Bargain Day over to Omar's Store Tales of Oysterback


December 23, 1992|By HELEN CHAPPELL

OYSTERBACK, MARYLAND — Oysterback, Maryland. -- It's amazing how rumors get started. Like what happened last Saturday when Earl Don and I were on our way to his parents' 40th anniversary party over to Wallopsville. Now, if some people in this town have nothing better to do than hang around Omar Hinton's store and listen to other peoples' business, that's their problem, and they need a life. This community has lots of opportunities to do volunteer work, for one thing.

I, Desiree Grinch, proprietor of the Blue Crab Tavern, have a life, and believe me, it keeps me busy enough minding my own business without looking into everyone else's, like some.

Anyway, if anyone really needs to know, that's what I was doing over to Omar Hinton's store last Saturday, teetering on my stiletto heels, with Earl Don in the truck leaning on the horn and screaming about us being a half-hour late to the party to start with. He just wanted to get that necktie off. No one hates wearing a tie quite as much as Earl Don. It was not as some people around here have been saying, another one of our domestic disputes.

See, I thought Earl Don bought a present and he thought I bought a present so what happened was no one bought a present, even though Earl Don was past the Farm and Tractor Store over to Salisbury three times last week, and I haven't been able to get out from behind the bar for a month, what with waiting for the cable TV people. Your basic lost cause, those cable TV boys, but I digress.

You know I like Omar Hinton; most people do. He is a nice man and has made a fine president of the Oysterback town council. Why, he never even turned an eyelash when we woke him up at 3 a.m. when Earl Don and I were baby-sitting little Olivier and ran out of Pampers. That takes some niceness.

But even I will have to admit that Omar is a pack rat, plain and simple. He has a lot of trouble throwing anything out, as anyone who has spent any time poking around in the back of his store can tell you. Since I enjoy poking around back there, I know for a fact that there's stuff back there that's been there since his grandfather's time. Even Omar doesn't know what he's got back there. But I do.

''Omar, I need an anniversary present, quick!'' I says.

''This store is all right if you are planning to give someone a can of Indian Quarter Cream Corn, a pack of Peanut Butter Tandy Cakes or a small bottle of Janitor In a Drum, but you are talking relatives of yours here, people you've eaten crabs with,'' Omar says, with his eyebrows all the way where his hair used to be.

''I'll find something,'' I says, heading for the back room.

''Mebbe you was thinkin' of matchin' Barlow knives?'' Omar calls. I must say, he manages to amuse himself sometimes.

But I was already rooting around behind the patent medicine and the other stuff Omar has up there behind the old ice cream freezer, where no one ever looks. ''If you spent as much time dusting your stock as you do playing checkers, you'd be a good storekeeper, Omar,'' I says to him, sort of teasing. I knew the odds were with me, that I would find something back there.

And there it was, where it had been since he'd moved it in 1961 to make way for the Red Ball boot display. A dusty Wallopsville Church Centennial Commemorative Plate, dated 1958. The perfect collectible for Earl Don's folks' collection. At the original price.

''Here's what I want,'' I says. ''Sticker says 39 cents.''

Omar sort of pursed up his lips, and I knew what he was thinking. But he rang it up. I ended up spending more money on gift wrap than the gift, which I wrapped up while Earl Don was taking the corners on two wheels, yelling at me because we were late. As it was, we barely made the minister's invocation.

Earl Don's folks were thrilled with their Wallopsville Church plate, which I understand costs a fortune in antique stores.

Don't believe everything you hear over to Omar Hinton's Store. That, my friends, is what really happened.

Helen Chappell is the amanuensis of Oysterback.

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