A Conversation for 30 Hours in Hooverville: A Novel Experiment

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 1

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

It's 11 am in Hooverville, which is on Eastern Daylight Time at the moment. Nobody cares, but we thought we'd point this out. The fire is out, and hopefully somebody's thinking about cleaning up. The 6th-graders from Ms Schleifenbaum's class [6th-graders are 11-12 years old] are enjoying lunch at the Waffelhaus. If it's sweet, or involves bacon, they're in. Fifth Avenue isn't blocked, which is a relief to the bus drivers.

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

Wlad crosses Fifth Avenue behind Ms Schleifenbaum's 6th-grade class. It takes awhile because the courthouse square is one of the few places in town with a walk/don't walk light. You have to push the button and wait. When it does go off, the 'walk' sign blinks how many seconds you have to cross the street. This doesn't faze the kids, but is an annoyance to the elderly, who feel they are being rushed. Of course, if you don't make it by the time the timer runs out, drivers wait, anyway. It's all pretty good-natured.

Indeed, Hooverville has very up-to-date street crossings: the corners have colour-coded tactile paving and audio signals. Where there aren't any traffic lights, which is most of Hooverville, the classic rules apply: if anyone is standing on the tactile paving, motorists stop. It is also advisable to go very slowly past the university, as students and squirrels tend to dart out unexpectedly. Deer are more cautious and less likely to run across the streets in town.

Outside of town, though, signs frequently warn against the twin menaces of deer and Amish buggies. Neither are much trouble in town, where the speed limit is a safe and sane 25 mph (40 kph).

Wlad proceeds down the street, stopping here and there to greet an acquaintance, takes a couple of turns, and arrives home. He plays with Ignatz, who seems glad to see him, and then the two of them settle down at the piano while Wlad noodles around.


'There it is again,' Wlad thinks. 'That melody from last night. How did it go again?' He picks out a bit of the stray tune on the keyboard and makes a few notes on some staff paper, then dismisses the notion and goes to fill the bird feeders. After checking that no chipmunks are stuck inside the big feeder, he tops up the sunflower seed dispenser. Then Wlad makes himself a sandwich: cheese and kielbasa on rye with some cold cabbage salad from the fridge. While he eats, he watches the birds and chipmunks outside. 'Eat up,' he thinks. 'Winter is coming sooner than any of us likes.' But for now, the sun streaming through the windows and the glow of the yellow and orange trees is cheery enough.

smiley - dragon

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 3

Caiman raptor elk - Yes, but what if the box is REALLY big?

Before I go to Arsenio's I will first pay a quick visit to Anna. To see how she's doing and to copy my ad.

No queue yet...

Jangle (the more exclusive sister of Jingle)

Hi Anna, how's business?
Why the tears? Did you read the Honker? Barstuds, aren't they?
You will show them they're wrong of course. If only they knew what you have in store for this town… Can I see your poster again? Wow, I am still overwhelmed by all the pink, the horses and that Strollercoaster. Genious! No matter how often you show me your dream, it keeps getting better. This town will love it.
You wanted to become a philantropist even before I knew what the word meant. You were only three back then. When do you plan to come forward with it? After your appointment with the mayor this afternoon? I just hope she likes it.

Before you touch up your make-up and run off to the mayor, can I run a few copies of this ad to reinforce the Fire department? Thanks.

Can I put one up here? Wonderful.

I'm off to the China shop.

Hug? Hug.

Jongle (and different for incoming and outgoing customers too...!)

All this walking around makes me hungry. I will definitely go back to the station and barbeque something after I finished my round. Hopefully the others have returned after cleaning up all that foam and stuff.


Hi Arsenio! (remember, must never forget the nio or swap it with nic)
Sold anything yet today?

I was wondering. Do you sell those red and blue revolving lights for in the Hoovermas tree? The old ones broke down and it did say "made in China" on them, so I thought you might have them. A miniature siren would be nice too.
You don't have them on stock? Pity. You'll see if you can order them? That would be great.
Speaking of lights and sirens, Do you mind if I put up this advert to get more volunteers for the Fire department? You could join if you liked...

OK. I'll be back to the station. Cheers!

Jingle (See. Same sound when going out)

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 4


One minute I was getting off my bike, a girl turning….

The next?

Oh god, was I back in hospital, blurry images, banging headache, then everything went black?

Dim light stung my eyes, metallic tastes and smells, dry mouth, brain on fire as I welcomed the darkness and numbness.

Minutes, hours, days, later?

Again, light hurting my eyes, whispered voices, failing to disguise panicked tones, as my eyelids were prised open and light tortured my brain.

Darkness again, but this time no blessed numbness. I was awake, barely conscious, but certainly not in an English NHS ward.

Cold hard flooring. Concrete maybe? My back pressed against what felt like one of those old industrial radiators, steel even colder than the floor.

I mentally checked my body from toes to head. Cramp in my legs, left wrist sore, headache still there but thankfully fading.

Panic set in as I realized that the darkness was due to a thick canvas bag over my head, my legs were bound together with heavy tape, and I appeared to be handcuffed to the radiator!

I felt hands grip my right arm, sting of something sharp on my forearm, strangely, a pillow being placed between my back and the radiator, carefully, almost gently, my drooping head guided back into softness.

I smelt fresh flowers, panic replaced with a fuzzy wellbeing, then all was dark again as the drugs hit my bloodstream.

Hushed voices, soft footsteps, a quietly closing door...then sleep.

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 5

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

Arsenio thanked Fireman Fred for the order. Shouldn't take all that long to arrive. As he watches Fred leave the shop, Arsenio realizes that he lost the chance to mention the delightful porcelain and bone china ornaments that will soon be in stock. Fuller Philpotts, Arsenio's cousin, has been working late hours to make them at the Philpotts Pottery Factory.

What will the ornaments look like? Well, there will be a variety of them: Fairy Squirrels, Pickle Yew cones, ruby red acorns, Lady Justice, First Church of Hooverville, Wlad's organ (yes, imagine little organ ornaments hanging from a Christmas tree!), even a Lady Justice replica for the top of the tree. You can't have too ladies or too much justice, now can you?

There are also some ornaments for other holidays, for those people who like to decorate trees during the other eleven months of the year: jack o'lantern ornaments, Easter egg ornaments, heart ornaments for Valentine's Day.

Arsenio usually carries some of these non-Christmas ornaments, but the only ones that sell at all well are the jack o'lantern ones. Hmmmmm! Maybe Halloween ornaments could be a growth industry in the future. Why not witches and ghosts and skulls and skeletons hanging form the tree?

Then Arsenio gets the *big idea* that might make his dreams of wealth and fame come true: He goes outside and looks at the raised garden to the left of the shop's entrance. It's not really a garden per se, just a 5' X 5' square plot of soil that has been raised three feet, with brick walls to hold the dirt in. Aunt Aganista had the thing constructed twenty years ago so she could plant three Pickle Yew trees there. Marigolds and petunias grew along the edges. As the yews got bigger, Aganista would dutifully hang Christmas ornaments on them every year (never before Thanksgiving, nor after January 6; Aunt Aganista was a stickler for observing the church calendar).

But maybe Arsenio could hang some hearts on the yews this coming Valentine's day. If people saw how charming they looked, maybe they would end up buying some.....

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 6

paulh. the world is a circus, but why d I have to work without a net?

[Sorry, there was an omission. I should have written
"you can't have too *many* ladies or too much justice."]

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 7


The Whisperwings wildlife-monitoring drone coasts leisurely past the rugged cliffs of the Misty mountains. Ahead of it the librarian condors fly. Soar, more like … the updrafts from the cliffs and slopes carry them along so that they don't need to beat their wings at all. The drone, sadly, can't make use of the air movements in the same way. In fact it is a struggle to keep it flying straight in the stiff mountain breeze. Wynken has to watch its battery to make sure it doesn't run out while still over the mountains or forest … it would be a bit of a disaster to lose it; it's served him so well that he has an emotional attachment to it. And he doesn't really have funds at the moment to replace it. He doesn't think the parks board will pay it for him. They won't even pay for the fungus guide, or for the inflatable camping mattress, both of which are essential for his work.

The cliffs are ending now. Towards the north, the mountains peter out into low hills, and verging on them, a flat plain, the only non-mountainous part of the park. The plains are high, bare and cold, and the ostensible destination of the condors. What could be out there?

Wynken angles the front camera down to see the land and what might be lying there. The grass is already dead and brown, and sparse. And yes - he can see it now. Something big and dark. He doesn't want to go too close and interfere with the condors. Can he make it out? He zooms the front camera to the max. Ahh ... that works. The big carcass fills the screen. He can make out the broad antlers ...

Oh no! An eighteen-tined moor moose! Not many of those in the park. What could have killed it?

How could Wynken find out? He doesn't want to take the drone any closer and ruin the condors' meal ...

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 8

SashaQ - happysad

After leaving the Book Emporium, Sheriff Rowdybush looks for footprints around the Pickle Yew bushes next to the China Shop, as per Arsenio Philpott's suggestion, and finds none. This pleases him, as it means his theory (about who fired a shot at the Lady of Justice and caused the fire atop the Town Hall) could still be valid.

He would still like some evidence to support his theory, rather than just non-evidence, so he ponders what to do next. He decides to take a stroll up Main Street towards the First Church of Nighthoover to see what he can see.

As he rolls along, he counts himself lucky to have been able to secure the Sheriff's job in Hooverville. Not every town would have accepted a wheelchair-using officer who couldn't pass the standard physical, even though he was able to bench-press more than the other candidates, was pretty good at hooverball, and had passed his written exams with top marks. However, the Mayor made accessibility in the town a priority so, for example, the sidewalks are in excellent condition, and all the crossing points are easy to use, which means it is not a problem for Sheriff Rowdybush to get around and do his job well, with the assistance of his sergeants, and the Mayor recognised that.

An advantage of being a wheelchair user is that it gives Sheriff Rowdybush a different perspective on things. As he approaches the First Church of Nighthoover, he spots something blue between the wall and the hedge - a taller person wouldn't have been able to see it as it would have been hidden by the leaves of the hedge. He pulls a glove out of one of his pockets, puts it on, then reaches into the hedge and pulls out a baseball cap with the Hooverville University logo on it.

'Aha!' he says. 'This is more like it!'

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 9


Biscuit, biscuit, biscuit.
No biscuits in the cupboard. Drat. She'll have to get a new packet from upstairs.
Didn't she have something to do upstairs, while she's at it? There was something...
Ah well, it'll come back, never mind.

Up the stairs and into the kitchen. Cupboard, biscuits. Chocolate? Or ginger? Mmh, lemon. That'll make a change.

From the window she sees the Sheriff rummaging through Arsenio's gherkin mee trees. That's not right. What are they called, she can't remember. She'll have to ask him again when she goes to get a new decorative plate.
Does he close the china shop at lunchtime, and when does he open again, she wonders as she walks back downstairs.

She sits down at her table again, pours herself another cup of tea, and tears the biscuit packet open.
Wasn't there something on the table earlier? Agnes Nutter's Prophecies! They're gone! Noooo!
She runs in little circles all around the shop, in a panic, until she bangs her thigh against the window display table, knocking the tablecloths off their shelf on the other side.
Ouch. That'll be blue in the morning.
Oh, the Nutter book is here. Silly her, thinking she had taken it to the back. She meant to, but she obviously didn't.
Right, the tablecloths are out, she may as well get on with her plan to hide her treasure.
She picks them all up one by one, and places them back on the shelf, except for the last one, which she tucks under her arm. She then grabs the Prophecy book and makes her way to the bathroom again.
There, she wraps the book in the cloth. It's a funny pattern: squirrels with long metal spikes for claws. It's a pun on fairy squirrels / Freddy squirrels. The people of Hooverville didn't seem to get it, though.
At least she's found some use for it now.
She pushes the bundle behind the towels.
Remembers about the letter Fireman Fred mentioned.
Pulls the package out again and opens the book from the back cover.
And finds nothing.
Turns it around and opens it from the front.
And finds some more nothing.

She pats her pockets.
Finds some lint, a button and her wristwatch.
But no letter.

She has lost the letter, and she doesn't know what it said, or even who it was from!
Who could have known she would come here, when she herself didn't, until she actually arrived...
Curiouser and curiouser.

And more importantly now, who would have wanted to take it before she got the chance to read it?
And why?
And how?
Maybe she did leave it on the back table, after all, and someone moved it to the window...

What can she do about it? What proof does she have? As for witnesses, she only has the word of a pumpkin thief, that's a bit weak.

Ah, well, she can't miss what she never had, can she?
She was perfectly fine not knowing about the letter, why should she feel differently now. She doesn't have the letter, just like yesterday.

Everything will turn out ok, eventually. It always does. Sort of.

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 10

Tavaron da Quirm - Arts Editor

At the Waffelhaus Wilhelmina and Molly are very busy. The dining room is full of children. In spite of the tries of the teacher to make the children behave, it is still quite loud in the cafe. As there are no other guests there yet – it is still quite early for lunch – Wilhelmina doesn't mind this. Cassy on the other hand shoots disapproving looks around the room.

When they leave again half an hour later – after everyone has been at the toilet and found their jacket– Wilhelmina goes back to cleaning the tables. Soon the Waffelhaus will be busy again, when people go to get lunch in their breaks. Cassy changes her place to one at a window. Leaves rustle, plants gently swing in their hanging baskets. For now, everything is quiet again.

12 November: 11 am-Noon (First Day)

Post 11

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Not Banned in China

SashaQ wins today's Best Detective Award, while Freewayriding is voted Most Sympathetic Hostage. smiley - run

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