Yesterday I paid my house taxes. What fun that was. While at city hall I also paid my water bill. My water bill was $117.76. I'll have to stop using so many ice cubes in my liquor.
Anyways, as I gave the clerk my money I said "Let me see if I got a penny." I hate having a pocketful of loose change, so whenever possible I will try to get rid of what I already have, or use what I can to reduce the number of coins given back. I did not have the penny and stated so. A man who was walking by had overheard me, said he had change and asked what I needed.
Before I could say anything, the clerk showed him my water bill. I don't know why, but I did not like the idea of the clerk sharing my water bill with someone I did not know. (This is strange because I openly share the amount of my bill here on this blog for anyone to see.) I didn't say a word, holding my indignity in check. The man plopped seventy-six on the counter, and continued walking to wherever he was going. Perplexed, I thanked him. He didn't turn back. He merely raised his arm in a wave and said he was glad he could help.
As he disappeared from my view, I asked the clerk "Who was that guy?"
She replied, "The mayor."
"Really," I said, "what's his name?"
"Hanselman," she told me.
I must admit I was slightly embarrassed by my ignorance of local politics. It wasn't until I got home did I think about the whole incident. This is an election year. Did Mayor Hanselman just try to buy my vote for seventy-six cents? I hope not. I would want at least twice that amount.
Speaking about local politicians, I have another story about a different Mayor of Center Line. Back in the early 1960s, the Center Line Mayor was a man named Okras. I am not certain if that is how its spelled, but the pronunciation is "Oak-ress." I was singular digit in age at this time. It was the beginning of winter and my mother told me to put on nice clothes because the Mayor was coming over. My father had gone to pick him up and they would be at our home real soon. I recall putting on my going-to-church shirt and pants. My mother put on a nice dress. She applied makeup and lipstick to herself. This must be a special occasion to be so dressed up in the middle of the week.
My father arrived alone. My mother wanted to know where Mayor Okras was. Dad told her that the mayor followed in his own car. He would be in as soon as he parked. And sure enough, as soon as Dad had said this, their was a knock on the side door. Dad went to let Mayor Okras in. But they did not return to where Mom and I waited. Instead they went into the basement. Mom was not surprised by this. She went into the kitchen to busy herself with either cooking or cleaning. My curiosity got the better of me and I headed to the basement.
In the corner of the basement I saw my father standing and the mayor sitting on the floor shining a flashlight into our furnace. Mayor Okras was dressed in overalls and he was fixing our furnace. You see, being mayor of a small city like Center Line was only a part-time job. The population of Center Line was about one tenth of what it is today. So Mayor Okras was a part time mayor and a full time furnace repairman.
I never understood why my mother wanted us to dress up for some guy fixing our furnace. I guess she saw him as the mayor, and wanted us to be presentable for a man with political clout. At the age I was, I thought being a furnace repairman was more exciting than being mayor. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to get near to watch the repairman do his craft, and I really wanted to see. My father ordered me back upstairs. He didn't want for me to dirty my good clothes. He said I shouldn't have put them on. It wasn't Sunday!
At times my parents worked against each other and it was I who suffered the consequences.