The Theater of the Evergreen Stroll
Every day, the women of Chancellor Orville left their homes to shop and to stroll down Evergreen Street. The Evergreen Stroll had been going on for a hundred years, and the crowds never ceased to grow large between noon and three PM. After three PM, the odd, harried singleton would show up on Evergreen Street, do hurried and perfunctory business, then leave.
In the evenings and at night, Evergreen Street came alive with diners, drinkers and revelers who always had the reason or the resources to celebrate the existence of their comfortable lives.
No one knew who really started The Stroll. There was no organized group of high living hausfraus who held a meeting to establish anything. There was no popular community cheerleader who rounded everyone up. There was no campaign put on by some ancient version of a Chamber of Commerce.
But somehow, there was an ever changing array of shops, restaurants and services that had kept Evergreen Street in a state of flourish through three centuries and a change of millennium.
Housebound people could dress up, fix their hair and wear their latest outfits. Some of them could dress up their smaller children and use them to add interest to the theater of the stroll.
Others could find a source of gossip to supplement the news that was dutifully reported in the Chancellor Orville Chronicle. Early rising retirees could find their requisite doughnut shop or breakfast joint before they moved on to putter around in their gardens and home workshops.
Some would make their way to the stroll in order to work an agenda or to work a deal. There is always someone available to employ a place like Evergreen Street in order to work a deal or to gratify a need.
After a time, word spread about Evergreen Street. Visitors showed up to add to the crowd, to broaden the scope and to introduce entire new plot devices. People came from as far away as Sacramento and Reno, towns that were at least an hour and a half away.
Sometimes a famous personage or an entertainment icon would show up and attempt to privately mingle in. Each one would discover that their fame had reached farther than they had imagined. But celebrities were generally left alone, since it was entirely against the undefined rules of The Stroll to act a fool around a famous person.
Perhaps Evergreen Street was a lasting success because of the town of Chancellor Orville, which nestled next to the vast Tahoe National Forest and was miles from any major freeway. Most towns of this type would be crumbling and wrecked by the descendants of failed Gold Rush entrepreneurs, Dust Bowl and civil war refugees and other generational losers who were ruled by gaggles of rural feudal overlords.
But Chancellor Orville had grown into a haven for those who did not mind a long commute to Sacramento or to UC Davis in order to maintain their fortunes. There were internet moguls who lived in modest houses and installed enough servers and equipment to run a nation. There were retirees who drew large enough pensions to enjoy the rural and forested life when they were not traveling the world.
As a result, there were streets in Chancellor Orville that Hollywood site surveyors lusted after. Some streets were models of 1940s era architecture, with their craftsmen and mock Tudor delights. Other streets looked like the Deep South in the 1950s with their shaggy boundaries, water runoff ditches, and lack of anything resembling a sidewalk.
There were a couple of trailer parks that once hosted no end of troubles until they were bought out by retirees and turned into overly landscaped havens for somewhat moneyed senior citizens.
The fringes of the town had become a curdled mix of over sized luxury homes and two or five acre historical ranchettes. The ranchettes had been passed down from generation to generation and never made the MLS because they only sold through word of mouth.
Perhaps it was the nature of the city fathers of Chancellor Orville. The current Mayor was a multimillionaire who once served as an adviser to a President of the United States. He and his wife had interesting hobbies.
The city council was populated by retired doctors, lawyers, chemists, law enforcement leaders and educators, several of whom had even more interesting hobbies than the Mayor and his wife. It is not difficult to think of such people as a “dream team” of small town leadership.
Perhaps Chancellor Orville could be so far off the beaten path, yet host a booming, active downtown on Evergreen Street for other reasons.
Like the Mayor’s hobby, human taxidermy.
No, no! Come back! Don’t leave!
The Mayor was a forensic pathologist who prepared technical samples and bodies for scientific research. All on the up and up, his business was. He did this most of the time, with a few diversions to complete “special projects”.
Or perhaps the town thrived because of the City Council President’s post retirement gig as an “expert witness”. He was a top expert in the field of missing persons. He busily worked both ends of the field of missing persons. He was highly sought after as a consultant in court cases, investigations and “special projects”.
It could have been the internet entrepreneur, who always wore a strange, slightly distracted smile when having conversation. He collected ancient torture devices and kept them in his attic. He loved to talk about his ancient torture devices, especially the replica of the Brazen Bull that, with cunningly designed tubes and pipes, would convert the screams of the person being roasted inside the hollow, metal animal into the melodic braying of a live bull.
Despite the harmless hobbies and vocations of prominent residents, most newcomers would still leave after a few weeks, made uneasy by some inexplicably disturbing vibe to the place. Most of those newcomers were quite mentally ill and left in the middle of the night, leaving most of their possessions behind.
Even the drug cartels stayed outside of a ten mile unofficial “perimeter” around Chancellor Orville.
Perhaps it was the absence of crime, the serene and satisfied people and all of that regularity of life on Evergreen Street. Maybe that is what drove newcomers away from Chancellor Orville.
Some speculated that the newcomers fled because there was none of the intermittent murder, psychopathic crime, weapons abuse, or other chaos that happens in less wonderful places these days.
Others claimed that it was the nature of The Stroll itself, but they could not nail down a particular problem. People just could not figure out what was wrong with that Stroll.
Perhaps the newcomers were uncomfortable with the “totems” that were always being nailed to doors or handed around without any explanation. Some joker had been telling the newcomers that the “totems” were the shiny bones of people who had been roasted to death in the internet entrepreneur’s Brazen Bull and the rumor lingered, even after the joker got lost while hiking through the Tahoe National Forest and was never found.
At any rate, Chancellor Orville thrives to this day and the Evergreen Street Stroll is alive and well.
Come and visit sometime!