Hap Alexander column: True story: Tale tales often start this way, but ….
You can almost always expect a lie to follow the words, “This is really the truth,” at the beginning of a story, or “This is no lie, really.”
It’s kind of like the truth that you tell your doctor when he or she asks, “How much do you drink?” Your answer may depend on whether you think your doctor believes you or not. Most folks who drink probably answer politely with, “I have one drink or a glass of wine before dinner,” and I expect most doctors don’t believe their patients, so your doctor multiplies whatever you tell him by three for his records. I was afraid to tell my doctor the truth, because that number multiplied by three would seem to be excessive, so after a frank discussion off the record, I told him how many beers I really drink. I was relieved to see that in my chart some years later he had written, “Patient drinks a fair amount of beer.”
The first doctor I can remember was Dr. Ketchie in the Wallace Building (now the Plaza) on the Square. He told my mother that he didn’t approve of anyone her age drinking, but he recommended it for anyone of my grandfather’s age. I’m a grandfather, so it’s OK, right? I don’t remember if Dr. Scott ever asked me, but I do remember that he had a shot (from a needle, not a glass) for everything that ailed me, and sometimes I just got better thinking about going to see him and not really going.
This is really the truth about one visit George Raynor made to the hot dog joint where I used to work over on North Main.
George, the editor of the Salisbury Post then, must have been a transplanted Yankee. He didn’t eat chili on his hot dogs. He just ordered mustard and onions.
One day around lunchtime, he came in, ordered his usual, and stood over to the side to eat his lunch and read his paper.
Well, he was not happy with what he thought were just a few onions on his dog, and with the place full of people, began to complain that I was trying to short him on his onions; however, with his mouth full, it was hard to make out exactly what he was saying, but I got the message. If you remember George, you’ll know that he was not one to waste time swallowing when he had something to say. Anyway, I was a little embarrassed, and everyone was paying attention to him, so I acted quickly.
Alan Rouzer was eating at the front counter between George and me, so I scooped up a big handful of chopped onions and said, “Here, Alan, give these to George,” and I dumped the pile of onions into his hand.
He turned around to George, who was holding out what was left of his lunch, and Alan just spread them out on his hot dog as pretty as you please. George grunted something and turned back to eating and to his paper, not thinking anything unusual had just happened, and everyone else went on about their business without further to do, and that’s the truth.
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Hap Alexander, a former resident of Salisbury and founder of Hap’s, lives in Topsail Beach.