“What can I get for you guys?” Marge asked, pulling a pen from her beehive hairdo.
Tom Behren Jr, Dennis T. Hernandez, Bob Lee Colwell and Condredge Baxter-Halloway III had been sitting in their usual spots at the counter of Frank’s Diner, located on the main drag of Shawnee Ferry, Delaware for over two hours. They stared at her with blank expressions.
“Fine! Take your time to decide. For now I’ll bring the coffee.” Marge grabbed the pot of three-hour old coffee and looked over her shoulder at Art, who was busy at the grill with an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth. “Fix them the usual. They might get around to ordering in an hour or so.”
Art shook his head and cracked six eggs onto the grill.
“I think it’s about time we hold an annual meeting to discuss the crisis with the National Park System,” Bob Lee Colwell said.
“Why?” Tom Behren Jr. asked. “We’ve never visited a National Park.”
“Exactly!” Dennis Hernandez replied checking the menu. “Hey! Did you know there’s stuff on the backside of this?”
“Who needs a menu,” Condredge Baxter-Halloway III shrugged. “Marge knows what we want. We’ve been eating here for thirty years and always order the lunch special.”
“What’s the issue with National Parks?” Marge asked pouring their coffee.
The four people waiting at the register to pay their check listened to the conversation.
“In case you haven’t heard, the government is threatening to close all the parks because of declining attendance,” Colwell answered. “People are staying away in huge droves.”
“I heard the attendance dropped to less than 40,000 at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon,” Hernandez claimed.
“If the people don’t want to visit a park, how you gonna make ’em?” Donald Giuliani, who worked next door at the pawnshop, asked.
Baxter-Halloway III said, “The trouble is the inaccessibility of the parks. Most of them are located in remote sections of the country too far away to drive to in a few hours.”
Marge shook her head and set the coffee pot down. “Why doesn’t the government move the parks closer to Delaware? I don’t think we have one within fifty miles.” She rang up Doc Martin, who always ordered two eggs and wheat toast with extra jelly and always gave her the exact amount in coins.
“It’s not as simple as moving a mole hill,” Colwell said.
Baxter-Halloway III took a sip of the lukewarm coffee and said, “I heard several of the parks were closed because of wildfires.”
“That’s the trouble with most of the parks.” Hernandez drained his coffee, held up a finger and added, “They are too far away. They burn down too often.” He raised a second finger. “They have roads which are impassable in winter because of all the snow. The whole system is broken and needs to be addressed.”
“They could prevent the fires if they removed the trees,” Doc Martin said as he pocketed an extra packet of Concord grape jelly.
“If they didn’t create these parks in the mountains, they wouldn’t have to deal with heavy snowfall,” Steve Hafey, who worked for the Delaware Highway Department, said in his raspy voice that sounded much like the truck he drove.
Shawnee Ferry city mayor, Wendell Blasingame, pointed a finger at the members of the society and asserted, “I’m going to write my congressman and let him know about your suggestions.”
Marge took the unsigned check written on the city’s general account from him and added it to her till.
“Keep the change, Marge,” Blasingame said, marching out into the blizzard which had dumped eight inches of snow on the small town in less that four hours.
“I’m glad I voted for him in the last election,” Behren said. “He’s a man of action. It was the last election, right? It was 1958 if I recall correctly.”
The other members of the society shrugged.
“Let’s get back on track,” Hernandez said as Marge refilled his cup. “I think the government should get rid of all those hard-to-reach, out-of-the-way parks and establish new ones closer to centers of population. Who needs a national park somewhere in Montana?”
“I saw a YouTube video about that park. It’s called Glacier National Park or something along those lines. It’s on the border with Canada.”
“Give it to Canada,” Giuliani suggested. “The whole country is one gigantic glacier.”
“I hear all the glaciers melted. Is that true?” Hafey asked. “My breakfast was delicious as usual, Marge. Give my compliments to Art.”
“No! There’s one small glacier left, but it’s so high up in the mountains no one can get to it,” Colwell replied.
Baxter-Halloway III nodded, “Proves my point. National Parks are another example of government waste. They should spend the money to develop parks closer to the people. I think the entire state of Delaware should be declared a national park.”
Mayor Blasingame walked back into the diner, stomped his feet, brushed off the snow from his summer jacket and said, “This annual meeting has gone on too long. Have you noticed it’s snowing?”
“Great!” Behren said sarcastically. “I was going to mow the yard this afternoon if I had time.”
“This ruins my chance to play golf,” Colwell said.
“I still think we should do something about the disgrace the government has made of the National Parks,” Hernandez said.
“Maybe we should table that discussion until our next annual meeting,” Baxter-Halloway III offered as he looked outside. “We might be here for a while. I can’t see my bicycle.”
They turned their attention to the counter as Art rang the bell and shouted, “Orders up!”