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Of ice and men
by Mark on 5/8/2004 (0)

Of ice and men.
Way, way back in 1979, storm clouds brewed like angry moonshine above the Dorothy, Kansas skies.

Scratching his chin, Elvis Hobbs recounted the startling details.

"It was the fourth of July, as I remember it. The sky was black as West Virgina coal. I'd seen storms before, many, many times, but none like this one. Hail came down, the wind a-howling. even the old willow out back was doin' toe touches."

Hobbs expression became grave

"Suddenly a 'Boom!' then a great big hole opened up in the living room, lumber flyin', me and the missus nearly keeled over on the spot. We thought it was Judgement day, by God! After I gathered my wits, I saw what done it. On the floor in front of the TV was a big ol' 6 lb. hailstone the size of a football!

An exhausted Mabel Hobbs, hand on her forehead, agreed in a tired voice

"Yep, that's how it happened, and it don't look like he'll ever let me forget it, neither. First thing he done was put it in the freezer and call the newsfolk. He didn't patch that big ol' hole in the roof for a month. TV station came over and took pictures of Elvis holdin' that thing with the hole in my roof in the background. You'd a thought he caught a 500 lb rainbow trout! That dern things been takin' up half my freezer space since 1979!

Hobbs eyed his wife peevishly

"That stone is the best thing that ever done happened to me , so stop ridin' my tail! Why don't ya' jest tell em' about the time you was gonna melt it down and turn it into lemonade, why dontcha'!"

Agitated, Hobbs took out a scrapbook filled with pictures and newspaper clippings

"This here is me holdin' it and shakin' hands with test pilot Chuck Yeager, this here is me with the Smithsonian folks, and this one is at the county fair next to the giant pumpkin stand with Jimmy Carter. Folks from everywhere come to see my stone, and I won't give it up for Love or Leavenworth!"

A stony faced Mabel fiddled with the the wedding ring on her finger

Asked how it kept it from melting, Hobbs lit up

"Dry ice, lots and lots of it! My biggest scare was in the the great storm of 1994 when a twister took down the power lines to the whole city. I drove clear over to Topeka to get a load. By the time I got back, Rocky (Hobbs pet name for the hailstone) had lost about a pound. Biggest scare of my life!"

Known as the 'hail man' by Dorothy residents in the tiny town of 125, Hobbs turned down numerous job promotions and relocations over the years for fear of losing his hailstone and his local notoriety

"Rocky done made me famous! I've got a name in these parts, and I'm stayin' put. That iceball is more than a freak of nature to me, it's more like the family hound. Their ain't a day that I don't say good morning and give it a scratch on the ear."

Mabel rolled her eyes and whispered

"I'm shore glad somone's gettin' some affection..."

When gently prodded with the possibility that the giant hailstone was merely a crutch to cover his innate feelings of inferiority, and to bolster his fragile ego, Hobbs went deathly silent and stared straight ahead

"Some folks got whisky, some got drugs, some folks hold onto the past right into the grave. There was a local gal who ironed her dead husband's shirts everyday, 30 years after he died."

Hobbs regained a look of confidence

"I was a nobody. It ain't often something drops out of the sky right smack into your lap and makes you into a somebody. If that's what this ice rock means to me, than so be it. I wo


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