart filled with pain as the little tyke told me of his worries so, to make him more comfortable, I told him about the new Thursday night lineup in Great Barrington.

“We had a wonderful time. The Great Barrington Selectmen and Thursday Morning Club are sponsoring musical events each Thursday evening at the town gazebo. Some of these people are fabulous. Lee Rogers from Simon’s Rock is booking the folks who play there and he is doing a great job. This week, we saw the Beeline Ramblers who played simple but haunting music.

“You’d have to go a long way to hear anything as good as they are. Then we went across the Street to the Castle Street Café to hear the great Berkshire hero David Grover play. That man has incredible talent.”

“Well, Pops, can I come with you the next time?”

I looked down at Murray with his tongue hanging out and his little doggie smile and had to tell him that the bad people who make the laws won’t allow well-behaved dogs into restaurants like they do in France. My heart was breaking as I told him.

Then he looked up at me and asked if the town was going to ruin our street as they almost did the last time.

“Nope,” I told the beautiful pup. “We formed a committee just like I said we would and we asked the town DPW chief, Joe Sokul, to come for a meeting. You know what, Murray? This is a great guy.

He was polite and reassuring and he gave us the good news that the neighborhood sidewalks would be preserved and that the Soviet-styled roads that the town had put in place in the past would not be used here. We were all very impressed. You met him, Murray. What did you think?”

“I thought he was great, Pops, and I think you’re great too.”

I love that little dog.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 8/14/10

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