By Kevin Slimp
Welcome to Lennox Valley, my childhood home. We’ve learned about the good folks who live in “The Valley.” We’ve learned about the churches they attend, some of the people who lead them, and a bit of the drama that they deal with day in and day out. Previously, we learned that Raymond Cooper, who purchased the town’s only radio station back in 1993, was secretly using his talk radio popularity to pave a future political career for himself. He set his eyes on the 1998 mayoral race and came up with the perfect platform. For two years, Raymond had prodded his listeners as they became more and more incensed over the Federal Reserve System, which Raymond continuously blamed for the rising price of eggs.
Saturdays, from April through September, were always busy on Bearden’s Corner. That’s when the Farmers Market came to Lennox Valley and, with no malls or fancy shopping centers to speak of, the Farmers Market was the place to see and be seen.
You could count on the usual vendors each week. There were local farmers selling corn, tomatoes and potatoes from the back of their trucks, housewives who spent their weeks preparing candles and other assorted crafts for the good folks of town, and, almost always, two or three community organizations who set up tables under tents bearing the name of Massengale Funeral Home, located 17 miles to the west in Springfield.
Lennox Valley wasn’t big enough for its own funeral home. So, the Massengale family was more than happy for folks to see its name emblazoned on tents bearing displays by the Ruritan Club, the VFW and the Lennox Valley Auburn Hat Society, just to name a few. However, these weren’t getting the usual attention on this Saturday in early May.
You see, like many big events, there was some planning and structure that went along with the weekly Farmers Market. Vendors and community organizations submitted requests and were assigned spaces by Vera Pinrod, who not only served as president of the Lennox Valley Auburn Hat Society, but also served as secretary of the Spring County Chamber of Commerce.
There weren’t many avenues to gain power in a small town like Lennox Valley and, as both president of the Auburn Hat Society and secretary of the Chamber, Vera was probably the most powerful woman in town. That was soon to change, but more about that later.
On this particular Saturday, there was more excitement than usual at the market. It seems there was a new tent lined up at the far end, past all the usual vendors and, as Vera Pinrod skillfully noted, no one had reserved that spot. Even more, the tent didn’t bear the Massengale nameplate. Something was amiss and Vera was about to get to the bottom of the growing commotion.
At first, Vera was chagrined as she saw Marvin Walsh sitting underneath the tent behind a folding table, wearing the denim bib overalls he purchased at a second-hand clothing store in Springfield just two weeks earlier. She was about to tell Marvin to pack up his stuff and come back another Saturday, when she saw the hand-lettered sign taped to the front of Marvin’s table:
“Save our eggs! Stop the Federal Reserve System!”
Raymond Cooper, owner of the Valley’s only radio station and host of “Renderings with Raymond” every weekday from noon–3:00 p.m., grinned as he saw the would-be confrontation. He held back for a moment, then was pleasantly surprised as he heard Vera tell Marvin, “It’s good to have such fine, civic-minded individuals taking a stand for Lennox Valley.”
And that was that.
A half block east, toward the red light, Elbert Lee Jones was selling eggs out of the back of his truck. Raymond Cooper slyly grinned again as he noted the price of eggs was up a nickel over the previous Saturday.
This was going to be a good week for “Renderings with Raymond.”