Commentary

Snow: Not all state fairs featured stars like Pagan Jones

October 20, 2012 

When I was a reporter on The Raleigh Times, I swore if I ever got promoted to the point that I didn’t have to cover the State Fair, I’d never pass through its gates again. There was, of course, no lack of color; but in time the assignment bored me.

There came to the fair every year a burlesque queen by the name of Pagan Jones.

At the fair itself, Pagan’s husband was her hawker, elaborating on her charms and talents. It was said that Ms. Jones, while gyrating her hips, could spin her bounteous bosoms simultaneously in opposite directions.

Men from all walks of life gathered to listen to the husband’s spiel and applaud Pagan’s tantalizing struts across the stage.

A few women, dour of face, stood at the fringes of the gathering, tugging at their husbands’ sleeves to go see who won ribbons for Damson preserves, pound cakes and needlework.

One year, the amount of Pagan’s income was bandied about. The amount caused my wife to wonder about society’s priorities, since Ms. Jones made considerably more than she was paid for teaching five sections of English at Broughton High School.

During my interview with Pagan’s husband, I asked if he did not find it disconcerting to see droves of men leering at his wife day in and day out?

“Not really,” he replied. “You see, I’m the guy who sleeps with her every night.”

Every year at fair time, I think of Pagan Jones, wondering where she is, how she looks now, and if her mind wanders often to the days when she was a star. I hope that life has been kind to her.

Thanks for not snarling

Kudos are in order for the supermarket cashiers, bank tellers, nurses and others who deal daily with the public. I make it a practice to thank these good people for their cheerful dispositions.

“Are you this nice at home?” I recently asked a supermarket cashier.

“I try to be agreeable at home, too,” she replied. “But there are days when I warn my husband, ‘Watch your step, honey. I’ve been nice to people at work all day. I’m about to run out of ‘nice.’”

I once encountered a lab tech who was short and snappish with me.

“I’m sorry you hate your job,” I said gently. “I know that taking blood from people all day can’t be pleasant.”

That remark led to a discussion that ended well.

We parted in peace.

Not just ‘the help’

Down through history, the nanny has played a significant role in the lives of untold thousands of children. A nanny becomes a second mother, reaping the deep affection of children for a lifetime.

Recently, a friend messaged me about the death of such a woman. She included her New York daughter’s sensitive reaction to the news:

“I remember so many things about her: Watching with her the soap operas, which she called ‘the stories.’ The sound that her stockings made when she walked.

“And one of the oddest things, her sense of delicacy, which prompted her to tell me always to have the water running in the bathroom when I peed in case there was somebody outside the door, particularly a male person.

“Mostly I remember that she was kind and patient with a lot of childhood nonsense. Ninety-seven is a long life, and she surely left with a lot of people loving and admiring her.”

Biblical limericks

Knowing my affinity for limericks, my wife picked up a small volume of them at a book sale. Written by D.R. Bensen, they are based on Old Testament events, such as the building of the Tower of Babel (Genesis: 11:1-9).

Their tower’s impressive statistics

Pleased architects, boosters and mystics.

But their excess of pride

Caused the Lord to decide

It was time that they studied linguistics.

Snow: 919-836-5636 or asnow@newsobserver.com

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