After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

An Embarrassing Moment
In Memoriam: Betty Edwards-Vessel
A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing
Who Would Jesus Stab?
The Eggshell Incident
First Chapel Service at Ye Olde Folks Home
A Yearly Ritual at Menards
“Mr. Loftus, the Town Hero”
The FCAL Project
Pepe Le Pew Finds New Lodgings
In Memoriam: Dale Lear
Bingo Bedlam at Ye Olde Folks Home
There’s a Shortage of Perfect Movies…
One Day at the DMV
A Visitor from Microsoft
“He Who Should Not Be Named”
Downton… Abbey?
This Home is a Liver-Free Zone
My 9/11 Rememberances
My Yearly Pumpkin Spice Rant
Done In By Baker’s Square
My Eulogy for Alice
“Dear Rikki…”
A Clean, Well-lighted Place for Books
Memories of my First Computer
A Little Excitement at the Staff Meeting
The Tale of Mrs. Butler
Sun, Sand, and a Margarita
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
Troubleshooting at Ye Olde Folks Home
Stories of my Mother
I’ve Heard Angels Sing
Elevator Mishap at the Eye Clinic
One Day at Fair, Isaac
Saturday Morning Cartoons
A Sprig of Parsley
Fun With Recruitment Ads
Leave Her to Heaven
“Squirrel!”
Bring me Dave Bringle!
Beware! The Oldsters Are Coming!
Life Among the Progressives
A Family Ritual While Watching Masterpiece
The Unforgettable General Oppy
“Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here”
A Dubious Plan Gone Awry
The Singing Christmas Tree!
One Day in the Hospital Lab
The Legend of the Broken Timer
Nelson’s Fruit Stand
This One Time in Glee Club…
Star Trek References for the Win
Family Psalm, Stuck in Lodi
Vacation in Branson
Clyde and Ruth Revisited
COVID Policies During my Wife’s Fatal Illness
I Guess I’m the Shadow IT Department Now
The Tale of Clyde and Ruth
My Garden of Gethsemane Story
We Might Get a Virus!

“Mr. Loftus, the Town Hero”

In 1998, Alice, Heather and I travelled to Walnut Grove, Minnesota and then De Smet, South Dakota, on a Laura Ingalls Wilder pilgrimage. The highlight of the trip was attending the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant in De Smet.

The pageant retells the story contained in her book The Long Winter, but there was an interesting alteration near the end of the program.

As you’ll recall, The Long Winter told of a winter so terrible that snow prevented the railroad from coming to town. Without food deliveries, the town was at risk of starvation, so a local store owner, Mr. Loftus, put up the money to buy wheat from a local farmer 20 miles away.

Almanzo Wilder and a friend made the perilous journey to deliver the wheat to Mr. Loftus, at which point Loftus announced he would be selling the precious commodity to the starving townfolk at more than a 100% markup.

Capitalism ho!

After some heated discussion, Pa Ingalls convinced Mr. Loftus to relent, instead selling the wheat at cost.

Now, that makes Mr. Loftus sound like a bit of an ass, does it not? Is this story true? Well, the Little House on the Prairie books are informed by Laura Ingall Wilder’s experiences but are ultimately a work of fiction, so who knows?

But there was a Mr. Loftus, and the Loftus Store still does business in De Smet, and the Loftus family lives in the area. So that part of the story had to be told with some, err… delicacy:

“Now, there are some who say Mr. Loftus could have sold that wheat at a premium price… but in the end he sold it for exactly what he paid for it.”

Well! I had to begrudgingly admire the deftness of this charming prevarication. Every word of that statement was literally true… and also a lie at the same time.

The website for the Loftus Store sanitizes the story even further: “Mr. Loftus purchased wheat during the Long Winter from a local farmer… Mr. Loftus was the town hero.”

One might quibble with “the town hero,” but still, essentially correct.

It made me smile.